The Daily Dose/July 20, 2019
By Gaylon Kent
America’s Funniest Guy
50 years ago today man landed and walked on the moon for the first time. Regardless of whatever else we accomplish, Apollo 11 will always be one of our species landmark achievements.
Like most days times in our nation’s history, July 20, 1969 was a chaotic time. The 1960’s had seen two Kennedy brothers had been assassinated, blacks, and others, were demanding things whites weren’t prepared to give and we were mired in the battle about whether or not to fight the Vietnam War. Postage was six cents, gas was 35 cents a gallon and the average American made about $8,500 a year, roughly 42 cents, $2.43 and 58,000 in today’s money.
Apollo 11 is our earliest memory. I was three-and-a-half and still living with my parents, in an apartment in Downey, California. Like more or less everyone else, we had an old black and white TV for whom I was the remote control. If you remember Apollo 11 you are in the minority, because only about 21% of Americans can.
Two members of Apollo 11 are still alive, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, and of the twelve men who have walked on the moon, only four are still alive. Aldrin, at 89, is the oldest. Charles Duke, 83, is the youngest.
NASA, of course, had a dozen astronauts capable of riding on Apollo 11, but we’ve always felt Deke Slayton made three good choices for the crew of man’s first lunar landing.
Though a former Navy pilot, Neil Armstrong was a civilian when he commanded Apollo 11. He once said he would have been happy doing whatever NASA wanted him to do, but we’re pretty well read on Armstrong and we would not die of shock had he felt he was the best man for the job. Content with his place in history, and a bit dull and reticent besides, Armstrong was content to let his mission’s accomplishment speak for itself.
Buzz Aldrin’s sheer genius at docking and other aspects of space travel made him an ideal member of the crew. Someone, perhaps Armstrong, though we can’t remember anymore, once said Aldrin appeared to be more peeved at not being the first man to walk on the moon than he was happy to have been the second. His book Return to Earth chronicles his post-Apollo depression and alcohol battles and is a good read.
Michael Collins, the command module pilot who stayed in orbit around the moon, isn’t going to lie to you: he said he did not have the best seat on Apollo 11, but he also admits he is completely satisfied and pleased with his role, adding he turned down an opportunity to return to and walk on the moon. His book Carrying the Fire was a good read.
Fifty years after Apollo 11 America cannot even put humans into space anymore and it is hard to tell how History, decades and centuries down the line, will look at this. That’s an argument for other people at another time, though. Regardless of History’s judgment, July 20, 1969, will always be remembered as a – perhaps the – landmark day in our human experience.
Today At The Site
The Diary of a Nobody: Sparrow has a slow day at the VSO, and his stomach is still sending mixed signals.
My stomach is still a bit tender from my Calzone gorge-fest last Monday…I came home from work rather hungry because I didn’t bring a lunch and I had a couple of sandwiches, one chicken and one peanut butter and peach jam and my stomach started objecting shortly thereafter…I don’t know why…I mean, I’ve been feeding it two sandwiches at a time since I was in diapers…It’s accustomed to it…But it was rebelling anyway.
It’s Sparrow, an average man passing an average life.
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On This Date
In 1969 – Man reaches another heavenly body for the first time as Apollo 11 lands on the moon. The landing was fraught with some peril. At about 30,000 feet above the lunar surface, the lunar module’s computer kept announcing it was overworked and the mission only continued because someone at mission control knew what they were doing and said it was OK to continue. The LM did not have unlimited fuel, either, and Eagle landed just a few seconds before what was known as the ‘bingo call”, when they would have 20 seconds to land or abort. Six-and-a-half hours later Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon and 20 minutes later Buzz Aldrin became the second. Neither found moving on the moon difficult, though both reported they found it useful to plan their movements a few steps ahead. The two spent two-and-a-half hours walking on the moon and all told spent 21 hours on the lunar surface. The landing happened 2,983 days after President Kennedy had called for the United States to land on the moon.
In 1973 – Wilbur Wood of the Chicago White Sox starts both games of a doubleheader against the New York Yankees. Wood wasn’t a puzzle in either game, losing both as the Yankees swept 12-2 and 7-0, dropping Wood’s record to 18-14 for the season. Wood finished the year 24-20 and is one of ten major league pitchers since 1900 to both win and lose 20 games in a season and he remains the last major league pitcher to start both games a doubleheader.
In 1969 – Perhaps appropriately, Zager and Evans are at #1 when man first lands on the moon, one day into the second week of their six-week reign at the top with In The Year 2525. It would be the only chart appearance for Zager and Evans, making them one of the Hot 100’s ultimate one-hit wonders: an act whose only chart single went to #1. They achieved this feat in Great Britain as well, the only act to do so in both countries.
We copy you down, Eagle.
Mission Control, Houston, seconds before:
Houston…Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed.
Commander, Apollo 11
July 20, 1969
Answer To The Last Trivia Question
519 women competed at the 1952 Helsinki Summer Olympics.
Who was the last major league pitcher to both win and lose 20 games in the same season? – Answer next time!