Whether you were 70 or 9, life probably peaked in 1969

July 20, 2009

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I was surprised to hear that the moon turns 40 years old this month. I'd assumed it was far older, seeing as how it was mentioned many times in ancient -- oh, the moon landing. I need to move up on the waiting list for that Miracle Ear.

Today, it seems incredible that man could make it to the moon four decades ago, without the benefit of the iPhone. Technology back then seemed so sketchy. You see old shots of Mission Control and it looks like a bunch of guys sitting in front of a bank of toaster ovens. Those machines look like they would have a hard time warming up a cup of soup, much less plotting a course to the moon.

If you looked closely, you could even see the occasional slide rule.


Just for the heck of it, try explaining a slide rule to your kids: "We had this stick of wood, see, and it had a clear plastic slider on top with a line on it, and the middle of the stick slid up and down and after 20 minutes of moving things back and forth, if you lined everything up just right, you were able to divide 48 by 12. It was sort of like a divining rod for math."

"What's a divining rod?"

"It was like the 'find water' app on your iPhone."

But it gets worse, kids, because now you are going to be subjected to all manner of Baby Boomer nostalgia as we all recall what we were doing when man first stepped on the moon. Trust me, there's nothing more tedious.

This is the Boomer generation in a nutshell: We don't dwell on the fact that men walked on the moon, we dwell on what we ourselves were doing when they did. Like somehow we helped.

"I remember the first moon walk clearly; I was watering the begonias."

It is going to be up to you, the younger generation, to put a stop to the madness. The direct approach is best. Sit the old man down and say, "Look, pop, if you were curing anthrax when man walked on the moon, tell me all about it. Otherwise, spare me your personal diary."

I warn you though, the same will happen to you one day, as you try to establish your relevance by telling your kids what you were doing at the exact time that they discovered mold at Northern Middle School.

What was I doing when man walked on the moon? Funny you should ask.

I was watching TV with everyone else, what do you think I was doing? I was 9. I was watching with my grandmother (I guess other family members were there too, but I only remember her) in Homer, N.Y., and I've never seen anyone staring as intently at a television screen in my life, not even during America Idol.

I think I remember seeing tears in her eyes. She would have been about 70 at the time. How incredible, I mused, that someone who had been around for the invention of Pop-Tarts would live to see man walk on the moon. As a 9-year-old, my frame of reference was somewhat limited.

Maybe when I'm 70, man will walk on Mars, but it's really not the same. There is no other, more primitive phase of life that I've lived through, like horse and buggies or iceboxes or Art Linkletter. What can I tell the whippersnappers, that I was also alive to see the rise of disco?

For me, life peaked in 1969.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at Tune in to the Rowland Rant video at, on or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 evenings at 6:30. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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