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Everybody who was alive at that time, except for the jaded, know where they were when Apollo 11 landed, and I was at the Desert Inn Motel at Miami Beach, Florida, which is where my mom used to take us on summer vacation. Very cheap motel, but it was by the beach. We were there and I remember watching the TV and getting the news about the landing. It was evening there in Florida and then the excitement of being allowed to stay up late to watch the moonwalk, but we didn’t have to stay up late because the astronauts were actually able to get out earlier than expected. We watched these pictures and it was really, really exciting. It seemed to me as a ten-year old that it was the start of a new era.
I saw the Apollo 11 landing. I was actually up in Flagstaff. My wife Gayle, who I was going with at the time, was working up at the Museum in Northern Arizona. We were invited across the street from the Museum of Northern Arizona. There’s a big, beautiful, white-framed farmhouse-looking thing which was a building that belonged to the Museum. The staff had all gathered there.
We were all sitting around in this nice quaint old house watching this television set. There’re coming around the Moon and now they’re coming around the back of the Moon and yes, we’ve got radio contact again, and now they’re coming around the front side and they’re going to go down and land. [Chet] Huntley and [David] Brinkley were saying this thing about, “Okay, this is such an amazing moment in the history of humanity, we’re just going to stop talking and let you listen to the chatter between Houston and the astronauts,” and that was all coming through. The landing maneuver was just about to start. They’re doing their engine-burn and they’re going to go down, this is going to start in the next few minutes, this is all going to happen, and this little five-year-old kid shouts “Daddy, I have to go to the bathroom!” and Daddy has to take him out just at the moment when we’re landing on the Moon.
We were halfway between Italy and Corsica, just a summer vacation. It was midnight, and all the Italians on board were being very happy about it all. Just at the moment of landing they were all looking at the TV, and they were whooping it up. It was a very intense time for people working in space. Spent a lot of time in the lab—I remember 60, 80 hour weeks. If you’re getting ready for a flight, you know, you don’t have time to sit around, you have to work day and night. Crazy schedules.
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