Thursday, December 8, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Space City USA - Those Places Thursday

The prompt for Week 49 of 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History is Historical Events:

Describe a memorable national historical event from your childhood. How old were you and how did you process this event? How did it affect your family?

I remember some memorable national historical events from my childhood that were not so nice, but I'm choosing today to talk about some pleasant ones.

I was born in the Chicago area, but grew up in Houston, Space City USA - back in the 60s and 70s. So naturally, the space program, and especially the race to the moon, was a big deal for me and my family.  My father was a navigator-bombardier in the Korean War, and very interested in astronomy.  He taught my four siblings and me about the stars (you could actually see them from our on-the-outskirts Houston neighborhood back then), and often took us to the Burke Baker Planetarium.

At Christmas 1968, I was 11, and I remember Apollo 8, the first manned mission to orbit the moon.  Especially memorable was the crew's Christmas Eve reading of the first ten verses from the Book of Genesis (the most-watched TV broadcast ever at that time), and the famous "Earthrise" photograph taken the same day, both of which were the subject of a commemorative stamp:
Just seven months later, in July 1969, I remember the first landing and walking on the moon, Apollo 11.  It's a good thing this mission occurred in the summer, because I think we were glued to the TV through the entire event.  I definitely remember watching and hearing "Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed," and being awake when Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon (at 9:56 PM Houston time) and uttered the famous words, ""That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."
I also distinctly remember Apollo 13 in April 1970, the scary mission that didn't land on the moon and that we feared wouldn't make it back to Earth, and Apollo 15 in July-August 1971, the first to use the moon buggy:
My maternal grandmother, Sara Wolfe Guokas Archibald, worked for the downtown post office in Houston, and obtained for me the first day covers pictured here.

© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.

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