Residents remember moon landing

Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 spacesuit is unveiled at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall in Washington, Tuesday, July 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

ESCANABA — 50 years ago today, the world looked on as mankind made its first steps on the surface of the moon. The story of this milestone can be reflected on in a number of ways.

One of these is the timeline of flight itself. The walk on the moon occurred only 60 years after the first powered aircraft was flown by the Wright brothers. The jet engine itself was not invented until 1930, and according to the Library of Congress, the first man-made satellite was not put into orbit until a decade before the moon landing.

The stories of local residents who remember the moon landing also speak volumes. Many of them witnessed this development of flight over the course of their own lives.

“It was unbelievable, let’s put it that way,” Carl Peterson said. “You just have to wonder how they got off the moon to rendezvous with the main ship.”

Sharon Scherwood said she was “scared to death he wasn’t going to make it. I was hoping and praying for them the whole time.”

The most clear memory for most are the words spoken by Neil Armstrong as he took his first steps onto the surface of the moon.

“‘One small step for man’ is what he said. I remember,” Melvin Tommar said. On the day of the moon landing Tommar was 39. “It’s been so long, but it was very interesting.”

Others remember the steps leading up to the landing more clearly than the landing itself. John Herlick remembered the race with Russia to reach the moon and the president’s declaration on when the landing would happen.

“President Kennedy said we were going to land a man on the moon before this decade was out.”

Herlick had graduated high school about a decade before the moon landing.

Many people watched on television. Betty Alesi remembers watching on as the landing happened.

“I got quite a thrill out of watching it and listened to all the stories afterwards too,” she said.

Dave Behrend was working in Hermansville on July 20, 1969.

“I carved in a wooden beam that we had just landed on the moon.”

Adults were not the only ones to watch the moon landing. Young adults and children were also interested in the development for humankind.

Dan Young, a member of the Delta Astronomical Society, recently wrote a memoir entitled “Moonstruck” where he spoke about his impressions of the moon landing.

Only 16 at the time, Young remember the moments of the moon landing clearly.

“Of all the days, hours and minutes in my life, there are only a handful when I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing at the time something took place.”

One of these rare moments occurred for Young when “Neil Armstrong climbed down the ladder of the Lunar Module, Eagle, paused on the last rung, his left foot dangling in space, and then hopped down onto the dusty surface of the moon.”

More of Young’s recollections of the moon landing can be found on page 4A of today’s Daily Press.

Mike Olson had just graduated from college a month prior to the moon landing. He was spending his fourth summer working at a YMCA camp near Flint. He believes the camp had only one television in the lobby and that both the children and the staff gathered together to watch the moon landing.

“It was pretty interesting, to say the least,” Olson said. “We were all pretty excited.”

For some, the events occurring on the day of the moon landing were as special as the landing itself. Linda Szitta celebrated her first anniversary and Sylvia Johnson gave birth to her second-born son.

50 years later, humanity continues to look into the future of space exploration. SpaceX, a company founded by Elon Musk, recently proposed commercial flights into space while NASA continues to look towards Mars.