I was saddened to hear of the passing of Neil Armstrong. I must admit his passing makes me feel old. It seems as if a whole generation of our heroes, and favorite entertainers are dying at an alarming rate. Thinking of the Apollo astronauts particularly, I think of a time in the future, when every man who walked on the moon will be gone.
The kids of my generation all recall watching the walk on the moon live on their fuzzy screened televisions. Where we you when Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed on the moon?
It was a late summer night. It was hot, but we were comfortable in our small house. We were the only people on the block with central air conditioning. My Dad was working night shift at the fire department. Mom was busy straightening up, folding laundry and putting the younger siblings to bed.
My brothers and sisters and I were sitting on the floor in front of our Zenith black and white television. Our color Magnavox would not be around for another year, but it didn’t matter tonight. The moon landing was a grainy black and white image brought to us from some magic we did not understand.
Walter Cronkite narrated the last few minutes as the Eagle set itself down on the surface of the moon. Then we heard the fateful words, “Houston, the Eagle has landed.”
I had been lying on my tummy on the floor, legs swinging back and forth. I suddenly sat up as the hatch door opened and Neil Armstrong began to descend the ladder. My Mom was now on the phone with Dad, the extra long cord allowing her to stand in the living room and watch along with us.
As Neil Armstrong placed his booted foot on the surface of the moon, and uttered his famous phrase, I knew I was watching something historic. The budding writer in me was noting the sights, smells, and sights of the evening.
Later, we sat on our small back stoop licking Sealtest ice cream out of colorful plain cones. As we gazed up at the moon, my oldest brother tried to convince us that he could see the astronauts walking around and the U.S. Flag planted on the surface.
The only thing I could see was the Man in the Moon smiling down at me.