The Day We Took the Giant Step

I remember I was in ninth grade … and the pictures came in black and white on TV.  The men on the moon jumped, worked and shuffled through the lunar dust.  They placed a flag on the moon and left behind a plaque with their names and the name of the President of the United States.  So someday some space traveler will find some pristine junk on the airless lunar surface with the names of the three great explorers – and Richard M. Nixon.

The day after the moon walk, I had to go to our church to serve as an altar boy for Mass.  An old guy was there talking about Apollo 11, and tears welled up in his eyes as he recalled what he saw on TV the night before.  Some other woman just clutched her purse and brushed past us out of the church, saying “Can’t eat no damn moon rocks.”

Years later, I found myself in the home of Apollo 12 moonwalker Alan Bean, doing a feature story on him for the Houston Chronicle. He talked about his new career as a painter, and how he used astronaut tools and other things to create unusual textures in his paintings.  As he talked I played with a small metal hammer, like they used to break off moon rocks – I figured that was a practice model he took away from the NASA training facility.  But he pointed to the hammer in my hand and said, “that hammer, I was supposed to leave it on the moon but forgot to take it out of my spacesuit pocket.  They let me have it.”  Holding that simple tool that had been to the moon and back, I was suddenly overwhelmed as all of the wonder and awe came rushing back from that summer in 1969.  What a great year.

MP3: “Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins” by the Byrds

MP3: “Blue Moon” by Elvis Presley

MP3: “Moonlight Drive” by the Doors

MP3: “Walking On The Moon” by the Police

MP3: “Full Moon” by the Kinks

MP3: “Brain Damage/Eclipse” by Pink Floyd

MP3: “Blue Moon Nights” by John Fogerty

MP3: “Man On The Moon” by R.E.M.

“We Choose The Moon” website

YouTube: 1969 First Landing On The Moon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: