The surface is loose and powdery:
I can kick it up loosely with my toe.
Not quite as well-known as the scripted “one small step, one giant leap” statement, perhaps, but this follow-on spontaneous comment by Neil Armstrong on 20 Jul 1969 is true to the spirit and reality of exploration. What would the surface of the moon be like where they landed? Listening to him talk, it seems clear they didn’t know exactly what they were getting into.
I heard, ‘That’s one small step,’
but what was the rest of it?
As Cronkite and another CBS announcer talk over Armstrong’s ongoing commentary — That powdery stuff is adhering to his boots, he says — I want to tell them to shut up. Good grief. They certainly know it’s an historic occasion, but they don’t seem to have any feel for what to do with the air time. I dunno. Maybe give it to the men who are, you know, on the moon?
Ah, well. Maybe the announcers were as excited as the viewers. That would be understandable. It’s been 50 years since the 17-year-old me watched the landing live on the one TV in my parents’ Edmonton house, but watching the coverage again is still exciting.
In the weeks leading up to this anniversary of the moon landing, there have been multiple retrospectives produced — both online and on TV — and endless articles published. We certainly know it’s an historic occasion, but we, too, seem a bit unsure about what to do with the airtime or the bandwidth.
On the mission-control crew or on the regular folks who remember that day as young adults and who come to visit now?
On the moon landing being a rare moment of common experience or on it being one of the last such moments?
In plain English, 93 percent of people watching TV on July 19-20, 1969,
saw a man land on the moon.
In New York City, the statistic was 100 percent;
no one with a television watched anything else.
On the script or on the spontaneity?
As with any event, historic or not, it’s like a jewel faceted by a master: Hold it up to the light any way you want, and as many ways as you can.