The Moonwalk Survey: a Snapshot of the Results

The moonwalk was black and white and grainy: “My most vivid memory of the moonwalk was the surreal nature of the whole episode. Watching the fuzzy white images moving about the screen working and talking about their experiences while being a quarter of a million miles away on another world. My whole family was gathered around the television watching with an aura of non-belief in what was happening in front of us,” recalls Lawrence L. McGlynn (#58). Very similar are the memories of Larry Perlstein, who was spending the summer at Boy Scout camp in New Jersey: “Those ghostly b&w images - it took a few seconds to figure out what you were seeing - were just about as amazing as you could think. Watching it was maybe like what the first television transmissions ever felt like” (#110).

The moonwalk was a family event: “I was 8 living on an Army base in Heidelberg, Germany,” remembers Jim Treadway. “My family all watched the landing together, and my Grandmother was with us visiting. I remember how scared my grandmother was (she was 60 something then) that something terrible would happen if man set foot on the moon. She was convinced that man's going to the moon was against God's law, and that we would be punished for going there. I thought this was pretty wacky, but as I grew older I realized how someone of her generation and background could be overwhelmed by the rapid pace of technological change in her lifetime” (#99).

The moonwalk happened in living rooms and on the roads: “That night my family was traveling to our grandparents. We were in an Olds 'Vista Cruiser.' We had a small 9'' b/w TV that plugged in to the cigarette lighter. We stopped at a Dairy Queen in Atlanta and opened the rear in the parking lot. After a few minutes there were 40-50 people huddled around the TV watching this event. When Armstrong set foot cheers erupted and I can still remember this feeling today,” remembers Ken Lunceford (#90).

The moonwalk was an intense moment of American patriotism: “The journey to the moon and the final moments to the landing was a part of my life I shall never forget. I was on the edge of my seat and soaking in every moment…very proud of America and very proud of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins,” writes George P. Butler (#105). And Bryan Denbecke recalls: “For months before the mission, I had a large poster of the three astronauts wearing their space-suits with the helmets off, handing on the wall of my bedroom. It didn't matter to me that my house was on the wrong side of the tracks, in s small town, in a remote part of the country…somehow, after watching the landing, I felt as an American…I could accomplish anything I set my mind to!” (#18)

While most memories of the moonwalk convey the highs of outer space, a few memories are more down to earth: Donna Bakke writes: “When man walked on the moon, I was babysitting two cousins in the Pruitti Igoe projects in St. Louis, Missouri. While this historic event was taking place I learned the irony in the fact that in the building across from me someone had yet again set fire to the laundry mat on its 13th floor. Awe and destruction happening at the same time; the haves walking on the moon while the have nots are destroying property and dreams” (#124). And John Navin remembers: “When Neil Armstrong took his historic first step, I was sitting in stop and go traffic between Cape Cod and Boston. I remember thinking, ‘sure, we can put a man on the moon, but we can't find a way to get around here faster than 5 mph.’ That assessment of our technology is as accurate today as it was in 1969” (#119)

Last Updated: August 8, 2004