I was 19 years old the summer of 1969. Richard Nixon was president. The Vietnam War was raging and Woodstock would not happen until August 15. 40 years ago this weekend Americans waited eagerly for Sunday morning, July 20th, to arrive. NASA was going to fulfill a dream that President John F. Kennedy spoke of in 1961. Some of us are old enough to remember this day quite clearly and so I thought that today I would share with you my walk on the moon memories on this 40th Anniversary. And yes, I do consider this a technology post…I mean really, man walking on the moon, now that is technical!
As I said, I was 19. I had moved back to San Diego from San Francisco on Memorial Day weekend 1969. The reason I remember the exact weekend is that my first husband and I drove from San Francisco to San Diego and we got stuck in traffic in San Clemente on Interstate 5 for six (6) hours that weekend. The good news about that trip is that we were driving our brand new 1969 VW Beetle (air cooled engine), so idling on the freeway was just no big deal. But I digress…
I worked for Wells Fargo Bank and my husband was in college, so he had a summer job of some kind. We lived in a really small, strange apartment that seemed to look more like a motor home and we did not own a television. A friend of ours loaned us a TV to use for the summer. It was a black and white RCA television. This is the same year that saw such summer movie blockbusters as Midnight Cowboy and Easy Rider (both debuted in May 1969). If you have never seen either of these movies, rent them, they are classics.
As I said it was a Sunday morning and I don’t know if NASA specifically planned this historic walk for a Sunday in order to allow more Americans to watch the show, but we got up early, the television went on and at exactly 20:17:40 UTC (GMT) the Eagle landed in our moon’s Sea of Tranquility. That was 01:17:40PM PDT our time. Six and one-half hours later Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the moon’s surface.
I have two distinct memories from that day: First, while waiting for the Eagle to land, the radio played Oliver’s rendition of Good Morning Starshine. The words were perfect. (see the 1st YouTube Video below); Second, we watched the CBS coverage with Walter Cronkite and shared another life-altering event with him. (see 2nd YouTube video below).
And so today, as we begin the 40th Anniversary celebration of our Walk on the Moon, we remember with great respect and sadness the passing of Walter Cronkite last evening at the age of 92. And I will think back to the day so long ago that I sat in that little apartment, watched with wonder and together we wrote in our diary: “Today, man walked on the moon!”
P.S. In 1999 a movie was released as a tie in to the 30th Anniversary, A Walk on the Moon. This is another movie that many of you will enjoy.