At the Intersection of the Silvery Moon and Stony Lake

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July 20, 1969 One small step for man and one giant leap for mankind--Neil Armstrong walks on the moon NASA Photo

In the summer of 1969, I was a camper at the American Youth Foundation Camp Miniwanka, in Shelby, Michigan, on the shores of Lake Michigan. My parents sent both my brother and me up there from Texas for two years, overlapping only one. The boys and girls were in separate camp, of course, in those days. The motto of My own self, At my very best, All the time, was concentrated in the areas of social, mental, physical and spiritual (although years ago the R was for religious). Anyway, the camp is on Lake Michigan and includes a second inland lake, Stony Lake, where we learned to swim and played water games or learned boatmanship. We were busy every day with crafts and other summer camp activities. We lived in cabins with about eight girls and a counselor; mine was a college student from Michigan, an alum of the camp herself.

That year, the camp was finishing the third week of July with our parents picking us up and taking us home to the various states we called home. Since we were from Texas, my folks wanted to extend the summer vacation by visiting and camping in our VW camper through Michigan and into Canada.

That Sunday was a quiet day. We had had a non-denominational church service in the chapel. One of my friends inhaled a bug as she was singing. That caused a minor commotion as she coughed up the moth.

After our communal lunch where we all sat at tables and had a regular meal, like at a home, we were free to go and swim at Stony Lake. A bunch of us went down there, along with several adults, and played ball in the water and on the surrounding beach. As we were all getting out and drying off on the dock, one girl started shouting that she was drowning and couldn’t catch her breath. Without thinking, I jumped in and swam over to her. I was a strong swimmer because my parents had a swimming pool at our house in Texas. I dragged her back to the dock, and the counselors pulled her out of the water.

As I got out, I dried off and began to look for my glasses in my towel, in my bag, on the deck. Slowly, the realization dawned on me that I saw the girl in the water because I was wearing my glasses. Now, those same glasses were fifteen feet down at the bottom of the water. No chance of finding them!

We hiked back to the camp and got dressed for supper. We had a special event planned in the meeting hall of camp for later that night. We were all staying up late to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. The counselors had set up a little black and white TV on the edge of the stage while we crowded around to see this seemingly-impossible feat of a man on the moon. The TV was small and the picture transmitted was not very clear. Without my glasses, the image was even fuzzier. The counselors moved me as close as possible to see the TV. So, today, July 20, 1969, means two things: an astronaut walking on the moon which I struggled to see because I had rescued a drowning girl.

When my parents picked me up, they were surprised to learn what had happened. One of our first stops on our vacation was in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, at an optical shop so I could get some more glasses and see the rest of our family vacation.

What about your life story? Is there an historical event that intersected your life somehow? Share such a moment in the comments, please.

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One Comment

  1. Alys
    Posted July 28, 2017 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Very good story and coincidence. Similarly, I stayed home from work so I could watch, which I have never forgotten.

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