Alarms and Landings in NYC

I was reading one of the blogs I like today, Travel Tales and Pictures, and there was some very nice shots of New York City that made me remember this episode.

In July of 1969, we left Toronto driving down to the United States via Niagara Falls and into Buffalo, through the beautiful countryside of New York State and into New York City.

We stayed in a hotel on Time Square on the tenth floor and could see all the lights and excitement of the street below. It was an exciting place to be. Just before leaving Toronto I had seen the excellent movie Midnight Cowboy, which had come out that May, and it seemed to me as we walked around Time Square that first night that I could see Ratso, the character played by Dustin Hoffman, and John Voight’s cowboy lurking on every corner.

We had taken the trip to the Statue of Liberty, and done some other sight seeing and pleasantly tired after dinner had gone up to our room. We were out on the balcony scanning the night sky because someone had told us because it was such a clear night we might be able to see Apollo II as it passed over.

Suddenly, there was a terrific clanging and someone running up the corridor banging on doors, there was a fire in the hotel, and we had to evacuate immediately. We ran to the fire escape and hurtled down the stairs, and tumbled into Time Square. There was about 800 other people all milling around wondering what was happening. Luckily it was only smoke in the kitchen and we all were able to return safely to our rooms.

Next day, July 20, 1969, we went to Central Park to witness the landing of the Apollo II on the moon. The event unfolded on large projection screens set up in the Sheep Meadow. The atmosphere was reverent and the huge crowd was quiet with uneasy anticipation. When the first images flickered the crowd went nuts and strangers were hugging each other and jumping up and down with excitement.

We left New York the next day to continue on our grand tour of the United States and Mexico, but we felt that anything would be an anticlimax after what we had witnessed the day before.

4 Responses

  1. What a great tale. It seemed like the moon was just a stop on the way to explore the universe.

    I wish I knew how we lost that edge.

  2. Vic, Thank you for the nice mention of my blog I appreciate it. I suppose the landing on the moon is one of those events where you will always remember where you were. At the time I was living in New Jersey with my parents and we watched the landing on a black and white TV in our livingroom. I remember before the landing when people wanted to say that something was not going to happen, they would say “that is is likely as a man on the moon.” You don’t hear that saying anymore.

  3. The Celt asks a very good question.

    After it was all over on TV I remember walking into the backyard and looking at the Moon, and realizing that I was doing something that no humans had ever done before that night.

    See the Moon with people on it.

    Something I’d like to see on your sit Vic. A temperature icon … Like the one on mine. I looked around a bit , but they don’t seem to have a page for Canada.

    It would fun to see the air temp. when I come by.

  4. I think the moon landing matches up with events like JFK’s assassination or the 9-11 tragedy in that we all can usually remember exactly where we were, what we were doing when we heard the news.

    For me, the moon landing – I was at my favorite local pub, imbibing in some liquid refreshments but I remember even the noisy drunks there became sober and in a reverent mood as we all watched this unfold on the tv set in the bar. After watching the successful landing though, there was much revelry and buying of more drinks!

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