Many moons have passed since man first landed on the moon. For one thing, they called it “Man on the moon” back then; just like how Expo ’67 was all about “Man and his World.” Both terms seem hopelessly dated. Shouldn’t she have put a woman on the moon by now?
It has been 50 years since that week and a day in July of 1969 when the world held its collective breath. I was 12 and trust me, following the Apollo 11 excursion to the moon and back was all we were talking about on earth. You couldn’t tweet about it, or post it on Facebook or Instagram it or heaven forbid even blog about it. You just lived it, in wonder, every waking minute.
Your tour guide on this mission was Walter Cronkite, chief anchor of CBS News, who basically owned the story. It was Uncle Walt who sweated the takeoff and landing and the mind-blowing moments when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped off what looked like a pool ladder and bobbed around the dusty lunar surface.
Tuesday night at 10 p.m. ET/PT, CBS News Report: Man on the Moon takes us back to a time both simpler and more advanced. What do I mean? Tuesday night’s special follows a two-hour edition of Love Island. That’s what I mean.
Still, I’m grateful for any anniversary coverage of this incredible achievement. Discovery and Nat Geo and PBS have been marking the occasion. Even TCM has been airing “Destination Moon” and other classics as part of their “Movie Moon Festival.”
The Canadian Post Office has even gotten into the act, issuing commemorative stamps. Did you realize Canadian scientists and engineers were key players during the mission, designing the spindly, low-gravity legs of the Lunar Module? Those NASA heroes from the North were the best and the brightest from Canada’s tragically dismantled Avro Arrow program of the late ‘50s. I don’t recall Cronkite giving them much due in ’69, but maybe he did; it was 50 years ago, and I was 12.
I was probably too busy assembling Revell’s plastic model kit of the lunar lander, nicknames LEM at the time. Mine landed not in the Sea of Tranquility but Central Etobicoke, near Dundas and Islington, not far from Styrofoam planets dangling from invisible threads tied to thin metal coathangers from the ceiling light in my bedroom.
It was an age of reachable wonders, and all you had to do to be inspired was to look up.