Editor’s Note: Watch Saturday for our full coverage of the moon landing’s 50th anniversary For now, this article appeared in the July 21, 1969 Schenectady Gazette. Gazette reporter Jim Walker visited Henry’s Restaurant on Erie Boulevard – which later became the Grog Shoppe – and reported on the reaction as the moon landing happened.
It was like sitting on the shore, drinking beer and watching Columbus discover America.
We, this reporter and other regulars at Henry’s Restaurant on Erie Boulevard, watched history being made on television.
It was the same as always, but there was a subtle difference, Bonanza wasn’t on, but there was a different kind of bonanza, the kind that comes when the average guy realizes that something (something he may not understand) but something important, is happening.
There had been flippant comments earlier, such as “It’s all simulation,” but when the real thing happened, everybody got serious.
One man said, in real awe, “the first man on the moon!”
Another said, “It’s the greatest thing man has ever done,” and they both meant it.
The real suspense began about 10 minutes before the astronaut climbed agonizingly slowly down the ladder and stepped onto the moon’s soil.
It began to build then and continued until nearly complete silence was reached. They watched in fascination the last few minutes.
Most would have agreed with NBC newscaster Frank McGee that “It was incredible.”
Surprisingly enough, in interviews prior to the crucial step-down, none of those talked to complained about the billions of dollars spent on the effort.
The general comment was that it was a “wonderful thing” that a human being, especially an American, had set foot on another planet.
As Roy Brown of Curry Road said, “It’s an important thing. They might find important substances on the moon. It’s a good cause and important to the future of the country.”
Anthony Robertello, the bartender of Albany Street said “It’s worth the money. It’s no more a waste of money than Columbus discovering America.”
Praise was paid also to the astronauts, with the general commentary being “You’ve got to give those guys a lot of credit.”
One viewer said he expected his pulse was probably “normal when the vehicle landed,” but stated that very little excites him.
This was Phil Kerner, of Parkwood Boulevard, who said that his statement shouldn’t be misinterpreted, that the moon expedition was an important thing and vital to the nation.
He said it was “An impressive scientific achievement.”
What was perhaps most noticeable when the first man stepped onto the surface of the moon, “kicking up the dust,” was the quiet.
It was almost religious, or maybe it was. Because nothing like this had ever happened before. And everyone knew it. Everyone everywhere.
Photo caption: Twins Patty and Mark Schultz, of Patton Drive, Rotterdam, watch Apollo-11 commander Neil Armstrong stroll away from the lunar landing module as their dad snaps the epic entry into history. Amazed by the photography throughout the moon surface sequence, when Armstrong first left the craft, the twins exclaimed, “Hey, that is a heckuva picture.” The astronaut undoubtedly was in agreement.