The city of Cheyenne, Wyoming was one of the beacons that the
astronauts reported seeing from space -- every home was decorated
with Christmas Lights and neighbors stood on porches, greeting
each other with the news that Buzz Aldrin had landed on the MOON!
Local radio stations encouraged people to show their support -
because the cities in Australia had led the way by lighting every
public building so the Astronauts would know that we were thinking
about them, and we all wanted to "light" their way home!
I was traveling to Glacier National Park in Montana, and had stopped to visit with a former co-worker from the Boston Children's Museum, Susan Sheets. My two daughters, aged 7 and 4-3/4, were as excited as we were with the idea of the space journey. When Chet Huntley and David Brinkley covered the news on television, you could hear people actually cheering -- the sounds reverberated throughout Cheyenne!
Afterward, to celebrate we got all 30 flavors from Baskin-Robbins and had an ice cream smorgasbord with Susan's neighbors. What a wonderful memory of the happiest and most exciting accomplishment in Space Exploration. Even now my children mention that crazy, happy day in July when people put their Christmas Decoration Lights on for the Astronauts.
- Author Unknown
The Date: the week before - July 20, 1969; The Place: Detroit, Michigan; The Event: A summer stock theater production of Carnival.
I, the stage manager, had met with the production team to discuss: How are we going to deal with 'that moon walking thing'. After all we had a performance that night - how could we compete!!!???!!! We talked, and we talked and, we finally felt we had two options. First - close the theater for that night. THIS IS NOT AN OPTION - came loud and clear from the producer. So we opted for the second choice and got on the phone and called every person who had booked a ticket for that performance. They were told not only would they see the play but they could watch the moon walk as well!!!
The next job involved finding 5 large television sets and extension cords long enough to put the TV's on the front of the stage.
Four of the sets were made ready in the wings and the fifth we put in the box office and one of the ushers was told not to take his eyes off the screen and the minute they started to land let me know. (Had that been my job you could have set an H-bomb off and I wouldn't have heard it). I ran the show as normal, checking every 10 minutes to see if we needed to stop the show. Just as the LEM was starting it's descent we pulled the TV's into place and the cast, crew, and the audience sat mesmerized watching the events unfold.
We held the show for about 45 minutes and then started the production where we had left it.
We didn't have a full house that night but those who chose to join us didn't miss one minute of the touchdown and the excitement that everyone around them felt, the cheering by all those actors, technical people, and the folks in the audience was wonderful.
This is one of my most vivid memories and has come up more than once while I was teaching 'space' science to my students, who needless to say are too young to remember that special event, but with good films and now, good videos, they too have had the chance to experience the same thrill we all had that July 20th night.
- Carlyn D. Postle, Retired Drama and Science Teacher.
On July 20, 1969, I was 16 years old. I was going sailing with my dad and two brothers. The sailboat was a small sloop and was docked in Marina Del Rey, California. We had the boat ready to go, but wanted to wait until the LEM had landed on the moon. We four were hunkered down in the cockpit listening intently to the radio describe the descent. I remember being totally absorbed in the communications from NASA, to/from the astronauts and occasionally the radio announcers. As the LEM was piloted down, the suspense was enormous, especially with the extra fuel being a concern as Neil Armstrong was trying to find a good landing site. I particularly remember the announcement "the Eagle has landed". All around the harbor, the sound of air horns could be heard. I realized, everyone else was listening too. Tremendous pride swelled up inside me.
- Bob Downing, Software Engineer
On July 20, 1969, I was a Naval Officer about to take a trip for the Government to the West Coast. I was so afraid that I would miss something. When I was leaving home for the airport, the astronauts were just touching down. The flight plan called for them to take a nap! Can you imagine? Making the most significant journey in the history of mankind, then taking a nap? Well, it didn't work, and while I was flying west, they were making preparations (dressing etc.) to leave the lunar module. By the time I arrived in Los Angeles, they had the hatch open and I got to see Neil step on the lunar surface! A cheer went up at the airport, as though we were fans at a football game and a touchdown was scored by the home team. I felt the same tingly feeling that I often get when the Star Spangled Banner is played. I nearly cried. I thought how we raced the Russians, and they had led for so long. I thought of when I was a child and read Buck Rogers comics. I remembered my college classmate, Gus Grissom [Grissom died in the Apollo1 fire]; how I wished he could have seen it. The same thought for JFK. It was as though "The Impossible Dream" had become reality.
- Author Unknown
Summer 1969 found me at a bungalow colony high up in the Adirondack Mountains. So far away from civilization, it turns out, that we had no television capabilities. But an American was going to land on the moon!!! Surely there was a way to allow us to view such an amazing event. The owners of the colony were fabulous, they arranged for one of their own televisions to be placed in the community building where we all gathered to watch. I was 14. It was surreal. We all gathered in a room, maybe 150 of us, the children sitting on the floor. And we watched in black and white. I fell asleep on the boy next to me. He pushed me off, thinking I was trying to flirt with him. I was just trying to catch some zzzz's. And then, suddenly, there on the screen was Neil Armstrong hidden in a huge suit of white, with a reflective helmet so that we couldn't see his face, and he spoke to us, to ME, from the moon. We watched in total silence and amazement.
Afterwards I recall walking back to my cabin, starring up at the moon all the way. And thinking, wondering, how a human could actually be on the moon. For years after that I dreamt of being an astronaut, of living in the first moon colony, of visiting other planets. It has yet to come true, but I'm still dreaming.
- Author Unknown
The proposed walk on the moon was so exciting to Americans. It was frightening because we didn't know what they would find, and it was thrilling because we felt America was regaining her place as a space leader.
July 20th was a painful day for me as it was the celebration of a painful event in my life. I decided to spend it in a positive way and took my children, ages 10 and 2 camping. I am a woman and therefore was somewhat frightened of really "camping" with just me and two children; so we went to a state park in Mexia, Texas, about an hour's drive from our home. In the park we were able to rent a screened camping area that offered walls, a roof, and a concrete floor. It also offered electricity. I took along our small black and white TV and we used aluminum foil and coat hangers to try and get a good picture. Just as the news came on we got it working and we sat in the shelter, eating marshmallows, and watching this exciting event. Others in the park heard the sounds and came and stood outside, watching along with us. After it was over everyone let out a big, spontaneous cheer and someone outside started singing God Bless America. Hokey? Yes, I suppose it was, but it sure felt wonderful and we were all aware that something new had begun.
- Nancy C. Gravley
I was nine years old the summer of 1969, and my family and I were on our own special mission. We were on vacation, traveling across the country from Birmingham, Alabama to California. Our goal was Disneyland.
As we journeyed across the Southwest, we followed the reports of the Apollo 11 mission. At one chain of gas stations that we frequented during our trip, we would get paper cutouts of the Lunar Module and Command Module with each gasoline fill-up. My sisters and I became experts at placing tab A to B and AA to CC and so forth. Paper lunar vehicles dangled from strings in our family travel trailer.
We arrived in Anaheim, California July 20, and stopped for dinner, the top of Disneyland's fake Matterhorn shinning behind the trees of the local restaurant. Just after we arrived inside, the manager announced over the intercom that American's had landed on the Moon. A great cheer erupted from the quiet restaurant. There was a rush for the wall television in the adjoining lounge, but children weren't allowed inside. So a small handful of us kids gathered around the red, padded lounge door to catch a glimpse of history in the making. Even today, when I pass a restaurant lounge door, I remember that night.
- Skip Pennington
I was on stage in a college production of Showboat at Tulane University Summer Lyric Theater in New Orleans. The show was stopped and the announcement was made about the moon walk. It was quite exciting. That was real show business, we all thought!
- Fred Negem
I was 13 years old and on vacation in Hawaii with my mom and one of my sisters in July 1969. We were camping in a "Fun Mobile" which was no more than a glorified VW Bus. It was quite cramped, so we spent most of our time out and about. But the entire campground came to a stand still as we gathered around one of the RV's in the campground that had a small TV. The screen was barely 5-6" diagonally and we all strained to see the image on this little black and white set. Ooohs and aaahs resonated throughout the group that day and I still remember even now the celebration throughout the campground that night as we all realized what had just happened. It was great to pull complete strangers together to watch history unfold on this tiny little TV set. There is a lot of that trip I have long forgotten--this is one part I will never forget.
- Author Unknown
We had just gotten back into town after going to a barn dance and when we drove past the local furniture store we saw the television on in the window. Some one yelled "stop" and the driver pulled in. We all got out and watched the moon landing out side under the moon and stars . . . on a furniture store TV. We all hugged each other and danced to the men on the moon.
- Author Unknown
I was about as close to the moon as you could get as an 18 year old in Southern California. I was at summer camp near Tahquitz Peak in the San Jacinto Mountains. It was a very unusual camp day. Normally, we wouldn't spend the day in the dining hall unless it was pouring rain -- a very rare occasion. But on that day, we stayed in, riveted to the tiny black and white TV screen (it was the first time we even knew there was a TV on the campgrounds -- a possession of the camp director normally hidden in her private quarters).
It was a remarkable act of cooperation -- over 100 faces trying to have an unobstructed view, and the silence was palpable until, after a long pause while we all exhaled, we sent up the biggest cheer in the history of the camp. What a day!
- Author Unknown
On that date, I was in Las Vegas on vacation. Was in the casino at the Riviera Hotel playing Black Jack. For the first time in the history of the casinos, gambling was stopped, television sets were turned on and all watched this incredible scene. It was an "electric moment". The energy in that large room in its silence was enormous. An unforgettable day in all of our lives, and one that I personally will never forget!!!
- Author Unknown
I do remember exactly where I was! Thanks for making me remember it!
I had just graduated from college and was taking it easy for the summer in my summer job. For once, I had no real reason to earn a lot since I knew it was the last fun time before I started "real work."
I was waitressing in a nice restaurant in Maine called Spicer's Galley. It was located in Cape Porpoise outside of Kennebunkport, the summer home of President Bush.
At the end of the dinner hour, we were sitting around eating, (what else ) and for this evening the boss, Stikey Daerius, had brought in a TV so we could watch the landing.
I remember sitting there in sort of a dark area with maybe 10 others, eating home made blueberry pie with sugar on the top, and watching this event.
It was a remarkable moment to me and probably anyone alive then watching it. I'll always remember the "one small step for man and one giant step for mankind" statement and the flag going down to the surface of the moon.
It was and is a special moment in my life and was a special moment for this country. I grew up during the space race and it was fun to see the success of it. We don't have too many successes lately.
- Kathy Sullivan, Telecommunications Consultant
On Sunday, July 20, 1969, I was at the Chicago White Sox's old ball park - Comiskey Park - just enjoying the afternoon and the game. When the astronauts landed on the moon, the Sox's announcer came on the public address system and told the fans that the astronauts had landed safely and were preparing for their walk on the moon. Well, the whole ballpark went nuts! Everyone in the stands was cheering and clapping and generally feeling good to be an American, while the Sox lit up the old score board and set off fireworks. I don't think I've ever experienced anything so moving with such a large group of people, and the celebrated seemed like it lasted for a long time.
- Author Unknown
I remember that day very well. It was a Sunday and I was at Fenway Park watching the Red Sox play. I remember sitting in the stands and the announcers of the game gave a play by play of where the Apollo was and what was happening--along with the game play by play.
During the game Apollo landed on the moon. The announcers broke the news and everything stopped, the game, the fans everyone--broke into cheers and applause!! There was finally a lot of cheering at Fenway!!!! They showed the pictures on the screen in the outfield and the crowd went crazy!! I don't think anyone really cared about the game that day -something better was going on and everyone was into it.
I remember driving home and just wanting to get to a TV to watch everything. At home we all stayed up late watching history unfold. It was an unforgettable day and night.
- Author Unknown
I vividly remember the moment the landing was complete. I was in Idaho at the National Jamboree with 10's of thousands of Boy Scouts. We were camped on the shores of the beautiful lake in Coeur-de-lane. Darkness was beginning to descend over the whole encampment, we were walking along a ridge overlooking most of the acres of troops when all of the sudden thousands of scouts began to cheer and the cheer went round and round like a wave. I'll never forget the incredible sound of thousands cheering and the feeling of pride that came over me to live in this great free country that knows no limits nor bounds to its achievements!!!!
- Rob Wible, Leasing Executive
On July 20, 1969, I had been a New York City Police Officer for a little more than a year. I was assigned to the Tactical Patrol Force. The hours worked were from 6 PM to 2 AM and each day TPF squads were sent to various locations throughout the city, as needed. On July nineteenth, my squad was instructed to report to Central Park the following night, July, 20, 1969.
In the great meadows of Central Park, the three major networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC (there were no cable stations at that time) had set up three huge TV monitors. They were as large as movie screens and were formed into a triangle in the center of the park. Tens of thousands of people from the metropolitan area joined summer tourists that night in the park. They made the triangle of TV screens look like the hub of a huge human wheel.
My assignment that night was right in front of the ABC monitor. The excitement was electrifying. The crowd, although very large, was extremely friendly and cheerful. In 1969 large crowds were not always like this.
As the moment of egress of the astronauts grew closer, the crowd became more excited. Then a grainy black and white picture appeared on the monitor. A white bulky figure came out of a hatch and climbed down a ladder. The figure jumped as if in slow motion to the ground. But the ground was not the Earth, it was the Moon. Then the words "a small step for man, a giant leap for mankind". A man was standing on and speaking from the moon. Central Park exploded in cheer. The moment lasted for hours.
Thirty years later, it seems like yesterday.
- John Clarke, NYPD - Retired
I was 17 years old the first time a human set foot on the moon, working a summer job at a department store in McLean, Virginia. Someone called out, "We're landing!" and everyone stampeded for the TV department. We all huddled around the flickering black and white television sets, and later I was glad to have been in a public place, to share the experience. Eight years earlier I had been living as a kid on a naval base in the Mojave Desert, and had been kept home from school to watch Alan Shepard make his orbital flight. Today kids are more excited by Star Wars and video game simulations, but there's little to compare with experiencing the real thing . . . the first time!
- Trisha Gorman, Internet Journalist
I was raised on a traveling carnival in Texas. I remember very clearly that day. We all were standing around the "Power Plant". This is the truck that carried the generator to supply power to run the rides and lights. "The show is going to open late today," said the boss. "I want to see if they really do it." So all of us gathered around a 12" black and white TV in the back of the truck to watch. I don't think anyone took a breath the entire time.
When it was over, we all cheered like we were there with them. I get goose bumps even now thinking back to that day so long ago. The carnival days are long gone but that day will live on in my mind.
- Author Unknown
I was fortunate to be living 30 miles south of the Kennedy Space Center at the time of the Apollo 11 Mission to the Moon. I was 14 years old and preparing to enter my sophomore year in high school. This momentous event was coupled with my fanatical devotion to the U.S. Space Program.
The two memories that stand out in my mind were the pre-launch hoopla in Brevard County where I lived and the TV coverage live from the lunar surface. While everyone I knew went to see the launch from the beach three blocks away, I stayed glued to the TV coverage. I only ventured out after the launch to see the Saturn V rocket streak across the sky and then the windows rattled from the launching, as they always did when larger rockets went up.
Needless to say, there were many visitors all over the county, swelling the population to one million. Of course, watching Neil Armstrong stepping out on the lunar surface with "live" television was, to me, the most awesome technical feat in my short life to that date.
Even now, though, I still follow the space program, especially the unmanned missions to the known planets. While I applaud the astronauts and the new space station, I find that my only remaining dream is seeing a live television broadcast from the surface of Mars!
- Author Unknown
I was 14 years old in July of 1969 taking a cross-country trip with my family to visit most of the National Parks. On July 20th we were in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and decided to take the gondola ride to the summit of Grand Teton Peak. There were about 20 of us in the gondola and I remember someone had a radio tuned in to the coverage of the moon landing. It was dead quiet; everyone was spellbound.
We were about half way to the summit when we heard "Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed." Everyone broke into applause and when we reached the summit the view was breathtaking. At that moment, I never felt more of a sense of awe in my life before or after with the possible exception of the births of my children.
- George W. Hawkins
Although I saw the launch of Apollo 11 while on a business trip, I thought that radio would be sufficient for the landing. I didn't know that there would be live TV from the Moon. Thus, I was on the Union Pacific train "City of Portland," east of Portland, Oregon, when the Eagle landed. I heard about the success while in the Dome Dining Car. Shortly after Mr. Armstrong stepped out, I went to the Dutch door and opened it to look at the Moon while we sped eastward.
- George Lee Fleming
I worked as a poker shill in a Las Vegas casino. When I got to work I went to the break room to watch TV just before I was due on shift. The space walk was just ready to begin, and I couldn't tear myself away, so I stayed and watched through the whole thing. I always loved astronomy and was so excited about the concept of humans reaching another planet. When it was over, I went upstairs expecting to be fired, but when the boss asked me where I was and I told him I couldn't miss the space walk, he just said, "Okay."
- Diana Loraine Hepburn
In 1969, I was a typical 16-year-old boy who had spent the biggest part of his life growing up watching astronauts and cowboys on TV. Each of them helped form my character, as it was that day. I liked to think of myself as across between Paladin and Alan Shepherd. Strong, brave, and willing to take on any challenge, despite my gangly bespectacled reality.
I remember on that night I was working, as part of the late night kitchen staff, in the depths of the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver. There we were truly the melting pot of America in the 60's huddled around a small black and white screen. The 20ish Greek immigrant trying to make a living to feed his wife and new baby, assorted Hispanic youth working very hard to make ends meet and working equally hard not to let the world know they had no papers. My first black friend from that other school across town and the middle class white kid just dreaming of making enough money that summer to buy his first car.
The dishwashing machine would occasionally drown out the sound on the tiny set as we watched in silence. The buzz of the various pieces of equipment lent a very scientific background to what was a very "low tech" existence. Each of us had every reason to focus on our work but just could not. Not on a night when the world would forever be different. As Neil, (we all called him by his first name as if he were a close friend) stepped out on the ladder the room services bells started going off. We looked at each other in stunned disbelief. Who could walk away at this moment to deliver ice cream to some fat cat in the big suites upstairs? Nervous eyes look around at each other tense for a split second. Suddenly we all began to laugh and settle back on the counters. Someone reached over and pulled the chord out of the bells to silence them. For that instant, we all knew we would rather loose our meager jobs and whatever dreams they represented then miss this.
- Stephen Farmer, Systems Designer
I was a 17 year old working as a lifeguard in Hagerstown, MD. There was a thunderstorm going on so everyone was ordered out of the pool and the employees and a few customers were gathered in the pool office. We were listening to the moon landing on the radio and were all awed when we heard those famous words, "One small step for a man--one giant leap for mankind." In those moments it seemed like anything was possible! I remember that just after the landing a local Church steeple was struck by lightening and there were actually some people who said that was God's warning that we should not be on the moon!
- Sherie Adams
During the week of the moon walk in July of 1969, I was taking care of an issue in Los Angeles. My Mother had passed away on the 17th, and I flew down from Sacramento to take care of her funeral and other related issues.
When the astronauts were on the moon itself, we were driving through the streets of Manhattan Beach, a small town south west of Los Angeles. It was as though we were living in a movie of the attack of the aliens. There was NO ONE, anywhere to be seen. The streets were empty, the stores were empty and no sign of pedestrians anywhere.
This was an event that I had been looking forward to for sometime, and now that it was happening, I could not fully enjoy this history making venture, as my emotions from the loss of my Mother, were overwhelming me.
I was twenty nine, and during that time, it was a bittersweet experience. Each year, as the anniversary rolls around, I fondly remember the moon walk, and also my Mother's death.
- Linda Emerson, Office Supervisor/Manager - Retired
I had just finished my Master's degree in marine biology at California State University, Humboldt. As a gift to my family, three boys and wife, we were taking a 7000 mile trip around the United States. We had driven from California to Indiana, to Michigan, to Texas, and were on our way home to California on the 20th of July, 1969. I knew we would not make it home before the lunar landing.
We were listening on the car radio when it became apparent that the landing was about to take place. Unfortunately, we would not make our motel in time either, so I told the family that we were making an unscheduled stop.
Somewhere in the Arizona desert, there was a lonely gas station and bar that I noticed by the antenna must have had a TV, or at least so I hoped. I pulled in, ran into the bar, (somewhat unusual since I am not a drinker), and watched the moon landing. I'm not sure the boys entirely appreciated dad's efforts, but I did get to witness the landing in not so unmoon like surroundings.
- Fred R. Brock, College Science Professor
The Alaska media were ready: the flight of Apollo 11 was the first ever live network telecast to Alaskan viewers. Our time zone was favorable for convenient viewing of the moon landing on July 20. Alas, my work schedule that day, driving motor coaches on local tours in the Anchorage area, precluded my seeing the televised moments of landing.
Fortunately for me, however, the day took an odd and memorable twist. Between tours in front of our headquarters hotel downtown, my dispatcher suddenly asked me to commandeer the company sedan to take two tour clients, an elderly couple, to the Providence Hospital emergency room a few miles away. The husband was experiencing severe angina. Having dropped off the worried couple, I was asked to remain at the hospital in case I could do anything else for our clients. Seeking out the main waiting room, I discovered a large but quiet crowd seated in front of the television the hospital staff had thoughtfully set up there especially for the occasion. Just in time, I sat down to watch history being made.
- Dale V. Sellin
After a Pony League baseball game, I was walking around East Tawas, Michigan on a hot early evening, going I don't know where. But I remember the stereo effect of the TVs coming though the open doors and windows on either side of the street.
- Bret A. Pohr
I was with my wife at the Municipal Opera in Forest Park for a stage presentation of "Mame." This musical has a scene with a tune that contains the words, "The man in the moon is a lady!" This is the very tune my wife and I heard as Neil Armstrong was stepping onto the lunar surface.
However, what makes it very unique and special to me is that I was at the concession stand in front of a TV screen, (with many others, I might add!), watching the most incredible scene probably ever televised--man's first foot steps on the moon! I will always remember that very special evening, partially for its drama, but also, for the coincidental comedy of the tune being sung on stage at that very moment in man's history of space exploration. Unfortunately, my wife did not share in that experience directly because she remained in her seat focused on the stage presentation. I quickly informed her as I returned to join her. She, of course, regretted not having been with me to share that special TV broadcast.
I can certainly say that what I felt at that moment is tremendous pride to be an American and a form of exhilaration that made me want shout with joy! I shed a tear of joy, however, for the feeling that had welled-up inside me was too strong to keep totally contained.
- Andrew J. Polcyn