Today is the anniversary of the first moon landing on July 20, 1969. When I think about this momentous day, I mostly remember the artist Robert Rauschenberg, one of the established artists paid a tiny honorarium to travel to see space launches first hand. NASA gave artists total freedom to create any visual response if so awed. They were. Decades later, Rauschenberg agreed to loan rare works of art inspired by the space program for a solo exhibit that I co-curated. It was a big surprise when he scheduled a visit. He spent a morning at the show with me, closely observing each and every piece, some he hadn’t seen since he made them. Many were created long after his residency. He was flooded; it’s very emotional.
Where were you on this day? I was in Plymouth, MA.
As i’m in a wishing and reflective mode, may I add that I look forward to the day when all Massachusetts newspapers are scanned and searchable. In the meantime, the Gloucester Daily Times coverage of that inspiring moon walk is on microfilm at the Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Library. Enjoy the headlines and some local quotes from 1969.
“Older folks take moon in stride–They’ve seen a lot, but this one…” by Henry Meyer, Gloucester Daily Times
article excerpts including quotes from Arthur Jones, Mrs. Bertha Silva, and John Bordreau (91)
This moon shot business: Can you dig it? Arthur W. Jones, 67, who lives at the Huntress Public Medical Institution can. Jones and some of his fellow residents on Emerson Avenue have seen the entire panorama of the development of aircraft… “This is one of the greatest things that has happened to our country.” The moon shot had helped to “unite people together,” he said…“When this country gets together, they do things right. No matter what they start, they finish it.”
Mrs. Bertha Silva said that Lindbergh’s flight was exciting back then. However she agreed with Jones that the landing of the first man on the moon really outdid all other flying feats…
John Bordreau, 91, also a resident of the institution was delighted by the whole affair. Boudreau predicted that astronauts soon will be flying all over the solar system…”We’ll just have to wait and see where they’re headed.” Both Jones and Boudreau said they had heard there was oil and gas on the moon. Boudreau remarked, “That’s kind of a long drive for just a couple of gallons of gas. Jones predicted that within 10 years men will be living on the moon. Some scientists said over the radio that there were eaves on the moon where people might live. He said there was oil up there and that they might be able to extract water from rocks.”…One person said that at her age she tended to be leery of these things…Others expressed confusion at the speed at which this generation seems to be moving…
excerpts from Our men on the moon: ‘A long day’…a hazardous return, by Edward K. Delong, Space Center, Houston, UPI article ran in the Gloucester Daily Times.
Mrs. Stephen Armstrong, Neil’s mother who watched her son on television from her home in Wapakoneta, Ohio, noticed this: “I could tell he was pleased and tickled and thrilled,” she said.
“Magnificent desolation,” commented Aldrin. “It has a stark beauty all of its own. It’s much like the desert of the United States.”
“It’s different, but it’s very pretty out here,” said Armstrong, who lived in California’s Mojave Desert when he was flying the X15 rocket plane. Armstrong and Aldrin, both about 5’11” cast 35 foot shadows…Zint said he was surprised by the emotion in Armstrong’s voice when he stepped onto the moon. “That was more emotion than I’ve ever heard him express before. Even when he talked about things he was excited about like space travel he always had a calm voice.”