After 50 Years, Still Moonstruck

One of my favorite old songs — really old — was “Moon River” by Andy Williams. Whenever I chance to hear the song, it reminds me of the times we watched the “Andy Williams Show” on TV during the 1960s. It was pretty simple family fun with songs and sometimes silly entertainment.

The song probably got a bit more airtime in July 1969 because a pretty incredible thing happened then. It was around 10:30 p.m. on July 20, 1969, when our dad came bursting into our bedrooms, pulling us from our beds to watch “history in the making.”An American astronaut was about to take the first human steps on the moon. The moon, he said.

I remember crowding around our parents’ black and white portable TV in their bedroom. Through sleepy eyes I watched the grainy pictures of U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong walking, or should I say bouncing, onto the surface of a planet I could only admire from a long distance.

It was pretty neat to watch this event. It was almost overwhelming for our dad. For that poor skinny kid from Center Wheeling who left his hometown only long enough to serve as an infantry soldier marching across Europe during World War II, this was a big deal. He was the editor of Wheeling News-Register at the time and this kind of news left him in awe, salivating at the larger-than-life headlines that would top the next day’s edition.

With those first steps on the moon, the United States set the bar high for Russia to follow in the race to space. That U.S. flag stuck into the surface of the moon was the icing on the cake.

Never in my mind did I doubt that we made it to the moon, but there are still people today who believe it was all a hoax.

The moon was fascinating even before a spacecraft landed there. Countless songs have been written with the moon in their titles. Remember “Blue Moon,” “By the Light of the Silv’ry Moon,” “Moon Shadow,” and one of my favorites, the “Moonbeam” song by Harry Nilsson?

Ralph Kramden, a.k.a. Jackie Gleason, made us all laugh when he shouted at his television wife, “You’re a riot, Alice. You’re a regular riot. Hope they like those jokes on the moon, ’cause that’s where you’re goin’.”

The late pop star Michael Jackson created a sensation when he demonstrated his “moon walk” on stage. It has been copied by people of all ages ever since.

Who doesn’t love one of those gooey chocolate covered marshmallow treats we know as Moon Pies?

As a teenager did you spend too much time “mooning” over a girlfriend or boyfriend?

The moon has always fascinated me and I’m sure many of you. I still get goosebumps when that first harvest moon appears larger than life in the autumn sky. I could stare at it for hours. If you look long and hard you might see the “face of the moon.” I swear I’ve seen it smile.

Heather Ziegler can be reached at: hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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