Where I was in 1969

Everybody else who has a blog and is over 40 is reminiscing
about where they were when Apollo 11 landed 2 men on the moon, so
I guess I will too. (See all the science fiction writers at tor.com.)

It was between my Freshman and Sophomore years in college. I
was a physics major at Brown University in Providence, RI, but I
was at home with my mother and sister in Fall River, MA.

My summer job that year was in a tutoring program at Bristol
Community College for students who were judged to need some
remedial work to handle college level courses. I was teaching
three classes a day in remedial math, and getting home utterly
exhausted. So I usually took a nap after supper while my mother
was watching the news, so staying up late didn’t bother me as much
as it did some people.

I had vivid memories of hearing about Sputnik over the radio
at breakfast in 1957, and I knew that was directly tied to my
parents having better and more stable jobs teaching science in
college. So I probably thought the moon landing would lead to
there being good jobs for physics majors in a few years.

I was also a pretty avid science fiction reader, so I probably
thought it was a first step towards having humans living elsewhere
than on one planet. I remember having nightmares in 1962 or so
after seeing a film of George Gamow explaining about the life
cycle of the sun. He said it would become a red giant in
only a couple of billion years. I think the pictures in the
nightmare were actually from the chapter in a Bible stories book about the flight
of the Israelites from Egypt.

I was probably as wrong as lots of other people about the
directness and speed with which we were going to accomplish any of
those things, but if we ever do have extraterrestrial colonization
and reliable jobs for physics majors, it will be partly
because of NASA and Apollo 11.

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