It is the anniversary of the first landing on the moon – way back in 1969. Don’t look now, but that was 47 years ago.
I wasn’t that old yet, so my summers then were still spent playing, and more than likely my brother, cousins and I were at the nearby creek cooling off in a swimming hole when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon. The creek wasn’t very deep and it wasn’t very wide, but we did have a great little spot complete with a rope swing and could spend hours and hours there. No cell phone. No worries.
It’s not often I opt to write two columns in a month but the moon landing anniversary falling on a Wednesday publication day was too good an opportunity to let slide by.
Chances are that moon landing back in ’69 was broadcast live on all THREE major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) and then replayed on the evening news. We usually got two out of the three networks and, if my dad went outside to turn the antenna at our rural upstate New York home, we might be able to watch the third, though there was usually some ‘snow’ that made the picture fuzzy.
The moon landing anniversary got me in a nostalgic mood recently and through the use of the Internet, I was able to unearth some information about a few long-ago favorites. As amazing as space travel was to us back then, the vast reaches of the Internet and all the information (or misinformation, as the case may be) is something today’s kids take for granted. It does have its advantages, though, helping round out the past.
For instance, ‘Space Food Sticks’ were all the rage back in the ‘70s, playing off the success we were enjoying in space travel, landing on the moon, sending astronauts into orbit and having their capsules successfully splash down in the ocean after their mission was over. The food sticks were a favorite lunchtime treat and Saturday snack, what with their futuristic packaging (foil on the INSIDE reminiscent of a space suit) and, at least to me as a kid, a great taste. Apparently they are no longer in production and since their shelf life probably wasn’t 40-plus years, I can’t try one as an adult. My memory of them is that they were a little weird when it came to texture, but that just added to the whole ‘space food’ mystique. It was portable, compact and supposedly packed with vitamins and minerals, perfect for space walks or hikes to the creek.
Fast forward a handful of years to seventh grade math class, a slightly offbeat teacher and his introduction of the game ‘Twixt’ into the curriculum. When we had completed the lesson for the day, if any time was left, the game board came out. It also was a popular staple during ‘study hall’ – the class period when you didn’t actually have a class, but could use it for doing homework, studying or ‘gaming.’ As long as the game was educational. And Twixt was just that; it made you think in more than one dimension, as you tried to connect your game pieces from one side of the board to the other while preventing your opponent from doing the same. The game pieces themselves, when put together, had a unique pattern and were very similar to the old ‘Marathon’ candy bar, which was a long lattice-style bar of chocolate covered caramel, overlapping in a braid of gooey goodness.
With the spacecraft Juno reaching Jupiter’s orbit earlier this month and now sending back pictures, it feels like a ‘full circle’ moment of sorts. Landing on the moon, getting pictures from Jupiter – it’s all the stuff of science fiction turned real life and opens the floodgates of childhood memories.
And with this year’s baseball All-Star game not so far in the rearview mirror, don’t even get me started on the Topps cards I never should have let go. At least not at a bargain hunter’s price at a yard sale.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.