51 Years Ago My 12 Year Old Self Was Amazed at a Real Man on the Moon
Like a lot of little boys who grew up in the 1950's, as soon as I learned how to read I was heavily into science fiction. If it was written by Isaac Asimov, Theodore Sturgeon, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury or Robert Heinlein -- I was ready to pop down my quarter at the Herald News Stand in Paintsville, Kentucky, and spend a week on another world. The back of my bookcase bed was lined with them all.
When I was 12 years old there was no space program. Even the Russian Sputnik was still two years away. The only way actually to see a trip into space was in those books. Of course, there were a few badly done science fiction movies at the local theaters, but they were so elementary that some even used German WWII rocket films or toy rockets. This 1951 movie was one of the best.
But overall, I was not impressed with what Hollywood had to offer.
The first book I ever bought with my allowance money was called "Rocket Ship Galileo" by Robert Heinlein. I can't remember the plot exactly but I do remember a group of teenagers used an atomic rocket to travel to the moon. I remembered that book and when I first read it as I sat in front of my black and white TV that Sunday night, July 21, 1969, and watched the real thing. As the heart stopping audio came in of the lunar lander's search for a safe landing place on the moon, I was 12 years old again.
For many of you reading this, the first human on the moon is distant history. Those of us that are sixty or older probably joined most of the world watching that historic night and the next few days as the three American astronauts made the trip home. There are two main memories I have of that week:
1. The United States was actually able to do this with no major problems.
2. We at home could see it as it was happening.
I remember saying out loud when Neil Armstrong's foot touched down on the surface of the moon
"I can't believe we are actually watching this on TV."