“Rocket Man” and “Major Tom”: My Memories of the Moon Landing

On June 20, 1969, the waitresses and managers of The Luau Restaurant at Eastwood Mall in Jefferson County, Alabama, were gathered around a small set in the front dining room. Forty-five years ago today, my co-workers and I were glued to the fuzzy picture and tinny voices of Houston Control and news announcers as they followed the landing of Apollo 11. Later we watched as Neil Armstrong touched the powdery surface of the moon, followed by astronaut Buzz Aldrin. We listened as Armstrong said — “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  We watched as they planted the American flag on a landscape that Aldrin described as a “magnificent desolation”.

We cheered. And wondered what this momentous occasion would mean for the future of our small, blue planet. Who could have imagined how it would change the world. Not by making space our limitless home away from home, but by delving inward, into the world of microspace here on earth.

To celebrate mankind’s greatest achievement, I’ve collected a couple of videos and songs that take me back to the space age. Those of us who remember the “day the earth stood still” in front of our TV sets, are seniors now. And how we love to remember where we were.

Apollo 11 video as Elton John sings Rocket Man

Space video for David Bowie’s Major Tom

“Spaceman” by Harry Nilsson

Here’s the astronauts from Apollo 8, the Christmas mission, reading from the first chapter of Genesis. To know where they are as they read these timeless words gives me goose bumps.

Coming Home for Major Tom



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