July 23, 2019

The Moon Shot and Woodstock

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

Last week there was a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Man on the Moon on July 20th, 1969. The Moon Shot is one of those vivid memories I have. Although I was 17 years old, just out of high school and headed for college, I remember where I was and who I was with watching it on TV.

A buddy of mine had gone with me to our place on the lake for a day of water-skiing. Although the carefree teenagers we were, we had a great interest in space travel and especially man on the moon. Enough so we knew the exact time to head to the shore and catch the landing live on TV. It truly was a life changing event for us and the world.

I also remember that less than 30 days later August 15-18, 1969 was another world changing event. That was the Woodstock Music Festival. Although Rock and Roll had been around since the 50’s, it had not been brought to the attention of America and the world like Woodstock did. After Woodstock Rock and Roll Stars became world renowned figures and a subculture was no longer a subculture. It soon became a most lucrative business.

What we saw that summer was the youth of our country was capable of a peaceful gathering of over 400,000 at Woodstock. I say 400,000 but some 5 million have claimed to have been at Woodstock. Maybe in their minds they were.

The other event, the Moon Shot, was carried out by not only young minds but brilliant minds. Gerry Griffin, Flight Director of Apollo 11, noted the youthful group in Mission Control in Houston. Griffin said, “The average age of those in Mission Control for the Apollo 11 flight to the moon was 27 years.” 

The two groups had basically one thing in common. They were part of the Baby Boomers generation. Beyond that common ground, individual goals seemed to be opposites. The two cultures did come together that summer and was noted brilliantly in the movie “A Walk on the Moon” with Viggo Mortensen, who has graced the cover of Southern Writers Magazine as a poet, and Diane Lane. A love story took a summer vacationing couple in upstate New York from gathering to watch the Moon Landing to attending the nearby Woodstock Music Festival.

Bringing people together with a background of two life changing events is a great concept. This is a common theme with historical romance and other historical fiction. As a child reading historical fiction really made history interesting to me. I would encourage writers to pay close attention to current events being aware it may be something to use in their writing.

In a February 2013 Suite T Blog post titled, "Story Plots from Carrier and the Sistine Chapel." I wrote of using the event of refurbishing the Sistine Chapel by Carrier as a story line. One thing I mentioned was writing about what the Carrier, United Technologies, engineers found in the 10-foot-thick walls of the chapel. Déjà vu! Last week thousands of bones were found in a hidden chamber in the Vatican. So now that is part of real history you may want to use that to solve a murder, uncover a conspiracy or a disappearance. Keep you mind and eyes open to current events. You may find the background story you are looking for.   


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