If you live at 124 Elm St. in Ravenna, just across the street from the library, the first man to walk on the moon once slept in your house.
The 1920 home is now a rental property, but at one time was owned by a high-level county official who put up the pioneer astronaut's parents when young Neil Armstrong was only a couple of years old.
It's the sort of tenuous connection to the past easily forgotten in this digital age, but preserved for posterity in print.
While non-stop news coverage is commonplace today, it was rare back in July 1969, when television channels went off the air after midnight and didn't go back on the air until morning.
For the first moon walk on Monday, July 21, four of the area's five television stations broadcast nothing but Apollo 11 coverage from sunrise to 6 p.m.
The television schedule printed that year in the Monday, July 21 Record Courier said Channels 3 and 8 began broadcasting "Apollo XI News" at 7 a.m., while Channel 5 went on the air at 8 a.m. and Channel 23 at 9:30 a.m. Programming for Channel 61 included no news, starting at 11:30 a.m. with Jack LaLanne's exercise program.
I wonder if it will be possible 50 years from now to look back at an archive that even comes close to that which is preserved in newsprint.
The July 21, 1969 newspaper also reported state offices in Ohio and at least 30 other states closed for the momentous event, as did local government offices in Ravenna, Stow and Tallmadge. Kent City Hall remained open, as did village offices in Aurora and Mogadore, among other places.
Newspapers including the Record Courier — which closed its business and classified departments at noon — had called for a national holiday for "the most fantastic feat in the history of mankind," as the paper referred to the event in an editorial that day.
The paper also devoted some space for a jab at President Nixon for "Moon holiday confusion" in a second editorial. Printed under the first editorial, the second opinion piece stated Nixon's call "only a short week before the landing has brought about a helter-skelter holiday, with many government workers on all levels off and many forced to report for work, with most workers in private business and industry due to report in as planned and something less than the unanimous participation that was hoped for."
Ravenna City Editor A.R. Sicuro on the same page noted in a column that the city of Ravenna had a minor connection to the moon landing, as Armstrong was (briefly) a native son. Sicuro reported that Armstrong's parents, Viola and Stephen, had been residents in 1932-33. He cited the testimony of Mrs. Merrible Myers Irmiter.
"Steve Armstrong was a state examiner then and was assigned to Ravenna to examine the county's records at the courthouse," Sicuro quoted her as saying. "I was chief deputy county recorder then, heard that the Armstrongs were looking for a place to stay and invited them to share my home at 124 Elm St."
He noted Irmiter said the Armstrongs were "real nice, religious people," and that "Neil was adventuresome even as a baby age 2 or 3 when in Ravenna."
"She said she had an outdoor pool and Neil had been warned not to go near. He did, nevertheless, fall in and had to be fished out by his mother," Sicuro reported.
Also in the paper that week, the New York Times blasted President Richard Nixon for his plan to talk to the Apollo 11 astronauts following the moon landing.
A wire report from just a couple days before the landing reported the Times said "Mr. Nixon's attempt to share the stage with the three brave men of Apollo 11 when they attain the moon appears to us rather unseemly."
The United Press International news agency would later report Nixon said his call to the moon "has to be the most historic telephone call ever made."
The same article reported a worship service at the White House the morning of July 21 was attended by more than 300 administration officials. The highlight of the service was a reading of the first 10 verses from the Book of Genesis by Col. Frank Borman, commander of Apollo 8. It was the same Bible passage Borman had broadcast from lunar orbit just seven months before on Christmas Eve.
Despite the jubilation, not everyone was so thrilled with the moon landing. Newspaper reports of polling prior showed a majority of Americans did not feel the billions of dollars being spent on the race to beat the Soviets was worth it. Even 10 years after the landing, in 1979, only 47 percent of America felt it made sense, according to Gallup.
There were plenty of problems in the country at the time, including persistent racial unrest and the war in Vietnam.
The week before the moon landing, National Guard troops exchanged gunfire with black youths for several days on the south side of Youngstown, while the city's fire department dealt with numerous fire bombs. No deaths were reported in Youngstown, but guardsmen were also dealing with rioting and arson in Columbus, where 127 were arrested as one person was killed by gunfire and 28 were injured.
The draft still continued, as did student protests, and a second municipal court was considered to help deal with an increased caseload following arrests at Kent State University.
On July 8, the first U.S. troop withdrawal from Vietnam began, while a local reporter interviewed some of 92 Portage County draftees who were being sent on Greyhound buses that morning from Ravenna to Cleveland for physicals or activation.
Two days later, the U.S. military reported 153 American troops had been killed in Vietnam the previous week — the lowest weekly death toll in six months.
Eric Marotta can be reached at 330-541-9433, or firstname.lastname@example.org