Posted by: bkivey | 20 July 2012

Ex Orbis Terrarum ut Luna

43 years ago today marks the first time people set foot on another world, and to date, the Moon is the only heavenly body to bear the weight of human footprints. My previous post on the day, with a transcript of the most intense five minutes in history, is  here . Even today, with the outcome long known, it makes a riveting read.

I watched bad video from the Moon on a 12″ B & W TV (you can see the video here) I was very young, and my father wanted to send us to bed. My mother earned my eternal gratitude by intervening with “Van, they’re landing ON THE MOON!” Thanks, Mom.

I’d been practicing lunar landings with the punch-out paper model seen on the left. This was a premium given out by Gulf stations with a fill-up, and as you can see, for a gas station giveaway, it was fairly sophisticated. If you were careful in punching out the parts and assembling them, you’d get a  credible model of a Lunar Excursion Module. The instructions suggested running a string through it to simulate the landing, but, like Neil, I preferred to hand fly mine.

When you’re a child, the world revolves around you. It’s hard to tell in the moment what will and won’t be important years and decades later. I do remember that on a hot summer night in Columbia, SC, I knew I was watching history.
Today in History

The Moon landing wasn’t the only notable event on the day.

1749 – Earl of Chesterfield says “Idleness is only refuge of weak minds”

1969 – Eddy Merckx wins Tour de France

Widely considered the greatest cyclist ever, all Merckx did was win everything he rode.

1976 – Hank Aaron hits 755th & last home run off Angels Jerry Augustine

I didn’t see that game, but I did see the game where he hit #715, breaking Babe Ruth’s record.



  1. I too remember assembly of the gulf gas station luner lander, it is indelibly etched in my memory as a child, this is the first reference to these probably rare paper cut outs!

    • They probably are rare, and I’d love to have one, but one (unpunched) recently sold on eBay for $20. I do remember hours of fun ‘landing’ on the Moon.

  2. […] didn’t send men beyond the thermosphere and then to the moon. The Sixties was a decade when Gulf gas stations gave away punch-out paper models of the Lunar Landing Module and Command Module (“Insert slot A into tab B”) as promotions and […]

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