From Mickey Mouse to Neil Armstrong
When I was a kid, my late Dad was interested in the stars and would show my siblings and me constellations. He taught me to identify constellations and planets in the sky. He also was a big fan of Walt Disney’s pocket books. After I had finished first grade he had started buying them for us kids, but he would read them first on his commute by train to or from work. “To know what the kids are exposed to” he would say to my mom. At that time, only I was able to read. 😉
I recall the many stories where Mickey Mouse was having adventures on a red moon or even on the rings of Saturn. These astronaut stories were my favorites.
At that time, I was already well aware that these stories were not true. They were just for fun. I knew you couldn’t walk on Saturn’s rings, that you couldn’t breeze in space without an oxygen tank and that the man in the Moon doesn’t exist. Mickey’s adventures were something like fairy tales, but better than those as they had more fantasy. Mickey and Co explored the space, the past, the future, in a volcano, even the inner of the Earth or on the bottom of the ocean. Places that seemed interesting, but were unreachable.
How I learned about the Moon landing
In 1969, my bed time was 7:30 pm, right after the ads stopped on TV in the second program. Back then ads alternated with short comics with little dwrafts. My sister and I were allowed to watch TV from 6:50 pm when the ads started until bed-time. The ads were interrupted by the news that were broadcasted from 7 to 7:20 pm followed by a weather forecast. Typically, I didn’t care much about the news except for the weather forecasts or when there was something about Royals.
One day, it was totally different. There was a little trailor showing a space port with the launch of a rocket. I was fascinated and excited; I thought I had found the answer to a question that my parents had never been able to answer.
Then the speaker said that the astronauts were heading to the Moon for a Moon landing. Now he had my full attention. I loved stories about the Moon. The Moon hold some mystery for me. I was intrigued by the fact that we could see only one side of the Moon.
The speaker announced that they would have a special broadcast about the Moon landing. “I want to see that.” I said. My mom was like “No, it will be too late at night.” I didn’t give up insisting to see it. Finally, I got the permission.
July 20, 1969
Three days later, my Dad and I sat in front of the TV. I was wearing my light blue night gown with ruffled hem and collar, the one on which I had sewn on stars and coins once for a DIY costume. I was snuggled in a blanket.
We watched Neil Armstrong on the Moon. He walked funny. I learned that the acceleration of gravity is only 17% of that on Earth, that you could jump higher on Moon than on Earth. I wondered how the images got from the Moon to Earth. I asked why the flag wouldn’t wave in the wind. I was literally sucking in every word the commentator said. I was like a dry sponge sucking up water.
Getting back to Earth
When Armstrong and Aldrin left our trabant and returned to the spaceship, I wondered about how the astronauts would know how to dock to the spaceship. I had tons of questions on the logistics. But it didn’t stop there. Why did they collect so many rocks as souvenirs? What would they do with the rocks? Aren’t they the same like on Earth? Why did the returned capsule look like a pot that was used for cooking on a gas burner? How did NASA know where the spaceship would land in the ocean? What is quarantine? Why weren’t the astronauts allowed to go home, but had to go into quarantine? Why were all astronauts men? Can I become an astronaut when I am a grown up?
My answer to the unanswered question
A couple of month later, the father of my brother’s godmother died. My parents attended the furnal while we kids were alone at home. I remember that it was already getting dark outside when they left in the afternoon. I was sitting in my room in front of the window. I was searching the sky for a rocket. I starred at the sky all the time until my parents came back. Then I asked my mom “Was Auntie Schonlau’s Dad a bad person?” “No, why do you ask that?” my mom replied. “I watched the sky the entire time and I haven’t seen the rocket.” “Which rocket?” “The rocket that would bring his soul into heaven.” I responded. Note that the German language uses the same word for sky and heaven.
Do you remember the Moon landing? Do you remember what you wore? Just curious.
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