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Left Coast / Right Coast: Ah, the benefit of time (and selective memory)

Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Nancy Gold.
Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Nancy Gold.

By Mike Gold, a retired entrepreneur "living the dream in the Pacific Northwest."

This month, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing. Both my wife and I, just about to be married, remember watching the “live” broadcast on our 15” black and white TV (with the rabbit ears antenna).

Of course, not everyone believes we actually landed on the moon. To this day, conspiracy theorists are convinced the entire “show” was staged on a set in a TV studio somewhere out in the desert (to insure no one would simply “stumble” upon this giant hoax).

So why would some insist the entire thing was a hoax? Well, there are a number of semi-valid theories. One would be that President Johnson was already under siege about Vietnam – and this was simply a manufactured distraction to take people’s focus away from that untimely war.

Another was that (and this is for the true “nut job – aluminum foil on the head wearing wackos”) an Alien civilization had landed at the White House – taken thought control from our administration and was trying to make the entire country think about anything else while the Aliens pillaged and plundered the U.S.’s resources.

I always think of that great song about “nostalgia” which tends to put a nice “fog” around everything - "I remember it well." So let’s take a trip back through time to the early era of NASA and the Moon Landing.

Sputnik 1: Early one Saturday morning in 1957 my father woke me up and excitedly said: “The Russians have launched a satellite – which is orbiting the earth. And you can hear its ‘beep beep’ by turning on just about any radio station.”

Sure enough, I turned on my “portable” and heard the sound of a man-made object broadcasting a sound from “near Space” – actually a low earth orbit. I was not sure whether to dive under my bed – awaiting the soon to happen nuclear explosion which was about to wipe out all of Brooklyn, or whether to be as excited as my father was.

Remember, these were the days when at public school in New York City we used to practice diving under our flimsy wood desks in case we were nuked. I can always remember my friend saying: “The best thing to do is to bend completely over, put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.”

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, as the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were going toe to toe over nuclear warheads in Cuba our fraternity held an “end of the world” party. All I recall of that is either a certain “looseness” amongst the party goers or complete frigidity because everyone thought they were about to die. “Ah, yes I remember it well.”

For some perspective, my father was a little boy when the Wright Brothers flew about 120 feet at Kitty Hawk in 1903. So to him the idea of orbiting the earth, let alone flying safely on a commercial airplane, was a completely alien idea.

My maternal grandmother was still alive when Armstrong took his historic walk on the moon. She was about 90 at the time and some of her family had narrowly escaped from the Nazis in Hungary.

So to give it a little perspective, I don’t think my grandmother ever actually accepted that man had walked on the moon. By her standards, just having running hot and cold water, indoor plumbing, central heat and a stove that you didn’t have to keep stoking with wood were simply miracles that were sufficient for her to “believe” in modern life. No further thought about flying in space to the moon was necessary for her to think her life was complete and that man had advanced as far as humanly possible.

Back in 1970, in order to become an official entrant into the Boston Marathon, one had to meet Qualifying standards that were introduced. The official Boston Athletic Association entry form stated, “A runner must submit the certification...that he has trained sufficiently to finish the course in less than four hours.”

This year, winning time for men was about two hours, eight minutes. What I think I remember is running it in just over four hours in 1980. The same year Rosie Ruiz jumped onto the course about a mile from the finish to “win” the women’s race.

Funny thing about memory. We tend to remember only the good things and not the bad. So for now, I’m going to continue believing I ran the Marathon in about three and a half hours which was serious time for that era. Ah, yes I remember it well.

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