Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on July 20, 1969, just a little after 4 p.m.? Both the Washington Star and Des Moines Register newspapers were very aware of what was happening, as were thousands of others.
At the time, I had been working two jobs while living in the Maryland suburbs of our nation’s capital. I had begun a business called Transicare Incorporated, which transported individuals, mostly needing help getting to doctor’s appointments, doing their shopping, and sometimes to special get-togethers. I had the radio on in my Dodge Maxivan while driving an older couple home from a medical appointment in Bethesda, Maryland.
As all three of our minds were transfixed on the radio announcer’s comments, we heard him say, “They’ve landed on the moon!” After dropping my customers off at their care facility in Silver Spring, Maryland, I immediately drove home via the beltway, which allowed me to drive the distance faster.
Upon arriving home, I ran to the TV set and turned it on. Nearly every channel was covering man’s first landing on the moon. During our preparation of dinner and taking care of the needs of our two daughter’s, which included getting them ready for bed, we took many opportunities to check the TV to see what was being said and shown. Our daughters had been in their beds for an hour and a half when the TV began to show Neil Armstrong climbing down the ladder from the space capsule.
And as he stepped onto the moon he said something like, “That’s one small step for a man, and one giant leap for mankind.” Not only did we hear people who were doing the broadcasting shout, but we also shouted too loud, which unfortunately woke up our daughters. Our 4-year-old began crying and asking, “What are you doing!?” as she walked into our bedroom with a frightened look on her face.
Even though we attempted to explain to her what was happening with men walking on the moon, and pointing out the window towards the moon, our daughter began looking at us in a strange way, like, “Uh, are you crazy?” We knew we were not going to be able to convince her that men were really walking on the moon. And so we turned down the TV and walked her back to her bedroom. We convinced her to go back to sleep, and also made sure our 2-year-old had also gone back to sleep.
For the next couple of hours, we watched as the astronauts walked about exploring the moon’s surface, collecting samples, and taking photographs. They planted the American flag on the moon.
Fast-forward 44 years to 2013. My mother-in-law, who passed away in February loved going to estate sales and auctions, with a desire to buy jewelry. While still living in Atlantic, she went to an auction and was able to give the highest bid on a box of nice costume jewelry. After unpacking the box, at the bottom of it was an old-looking newspaper. It had been neatly folded and appeared to be in good shape.
Unfolding the newspaper she was surprised to see that it was a Des Moines Register newspaper from 1969, and immediately saw the giant headlines, “MAN WALKS ON MOON.”
“The first thought to enter my mind,” she said, “is since Allen writes for a newspaper, I’m sure he would love to have this!”
My mother-in-law, being the loving, caring, thoughtful, and generous person she always was during her life, surprised me during our next visit by handing me the newspaper, saying, “I’m sure you are the person in the family who would like this the most.”
A short time after receiving her gift, I had the newspaper treated and prepared for framing. I now enjoy it as it hangs next to my computer desk in my office.
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