One giant leap for mankind and a guy hiding in a hotel
Who knows what song Neil Armstrong and Senator Ted Kennedy were listening to this week in 1969? My guess is "In the Year 2525" by Zager & Evans, a song that topped the charts, sold millions of copies, and that no one remembers. Yes, I bought the 45, but it's not around anymore. The song did make a lot of predictions:
In the year 6565
Ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long glass tube, whoa
Didn't we do that in 1978? The famous "Louise Brown," the first test tube baby?
By the way, the song does not make any prediction about a guy from New York stealing a future election with Russian help. Sorry, liberals — it ain't in these lyrics, either!
Back to 1969.
Like most families, we sat around the TV and watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon.
I can remember much of it, from Walter Cronkite's countdown to the lunar landing to President Nixon's speech to the astronauts.
We remember Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins and congratulate the crew and everyone down here who made this amazing mission possible.
Wonder whatever happened to that U.S. flag and landmark that we left up in the moon?
No matter what, I was very lucky to be alive and experience one of the greatest days in world history! I was very lucky to be living in the U.S., where I could watch the whole thing. I mention this because my cousins in Cuba did not see it live on TV.
Over in Chappaquiddick, Senator Ted Kennedy was attending a party with friends and campaign workers. Here is the story:
Just after 11 p.m., Kennedy left the party with Kopechne, by his account to drive to the ferry slip where they would catch a boat back to their respective lodgings in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard.
While driving down the main roadway, Kennedy took a sharp turn onto the unpaved Dike Road, drove for a short distance, and then missed the ramp to a narrow wooden bridge and drove into Poucha Pond.
Kennedy, a married man, claimed the Dike Road excursion was a wrong turn. However, both he and Kopechne had previously driven down the same road, which led to a secluded ocean beach just beyond the bridge.
In addition, Kopechne had left both her purse and room key at the party.
Kennedy escaped the car and then dove down in an attempt to retrieve Kopechne from the sunken Oldsmobile. Failing, he stumbled back to the cottage, where he enlisted Gargan and another friend in a second attempt to save Kopechne. The three men were unsuccessful; her body was not recovered. The trio then went to the ferry slip, where Kennedy dove into the water and swam back to Edgartown, about a mile away. He returned to his room at the Shiretown Inn, changed his clothes, and at 2:25 a.m. stepped out of his room when he spotted the innkeeper, Russell Peachey. He told Peachey that he been awakened by noise next door and asked what time it was. He then returned to his room.
To say the least, it became a huge scandal for Senator Kennedy. It probably ended his presidential ambitions, although he did run against President Carter in 1980.
My father and I had a long conversation one time about this years later. As he said, one man walked on the moon and became a hero forever. On the other hand, one man behaved recklessly, and a young woman drowned. Armstrong was a serious man and successfully piloted a capsule into history. Kennedy thought he was invincible and ended up destroying any chance of winning an election outside Massachusetts.
I cannot remember the moon landing without the reference to Chappaquiddick, the other big story of that week.
PS: You can listen to my show (Canto Talk).
Image: National Archives.
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