Time it Was

“Time it was and what a time it was..”

I heard those Simon and Garfunkle lyrics as I watched the Space Shuttle blast off this weekend on a mission to service the Space Station, a part for the station’s broken toilet in the cargo bay.

Mr. Nielsen: what is your rating for viewership when it is two people watching: me and Miles O’Brien from CNN? And, er.um…one is the network correspondent?

It was the first time the Shuttle could be seen blasting off in High Definition television. Click. I’m there with camera.

“A time of innocence a time of confidences….”

I was 24, living in San Francisco, working in Richmond, California as a Vocational Counselor for the Department of Social Services. It was July, 1969.

I put my small Sony black and white 13 inch TV in my blue mustang and drove to work over the Oakland Bay Bridge on a brilliant sunny day with my donuts, coffee and cigarettes. I didn’t inhale. No kidding. Me and Bill. I took a left after getting off the bridge and drove 15 minutes to Richmond.

I got to work and with my raincoat draped over the TV, I went to my cubicle where I interviewed. Someone was waiting for me in the lobby. The moon landing was too. I plugged in the TV. I went and got the woman waiting. She had five kids and no job.

“Sit right down, make yourself comfortable. But, we gotta watch Walter Cronkite right now, if you don’t mind, because WE are landing on the moon. On the MOON for God’s sake!”

I gave her a glazed donut, we shared my coffee and I felt sorry because she had the absolute worst career counselor on this day in 1969.

She did not go home with a job but if she and her five kids looked up into the sky that night, as I did, along with millions of others on planet earth, we all saw the same thing–yes, the lunar disc or crescent–but we also saw for a brief moment (gulp) we saw America.

“Time it was it was a time it was. Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you..”

©Pat Coakley 2008


8 comments on “Time it Was”

  1. What a beautiful piece of memoir. This is the stuff I enjoy reading . . . why I got into blogging in the first place. I may have to write about my first memories of the shuttle. I was not quite 1 when we landed on the moon . . . all I have in Ron Howard’s film.

    Nice way to start the week . . .


  2. Thanks, Brian! It is memoir but I hope one day it is also the future, again. Back to the future, I guess you could say. Is my middle name “pollyana”? I hope not.

  3. I love reading peoples views on what took place in the past, sometimes I sit and wonder why on earth I was born so late, perhaps at times I think it was a gross mistake in the cosmos! This is a beautiful memoir as tysdaddy said, the imagery of your words really paints an incredible picture in my head… oh what an amazing experience!

  4. Living in San Francisco during the 60s must have been interesting.

    Did you get a sense, when you lived there, of being in such a culturally pivotal place and time?

    And you had a Mustang! When I was a kid I thought they were so cool (I’m over such things now). I’d love to see a picture of you from that time.

  5. It’s a miracle I remember it, Sanity. SF wasn’t exactly a just say “no” drug place in the 60’s. Although, I was never adventuresome in that department, a puff or two of mj would create 20 minutes of hilarity and then coma.

    Razz, I’ll send you a px one day as soon as I can find it. Believe it or not, miss photography here didn’t get involved with cameras until 1972 when I went to Germany. But, I have a passport photo. All you’ll need do to get the full picture is to add a peasant blouse, (one of those gauzy full sleeved ones), a long billowy skirt and sometimes a floppy hat. My head and hair was already bigger than a watermelon so I don’t know what I was thinking. But, given what was going on in the city at the time, sartorial standards weren’t really a priority. Oh, my. Hilarious. Stories for another day.

  6. What a cool word, sartorial. Never used to describe me, that’s for sure . . .

  7. Pat, I am proud to say that my grandmother helped to put that first man on the moon. She was one of the first female executives at Raytheon which helped Nasa engineers with design and logistics.

    My grandmother lived in Waltham, MA most of her life..

    I told my Aunt and Uncle about you, and that I planned to visit you when I go there. I shared some of your blog pieces with them. Im sure they would have especially loved this one.

    I live not too far from where you spoke about in 1969. I crossed that very bridge this last Sunday to enjoy Brunch with my mother at the Cliff House. Im sure you know where that is.

    Great and very interesting post…. its wonderful to hear how these things affected people in our world at the time!

  8. Excellent, KKP.

    I enjoyed reading your take on this. I love ‘seeing’ through other people’s eyes.


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