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I Remember The Moon

Posted: Jul 20, 2009

It was forty years ago today that man first walked on the moon, and I remember it like it was yesterday. How sad and ironic that the man whom I watched report the whole thing, Walter Cronkite, would pass away just days before the anniversary. And no, I am not going to make a joke about Michael Jackson and his “moon walk.”

I was just 12 years old in 1969 when the Allman Brothers Band recorded the first Southern Rock album. I knew nothing of them at the time, but I did sit glued to the black and white TV as Neil Armstrong made that “one small step,” which, according to Buzz Aldrin, was actually a three foot drop from the bottom of the LEM ladder to the surface. By no means a small step.

At the time, I was obsessed with rockets, outer space and the moon. I was all about Star Trek and Lost in Space. I dreamed of being an astronaut. My dad, who worked at the grocery store, brought me home a special gift that weekend. Seems Pepsi was offering a really cool space package if you sent in a certain number of bottle cap corks. Remember those? But the Pepsi man had a few of these items in the truck and gave one top my daddy. I was thrilled. It was a really nice big legal sized folder that tied shut like a document holder. On it was the NASA emblem and the Apollo 11 insignia. Inside were 8 X 10’s of the Apollo 11 astronauts, as well as photos of the moon, Saturn, Venus and other planets, along with a booklet about the “space race.”

I didn’t remember John Kennedy’s famous “moon” speech from eight or nine years prior, but has seen it on TV in playbacks. I was sure JFK would have loved the fact that his promise to go to the moon came true in such short order.

As for Walter Cronkite, I was as big a fan as everyone else. It has been said he could have been elected President if he had run. He was the most trusted man in America. A few years back I read his biography, A Reporter’s Life. I highly recommend it.

So on a day where we celebrate the first man on the moon, I find myself reflecting on my youth, my bedroom filled with models of the Apollo rocket, the USS Enterprise, and Robbie the Robot; playing in the sand with my Major Matt Mason astronaut toys; and sitting in back of dad’s ‘65 Buick, pretending I was out in deep space. It would be many years later in 1991 before I flew over Cape Kennedy on the way to Disney World, and when the pilot called our attention to it and the huge building where they constructed the rockets (which looked to be the size of a postage stamp), I still got butterflies. Just like a kid, playing with his toy rockets.

Keep it Real. Keep it Southern.


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JuliBoo says...

You "transported" me right back to those glory days, Buff. Thanks

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