For the past few years, I’ve kept a binder containing the obituaries of famous people. Don’t ask me why – I’ve just done it. Maybe subconsciously, I knew I’d write about the entrants some day.
Some of the obituaries are of people I had the good fortune to meet. But I want to add that in no way do I mean to brag about having shaken these peoples’ hands.
I began looking at the book a few days ago. I have the articles arranged alphabetically, and the first one I came to was Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon. I never met the man, but if you were born before 1962 or so, you might remember watching TV on the night of Armstrong’s historic feat. I surely do – we witnessed Walter Cronkite’s enthusiasm as he reported on Armstrong’s footprint on the moon on CBS TV.
I can recall actually meeting one astronaut – Harrison Schmidt – who came to Stevens Point to speak at a conference at the old Holiday Inn. He was the last astronaut to walk on the moon, and was serving a six-year term in the U.S. Senate when he visited the city.
I did get to see Alan Shepard, the first American to travel into space. I attended a National Association of Broadcasters convention in Washington in 1961, and President Kennedy made a surprise visit to deliver a few remarks. If that wasn’t spectacular enough, he brought Shepard along with him.