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.