Apollo 11, Grainy Pictures & 1960’s

apollo 11

On this day in 1969, Apollo 11 launched from Cape Kennedy in Florida. The start of the historic spaceflight that was to land the first human on the Moon.

The crew of this momentous mission Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins left Florida that day knowing, in a few days time, one of them would make history by becoming the first man on the Moon.

After the long journey it turned out to be Armstrong, after he won a game of Paper, Scissors & Stone with his follow astronauts en route. It could have been so different though as Collins won the game initially. However Armstrong, as commander of the mission, demanded a best of three game in which he himself was victorious!

Armstrong’s inaugural Moon walk provided scientists with a whole lot more data, in particular about its terrain and surface composition. However, they were at a dead loss as to how a Walmart shopping trolley got up there!


As I was a six year old boy my recollections of the time are pretty sketchy. I can recall a bit of a fuss as the rocket launched and when Neil Armstrong took those historic first steps. That being said, at that age none of it really held my attention. I was far too young to understand the significance of the whole mission.

However, a rocket taking off was interesting for a young lad, so I took a break from playing footy in the street and gathered around the black & white TV with the family to watch that part.

My brother Ian, who is two years my junior, took a rest from breaking ornaments to join us, much to my mum’s relief. Between the two of us we broke numerous ornaments over the years, generally from kicking a ball around indoors. If our mum and dad weren’t there, we’d put the ornament back with the smashed bit hidden at the back, hoping they wouldn’t notice.

There was no forensic science, finger printing or identity lineups required when crime scene investigation was undertaken. My mum didn’t need to hire Poiret to solve the mystery of the damaged ornament

As young lads we hadn’t sussed that as soon as mum dusted, the concealment of our misdemeanour would be uncovered! As a punishment we’d get a smack and were banned from watching that days Watch With Mother on TV.

Our Ian wasn’t that bothered, though, as the Watch With Mother ban meant he had more time on his hands to play footy in the house. Meaning more broken ornaments!………. It was a vicious circle of breakage and punishment!

Anyway, I digress! …………. Back to Apollo 11!

I have a vague recollection of watching the first Moon landing in 1969 on the TV in the flat above my granddad’s shop in Armley, Leeds.

To say the grainy picture, that accompanied the footage of the landing, lacked clarity was an massive understatement. In addition to this, the viewing experience was diminished further, as every time a car drove past it caused interference to the TV picture.

So my recollections of Neil Armstrong’s first words as he walking on the Moon were “One small step for ………One huge step for…… “

As a six year old the suspense at what he actually said stayed with me for………oohhhh…… minutes!!

As I said above my interest in the whole thing was minimal due to youth. I do wish I’d have been older to have understood the significance of this momentous event. However, I wasn’t so it’s pointless dwelling on It!

Mind you, I could say that about lots of events in the decade of my birth. The 1960’s spawned an England World Cup win, the era of The Beatles, ramping up of the Cold War after the Cuban Missile Crisis, three assassinations and major civil rights developments in the US and Bobby Charlton going bald, to name a few.

Billy Joel captures a few more things in that decade as part of his song ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’:-

Hemingway, Eichmann, “Stranger in a Strange Land”
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion

Lawrence of Arabi”, British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson

Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

The police appreciated Mr Joel’s full and concise cooperation during interview. However, following their chat, they were no nearer finding the arsonist!

Yes there are lots of major events, I lived through in my formative years, that I wish I could recollect with more clarity.

Who am I trying to kid! ……… The real thing I wish I’d a clearer memory of from that decade is Leeds United’s first trophy wins in 1968 and 1969! ……… I’d stick with having just vague memories of the rest, if I could only somehow relive that!

Leeds United Champions 1968/69

leeds 1969

Leave a Reply