Tang and Spacesticks: My Apollo 11 Experience


I was 8 years old when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. We were at my grandparent’s house in Freemansburg, PA.

I know that I watched it on TV, but I don’t remember if it was a rebroadcast or was happening real time. I like to think it was real time, but unless I have sudden access to that part of the memory, I will have to leave it at that.

The build up to the landing meant weeks of kid preparations. We had a cardboard model we’d put together of the Lunar Module. Well, I’m sure my big sister, April put it together. I probably punched out the pieces, as that’s all my spatially challenged mind would allow me to do easily.

Mom bought us Tang and Space Sticks. Tang was a powdered, orange flavored drink that we were told the Astronauts drank. It tasted best when I would sneak a spoonful, put just a little water on it to moisten and eat…a little at a time. If you made the unfortunate error in judgment and did not put enough water on the powder, you ended up in a choking, breathing- impaired coughing jag.

Space Sticks were wrapped in a tinfoilish tube. We were told that it was what the astronauts ate. They looked like meat, but tasted sweet and slightly chewy. Somehow, eating one of those, convinced me that I was capable of great things, no matter what my older sister said to the contrary.

Gi Joes had astronaut suits available to them, but not our Barbie dolls. Somehow, I have the image of April’s Barbie with a tinfoil space helmet. That girl was always thinking. I was only thinking of the Tang and Spacesticks.

After the moon landing, I heard that they left “space stuff” on the surface. Now, I was always kind of a different kid, and my concern was that we had just polluted. If littering was wrong, why was it okay to leave stuff on the moon? I’m pretty sure I was the only kid considering this.

Now at age 55, I don’t want anyone or anything to land on the moon or on any other space body. We have messed up the planet we are on and  I find it impossible to believe that the outcome of further “landings” would provide a different outcome.

No Tang in my house, only some organic Acai juice. But, I’ll raise a glass to the brave pioneers who in 1969 gave kids something to dream about.

Perhaps however, the “final frontier” is the landscape of our mind and of our heart.

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