My Grandma Newvine would save clippings from local newspapers and put them into scrapbooks back in the 1960s and 1970s.
That’s where I got the idea, when I was twelve years old, to collect stories about the mission of Apollo 11 that took Americans to the moon.
Back then, scrapbooks were nothing like what you might see now at a local crafts store.
The scrapbooks from my grandmother’s era were made with thick construction paper and cardboard covers. No stickers or 3-D accruements from the hobby store.
My scrapbook from 1969 includes articles from the days leading up to the launch from the Kennedy Space Center and into the first days of the mission.
All the clippings were from our daily newspaper from northern New York State: the Watertown Daily Times.
The Times arrived every evening, hand delivered by our paperboy.
The newspaper price in 1969 was ten cents.
Sprinkled among the clippings in my space scrapbook are articles about the preparations for the historic launch. There are several stories about the first two days of the mission as the astronauts were heading to the landing spot named the Sea of Tranquility.
There are plenty of sidebar stories.
I clipped pictures with captions featuring Buzz Aldrin and his family. There’s a photo of his son with a caption suggesting that the young boy may be the most popular child in school.
Barbara Aldrin, the wife of Buzz, is shown in a photo unfurling the American flag. Buzz is highlighted from a demonstration the astronauts did inside the orbiter midway to the moon.
I wonder whether I just favored features about Buzz Aldrin, or whether Neil Armstrong, who was noted for his desire for privacy, asked NASA to downplay stories about his family to the media.
There’s a small glossary of acronyms NASA used throughout the mission. In the days long before computer graphics, the paper had artist renderings of how the lunar module would separate from the command module for the moon landing and subsequent rejoining of the mother vehicle.
President Nixon’s phone call to the astronauts is the subject of one of the clippings, and there’s a story that reports NASA may move the actual first steps on the moon from 2:21 AM Eastern Time on Monday, July 21, back to a more viewer friendly time on Sunday evening.
And that takes me back to Sunday July 20, 1969
My family had planned to spend the better part of that Sunday evening at the Port Leyden Firemens Field Days in my hometown. The mix of rides, games, and carnival food was a big part of the summertime tradition.
When we learned the actual walk on the lunar surface would take place on Sunday evening, the Newvine family left the field days earlier than in previous years.
We went home, gathered around our television set, and watched the coverage.
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Neil Armstrong’s words were about as clear as a voice on a long-distance phone call. The image of his stepping on the lunar surface was hard to make out in black and white. But there was no doubt both Armstrong and Aldrin made it.
Astronaut Mike Collins orbited the moon until it was time for Neil and Buzz to reconnect and head home.
I couldn’t wait for the next day’s newspaper to arrive so that I could begin clipping the stories of the moonshot.
There is was in glorious black and white: mankind’s great achievement. We were eyewitnesses.
The scrapbook stayed with me for all the moves made after I graduated from college and went out on my own.
The covers were lost somewhere over the past five decades. The scotch tape that held the clippings had long lost its’ stickiness. The pages from the actual landing and subsequent return to Earth are missing.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll never forget how the US race-to-the-moon ended.
The scrapbook was my “Google” of the moonshot several decades before we ever heard of search engines.
The Apollo scrapbook belongs to me, but the idea of keeping up a collection of articles about this historical event came from my Grandma Newvine.
Thank you Grandma.