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"In the Beginning..."

...there was television.  And on the television at this time of year in 1968 was coverage of Apollo 8, which was the first manned mission ever sent to another world, even if it was simply our own Moon.  The images broadcast back may have been in black and white, but for a 9-year old watching those pictures, they were enchanting and enduring.  It didn't help that he also would go back outside to where his telescope (a 2.5" refractor he received for Christmas three years earlier) was set up, looking at the moon and trying in vain to see if he could see the Apollo capsule.

But that was just the beginning.  For the next day, still entranced by those images, he picked up the phone and dialed the operator.  As firmly as he could, he asked to speak to Mission Control in Houston, not knowing what the phone number was or anything.  However... the operator connected him to an operator in Houston, who then connected him to the Johnson Space Center and the switchboard there, then was routed...

...to someone in Mission Control.  And for three minutes he chatted with the individual on the other end, telling of how wonderful it was that this was happening and how he loved astronomy and space, and yes, I can give you my name and address.  And then hung up the phone and was quite a happy young boy, even if the parents didn't believe him.

Until the package from NASA arrived in the mail about a week later.

And the phone bill arrived about two weeks after that.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 25th, 2006 02:19 am (UTC)
Oh my! Now that sounds like a precious memory. Maybe a few of them. The phone call sounds like the best, of course... but the parents' reactions to the package must have been pretty good too. {BIG SMILE, REALLY BIG GRIN, HUMONGOUS GRIN}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin
Dec. 25th, 2006 02:41 am (UTC)
Cool story!

I just remember Apollo 8 on tv myself; I recall excitedly telling my mother "Look, they're going around the moon! We're really going to get to the moon!".

In junior high, I was surprised to find out I was the only kid in my class with clear memory of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Dec. 25th, 2006 04:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Apollo
I remember Apollo 11 quite well. My great-grandfather (who was born in 1865) died the day of the launch, and I was afraid I'd miss the landing. We got home from the funeral a day before, so I settled in front of the television... and in the lateness of July 21, watched as man took its first steps on another world.

The more surprising thing was that my father, who normally didn't care about space or the space program, came out from his bedroom and actually sat down to watch it with me. It was rare for him to show any interest in the things that interested me. I remember when we went to Florida (for him to race at Daytona on motorcycle) and pleading to detour 'just a few miles' so that I could see the Kennedy Space Center, and one of the Skylab rockets on the launch pad.
Dec. 25th, 2006 04:09 am (UTC)
I remember my parents letting me stay up late to watch the Apollo 11 landing. That was exciting. I barely remember Apollo 8.

Enjoy the memories!
Dec. 25th, 2006 05:23 am (UTC)
I was only five at the time, m'self, so I didn't have access to the phone. =};-3
Dec. 25th, 2006 04:24 pm (UTC)
That's no excuse! *chuckle*

Actually, I shouldn't have had access to the phone, either. But my father was a fire fighter for the city of New Orleans, and usually worked Christmas. My mother was around the house, but wasn't paying attention to us, so I took advantage of the opening to try. Today, you'd be lucky to get past the initial operator, much less the NASA operator, but this was 1968...
Dec. 26th, 2006 12:38 am (UTC)

That's awesome!
Me, I was just a baby, I don't remember seeing any of it on TV.
I probably did see Apollo 11 on TV, I just don't remember it.

Dec. 26th, 2006 01:37 am (UTC)
This is why sometimes it's hard to connect with some folks. I remember watching television back then, and the shows that came on. Things like Red Skelton, Jackie Gleason, Ed Sullivan, Star Trek, The Prisoner, Dragnet and The FBI, My World and Welcome To It, Hogan's Heroes and I Dream of Jeanie. Not to mention the Saturday morning cartoons. But I also remember the space missions, things like Gemini and Apollo. I was real big on watching every space mission that was covered.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


Tal Greywolf

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