July 20, 1969 – the day they walked on the moon. The day everyone who was around at the time remembers where they were, what they were doing and what they were feeling. And as history-in-broad-strokes goes – nothing else mattered on that day.
But history as it unfolds isn’t always like that – things were going on, accidents were happening, scandals were brewing and a war was relentlessly stuck in attrition. And while most of us stopped and watched and pondered the possibilities that all those Science Fiction stories we read and all those predictions were real, or could be, there was still the dull and the mundane that occupied our lives – the day to day.
We didn’t suddenly change – just like we didn’t all suddenly grow our hair, drop out of society and live in communes.
When you’re living in the middle of a historic moment, not only do you not have a clue how it’s going to end, but it sometimes moves so slowly you barely notice it. From the time The Eagle Landed to the One Small Step For Man, it was hours in between, and lives changed several times over.
In between those moments we had the murky story of a Senator, who happened to be a Kennedy, and his young female companion, whose car careened off a bridge on a Massachusetts island – her drowning and his wandering in a daze for eight hours – all the stuff of scandal, and all while Tranquillity Base sat poised to make history. We had casualties from Vietnam – the endless lists and reports of dead and wounded. We had racial tensions rapidly approaching another boiling point with Civil Rights leaders asking what good was the Moon if the city you lived in was dying. You had the typical July day – with heat waves and floods from storms and summer school and time off. Of dreaming about other things – not so much about the Moon.
So, to give you a sense of the day as it happened – a day that made history, here is a one-hour sampling of news from KNX in Los Angeles, about the Moon landing and about every day life on Earth, as it unfolded on July 20, 1969.