Age of Innocence -1969, Man Lands on the Moon and the end of Innocence

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”                                       

The Apollo 11 space flight seemingly fulfilled US President John F. Kennedy’s aspiration of reaching the Moon before the Soviet Union by the end of the 1960s, which he had expressed during a 1961 speech before the United States Congress.

But not everyone was convinced and almost immediately some theorists began to produce evidence that disputed the Moon landings claim.

Different Moon landing conspiracy theories claim that some or all elements of the Apollo Project and the Moon landings were falsifications staged by NASA and that the landings were faked in some giant hoax.  Some of the more notable of these various claims include allegations that the Apollo astronauts did not set foot on the Moon at all but instead NASA and others intentionally deceived the public into believing the landings did occur by manufacturing, destroying, or tampering with evidence, including photos, telemetry tapes, transmissions, and rock samples.

SHADO Moonbase

The most predominant theory is that the entire human landing program was a complete hoax from start to finish. Some claim that the technology to send men to the Moon was insufficient or that the Van Allen radiation belts, solar flares, solar wind, coronal mass ejections and cosmic rays made such a trip impossible with a success rate calculated at only 0.017%.  Others argue that because The United States could not allow itself to be seen to fail to achieve Kennedy’s aspiration, the obsession with beating the USSR and the huge sums of money involved (US$ 30 billion) had to be justified, that the hoax was unavoidable.

As the theories gathered momentum it seemed that rather than being filmed on the Moon all of the action actually took place on a film lot and in the middle of the Nevada desert.

For a while I must confess to having been taken in by these conspiracy theories but when I think about it the size and complexity of the alleged conspiracy theory scenarios makes it wholly unlikely.  The most compelling reason of all is the fact that more than four hundred thousand people worked on the Apollo project for nearly ten years and all of these people, including astronauts, scientists, engineers, technicians, and skilled labourers, would have had to keep the secret ever since and that, I suggest, would be completely impossible.

Hoax Moon Landing

In the final year of the 1960s other things were changing as well; pop music for example.  At a Rolling Stones concert in Altamont, California, a fan was stabbed to death by Hells Angels, a biker gang that had been hired to provide security for the event and in retrospect, some commentators have concluded that the violence signaled the end of the ‘hippie’ movement, which espoused an ethos of free love and peace.

In 1969 the Beatles began the process of an acrimonious split and it was a shock to discover that Lennon and McCartney were not best buddies at all and John was preparing to leave the band.  First he released his own solo single ‘Give Peace a Chance’, staged his ‘bed-in’ with Yoko and at the end of the year returned his MBE in protest at the British Government’s support for the United States in the Vietnam war.  Even rock stars weren’t what they were previously thought to be and John Lennon was evidently going mad!

John Lennon

In between misbehaving at school I used to hang about with a gang of pals making a nuisance of ourselves in a way that would be called anti-social behaviour these days and when we weren’t hanging around shop fronts or on street corners frightening the old folk we had an old barn to meet in.  It was in David Newman’s back garden next to the canal and we decorated it, filled it with old furniture, hung posters on the walls and listened to loud rock music on an old record player while drinking cider and puffing on Woodbine cigarettes that David had stolen from his dad.  We called it the ‘Doski’ because it was half disco and half doss house and I spent most of my evenings and weekends there but even this was about to change.

After going to see the film ‘Helga’ and with hormones in overdrive we voted to allow girls into the Doski and naturally enough we started to pair off.  My ‘girlfriend’, in the loosest sense of the term, was Elizabeth and one night in November she suggested that we leave early and go back to her place because her parents were out for the evening at a bonfire night party.  I took some persuading because I liked being with my pals and couldn’t understand why she would want to leave.  Eventually however we left and about half an hour later in Elizabeth’s front room I said goodbye for ever to my age of innocence.

I don’t know how well the bonfire party went but in Elizabeth’s front room it was as just though someone had dropped a match in a box of fireworks and they had all gone off together at the same time!  This bought a whole new meaning to ‘light up the sky with Standard Fireworks, and I never went to the Doski again but I did spend every available weekend at Elizabeth’s house every time her parents went out drinking to the Working Men’s Club in Deerings Road and from then I had to allocate some of my paper round money for contraceptives.

11 responses to “Age of Innocence -1969, Man Lands on the Moon and the end of Innocence

  1. Well, your innocence went off with a bang! 🙂

  2. In 1969, I was one year old. I wish I could go back in a time machine and really experience it.

  3. As I said before Andrew, 1969 was a year of emotional ups & downs. Homeless, virtually potless and working in a shop as a junior – not exactly “Are you being served” material!
    The old man never bothered to come and see me and even burnt whatever belongings I had left behind-so much for supposed family life and I’ve still not worked out why they adopted me in the first place!
    Anyway, back to the B&B which was now ‘home’. A gentleman there, by the name of Jack Clarke, worked on the Gas Conversion: he was area supervisor. We got on very well as we chatted most nights in front of the communal TV set and one night he suggested that I fill some forms in and ‘come work with us’. Now here was a challenge and believe you me I considered my options at great length. I think Jack knew that I was a ‘lost minnow’ in a ‘massive ocean’ and basically took me under his wing because before i knew it I had handed my notice in at Millets and was on my way to Stourbridge and the governments 2-week gas conversion course. And there I was, 2 weeks later, a ‘qualified gas fitter’ ready to be let loose on the world courtesy of William Press Ltd! (Health n Safety would have had several seizures in this day & age!) 🙂
    Leamington Spa, Kenilworth & parts of Coventry were soon finished and it was time to move on. However, I must point out here that in Kenilworth I saw the filthiest kitchen of the entire world, yet in one of the biggest, poshest houses in the town – I refused to touch any gas appliance in the place until the ‘filthy bitch’ that commanded t5his food preparing empire cleaned it up! She went barmy, reported me to Mr Clarke and that was that! After his visit she started the immense job of restoring that stinking hovel to a credible, usable, hygenic kitchen! She never spoke to me again but she did get her gas appliances converted to accept ‘natural gas’!
    Big year of change was ’69 !

  4. I really enjoyed this look back. I get nostalgic for that time period, but it was also a mix of the wonderful and the sad. But man, there was nothing like the sixties. :o)

  5. Just caught up with this. I remember watching the landing – in black and white of course – on a t.v. in a waiting area of Stafford Hospital (my Grandad was ill)
    As Neil Armstrong bounced in slow motion down the ladder I remember thinking ‘Who’s filming that!? Surely a camera strapped to the lander leg would not have survived that landing!’
    With the conspiracy theories which followed that wasn’t a bad observation for a 13 year old kid!

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