There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A challenging request

My youngest son Gil (lovingly known as Bert around the inner family circle) sent an email request a few weeks back. I have read that email every day and every day I wanted to cheat and look up some facts....but I didn't. Here is the email.

Hey Mom,
I just showed my students the movie Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks.  Most know nothing of our history of U.S. Space exploration or even that the Space Shuttle goes into space on a routine basis.  Can you blog about what it was like or what you remember about our early trips to space and the moon in the 60's and 70's?  I told my kids about watching the Challenger Space Shuttle in my high school chemistry class and how just about the whole country watched it explode on live TV.  They all look at me with glazed eyes and have no reference images to understand the impact that event had.  It's sad that most people in general don't know we travel into space regularly.  It would be neat to read your memories of the time and know if it was a big deal or not.
Love You,

So here goes trying to remember something from 4 decades ago. 

Dear Bert,  I agree with you; it is sad that 6th, 7th and 8th graders have no clue about our space endeavors.  Perhaps sadder still is the fact that I have never been terribly interested in our space travels. 

When the first men, Armstrong and Aldrin, walked on the moon I was too busy taking care of two young kids and a  If I remember correctly you had been born about a month before this great event and I was overwhelmed with kids, dirty diapers, making formula, cleaning house, worrying about money (I remain on the hamster wheel with that one) and trying to make ends meet.

The day after the moon walk I remember being excited because your dad and I were going to Howard's to buy my very first vacuum.  We pulled up to the front of the store to park and all of the televisions in the window had footage of that first step and Mr. Armstrong's words.  Did you know that he goofed with what he was supposed to say? Do I know what he was supposed to say?  No, I don't. Was I excited about the US achievement?  I was but I couldn't identify with it then and still can't to be honest.

I remember Sally Ride and thinking what a wonderful thing it was to have a woman achieve what she did......and wondering if she got the same pay as a male astronaut. At the time I was an RN making less than a male co-worker who had started at the same time I did at QofV. 

I watched when the Challenger exploded.  I felt a huge loss but mainly because of Christa McAuliffe, a young mother and teacher, and thinking about that horrible sight as her children watched along with the rest of us. 

I know President Obama is squashing the space program.  I guess that's too bad, but with the country in such a mess perhaps he will start a savings account to pay off future bills.

Bert, maybe it's a generational thing.  I was taught and remember reading about the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, WWI and II and The Korean War.  I learned about US Government and how our country works.  I saw Civil Rights become a reality, watched the television again in horror as news of the assassination of President Kennedy unfolded and was hopeful as women's rights were recognized. I was a part of the 60's; frizzy hair and earth shoes in place.

What do you historically remember?  Vietnam? The Space Programs, the evolution of music, The Gulf will remember those things that influenced you in the past, influence you now and as you go through life.  As a teacher you can inspire your kids to try and remember those historical milestones in their lives.  Maybe one day at the end of the school year when the kids are eager for summer to begin you can come up with a lesson plan using math and science to help start them on that road.....and make it fun and meaningful! I positively, absolutely know you can be (and probably already are) that one teacher a kid will remember when they are old and grey.

I hope I didn't disappoint you, Bert.  Love you, mom


Evil Twin's Wife said...

I remember seeing later footage of the moon landing, but was too young (or maybe not even born yet) when it actually happened. I think we saw a film in school. I remember being very amazed by the whole thing.

Mom said...

Your son's request inspired a whole blog post about my memories of the space program. Tell your boy to check my memories at


oh I remember it like it was yesterday. my sons were 5and 4..I was so pumped I went down and bought a color tv(its the moon jackie color on the moon..but Croncrite looked great) since I had the color tv my place was the hot ticket to everyone came to watch it..i had snacks, beer and soda...i kept telling the boys you have to remember have to remember this..
they dont remember it..sigh*
also was watching when the colombus blew..along with my sad..the looks on the parents face of that school teacher stays with me..hate to think its going to be canceled..but we have so many needs here..hard to justify it..

gina said...

I remember the moon landing. I was just a kid, but I totally remember it. My mom was big on watching stuff like that. And it's not that he said the WRONG thing, what happened was that the transmission "blipped" and so it sounded like he said, "one giant step for man, one giant leap for mankind" when what he said was, "one giant step for A man, one giant leap for mankind". A small, but notable, difference. As for the Challenger, I was pregnant with Jonathan, standing in the building at Oak and First that was where my secretarial services business was located. I heard it on the radio and called my best friend, also pregnant with her daughter that would be born a week after Jonathan. I told her to turn on the TV and we "watched" it together over the phone, crying. It's hard to believe that the kids today (the same ages as my grandkids) don't know about it and don't grasp the enormity of that tragedy. Like you, I learned about WWII, the Korean War, the Civil War, and had to pass a test on the US Constitution (memorize the preamble and the Bill of Rights) in order to graduate from 8th grade. I was in 3rd grade when President Kennedy was assassinated. We were practicing for our Thanksgiving play, dressed in paper Pilgrim's hats and collars. The principal came in and told Mrs. Lorbeer what had happened. She started crying and tried to explain it to 9 year-olds. We went home from school early that day.

I grew up on the cusp of the change in women's rights. Harvard didn't accept females, nor did the service academies. I would have easily gotten into either with my grades and test scores, but couldn't even apply. My mom had instilled in me the attitude that I could do anything I wanted, and that anything a man could do, I could do just as well. I guess that's why I was never afraid to excel in math, to be a "geek", to be interested in "guy" things like cars, computers, and weightlifting.

I was in high school during the Vietnam War and had many classmates who were drafted after graduating. I was in college during Watergate and Nixon's resignation. I wore Earth Shoes then, too. I got to see the Vietnam War end during my college years. Too bad the kids in college now didn't get to see the end of a war.

Jan said...

My children get curious when I describe how young (in diapers) they were when certain milestones occurred.

It whets their curiosity to read about what they saw, but don't remember seeing.

Mom said...

I think this is the post you are looking for

sageweb said...

I thought the same thing about sally ride..I bet they didnt give her equal pay...they still are way behind on that. Since I work in the aerospace industry it is hard to imagine people not really understanding about all the space travel we do.

FoxyMoron said...

I think kids these days just take space travel for granted, probably because of all the sci fi movies they watch.
I was in year 4 when they walked on the moon and they took us to another classroom where there was a tv (black and white, we didn't have colour in Australia then) and we watched it live. It was pretty special to us but also a bit surreal.
Great blog topic.

madretz said...

I'm wiping a tiny tear from the corner of my eye because I'm so touched that you and your son share this insight together. i wish i had more time with my parents and I was more mature when they were still alive to realize they were other people besides just my mom and dad. so glad that your kids know that about you.

kenju said...

The first time a man walked on the moon, I was in the hospital, having given birth to my second child. I was filled with pride for America, and have been every time we go off into space. I find it appalling that today's children have no frame of reference for this.

Shammickite said...

American kids don't know that NASA's Space Shuttle goes into space on a regular basis? Really? You've gotta be kidding me!!!!! Gil said "most people in general don't know we travel into space regularly". WHAT????? I find that hard to believe when it's always on the news whenever there's a launch and there's even a NASA TV channel where you can watch it and learn....
I was at Buffalo Zoo when Aldrin and Armstrong first walked on the moon. I remember it clearly! But strangely I don't remember many details about the near-tragedy of Apollo 13, only what I have seen on TV recently because a prominent Canadian scientist and Uni prof has just been honoured by NASA for his work in bringing the Apollo 13 astronauts home.

Miss Healthypants said...

That's what I love about you, Rosemary--you're bluntly honest...and of course, entertaining as hell. I love that you just admit that the space program never thrilled you that much--I really do! :)

You're my blogging hero. :)


a side note to my the wedding i was telling tom about the walking on the moon story..that they didnt remember..he said they did remember it happening..they only told me they didn't remember so i'd go nuts about how they never remembered any of the special things i did for them..they seemed to enjoyed my rants..bastids.

Middle Child said...

I am still suspicious - I wonder what they are really achieving up there with all the Space stations no one ever really talks about - I felt so angry when they opened up Space for "Star Wars" it made what they achieved on the moon seem dirtied...which doesn't lessen the achievement...I was in School and the teached Mr Jim o'Brien lugged in this huge black and white tele to the classroom - English class it was...I was 15. We were the only class in school to see other teacher bothered. I still remember his face and the look on it when he set it up and through the snowy picture we all saw it together...He was a real teacher...and I remember him and his excitement as much as i recall the event.
We did not have colour in Aussie till 1975