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  • Writer's pictureRobert Adams

Glen Lake 1969

Updated: Mar 23, 2021

THE HISTORIC FIRST MOON LANDING occurred on July 20, 1969. It was performed by a team of heroic American astronauts aboard the lunar module Eagle. It had been jettisoned from their space shuttle Columbia landing on the surface of the moon. How cool was that! I was on Glen Lake in northern Michigan, a mere 239,000 miles away from the moon enjoying our family’s annual summer vacation during this amazing time.

The moon mission was the culmination of years of hard work borne out of the advances in propulsion and flight technology resulting in the moonshot aboard Apollo 11. America proved to the world through grit and determination that they could land on the moon by the end of the decade. It was nicely capped off that Saturday night when Neil Armstrong took those first steps and announced: “That’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.”

Space was indeed the new frontier and I was celebrating this major feat by keeping my own feet firmly on the ground in northern Michigan. During the historic week, my dad and brother were constantly trying to tune-in the network coverage viewed on a small Philco portable television on the porch of our cabin. The black and white TV had a rabbit-ear antenna dressed in aluminum foil to try to boost the reception. Unfortunately, the broadcast tower was 25 miles away in Traverse City and yielded very spotty reception. They also brought in a GE radio that helped with the audio portion during the huddled drama.

As a twenty-year-old college kid my focus the whole week had been the moon trying to comprehend the enormity of the mission. I was in awe of the whole thing but opportunities in my own backyard competed for my attention in the form of five waitresses who worked at Old Orchard Inn where my family was staying. The waitresses were cute, friendly, and constantly in my line of sight. I probably should have stayed focused on the astronauts but it was truly a week devoted to heavenly bodies.

The ladies were coming off their dinner shift. They had showered in their group housing called the Rookery. It was a very modest barracks located behind the main lodge of the resort. I can still recall the fragrance of Breck shampoo coming from their wet hair as they arrived at the beach that fateful Saturday night. They were full of laughter and hushed whispers. I briefly forgot about the moon taking in the earthly wonders as we sat around our crackling fire on the shores of Glen Lake.

Laughter is a great way to share an evening and a moon landing. I was able to merge all the wonders surrounding me thinking anything was possible.

How fortunate I am to live in the area where such fond memories were made and continue.

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