Endless frontiers awaited kids during the time of the moon landing
Today's 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing is practically an emotional experience for me. For readers much younger than their mid-40s it's hard to appreciate the impact this monumental event had on the imaginations of children.
All morning I've been running the breathtakingly cool wechoosethemoon.org website, which has a real time player of all radio traffic of the Apollo 11 landing (we're less than 1 hour to go!!). During the time of my youth there seemed no limit to the capacity of science and engineering. Imagine it and it could happen. It's a time that didn't last, and I wonder what kids of today dream about. For me, it was all about going to the Moon.
My child who is around the age now when man first landed on the moon seemed absolutely vexed at the idea that someone had actually been up to the great white orb in the sky. It caught me off guard that most kids today don't think about these things, and don't imagine a world without easy access to wireless communication in every corner of their lives.
All of these wonders of technology would not have happened if not for the pioneering work done in the time of the Apollo program. Iconic movies and culture of today were a result of the real world activities of the astronauts, cosmonauts, flight engineers and mechanics who created these flimsy little crafts that crossed the heavens.
Local media figure David Beers, now editor of The Tyee online magazine, knew the world of the Space Age first hand as a youth and wrote about it. His Blue Sky Dream published around the time he was making his home in Vancouver, gets rave reviews as an account of life in a California aerospace community.
The realities of living inside these communities, by Beers' account, was not as ideal as it may have been for a kid clinging to dozens of books about space back here in Vancouver. Mine were really dreams of space, just like the name of this blog devoted to space-themed children's books from the 1950s & beyond.
For a time we imagined colonies on the Moon, cities built from dust house in domes. Near the end of the Apollo years space had become a dystopia in the popular imagination, and quite literally a money pit for tax dollars. More regrettably perhaps, children didn't get to dream about these new frontiers nearly as much.
There will always be new frontiers of course, just maybe not so distant. Space travel may be the dream of many kids again as it was in my youth. Maybe Google mapping the Moon will foster a new generation of explorers.
For now I'll satisfy myself with another viewing of The Right Stuff and tip my hat to the work of our Space Age pioneers.