It had to be something extraordinary to lure an entire pack of kids inside on a sunny day to sit in front of a TV and watch the news.
On July 20, 1969, it was not just important, it was a turning point in history. A manned spacecraft was landing on the moon.
Half a dozen of us, some still dripping from a last plunge in the lake, walked voluntarily into my grandmother's cottage and plunked ourselves onto the floor in front of a black and white television. We watched for an hour or more while Walter Cronkite expatiated on what was happening 240,000 miles over our heads.
Consider the era: technology could get humans to the moon, but the images transmitted from the spacecraft were grainy and fuzzy. TV studios lacked today's show-biz gloss and digital flair. Cronkite, for all his vaunted avuncular credibility, was not the ideal TV host for restless adolescents.
But we didn't care about that because in those days we were space-happy kids born and brought up in an age where Sputnik had always beeped overhead and where men in bubble-shaped helmets were our role models.
Rocket fuel, so we imagined, flowed through our veins and we were certain we would grow up and commute to Mars, or at least own vacation homes there.
Our toys were ray guns and rocket ships, the Jetsons were our favorite cousins and Cape Kennedy topped Disney World on our vacation wish list.
And it had happened so fast.
My grandmother, born in the 1890s, predated the first flight by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk. She and her generation had seen, in a little more than 60 years, the evolution in flight from flimsy fabric wings to sleek rocket fins, from devil-may-care barnstorming pilots in goggles to — well, equally devil-may-care astronauts in highly engineered space suits.
So it was a big enough deal to bring all of us, kids and grownups alike, to cluster around the TV and watch the lunar module kick up some lunar dust.
Strangely, I’m not certain if I stayed up until nearly 11 p.m. when Armstrong took his first steps. The images are so iconic and I have viewed them so many times for so many years it is unclear what I remember and what I think I remember.
The 50th anniversary of that moment, and the moment several hours later when Neil Armstrong took his first step off the ladder onto the surface, is coming up in less than two weeks.
Chances are you recall better than I do where you were then. In a sense, of course, we were all together. In a sense, we were all on the lunar lander and were checking our oxygen supplies, getting ready to open the door and climb down the ladder.
The Daily Independent is planning to commemorate the anniversary with stories and pictures. If you have a story of your own to share about where you were when Neil Armstrong took a giant leap for mankind, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.