Moon Landing Memories – Where Were You?

Where were you on July 20, 1969 – the Day Apollo 11 Landed on the Moon?

I included the Moon Landing question in a recent newsletter to my readers and asked them to share their experiences. I was so delighted by their personal and intimate recollections that I asked their permission to share their poignant short stories here. Thankfully, most obliged.
I hope you enjoy these wonderful recollections. If you were alive back in 1969, please add your story to the comments below and SHARE this post so that friends and family may both enjoy and add their stories.

#1 – Adolescent Adventures

I’ll start with my moon landing memory. I was 17 and had effectively run away from home for a week. I was staying in a guesthouse in Provincetown on Cape Cod, watching on an old black-and-white TV with the other guests (which is a whole other story). We all seemed to relish the rapture of that transcendent moment. Two weeks later I drove my 1968 GTO to Woodstock. It was quite a summer. – Charlie

#2 Oscilloscope
I was working in a government R&D lab. We jury-rigged a receiver to an o-scope and watched the landing in living green. – George

Moon Landing Memories - Charles Levin Author

#3 The Burbs
On July 20, 1969, I was two weeks shy of my 19th birthday and living in one of those little burbs (Cheektowaga) outside of Buffalo, NY. I was working for a small ad printing company that worked out of a basement under his home. At the time of Neil Armstrong’s walk, we were all upstairs standing around the boss’s TV set watching the moon landing (and, yes, we had to clock out if we wanted to watch). I remember the boss, a German immigrant, saying something along the lines of “I can’t believe he actually did that!” We were all mesmerized. – Becki

#4 – I Was 5
I was 5, and Dad said watch the TV because this is something never seen before. I’m surprised I remember it. – Julie

#5 Dusty Stuff
July 1969 I was working at Butlins Bognor Regis (a holiday camp on the south coast of England). I’d made friends with some Americans who were staying there. We sat up all night with beer and snacks watching the landing as you can imagine it turned into quite a party! The amazing thing is I still remember it vividly all these years later. I’ve found over the years that if you ask anyone what Armstrong first said they reply “One small step for man one giant leap for mankind,”
What he actually said was “Its some kind dusty stuff I can stir it around with my foot”. I prefer this one. It’s more honest, but I suppose he had to go with the official blurb. – Barrie

#6 Staying Up Late
Yes, I was around for the lunar landing. I had turned 5 at the beginning of July. I remember mom and dad more or less making my brother and I watch. They felt this was an important point in history, which of course it was. We all watched in Dad’s den in the basement. We didn’t have AC so it was much cooler in the basement. I was allowed to stay up late so it was really a big deal! – Cathy

#7 – 5-Inch Screen
1969 seems so long ago, although when it comes right down to it, it’s not so long. Below is a photo of our daughter Brenda Gelean watching the moon landing on a 5″ TV screen with us in our bed on that spectacular night in 1969. On the other hand, maybe 1969 is farther back than I think, since even Brenda’s kids are all in their teens now. Three of our grandchildren. All four of our grandchildren arrived after the year 2000.
Watching the landing in the middle of the night in North Vancouver, BC on a 5″ screen, tiny TV set with our youngest baby about 6 mo. old. Seems like she enjoyed it. – Betty

Betty G - Charles Levin Author
#8 Rabbit Ears
On 7-20-1969, I was 19-years-old and watched the “moon landing” with my kid brother and new husband of two months. Since we were poor college students, we were lucky to have owned a 10″ black-and-white tabletop TV with foil on the “rabbit ears” antenna for better reception. I can still see us huddled together with our noses only a couple of feet from the screen of the TV in our very small apartment “dining room.” It is really strange how “50 years” sounds so long ago, but it doesn’t really feel all that long ago. – Leigh

Please leave your Moon Landing memories in the Comments below, share and check back for more.

Happy Moon Day… Charlie

Update: Since I posted this yesterday, 20+ people have shared their delightful mini Moon Landing stories in the comments below. I’d encourage you to read, enjoy them and leave your own.
Meanwhile, I read a thought-provoking article that asks a challenging question: Was Apollo 11 the peak of American greatness? Have a look and let us know what you think in the Comments below.
The Sublime Grandeur of Apollo 11

P.S. My original fast-paced thriller NOT SO DEAD and the new techno-thriller, NOT SO GONE, are now available on Amazon. Read more about it. Better yet, buy a copy?
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  1. ANITA FOX on July 21, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    I had my first Birthday, on the same day, they walked on the moon.

    • Charles Levin on July 21, 2019 at 3:31 pm

      Happy birthday! Very auspicious I’d say:)

  2. Russell Fletcher on July 21, 2019 at 3:07 pm

    I was 6 years old (by 3 days) and was lying on the floor in my grandparents’ living room with my 2 brothers (one 4 and the other 7 (by 9 days)) and we had our heads propped up on our hands watching the event on the big console TV. My grandfather was in his chair to our right, my grandmother was in her chair behind us and my parents sat on the couch to our left by the fireplace. I can recall every detail.

    • Charles Levin on July 21, 2019 at 3:32 pm

      That’s a beutiful image – I can picture it.

  3. Donna Ruckart on July 21, 2019 at 3:13 pm

    I remember it well. I was happily married to the love of my life. We had two little girls. I got out our camera and I took a photo of the TV screen as Armstrong stepped onto the moon. We hoped the photo would work, never having taken a shot of the screen before. Needless to say it did…. although it was not the clearest of shots. We could not believe we our country had accomplished this great feat! What amazing men!!

    • Charles Levin on July 21, 2019 at 3:36 pm

      I’m still amazed to this day – especially considering their computer power was less than the phone in your pocket. Read a wonderful article – really a thriller – about how their computer crashed 5 times just before landing. They almost didn’t make it:

  4. Danielle Letourneau on July 21, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    It was my 12th birthday, on a Saturday like this year. I recalled seeing the launch to the moon earlier in the week.
    I was in front of our tv from after supper til Neil Armstrong actually walk on the moon.
    It was a thrill to witness that momentuous event.

  5. Anonymous on July 21, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    I was very small. I knew it was a big deal, but much of the coverage was boring nohing for hours, and I wondered why it had to be on all three major networks, so no one could watch anything else mor interesting until something actually happened.

  6. Vic Chorney on July 21, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    I was stationed at Wurtsmith AFB outside Oscoda, Michigan where I was an aircraft maintenance officer. In the spring of 1969, I had driven across the state to Benton Harbor, home of Heathkit. The company was one of the quality electronics kit suppliers and I purchased a 25″ television kit and console. Despite the hours demanded by my job, I found the time and got the set assembled and working in early July.

    Had it not been late on a Sunday afternoon, I’d likely have missed it. For some reason, though, I was in my quarters when the landing occurred and watched and listened as this extraordinary event proceeded. The memory of Walter Cronkite removing his glasses and wiping tears from his eyes made the landing all the more memorable.

    As a science fiction fan(atic) for almost 20 years by then, this was like watching a visual presentation of something by Heinlein, Asimov, Leinster and many, many others come to life. I had, by the way, been writing computer programs since 1961 and was in a position to truly appreciate how critical the computer was to the success of that mission (as it was to so many others.)

    I am grateful to all the work that NASA and the low-bid contractors did to enable this remarkable achievement and to the astronauts who — quite literally — were going “where no man had gone before.”

    • Charles Levin on July 21, 2019 at 4:26 pm

      Thanks for sharing. I couldn’t have said it better. Walter Cronkite was such a powerful and perfect narrator for this event. I also did computer programming. Now I write scifi thrillers. You’d appreciate the Wired article on how their computer guidance crashed five times in the last few minutes before touching down. They almost didn’t make it.

  7. Evelyn Goughnour on July 21, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    I remember that my whole family with mom and dad were all in the living room watching the tv as the astronaut’s landed. It was amazing to watch it with whole family and a few friends that didn’t have a tv came over to watch it with us. We were all waiting we had popcorn and koolaid to celebrate the moment with everyone. It’s all we talked about at home and at school for at least a week. I’ll never forget it!

  8. Florine Kreeb on July 21, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    I was sitting in our den, holding my new born second son, Joe. My husband, parents and oldest son, Pat were with me. I remember whispering to my sons that they were seeing a special thing on tv and always remember it. I know they were too young but I felt good just knowing that it was happening in their lifetimes.

  9. Dorothy Jensik on July 21, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    Since we did not have a t.v., I took my sons to great-grandma’s house and watched the moonwalk. When we got back home, there was a commotion up the street, so we went to see what was happening. It seemed that a man had become worried about his neighbor, a WWI vet, and his sister, and called the police. They arrived, broke into the home, and found both dead, The man died in his bed, and the sister sat on the floor until she succumbed. I felt so sad for the silent loss of this family, and thankful that the man had taken concern and contacted the police..

  10. Sharon Meier on July 21, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    My husband was in the Navy and he watched the moon landing on the beach at Waikiki in Hawaii

  11. Jonathan Kastoff on July 21, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    My parents found out about the moon landing in the oddest way. In July, 1969, they were on vacation in Russia. Needless to say, there was a blackout on news about any Moon Shot. However, during a tour of the Kremlin, they met Hubert Humphrey, who was meeting Russian officials. It was Hubert Humphrey who told my parents about the moon landing.

  12. Ericka V Southworth on July 21, 2019 at 4:55 pm

    It was my 10th birthday and I watched it with my mother on our B & W. I thought how lucky I was for such a special historic occasion to have happen on my birthday. I will always remember that night.

  13. Beverly Merkel on July 21, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    I was 13 and enjoying my week at summer camp. They had a 12″ black and white tv on an audio visual stand for 150 kids to watch. Because it was late at night, I could barely stay awake. As soon as they walked on moon, I was off to cabin to sleep. At the time, it was boring but now realize what a monumental venture it was.

  14. Frank Paine on July 21, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    Well, here’s my little story. My wife’s birthday is on July 20. When the moon landing took place, I was in the Army (lucky me!), but we didn’t have a TV. That’s because I was so well paid (LOL). Anyway, we both wanted to watch the landing, so we rented a small TV for a month so that we could. And yes, we got ourselves up at 3:00 AM or thereabouts to watch. My wife was 75 yesterday, and yes, we have a TV now–we’re planning to watch a Mars landing when it takes place–and yes, it WILL take place, hopefully in our lifetimes.

  15. Rachelle Lerner on July 21, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    I remember that where ever I went it seemed that there were televisions. It seemed that everyone I knew was waiting to see the actual landing, It seemed to me that when launches were delayed the missions were successful.

  16. Cathy Bennett on July 21, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    I was 6 yrs old living in Cocoa FL. My dad worked as a security guard at KSC so he gave me and my cousin permission to stay up late to watch the landing.

  17. Steve Bennett on July 21, 2019 at 9:53 pm

    I was in a small hotel in Switzerland. A group of guests and house staff clustered around a small B&W television set in the lobby. No one said a word for the duration of the moon walk. I was a foreigner watching a fellow American on REALLY foreign soil. But there was something that transcended our geopolitical differences. It was a great moment for everyone on the planet.

  18. Malcolm Oglesby on July 21, 2019 at 9:53 pm

    Malcolm Oglesby

    For the landing, I was back in North Carolina visiting family. For the launch, I was working in the computer data communications center at Goddard Space Flight Center. I had a 4″ square slow scan TV unit fed by a camera on top of the vehicle assembly building, giving me as close a view as possible of the launch.

    For he landing, I woke up my niece who was about 6, to watch the astronauts step out onto the lunar surface at about 3:30 the following morning.

  19. Jennifer McCormack on July 21, 2019 at 10:57 pm

    I was 10 years old, and in Tennessee where I live, the moon landing was about 2 a.m. I was asleep and my parents got me up to watch it. I thought it was cool, but I was so sleepy I could barely hold my eyes open. I went to sleep immediately as soon as they would let me. It would have been more enjoyable if it were a different time.

  20. Wayne Dygert on July 22, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    Viet Nam. Listened in (after the fact) on AFARTS ( armed forces radio television service)

  21. David Burre on August 10, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    On July 20, 1969, I was sailing off the coast of Salem, MA. listening to the radio. As the lunar lander was descending to the surface of the moon, I was silently approaching the beach.

  22. Debra Bolton on August 11, 2019 at 10:47 pm

    All Ears
    I was 15 years old . I was at Iroquois Park in Louisville , Kentucky . I was at a picnic with my Civil Air Patrol Chapter. We listened to the whole event on an old style . It was such a momentous day in history !

  23. Manuel Guy on October 29, 2019 at 11:53 am

    That was my sophomore year in high school. We couldn’t watch the landing because we had no TV. it was one of those moments when one could ask, “How could they send men to the moon when a lot of people couldn’t even buy TV?” I guess that was one of the reasons why I became an activist after graduating from high school.

  24. Bob Katz on May 30, 2021 at 10:51 am

    The summer of 1969 I was a new college grad with my first job as a reporter at a suburban Chicago newspaper. I rented a room in an Evanston apartment of a Northwestern University Ph.D student in Astrophysics, or something in that genre. In anticipation of the moon landing, he rented several TVs in order to be able to simultaneously watch every channel’s coverage of the event. (Was that three TVs, or four? At any rate, far fewer than he’d need today.) That seemed nuts, although even then I had a guarded admiration for anyone who takes their interest in a subject into extreme territories. As it turned out, this fellow was extreme in his interest but definitely not nuts. He went onto a long career with NASA and remains a respected journalist and commentator on space exploration. I’ve not spoken with that roommate since. That summer was a dividing line for a lot of us, including me.

    • Charles Levin on May 30, 2021 at 11:35 am

      Thanks for sharing! That was a defining year for so many. With Vietnam in full swing and the loss of King and Kennedy barely in the rearview, it was a pivotal time for all of us.

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