Reading an interview recently I learned about a prominent scientist taking up study in the field thanks to the Apollo mission. It seems there are a disproportionate number of scientists who decided to pursue their chosen field thanks to the moon landing and the impact it had on our culture. After man landed on the moon, fifty years ago today in fact, it seems like everybody wanted to become a scientist and, frankly, the world is probably now a better place for it. We have another win to chalk up for that flight to the moon.
Now, I can’t say that I chose my field of study in college thanks to Apollo, but I can say that I remember the moon landing. Apollo was in fact, my earliest memory. I was a little over two years old when it happened, still quite a young child, too young in fact, to think about college and fields of study, but it did have an impact on me. It’s my earliest memory. It’s kind of etched in my brain in an odd sort of a way. I mean, I remember it well on some levels but it’s a bit hazy too, along the lines one might remember watching an old movie (of sorts.) At least it felt a little bit like that.
Back then, I was living in New York with family: Mom, Dad, and my Sister. The landing itself was on late at night. It was past my bedtime! Ha! I got to stay up late for once. I remember Mom waking me up and telling me that I could go downstairs to watch it on our TV. Now, in those days, TV sets were different from what we have now. They were consoles, almost like a big piece of furniture and the “TV” part of the “TV set” was actually quite small, a little screen sort of buried in what looked like a big cabinet. I think our TV may have even been black and white or maybe just the landing itself was broadcast in black and white. That bit I do not recall. We had this long living room back in our house in New York, and the TV set was a fixture at one end of it. We had a couch and a coffee table but somehow I always managed to watch TV sitting on the floor instead. I used to sit on the floor in front of the TV a lot, as I can recall my Mother always yelling at me. Something about getting “my eyes crossed if I don’t move back away from that thing,” (or some such thing. The words changed from time to time but the sentiment was always there.)
When I was a child, I used to sleep on my stomach a lot. I would sleep face down and put my hands under my pillow, sort of “face plant” into the pillow actually. The night of the moon landing, I actually brought my pillow down from my bedroom and started to sit in front of the TV with my pillow on the floor in this position. I can remember my Mother yelling at me for this too.
“Don’t sit like that!” She scolded me. “You’ll fall asleep and miss the whole thing!”
I tried to reason with her back then, “No! I won’t!” I said, but I was actually wrong about that. I would have fallen asleep had she not forced me to sit up. I wound up sitting up on the floor with my feet out in front of me. Since I was a child back then, I had small feet and, since it was late at night and I was in my pajamas, oh, how I hate to admit this but I had those pajamas with the little “feet” in them. Yes, good Internet world, I must now confess. I do believe I watched the moon landing wearing Doctor Denton’s. Oh the horror of it all! Where were the fashion police in my hour of need? (Probably out chasing bell bottoms but that’s a blog post for another day, eh? The fashions of that day, wow, what can I say? We were all collectively a bit nuts but, just maybe, that helped get us to the moon.)
I can remember looking at the men walk on the moon, in that little black and white movie, looking down at my feet and thinking, “Man, have they got really big boots or what?” Yes, I was a shallow child back then but, heck, I remember the moon landing, folks. Yes, it’s true. I lived it and can now remember that moment in time. I saw it go down. Ain’t no Swiss cheese up there, nope, it was about as real as it gets. Walking on the moon. This was man walking on the moon and I watched it happen. Little ole me, miss two year old Doctor Denton wearing pillow face planting kid.
These days, there’s a new space race and, heck, let’s face it, even Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” is a bit nostalgically popular again. I think they stopped making Doctor Denton’s and nobody has a black and white TV anymore. I don’t even sleep on my stomach nowadays, as it’s not good for my now old and aching back. Oh, how things have changed. It was a simple time back then. The moon, the night sky, our times, a lot of it has changed. In some way, fifty years took it’s toll but, in many ways, things are the same. We still study science. The moon is still an impressive trip. The night sky is still fascinating. We still have a lot of exploring left to do, a lot of exploring left, indeed.
For the photo today, I opted not for one of the moon, because, why, that would be too obvious. No, instead, I selected one from China, a faraway land. In this image, it’s pretty clear the ladies were all watching something. In some small way, on that day back fifty years ago today, we were all watching something. We’ve got a lot of exploring left to do and, yes, we should all watch more of that kind of stuff. It’s good for humanity and good for our souls. To watch, to explore, to study science, to understand, to come together to advance something larger than ourselves. These things, why, they haven’t changed and, in some small way, I hope they never do.
The eagle has remembered. Fifty years ago today, on this very day, we watched, we learned, we studied, we came together, we explored. Let’s do it again, eh?
Until next time…