By Beverly Clinkingbeard
Recently on the Antiques Road Show, a collector asked for an appraisal of a framed photo of an Apollo 11 astronaut. It seems his father had worked on the space project and the astronaut had signed a photo and along with the photo was documentation or a certificate of authentication. The appraiser said that and the signature added to the interest and value of the photo.
It’s been 50 years (July 20, 1969) since the walk on the moon. That moment, like many others in our nation’s history, is remembered, but thankfully, it is remembered for the victory it was. It wasn’t a victory over war, it wasn’t because of devastation or gathering for a funeral, but remembered for an achievement! Thus, I asked a few folks where they were, what they were doing, and their thoughts at the time.
A respondent said, “We were at a family reunion in Coin, Iowa, and listened to it on the radio. I don’t remember any special thoughts except, ‘It was out of this world.’”
Another respondent said, “We lived in an East Asian country at the time, and we’d invited some friends over so we could listen to it over the radio. I tried VOA and BBC, but it was just static and not a word came through clearly. The friends gave up and went home and we went to bed. It was much later before I could read about the moon landing.”
Still another said, “We lived in Villa Park, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. We didn’t have a television because of elementary age children and the lack of quality in programming. Our neighbors invited us down to their apartment to watch the big moment. It seemed to take forever before they really did their walk and it all looked surreal. Fast forward a couple years, and a move to the Carolinas. Offered was a home for several weeks in Lancaster, South Carolina, as the owners, Dr. and Mrs. William Duke, and family, were away on a medical mission trip. They needed a house-sitter. Dr. Duke’s mother showed us around and was very concerned it should be kept well (however, the Dukes had children and it was obvious, the house was happily lived in). We gratefully accepted the offer to house sit and were fascinated that in an upstairs hallway there were numerous framed and signed photos of astronauts, many of them by Charlie Duke, identical twin brother to Dr. Duke, owner of the home.
Astronaut Charlie Duke was not on Apollo 11, but served as CAPCOM (space craft communicator). In 1972, Charlie Duke served as commander of Apollo 16, and he and John Young, spent more than 20 hours on the moon. During the Apollo 16 mission, Dr. William Duke, was at mission control, and since the two men looked alike, it caused a few heads to turn. As a result of our house sitting we probably followed the space program a bit closer than we would have otherwise.”
Still another account, “I was in nurses training at the time and we only had one TV to a floor in a dorm. My (now) husband was on an island in Alaska without any news from the outside world except by short wave radio. So our memories are not of breathlessly watching a moon landing on TV. But I wish we could have something glorious like that today to unite us (as a nation) again.”
’Til next time.