Moon Landing 50 Years On

A decade ago, on the 40th anniversary of the moon landing (July 20, 1969), I wrote the following:

How strange it is that the venerable Walter Cronkite, who defined that very moment, should pass right now (he died July 17, 2009). It’s as if he and Neil Armstrong will somehow launch into eternity together, in a fitting orbit.

I was in a second-rate hotel in Eureka, California the day the Apollo 11 crew landed. I was with my own merry band of pranksters (my first wife, Carol, my sister, Alice, and friends) on a cross country trip in my 1948 Cadillac hearse. As we descended into the hotel lobby, Cronkite’s voice crackled from a TV, saying something like, “What a great county…I just don’t understand these hippies…” The TV was a table model that sat on a broken Sylvania console. Behind these proceedings, in a large picture window, a broken Native American shuffled along the street in the hot California sun. What an ironic scene. Could have been out of an Antonioni film.

To be fair, Cronkite, who had already helped turn the tide against the Vietnam War with his groundbreaking television coverage, eventually came to look upon the the so-called hippie movement more kindly.