The Moon Landing of July 20 1969 is one of those events which makes people recall where they were at the time. This weekend it is 50 years since that momentous day. For those of us who were small children at the time, our memories are a little unreliable and lend a creative context to the official documents of the time.
In the mid north of South Australia, heavy snowfalls were recorded, lending a contextual layer of reality to the day. Given the rarity of snow in the region, the day was far more memorable than it might otherwise have been.
My mother had driven us to school because of the inclement weather, snow not yet falling. In front of the school cars arrived, parking on angle to the pavement to drop off their cargo of children. On the pavement stood a teacher dressed for the wet weather, approaching cars as they appeared to inform the unsuspecting parents that school had been cancelled for the day. Cars then reversed out and moved off without unloading children.
On returning home, my sister and I were allowed to play in the lounge room, and more unusually, we were allowed to have the television on. The snowy black and white images did not hold much interest for us. Our story telling Grandfather had always told us stories about ‘The Man in the Moon’, and he had reliably informed us, the moon was made of cheese. Surely this was about him, ‘The Man in the Moon’. As a five and a six year old, we were more interested in playing with the dolls we had acquired for our recent birthdays.
In the warmth of the kitchen, Mother had set up the baby bath on the kitchen table and was attending to her six month old babe.
We were busy with our dolls when Mum called from the kitchen to look out the window. Snow! I remember dashing straight to the kitchen to ask permission to go play in the snow. The answer was a firm ‘no’. Bargaining – ‘we will wear our rain coats’. Still no!
Resigned to the fact that the snow was beyond our reach, we returned to the lounge room, but now our attention was held completely by the scene outside the window. When Mum entered the room some time later, she found us perched, like cats, on the cupboard in front of the window absorbing a memory that would stay forever.
When school resumed the next day, there was discussion about the moon landing, and children moving about the class room in re-enactment of the moon walk. The snow long gone. I do remember being a little confused about the men walking on the moon, after all, the was already a ‘Man in the Moon’!
For many years, I had assumed that we had a day off school due to the snow. Growing up in a Peterborough, a small country town, the shared memory of my friends re-enforced this impression. It was not until I had left school and moved to Adelaide, that I became aware that the day off had been widespread, and granted because of the Moon Landing!