I don’t like getting older, but I do appreciate having lived in, now, six decades (whew!) including the historic moments of both 1960s and 1970s. Yes, I was a toddler in the 60s, but I have very vivid memories of the early 70s, as early as 1971. And one of the advantages of being the youngest of many children is that I was rarely exposed to childish things and often to adult things, even as a very young child.
I remember, for example, the Watergate hearings, though I was 5 or 6 at the time. Mind you, my recollection of Watergate is that it was a bad TV show. But the memories are nonetheless vivid.
Similarly, I recall quite clearly the immediate fallout of the Beatles having broken up, and the full expectation that they would be reuniting any day. And, of course, I remember the space race.
We didn’t have a TV set in the early 70s, so my memories of watching the Apollo launches are situated in a series of relatives’ homes. It was a strange and exciting time for space exploration. Everyone expected the first mission to Mars to be scheduled for sometime in the 1980s. By the mid-70s, moon missions had become so common that most people just assumed that there was already a moon base, and that both Soviet cosmonauts and American astronauts were all over the moon, all the time. This misconception was fueled by TV shows like The Six Million Dollar Man, which featured episodes such as one in which Steve Austin travels to the moon twice, and the asteroid belt once, in a single day.
My love of space exploration is well documented. I once applied to be an astronaut, after all. And on the 40th anniversary of the first moonwalk, this blog post became a feature article in a California magazine. And people always disappoint me by not knowing who the man on my T-shirt is:
Why do I bring all this up? Because right now I’m watching a documentary made in 1969 during the Apollo 11 mission. It was finally released in 1972 and is called Moonwalk One. The tone, feel and sound of the documentary capture well the sentiment of the time. Space travel back then was literally otherworldly and mystical. Today, a comparable documentary would be chock full of computer animation, lots of wide-eyed children looking into the sky, and other Disney-esque nonsense. Moonwalk One shows the conquest of the moon as a serious adult affair that was truly the culmination of 2500 years of human ambition.
If you haven’t seen it, and that era in history interests you, I heartily recommend it. I just can’t believe that it all happened over 40 years ago.
In Other News
Took a walk on the frozen canal today. Took this picture of the base of the Pretoria bridge: