Today we bring you a very special edition of our newscasts, this one on the 40th anniversary of man first landing on the moon.
The moon landing, an epic high water mark set by President Kennedy nearly a decade before, transfixed the world in awe around the soft glow of their mostly black and white television sets that night, July 20, 1969, with images until then imagined only in dreams.
Longtime resident Geoff Brown remembered watching it as a graduate student on a trip to New England:
“With a small group of friends went up to Newport, Rhode Island for the jazz festival and then on to Putney, Vermont for another week’s vacation. The landing took place while there, and our friend’s house had one of the few TVs on the street. It turned into a party (it WAS the 60′s). It was wonderful to share the experience with friends and strangers alike. I felt very patriotic for the United States and all mankind for such an outstanding accomplishment.
“The following week we returned to Beachwood to find that we had had a common experience with so many Americans.”
Current Beachwood Mayor Ron Jones recalled the experience as a youth growing up in Brick Township:
“At the time of the moon landing I was twelve years old.
“Summer seemed hotter and more carefree… I recall going up on the roof of my parents home to adjust the antenna. If you don’t know, an antenna is a piece of metal designed to bring 13 channels, if you’re lucky, to your television set. We were one of a few families in the neighborhood that had the luxury of owning a color television set.
“My friends all came over, my mom made snacks and we sat in awe viewing history in the making. I think we all wanted to abandon our plans to become firemen in pursuit of a stint as an astronaut. That day was kind of bittersweet for me. Although a great accomplishment had been achieved, the constant rebroadcast of the pledge of President John F. Kennedy brought back a sad memory of November 22, 1963. Another day I will never forget.”
Resident Lynn Pancza recalled that day spent among friends:
“I remember waiting for hours for the moonwalk to be televised. A group of us sat in a friend’s living room in Island Heights, around a very tiny television, watching the event.
“It was surreal to think that we were viewing something that would become a part of history, and personally I know I’ll never experience anything that thrilling and new again.
Don Wiesner, a fifty-plus year member of the Beachwood Volunteer Fire Company:
“I was working out of Toms River Chemical then, and it was just casually mentioned that they landed [they touched down at about 4pm Eastern Standard Time]. Then when I came at home I watched it on television [Neil Armstrong stepped out of the spacecraft about 10pm Eastern Standard Time].
“We talked about it down at the firehouse; it was really a great thing. An excellent thing, we never thought it would happen.”
Resident Lynn Paro recalled the event alongside her soon-to-be husband, Tom:
“I was off from work and Tom and I were sitting on my cousin’s porch on Ship Avenue watching the landing. [We] were newly engaged and I believe that I worked for the First National Bank of Toms River, downtown next to Woolworth’s on Main Street… It was incredible.
“My cousin… Rich Schiller, [who was] 19… was working at the Beachwood bakery which was called The Town and Country Bakery at the time. He asked for the day off to watch the landing. His boss said no so my cousin quit the job. As he was riding his bike home from the bakery, he got hit by a car. He came home anyway just to see the landing.”
Edna Moody, wife of then-police chief John Moody, cited the technological breakthrough it represented as the most amazing:
“I remember being in awe of the accomplishment of this, and of course we all stared at the TV in disbelief. Our oldest children were eight and four, and we were so proud of that mission.
“Maybe more than the landing itself, I asked my husband, how in the world can we get television reception from the moon?”
Mr. Moody also commented on the historic event:
“We loved the idea that we were able to be in our own living room and watch such an event occurring. The moon was one of those places that was an untouchable. It was there, but nobody would ever arrive on it.”
He also recalled the police scanner to be particularly quiet that night, with most residents assumed to be tuned in and not doing much that would require police assistance.
Experience audio and visual elements of the Apollo 11 mission at www.WeChooseTheMoon.com