Remembering July 20, 1969

Back in 1969 at the time of the first moon landing I was working for a small firm of chartered accountants in Wimpole Street, near Oxford Circus. I was an articled clerk and commuted daily from my parents home in Hertfordshire.

I worked during the day and studied at night. Although interested in the landing it took place sometime in the early hours of the morning and I fell asleep and missed the actual event.

This all came flooding back when I read this New York Times piece by Tom Wolfe , author of The Right Stuff. Wolfe’s column begins:-

WELL, let’s see now … That was a small step for Neil Armstrong, a giant leap for mankind and a real knee in the groin for NASA.

Bruce Mccall - New York Times - July 18

Bruce Mccall - New York Times - July 18

The American space program, the greatest, grandest, most Promethean — O.K. if I add “godlike”? — quest in the history of the world, died in infancy at 10:56 p.m. New York time on July 20, 1969, the moment the foot of Apollo 11’s Commander Armstrong touched the surface of the Moon

I enjoyed Wolfe’s article, recalling Kennedy’s initiation of the so called space race as well as likening it all to an earlier age of combat. I hope you enjoy Wolfe’s piece as well.

It reminded me of how so many saw the landing as the start of a new age of exploration, rather like the voyages of the great navigators of earlier centuries Vasco da Gama, Magellan and Cook amongst others. At the same time I was at the start of my career, little realizing then that it would take me around the world with lengthy stints in a number of countries.

40 years ago, yet I can remember it all so clearly.

UPDATE:- Poneke reminisces on the same theme, but more elegantly than I.Not only that but he tells the Gorsky joke, which I remembered, but had forgotten the wording of the punch line.

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