And what were you doing 30 years ago?

by Jane Houston

20 Jul 1999

Hello Sue? This is Jane. Jane Miller. I mean Jane Houston! Remember me? I was just calling you tonight to share some memories about what we were doing thirty years ago. Remember? I know it was along time ago! So how are you? What have you been up to these last thirty years?

I made this call tonight to my long-time pal Sue. Back in July of 1969 we spent the summer in Cuernevaca, Mexico. Our fathers were both Presbyterian university campus ministers within the California education system. My dad a San Francisco State University campus minister. Sues dad a San Diego State University campus minister. So we were both "preachers kids". It was a tumultuous time to be in university or to be a minister or in the family of a university minister back in 1969. Heck it was a tumultuous time to be a teenager, period! Yes everything you have heard about "PK's" is true! Worse yet, we were raging female teenagers with very liberal parents let loose in Mexico! With our families, we ascended on Cuernevaca, Mexico for an educational seminar. In the mountains between Mexico City and Acapulco. Cuernevaca. Beautiful! Glorious! We stayed in a gated fancy compound. Someone cleaned the place every day! Two parents and 5 kids - 4 big kids and one little kid, not used to having someone clean up the place. We took Spanish lessons and other cultural classes while my father and Sue's father taught and learned something as a kid I wasn't very interested in. Latin American Politics. Vietnam Politics . Things that leftist campus ministers cared about. But us kids cared more about the fresh tortillas made across the street, and about the music in the square every night. Sue and I decided not to take formal classes. We learned Mexican culture by experiencing it! I won't go into our boyfriends except to name them Juan and Juan!

Sue and I decided to have an adventure one day. On July 20, 1969 we took a bus all by ourselves to Mexico City. Our destination was the Archeological Museum in Mexico City. We had visited the capital city before, with our families. This time two teenage girls were on their own. Ok, I'm going to give away my age here - I was in high school this year. I was miffed to miss cheer leading camp back at home. Sue was getting ready for college. She is MUCH older than me!

We took the bus from Cuernevaca to Mexico City. An hour later we arrived. We toured the museum. I still have pleasant memories of Mexico City and especially the museum we visited. We met some cute guys. They were older than we were. After our museum tour - these two Mexican "gentleman" took us to a Mexican bar. Yes, tho' underage according to California standards, we joined them. Our parents couldn't have stopped us had they tried! I'm sure we had something to eat - probably some magnificent Mexican food, but my memories fail me. At the bar, we were sipping margaritas. Many...Mucho...Margaritas...Mucho!

There was a television above the bar. Here we were, two young teenage preachers kids in a bar with older men in Mexico City on July 20, 1969. All of a sudden, the Mexican television station showed a magnificent site! I'll never forget this moment, despite the margaritas. A man was stepping off a ladder. This man was Neil Armstrong. This American man was about to step on to the surface of the moon I don't think Sue and I even knew this was about to happen. We were mesmerized. We were honored. We were Americans! We had been away from newspapers and enveloped in our families. We were in another country! Our families were activist ministers, and NASA was not a subject brought up in activist families. But there we were thrust into history. We were proud to be Americans! The patrons of this bar were glued to the television. History was in the making. All of a sudden everyone cheered! They raised their glasses to the television. Their eyes scanned the other patrons. Their eyes fixed on Sue and me. Young and blond, we stood out in the bar crowd. We were toasted by the patrons of the bar. Because we were Americans. We were hugged. We were cheered, because we were Americans! This made an indelible mark on both of us! Despite our upbringing we were thrust into history because we were Americans! I don't think I had ever been proud to be an American before that moment. But there in the capital of Mexico, two young girls were toasted and cheered for our heritage and the universal thrill of a man stepping onto the surface of another world. We were Americans, and that was all that mattered. I hope all of you remember this moment, and remember what you were doing at this moment in history. Honor those brave explorers, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Honor all explorers, those circling the moon and those planning future missions to understand our universe. Honor the next missions. Honor all who think of exploring and think of wondering. About the moon. About everything! Take care and be prepared! There might be a Jane or a Sue in the line to view the moon at your next star party!

Postscript: and for all of you moon watchers, show some young person the moon next chance you get. Spark that wonder. Ignite that intellect. Heck! Shoot the moon! That might have been what made me wonder!

Jane Houston

Wonderer, lunatic, perpetual student

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