Sunday, July 20, 2014

45 years ago today

© Rudolph J Klein
July 20, 1969. Nixon is new to the White House. Ted Kennedy has just driven off a bridge. John and Yoko have shocked the world (at least my small, suburban part of it) by going to bed publicly and staying there for two weeks.

Here we are on a picnic with neighbors at Valley Forge Park. My mother's in the plaid Bermuda shorts. She'd ironed the heavy cotton floral tablecloth put down on the table. That's me on the left, trying to sneak away with an extra Ho-Ho. I'm wearing my favorite flower-power pin.

That night, I wear it to a CYO dance held in the gym of our parish hall, in a dress my mother made, trying to look like I know how to twist. At some point in the evening, the record abruptly stops spinning, lights go on and we are called to come to the school kitchenette where one of the chaperones has set up a portable television. It is a 5 inch screen, black and white of course, with an antenna you have to keep moving to keep picture. The picture is grainy and the sound is crackly and the most audible narration comes from a pocket transistor radio tuned to the same station. A man, at that moment, is walking on the moon. We live in a new world order in which what was impossible for our parents to imagine, happens to us as a matter of course: presidents get shot, women burn their bras, wars are waged in a jungle by children. Now, this: a man from earth stepping onto the moon. 

Grown-ups hunker close to the miniature screen, squinting their disbelieving eyes while we kids shift back and forth in our weejuns, waiting for the music to start up again.