The space race accelerated fast and furious in the late fifties, early sixties especially after the Soviet achievement of sending Yuri Gagarin, the first man into space in April, 1961 followed two years later by the first woman cosmonaut.
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And so it was that today, in honor of the July 20th lunar landing, I decided to conduct an informal survey here in
Are you coming from your dacha?
Well, my parents live on some land outside the city and these apricots are from their trees.
Oh lovely. Say, I have a rather odd question for you. You know they say that 39 years ago today, the first man walked on the moon. But there are people who believe it was a trick. May I ask, what do you think?
Of course it really happened. Why would they say it happened if it didn’t?
Good enough. She rewarded my conversational efforts with a handful of apricots although I protested because I didn’t want any. But protesting and feigning disinterest is the Russian way of being modest and coy – and although we’re in
So far so good. I decided to take the conversation another step.
Let me ask you, the gentleman sitting next to you, would he be your husband? Maybe we could ask him his opinion about the lunar landing.
He was, in fact, her husband, probably mid-forties, prematurely white-headed, clad in a white, button-down shirt open at the neck and I guessed him to be in mid-management. Apricot Lady repeated the question for him.
Bad idea. The moon landing topic hit a nerve somewhere, somehow. In about 10 seconds, this fellow turned into a red-faced defender of national integrity against an American assault. I understood only a part of his outburst but it’s fair to say that he doesn't whistle Yankee Doodle or fantasize about emigrating
Mercy me! Apricot Lady tried to calm him. But he couldn’t hear her through his rant.
Well, I have no particular emotional interest in this topic, I said. I’m just interested in what people think about it.
Still, he was approaching hysteria. The veins on his neck were bulging.
I turned to Lady Apricot.
I turned to Lady Apricot.So, tell me, is this a good year for apricots?
She smiled at the diversion. Oh yes. The last two years we had absolutely nothing in the way of apricots and this year, it’s a bumper crop.
Soon we reached their bus stop and as he stood to leave, Mr. Hysteria leaned over to hand me three more apricots. Here, please don’t be offended about what I said.
And off they went.
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Later that afternoon I found myself in a very different conversation at a restaurant with three Christian brothers from Texas
Little did I know that our little group included a NASA engineer.
I can tell you that it absolutely did happen, Bill said. Although I did notice his eyes flashing. I designed the lunar landing module and I was in it when we tested it, taking off and landing, taking off and landing several times. And I can tell you that it absolutely did happen.
Oh so you were in it when the fake film of the lunar landing was made? (You know engineers, they need some teasing now and then.) Oh no, I can tell you that the absolutely went to the moon and came back.
Oh no, I can tell you that the absolutely went to the moon and came back.
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So there you have it. A totally unscientific survey, but there are two very different reactions to the lunar landing is said to have happened