On July 20, 1969, an estimated 650 million people around the world were glued to their television sets as commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on the moon. Where were you during that celebrated event? We sent our star reporter David Luces out on the streets of Port Jefferson, East Setauket and Stony Brook to find out.
Abby Buller, Port Jefferson and Katie Harrison, Mount Sinai
“I remember getting up at 1 in the morning. Everyone in the U.S. was up for it. If you were sleeping you were either dead or under the age of two. When Neil Armstrong said his famous line, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” everyone started to clap and cry. Even Walter Cronkite was crying on the news. My grandmother was at the house watching with my parents and she said, ‘It is a lie, they landed some place on Earth.’ A man landed on the moon, Woodstock and the Mets win the World Series — nothing can beat 1969.” — Abby
“I was eight years old at the time, it was amazing. If it happened today everyone would be watching on their phones. All we had back then was a black and white television.” — Katie
Steve C., Rocky Point
“I was working three jobs at the time and worked until midnight. Who didn’t watch it? Everyone was glued to the television.”
Peter Young, Port Jefferson
“It was a pivotal moment in our history. I remembered watching it on television with my family like everybody else.”
Frances Langella, Holbrook
“I was young then, I’m 89 years old now. I was watching it with my family in Dix Hills — it was very exciting. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing. You always wondered who or what was out there. I don’t think any other future space mission could top the magnitude of the first moon landing. It may be different, but I don’t think it’ll have the impact of the first [moon] mission.”
Thomas Toye, Stony Brook
“It was a great year. I remember my father had a party for the astronauts who landed on the moon.
Rich P., Miller Place
“I was 18 years old at the time. It was the most amazing thing that I have seen. The whole country was excited. There was a man on the moon! I was at my grandfather’s house a week later; he was born in 1892. He’s watching the news on landing on the moon — and I said ‘Pop, what do you think about landing on the moon?’ He said when he was a kid they had all these stories about flying to the moon. They thought it wasn’t possible — that it was just science fiction.”
Carl Buttacavoli, Centereach
“It was amazing. I was on the aircraft carrier that picked the astronauts up. It was 1,189 feet long, and we scooped them out of the water when they landed back on Earth. What amazed me is that they were up in space on the moon and then they landed right by our ship. It was amazing how they could coordinate everything and land so close to us.
Sandra Perkins, England and Carolyn Tobia, Commack
“It was unbelievable, I’m surprised we haven’t done something similar again. The whole space race seemed to close down for awhile,” she said. “But now, countries that we seem to be at odds with are working together with us. We are still going to the space station.” – Sandra
“We were in London at the time, it was very exciting. Everybody started clapping [when they saw it on television]. My husband used to watch these movies and they would be in these crazy looking suits and spaceships. Then all of a sudden we were looking at the real thing.” – Carolyn
All photos by David Luces