Everyone is writing about where they were 40 years ago today when Armstrong and Aldrin first set foot on the moon, so I thought I should also chime in. It was certainly one of those defining moments.
For over 40 years (wow, that’s hard to believe) our family has gone on vacation every summer to White Lake, North Carolina. It’s a beautiful lake formed, coincidentally, by the impact of a small meteorite opening up a spring. I’ve planned to write more about those vacations. Anyway, that’s where I was on July 20, 1969.
We have always stayed at an area called Goldston’s Beach in a little U-shaped cluster of cottages (back then). they were of different sizes, but basically had a kitchen, a big screened in porch with bedrooms all along the porch. A bunch of extended family went along, as well as some neighbors, so we had most of the cottages in that cluster.
As I remember the moon walk was late at night (late for a 10 year old anyway). We had moved the 19 inch black and white TV with the rabbit ears outside one of the cottages, and the antennae definitely included some tin foil. I can’t remember for sure, but we might have had to bring the TV with us. It was sitting on top of one of the ice chests, and everyone crowded around in the old plastic web lawn chairs.
It was quite the community event. Of course we watched the coverage provided by Walter Cronkite and Wally Schirra. They were the “color commentators” for one of the most outstanding human achievements of all time. I felt like an expert on space flight and the moon landing after having seen all the explanations with models and animation put on by Cronkite, Schirra and CBS. I think Cronkite rejoiced in that accomplishment, and so did we all. I don’t remember us hooting and hollering, but I do recall everyone applauding. I also remember looking at the moon really hard to try to see the space craft up there.
For a brief time, I entertained the notion, as did many kids of that era, of being an aerospace engineer. The planets, and even the stars, seemed a lot closer that hot evening in July. Later I found out how much math was involved, so that ended that dream. My sister got the math gene.