Monday, July 20, 2009

So, Where Were YOU?

Do you know where you were 40 years ago, this evening? I'll try not to sigh while some of you declare that at that point, you were a mere twinkle in your father's eye or perhaps in diapers.

I know. Exactly.

I was an 11 year old kid with her eyes wide open in amazement. Said eyes were glued to the television screen as a grainy black and white picture showed Neil Armstrong climb down that ladder to the moon's surface to take "One small step for man."

Yeah, well girls were impressed with that step too!

There will be some passing mention of the event on the evening news and the Discovery Channel has a special program on this evening. But mostly I feel bad that the kids I work with in the afternoon have been cheated and don't have a clue. With everything at their fingertips in 60 seconds or less, they have missed out on the childhood thrill of suspense. Holding your breath, waiting for the unknown. Of realizing that with science, there can be a little magic thrown in for good measure.

I remember just how Mission Control counted backward from 10 while waiting to launch an astronaut into space. Sitting there, fingers crossed with little girl hope, I always felt a combination of spine tingling, nerve racking, stomach sinking and spirit soaring enthusiasm. I recently heard a portion of a tape featuring Gene Kranz, the Mission Control Flight Director of my childhood, and as soon as he said, "10, 9, 8"...all those little girl butterflies returned. I swear for half my childhood, I was convinced that Kranz was the voice of God. [Until I later heard James Earl Jones speak]. Ironic that the man who so enthusiastically espoused about those first pictures, Walter Cronkite, has passed into heaven in his own way. Wherever he is, I'll bet Uncle Walter remembers. With pride.

And so today, in our high tech world, this landmark moment will probably be noted in a 60 second sound bite. But I'll remember. Because after we watched Man walk on the moon, we went outside to stare up at the moon in the night sky.

And yes. I did wave. For all I know, Armstrong waved back. Childhood was magical then, you know.


The Old Fart said...

I was 9 when the first man to the moon Apollo Launch was sent up into space. Like you I watch on that grainy B&W television screen watch the Lift Off, the first steps on the moon.

When I got home from work I turned on the television for some background noise. CBS News was doing a tribute on Walter Cronkite, One snippet was the Apollo Launch, the other was the JFK Assassination. These were the two things the most that Affected him as he said in a later interview.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful post.

I've created a link on my blog for everyone to find this wonderful blog.


Titus said...

Beautiful post. I was just 6 and don't have any memories that aren't, I suspect, created, but husband, who was 9, cites it as one of his seminal childhood experiences and reading this has taken him right back there. Thank you.

Dave King said...

I do know, yes. I had just got home from a successful job interview. The B & W pictures were magic. There was a real feel of history being mad. Genuine, important history, and I was working it out in my mind how I would put that over to the kids at school next day.

Radge said...

I've been neglectful lately, please to forgive. I like the new site.

Winifred said...

That's a great memeory.

Yes I know where I was, in bed! I decided not to stay up to watch it, I've never been able to manage to work when I've had no sleep.

I suppose I had other things on my mind at the time too. I was getting married in 6 weeks and was frantic about the cake. Forty years married, sometimes seems like the blink of an eye.

You're right about the children having no sense of wonder. I was mesmerised when I got an automatic washer. My husband asked if I'd like a chair to sit on whilst I watched it. Well it was probably more interesting than what was on telly!

hope said...

Old Fart [geez, I hate calling you that!]I'm glad I'm not the only one who can recall that sense of wonder! And thank you for doing something to send folks my way...the more, the merrier!

Titus, we were recently looking through some old slides and found where hubby's parents, like many Americans, had actually taken photos of the t.v. screen as the men walked!

Dave, I'll bet you were as much a part of that memory to your students as the moon walk!

Radge, thank you. Hey, you've had your own woes...just don't drink Ireland dry and I won't worry. ;)

Winifred, the best part probably was being allowed to stay up past bedtime! It was always easy for me to remember because it was Apollo 11 and I was 11. :)

Yeah, these kids don't have a clue and sadly, if the see something they don't understand, they'd rather kill it than learn about it. I talked them out of killing a bug the other day, telling them how it eats "bad" bugs. About 5 kids sat with me and watched it slowly make it's way. A big kid came up, yelled "Gross!" and stepped on the bug. Before I could protest, all the little kids started yelling at her, wanting to know why she'd kill something not even bothering her. I hope that lesson sticks for more than 60 seconds.

Peggy said...


You and I are sister's seperated at birth, i swear.
Thank you for your wonderful comments on my blog and for your continued positive feedback that you give to me all the time.
I have met so many incredible people here on the blog and you are one very special person to me!
Love love love the way you wrote your post,of course the children won't feel our same feelings when the next shuttle blasts away from earth. You have a special take on children, a real gift!

hope said...

Peggy, I think some of my family believe my mental door on childhood will never close. :)

That's okay. I had a good childhood...and it's fun to still feed the kid in me. With chocolate of course. ;)

Rachel Fox said...

I was memories to share!

The Old Fart said...

Hope you can call me Bill, that is what my friends call me and I consider you as a friend. William if I am in trouble.

hope said...

Bill sounds much better, thanks!
That was my father-in-law's name and he was a good guy too. :)

Dr.John said...

It was remembered by more than that. Which is as it ought to be.

Ken Armstrong said...

Memory plays tricks. I remember the fuzzy black and white pictures and thinking, "This is taking *so* long."

I remember looking at the moon, too, and trying to see the men up there but I think that was on another day, I could be wrong.

If this link works, I thought you might like to see these.. Astronaut in real life photos from Time.

hope said...

Thanks Ken, I'll check that out!

Susan at Stony River said...

Hope, I can remember it though I have to admit it's my earliest memory; my family had purchased a television for this event and that day POW the electricity went out in a thunderstorm. Typical! LOL

I agree completely about what a great loss a sense of anticipation is, or wonder. Kids today seem so overstimulated and overindulged...but looking back I guess that *our* parents and grandparents thought the same about us? I wonder.

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