Tuesday, July 29, 2008

One Small Step

Thirty nine years ago today, an eleven year old Vache Folle was sitting on the bed of his father's hotel suite at the Hotel Dalton while they watched the moon landing on the black and white hotel TV. I spent some time living with Dad in his hotel that summer while my parents got started on their ugly divorce. It was one of the last times I would spend with him for decades to come. I remember it well because it was a moment when we shared an interest in something about which I was fanatical and because I recall my father's remarking that at one point the LEM was about as high off the moon's surface as were above the ground in the hotel.

The next day, I took a 1969 penny and a copy of the Daily Citizen, what passed for a newspaper in Dalton, stored them in a cigar bax wrapped in tin foil, and buried them in the woods at my grandparents' farm. I don't remember where, but I figured that it would be a good idea to preserve the record of that achievement for posterity just in case World War III, which we all knew was inevitable, destroyed all the libraries and archives. I was a nut even then.

A lot of people remember exactly what they were doing when JF Kennedy was shot. I don't, mainly because I was five and oblivious, but I remember the moon landing like it was yesterday.

I was a little bothered by Armstrong's famous first words. "One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind." What the hell did that mean? Did he mean "a man" and just screw it up? Turns out that the transmission was garbled. It was a pretty classy thing to say. He might have said some jingoistic crap about how great America was or "Suck on it, Ivan!" or some such thing, but he gave the credit to mankind.

He was right to credit mankind. Without German designs on conquest, the Freiherr von Braun might never have gotten to play with rockets, and the Saturn V might never have gotten off the ground. And the Soviets really provided a lot of inspiration and built a fire under NASA's ass. Kudos to them. And let's not forget all the great minds of every nation whose works and discoveries laid the foundation for the moon landing.


jew_ga53 said...

I have enjoyed your posts over the past week and this post today made me look through some of your past posts. After reading the family history part: 1 from 2005, I think we maybe first cousins. My father is Boyd Lynn from Varnell, GA. I live in Chatsworth and my wife teaches for Murray County. I thought it was interesting that I stumbled across your blog. Keep up the posts.

Vache Folle said...

Hi, cousin. My Dad is your Dad's older brother. I was in your parents' wedding. What a small world.