The Beachcomber

Man on the Moon Memories

Where were you the day mankind took that giant leap?
By STAFF | May 24, 2019

Southern Ocean County — In July 1969, Greg Brown – Ship Bottom native, Tuckerton resident and longtime educator at Pinelands Regional School District – was 9 years old, the youngest of a family of seven kids.

“I remember that we had one of the few TVs on the block that summer, and most of the neighbors were crowded in our little house at 111 East 19th St. in Ship Bottom. We were all watching very closely the small black-and-white TV with rabbit ears antennae and a very staticky video of Neil Armstrong making his famous descent and speech as he became the first human to set foot on the moon.

“The next day (my brother) Jeff – 12 years old – had his best day of selling the Newark Daily News that summer. He used to sell the paper in front of Mills Supermarket in Ship Bottom. He rarely sold out the unpopular paper, but that day he sold out quickly because his paper was one of the few with a full front-page color picture of the event.”

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Dick Jeffries of Jeffries Floor and Decor in Beach Haven Terrace grew up on Long Beach Island during a time before light pollution. “The moon was different,” he recalled. “You could see it differently. You could see the stars. You could feel the stars.” He would lie on his back among the dunes and look up at the night sky. “There was no glare.

“I would stick up my hand, as a child, to try and touch the stars.”

An avid fan of science fiction, he hoped space exploration would continue and progress, far beyond where it is today. “We should be on Mars now,” he said. “We’ve stopped growing. Or we’re growing in the wrong directions.”

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Maria Scandale of Manahawkin was 10 at the time. “My parents’ friends made a party of it. It was ‘neat,’ but soon we 10-year-olds went upstairs to the record player and danced to ‘Judy in Disguise (With Glasses).’ We were aware we had watched history happen, but, enough with the TV commentary.”

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Anita Josephson of Manahawkin recalled she was 23 at the time and flying home to Philadelphia from a visit to family in Los Angeles. Before the plane could take off at LAX, a bomb threat was called in and the plane was evacuated, stranding all the passengers in the international terminal there for hours. Later, when it was finally in the air and only halfway home, the pilot announced that Neil Armstrong had landed on the moon. Everyone aboard cheered, but Josephson remembers thinking, “He’s on the moon, and we can’t even get to Philadelphia!”

 

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