One Giant Leap…

It is difficult to believe that it has been 50 years since we put a man on the moon in 1969. I was in college 50 years ago, and that seems equally hard to believe!!! But it is true none the less.

In the summer of 1969 I decided to stay at the University of Miami because I wanted to graduate in 3 years rather than four, and so I took summer classes. Now that I think about it, that seems like a ridiculous plan because I should have just cherished my youth and my freedom and enjoyed every second of my college days. However, I thought I knew everything back then and so I had other goals.

Anyhow, I can clearly remember watching the moon landing in the dorm room of a girl on my floor. She had a tiny TV set up on her desk. The only other television in the entire dorm was downstairs in the lobby, so a group of girls gathered around and we huddled together and watched in amazement as a hazy black and white Neil Armstrong took his first step on the moon. It was surreal. I recall getting chills at the wonder of it all. It is complicated to explain the feeling to someone living today where technology is everywhere you turn. But, back in 1969 it was like seeing a Jules Verne novel come to life.

In fact, my memory of the event is so clear that I even recall every detail of what I wore because I had just come in from spending time with a group of my Theatre friends and had made sure I dressed extra “cool” before going out with that “groovy” gang. After all, we were all actresses and actors and needed to stand out in a crowd!! LOL (Funny what one remembers 50 years later).

I wore a bright yellow peasant top, long black hip hugger bell bottom jeans, and weaved a flowing flowered, multi – colored scarf/sash through my belt loops that hung to the floor. In my hair I had the left side partially braided and clipped a flower to it with a bobby pin. (I made the sash myself out of a mixture of bright prints and sewed fringe on the end so it would sway as I walked.) On my feet I wore what were referred to as “Monster shoes”. They were large healed slip on oxford like clogs that got the nick name Monster because they were reminiscent of something Frakenstein’s monster might wear. 

So, there I was, the epitome of what a cool girl in 1969 looked like, sitting on the floor in my bell bottoms, amongst a group of girls from a variety of different backgrounds watching American Astronauts land on the MOON!!!!!!!

The girl whose room it was stood up and began explaining to everyone what was happening. She said she wanted to be an astronaut and was studying engineering and majoring in math. I remember being impressed with her knowledge of space travel and asked her this question, 
“Do you really think in our life time that girls will actually be allowed into the space program? And if they are, do you think they will really let you go into space?” 
Everyone became quiet as she answered. 
“I honestly don’t know. But, I am still going to try! I am going to study hard and apply for a job working for NASA. I won’t give up and if I get the chance to train I will take it. It’s my dream. I have heard that they are starting training programs for women and I want to be apart of that. “
I told her how brave she was and that I hoped her dreams would come true. I also said I’d be rooting for her. 

So while I watched everything that was happening on the moon and found it unbelievable…. I kept my eye on the girl whose name I don’t remember. She wasn’t one of the girls I knew during the regular school year, she was just there to take classes during the summer and I didn’t get to know her well. But, I was as impressed with her determination and the lust in her eyes for space travel watching Armstrong, as I was with the whole experience of seeing our men jump around the moon. Yes, there I was, a little hippie flower child watching the moon landing and standing next to someone I knew would be one of our first female astonauts.

I figured, that if we could put a man on the moon, then girls could do anything too. THAT is how I remember 1969 and the moon landing. One giant leap for mankind and also as the day I became a feminist.

22 thoughts on “One Giant Leap…

  1. Lesley, like many of your readers I was stunned to learn of your diagnosis in your August post and have no other way to let you know that, very simply, I am thinking of you and wishing you the best possible outcome.
    I think of you often as I read through new posts from bloggers we both follow.
    I am thinking positive thoughts for you as you face this journey.
    Deb

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  2. Thank you so much for responding . I haven’t figured out why there isn’t a comment section. I updated my laptop and iPad and WordPress seem to change. Not sure why.
    I’m happy to have your virtual support. The more good vibes the better. ❤️Xo

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  3. Lesley. I have just read your blog post on your Cancer diagnosis, it did not allow me to leave a comment and I can not just leave it as a ‘like’ I do not know you personally but somehow your spirit and strength and radical way of taking on life came across and I felt a bond in our outlook on life. You have been floating in and out of my mind in the hours since I read your post.
    I just looked above and noticed “Jane” found the same way to send some support. Writing…..always helps to get it out of your head on to the paper. We are out here for you, as Jane points out ‘in the virtual world.’
    ” We are all just walking each other home.” Ram Dass

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  4. Lesley, this is a comment for your next post, which has no provision for comments. Very sneaky! I am so sorry to hear that you have been going through this dreadful ordeal. You will get through it. Your friends in the blogosphere will be with you in spirit. One day at a time. Sending good wishes your way. 😘

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      1. This isn’t what 70 is, Lesley, this just plain sucks. Big time. Let everyone who you’ve been strong for be strong for you for a bit. You’ll get there, but don’t fight the support in the meantime! And if you find writing helps as you go through your treatments, keep writing. We’ll all be here ready to support you virtually. ❤️

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      2. Thank you Jane. I appreciate the support. I’m going to have to learn to embrace the help and support. I’ve been so independent my entire adult life. But I’m finding out just how loving and kind everyone is. I’m grateful for it. ❤️

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  5. I am still surprised–no, shocked–to realize that anything in my life happened 50 years ago–but I remember this well. My parents were glued to the TV and my mom called me in. “You’ll want to see this,” she said. I confess, I was not that “into” science at the time, being an avid 13-year-old anti-Vietnam War protester and (wrongly) assuming science was a force for evil as evidenced by the atom bomb. From this great distance, the moon landing is one of those iconic moments–like the gut-wrenching shooting of MLK and Bobby Kennedy, the 1968 Democratic Convention, and Nixon’s resignation–that shaped a generation. Lovely reminiscence, Lesley. As for women in the space program, here’s a link to a recent story https://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-col1-women-apollo-20190716-story.html about women at NASA. It’s still a stretch. I guess the final frontier is are we ready to elect a woman president?

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    1. Amy thank you so much for this article. It’s wonderful. Crazy that it’s taken 50 years for the public to recognize their contributions. 1969 seems like yesterday in so many ways and yet it WAS 50 years ago. In so many ways it was a pivotal year for me. August of that year was Woodstock and parents wouldn’t allow me to go. So, I got married in September of 1969. It was my way of achieving a form of freedom I suppose. As long as I had a husband I could travel and do what I wanted without their restrictive parental control. Plus for my generation particularly, we were still a product of a double standard and coming from a conservative Jewish home, free love wasn’t even an option. So I married the coolest guy I could find, graduated college a year early and we traveled to California and were part of a whole generation trying to change the world. For me, the moon landing was an epiphany of all the possibilities that were ahead. I didn’t think women would go into space back in 1969. But, I did think we’d have a female President. I actually wrote in the name Shirley Chism in 1972 for President. I was pregnant with my son, Seth at the time and I thought a woman would end the Vietnam Nam War. So yeah… America’s ready. I just wish they would have gotten that message in 2016.

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  6. Thanks for sharing your reminisces so vividly, Lesley. My husband and I were living in London for two years after having graduated, and had no TV. My Mom came from NY to spend a month with us and rented a TV for the occasion. Then we went to Paris for the weekend and got back after the taxis had gone home for the night from our underground stop. My Mom wasn’t too impressed with the long walk home or with our timing! But we got back a few hours before the moon landing, which was the middle of the night in the UK. You’re right, it was a magical moment.

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    1. Jane, Magical describes it perfectly. Also, ghostly in a sense, because their images were almost see through because of the type of cameras they used. I love the fact that you were on the other side of the world and yet the impact of the event was just as incredible. It was Science Fiction come to Life. I had been a huge Star Trek fan in high school and so it was as if we were finally going “where no man had gone before”. I could hear William Shatner’s. Voice and the Star Trek Theme in my head. But what my eyes were seeing was REAL. How lucky we were to have witnessed it!

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  7. Oh yes, Westcoastwoman! We have indeed come a long way! Today’s young women need to be reminded of the journey their predecessors took for them to get to where we are today. We have a lot further to go… but watching all these shows on the moon landing just brought back a flood of memories. 1969 was quite a year. I didn’t realize back then that 50 years later watching the events of that day would bring me to tears and also take me on a journey back in time.

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