To The Moon

Fifty years ago, I was sleeping over at a friend’s house when I took ill.  I’m not sure what the issue was, but I ended up in the hospital the next day – told I suffered chronic appendicitis.

In those days, hospital rooms didn’t have televisions in them, if you wanted a TV you had to rent it.  Then, this tall monster of a tower containing the TV would be rolled in and a device given to you with a wire stretching to the TV they called a remote.  It didn’t have push-buttons – it had dials you turned to change channels or adjust the volume.

There also was no cable back then.  The hospital had a boatload of antennas on the roof for TV and local police, fire and HAM radio repeaters.  There were no EMTs or paramedics in those days, so no antennas existed for Roy DeSoto or Johnny Gage to call in and send a strip.

Anyhow, the reason for this trip down memory lane is that first day in the hospital, after the TV was rolled in and I turned on ABC news to watch Apollo 11’s lunar lander, Eagle, course it’s way from the command module, Columbia, toward Mare Tranquillitatis on the moon’s surface.

“Houston, Tranquility Base here.  The Eagle has landed.”

Already addicted to science fiction stories, and a fan of Star Trek (original series), I was enthralled, glued to the TV as Neil Armstrong spoke those great words.  Humans had finally gone to another world!

I think no one doubts that a 12-year-old hospital patient would not be allowed to watch TV after 9 in the evening, but those rules went out the window as nurses and doctors – many not mine – stopped by to see what was happening, waiting for that moment when we’d see the lunar surface from a camera held by Humans stepping onto that surface!  And we did – me, laying in a hospital bed, with four nurses by my side.

“That’s one small step for man . . . one giant leap for Mankind.”

I remember one of the nurses hugging me in glee as two others jumped with joy.  I remember the pictures – all blurry and fuzzy.  Who cared?

In the sixties, as the USA raced the USSR to be first on the moon, there were many opinions what would happen when we got there.  We children dreamed of moon bases.  We believed many of us would be living and working there as adults.  We believed more rocket bases would be build on the moon to bring us to Mars, maybe beyond!

When class was boring, we scribbled drawings of what a building on the moon would look like – pictures of mushroom-shaped buildings with shafts extending into the moon where minerals were mined.  The old shafts would be reused to grow plants in hydroponic gardens.  Solar arrays and nuclear reactors would provide all the electricity we needed.

We had landed there!  Let’s begin building those bases!

** sigh **

Today, we talk about setting foot on Mars.  I would like to see that.  But I’d also like to see us finish what we started with Luna.

— Billie

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