Moon Walk Has Double Significance
The world recently marked the 50-year anniversary of the first moon walk by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
For me, it was also a major event, for two reasons.
First was the trip down Memory Lane. Armstrong hailed from Wapakoneta, Ohio, just 15 miles south of my hometown of Lima.
At the time, a connection in the newspaper business gained me admission to the press conference to the astronaut’s welcome-home celebration soon after the walk.
As a sportswriter, I didn’t have an assignment that day. But I remember carrying along my cassette recorder (yes, how times have changed) to record the event.
How sad I didn’t have the presence of mind to save the tape, which is probably buried in a landfill somewhere.
Moon Walk’s Lasting Impression
That day made an impression on me. It was the first time I had been in an auditorium jammed with news reporters.
Many came from national networks, faces which prior to that day, I had only known as strangers on a television screen.
While the questions fired at Armstrong have long since faded into the recesses of my memory, what I do remember is how flustered the astronaut seemed over a couple.
It struck me that a small-town boy who had risen to great heights still wasn’t quite prepared for the fanfare that greeted his accomplishment.
As I watched Armstrong face the dozens of reporters and media figures that day, I found myself quite sympathetic.
When we see national political, sports, entertainment, or other figures before cameras today, we can imagine ourselves handling the spotlight with aplomb. But it’s more likely we would act more like Armstrong.
The second reason July 20 held such significance for me it marked my 50-year high school class reunion, held in the downtown civic center that didn’t exist when I grew up there.
Since my mother died in 1987 and my father at the end of 1998, I rarely get back to Lima.
As family and older relatives have passed from the scene, I have learned that dropping in on old friends doesn’t happen with the same frequency as family.
So it was with particular pleasure that I reconnected with some folks I call “buddies” and others who were more acquaintances than friends.
Yet it was good to see all and catch up on their lives.
One woman I had talked with at length 15 years ago on my last visit had lost her husband in 2009. She had since remarried; I was happy for her.
I was especially delighted that a buddy whose wife of 45 years had died of cancer in 2015 is getting remarried in mid-August. It helped that I took an instant liking to his fiancé.
Coming from a graduating class of nearly 550 people, I wasn’t surprised that many of the faces that night were unfamiliar.
Yet, as the crowd meandered through the registration line before proceeding to wander around the banquet room to catch up with old friends, I gained a new appreciation for the place where I spent my formative years.
Things aren’t what they used to be 50 years ago. With the fading of the Industrial Age, my childhood Lima has lost about a third of its population.
Still, it was a great place to grow up and helped make me the person I am today. I may never have made it to the moon, but I’m grateful for how this city prepared me for life.