CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Fifty years ago, millions of people gathered around their TVs for a moment so historic, humanity will be talking about it for hundreds of years to come.
In honor of the 50-year anniversary of the moon landing, we asked senior residents at the Holly Creek Retirement Community what they remember about the Apollo 11 mission and the day man achieved what some considered impossible.
Tipton was 46 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first landed on the moon. She said she was in Italy at the time with her family, and noticed a dichotomy between the scene around her and what mankind had just achieved.
“The guide on our bus was the only one that spoke English very well,” Tipton said. “We just found out about it because they announced it, and we were on this bus, and I looked out to the right, and there was a man there, this farmer, and he was plowing a field with his oxen and I thought ‘what a contrast between man on the moon and that.’”
Throughout her travels in Italy, she said the moon landing was all over the TV screens. The problem? None of it was in English, and she didn’t speak Italian.
So, her family didn’t find out what truly happened until two weeks later, when it had faded from the daily headlines.
“It was a worldwide event,” she said.
For Dolores Schlessman, the moon landing feels like yesterday.
“Time goes so fast now,” she said. “A week is gone and before you know it, it’s year. 1969 doesn’t seem like a long time to me at all.”
She said she and her family were living in Cherry Hills Village at the time, and the kids ran outside to look at the sky to see what they could see.
“The launch I thought was terribly exciting and thinking it would not get up there and then the landing was exciting,” she said. “I guess they had trouble with the weather but everything turned out after all.”
She says somewhere in a cedar chest, she still has the copy of the Denver Post that was printed the day man first walked on the moon.
Dean and Sally Lund
Dean and Sally Lund have been married just a few weeks shy of 60 years – meaning they’d been married for a decade already when they watched the broadcast of the moon landing. They got all their kids together and watched it on the couch. Dean said he even used a recorder to capture the moment on TV.
“I taped Armstrong’s descent and his announcement that he was on the moon,” he said. “Now of course I’ve lost the tape somewhere.”
Sally said her daughter, who was less than 7 years old, remembers little details from the day, like what couch they were sitting on and what the TV looks like. For Sally though, her memories are about the achievement.
“It was miraculous, truly miraculous,” she said. “You couldn’t believe this was really happening but it was, it was very clearly happening in front of us.”
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