I heard a mention on the news this morning that this is the 35th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s first walk on the Moon.
I was 11, living in the small town of Garrett, Indiana. I had probably read so much about the LEM and Apollo 11 that I could have taken them apart and put them back together blindfolded. And so had my friends.
There are black-and-white memories. We watched on a small black-and-white TV because the experts said that you should use a black-and-white TV if you wanted to take Polaroid pictures when Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon. I found a couple of those pictures a few years ago. They were blurry as hell, but I knew exactly what was happening in the picture, just like like I clearly see my daughter in the sonogram and all you see is gray shapes.
And I also, maybe more so, have the outdoor memories. Leaving the TV and walking out in the backyard and joining all the neighbors and probably everybody else who could get a view of the moon, and just looking at it, probably bugging one of my brothers to share the binoculars, hoping to catch just the chance metallic gleam off a a spacesuit or space ship.
There are probably a few of my friends who are starting to think about now, oh-oh, he’s heading toward some Babylon 5 thing again.
It was a big vision that most everybody shared. I wonder how much time we all spent growing up planning to work in the space program.
It didn’t turn out that way. Talking about going to Mars seems like another tawdry political trick, a trial balloon floated, and cast aside.
Yes, dammit, I’m going for the Babylon 5 thing. Here it is:
“Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics and you’ll get ten different answers, but there’s one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won’t just take us. It’ll take Marilyn Monroe and Lao-Tzu, Einstein, Morobuto, Buddy Holly, Aristophanes .. and all of this .. all of this was for nothing unless we go to the stars.”
Anyway, a nice memory for the day. That, and my other Apollo 11 connection. Probably within a year or so after Apollo 11 returned, Neil Armstrong was doing a tour of th lodges of the fraternal order of the elks(?), eagles(?) – I can’t remember which now. But my granddad was tending bar when he arrived. I believe that they spent the afternoon talking. Neil Armstrong gave my granddad some special swizzle sticks that his local lodge had printed up specially to commemorate the moon landing so that Granddad could give them to my brothers and me. That was cool.