I grew up in Union, Missouri with a population of about 5,000 in 1969. I remember that historic lunar landing and watching Neil Armstrong step foot on the moon’s surface. It was pretty exciting for a 16 year old about to turn 17 and begin his senior year in high school.
I worked part time in the evening and on week-ends at a teen-center, which was only 3 blocks from our house. The center had a lounge with a sofa, a couple of chairs and most importantly for THAT night a T.V. There were only a few teens in the center, we all gathered in the lounge to watch the astronauts work their magic and become national if not worldly heroes. There is a lot I remember. I was sitting in the middle of the sofa, with a friend on each side. There was also this smart ass that lived a couple of blocks from me that always tried pushing my buttons. I always ignored him as there is no honor in popping the mouth of an idiot a couple of years younger……..until now. More on that later, hey it’s part of what I remember.
When Armstrong made that first step on the moon and made that now famous declaration (which I don’t even need to repeat) you could hear a pin drop. It was the quietest I ever heard the teen center. All of us watched with amazement. It really was happening, just as John F. Kennedy had challenged us to do. I also remember Kennedy’s speech that pushed America to explore and achieve beyond what was thought to be impossible.
It was a wonderful moment, the landing and first steps, we all shared the time “together”, everyone enjoyed the history being made before our eyes. Then that smart ass, as a smart ass must do, tried to ruin it. This jerk, yeah the one that was always trying to intimidate me, had to find my breaking point. He knew I wouldn’t get sucked in to his smart mouth, I wasn’t like him. As I said “There is no honor at that age to pop someone in the mouth younger than you.” Well, he finally made a mistake, he struck first. As I was watching T.V. from the sofa, the punk got up from his chair walked in front of me and stomped on my foot. I took that foot and kicked him in the butt as he passed by. Oh, but he immediately returned, while I am sitting he came up and slapped me in the face. That was it, the moment he must have been waiting for. He obviously did not expect my reaction, I forgot about worrying about what was honorable. I rose from the sofa, walked towards him and punched below his right eye, knocking him completely out of the lounge. Now, the lounge door was near the entrance door to the center. There was a big picture window in front next to the entrance (the center was previously a furniture store). In front of the picture window on the inside was a wooden railing, inner fence of sort. The boy, the punk, sailed out of the lounge, through the rail and nearly reached the window. I was actually for a second gasping I may have put him through the glass. He got up, slowly, looked at me in horror and ran out the door. He ran the two blocks to home. About 15 minutes later his older, bigger brother came to pay me a visit. I never got to speak with him, the other teens in the center this magical night informed big brother what happened. His response was “So he got what was coming?” Yep! Younger or not, the child needed a lesson. I gave him one.
This is how remember The Moon Landing!