Fifty years ago today, history was made as the world sat in front of television sets watching as one small step was taken for man and one giant leap was taken for mankind.
While men were walking on the moon in space for the first time, life was moving along as usual in the Lake Martin area but many residents had their hand in the matter one way or another here at home.
Four local men played major roles in the organizations that teamed up to land Apollo 11 on the moon.
Charles L. Scarbrough, a Coosa County High School graduate, was an aerospace engineer in the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Hunstville, which was the agency that developed the Saturn V rocket that lifted Apollo 11 into space.
Robert L. Wesson, a 1939 graduate of Alexander City High School, was a resource management officer with NASA. Thomas I. Fox, former resident of Alexander City, worked with the lunar project as an employee of Boeing in Huntsville.
Fred M. Harper, a former resident of Tallassee, was a member of the preparation, checkout and flight readiness branch of manned spacecraft at America’s spaceport at Cape Kennedy, Florida. He was an aerospace engineer there for NASA.
It wasn’t just the big boys who experienced the moon landing, as a group of local boy scouts attended a camp and heard from Apollo 8 spacecraft pilot Frank Borman. As Borman spoke, the boy scouts watched the astronauts land on the moon.
Rockford residents also made headlines as Mr. and Mrs. W.A. Scarbrough accompanied their son Charles and his family to see Apollo 11 launch to the moon.
Also during the time of the moon landing, The Outlook reported 18 American soldiers returning to the “world” on the day the astronauts departed to space. Major James L. “Buddy” Rogers, 38, of Goodwater returned home after a year’s tour of duty in Vietnam and received many decorations including a Purple Heart.
“Goodwater was really home,” the paper reads. “Vietnam and the war with its heinous scenes was another place (for Rogers) altogether.
Denmark native Soren Laugerg, 18, was in town taking part in the annual Lions Club international youth camp in Alexander City and had comments about visiting the area.
“I don’t see how such a fantastic country as this would allow such a thing as this,” he observed after seeing the slum areas of Alexander City. “In my country we would not allow it.”
Later when discussing the moon landing, Laugerg shared his views on the matter.
“From a scientist’s point of view, I think it was terrific,” Laugerg said. “But I think that before a nation sends a man to the moon, it should clean up the slums here on Earth.
“I hope that the black and the white will continue to mix in the United States. It is hard for me as a European to comprehend that although both colors live together they don’t want to mix.”
During this time, The Outlook was published weekly on Thursdays. The July 17 edition features local news such as the Tallapoosa County Commission taking a look at what to do about garbage collections in rural areas, approving bills and warrants and voting to give Tallapoosa County Extension Service employees pay raises.
Also in the news, Tallapoosa and Coosa counties made donations to the Lurleen Wallace Courage Crusade Medical Center complex in Birmingham. The cancer and tumor hospital — the only one of its kind in the southeast and the fourth in the United States at the time. Coosa drive chairman B.A. Wright said approximately 1/3rd of his $10,000 goal was reached and Tallapoosa drive chairman J.C. Henderson said $120,000 of his county’s $135,000 goal has been attained.
One headline reads, “Today the moon, tomorrow …” and discusses the impact of the voyage to the moon, as it began the day the July 17 paper was published.
“The impact of this voyage is indescribable; the magnitude of it is awesome, and the influence of it upon the lives of every human being, living and yet to be born, is infinite,” the paper reads. “Few of us realize today how our lives will be changed and rapidly so, in the months and years ahead. Yes, we are on our way to the moon.”
The 36-page paper features news about the Alexander City City Council’s shortest session so far that year, Avondale Mills’ 50th celebration being set and bloodhounds being used to search for fugitive James Allen Reagan of Goodwater, who said he was going to kill a cop.
This edition of The Outlook also comments on the moon landing. Below is an excerpt from the July 24 paper:
“Back on this planet, people yelled that we should first feed the poor, appease the races, clothe the ragged and stop the war before we go to the moon. However, from our little bailiwick, we can already sense that there is some soul-searching going on around this sphere, and with it some softening of attitudes. In a few short years there will probably be a notable change in international friction and the United States will have led the way.”