From the Sea of Tranquility to the Edge of the Wave

There are only two possible memories you had this weekend upon hearing of the death of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong: watching footage (a video recording) of the landing in history class at school, or thinking of where you were on July 20, 1969, when you watched it live. I fall into (am part of) the latter (last-mentioned) category. And for that reason, I am on the edge of the wave.

A wave, of course, is what moves through water when there is some motion or wind or movement. The ocean water moves in waves.  And, perhaps because I live near the ocean myself, a wave was the first thing I thought of when I heard on Saturday that Armstrong had died, and that I was old enough to remember his historic walk on the moon.

Here’s what I mean: I, having been born in 1963, am among the youngest people in the world who could possibly be old enough to remember the moon landing, to remember where I was when it happened. (I was in my parents’ bedroom, on the bed, watching a small black-and-white television.) Anyone younger than I am (well, perhaps a year or so younger would qualify (meet the criteria)) is too young to have witnessed the event, or at least to remember watching it. So if you were born, say, in 1965 or later, you are likely to have no good memory of Neil Armstrong’s famous words, spoken live, “One small step for man, one giant leap (large step or jump) for mankind (humanity).”

I am on the edge or end of that wave of people on this planet who have this particular memory, just as someone born in 1996 would be on the edge of the wave of those who remember 9/11, or those born in 1923 might remember the great Stock Market Crash of 1929.

We can call these memories “datable” memories (memories of events that we can say happened on a particular date). My earliest one is actually from a year earlier than the moon landing, in 1968. It was, unlike the moon landing, among the saddest of events of that time period: the funeral (death ceremony) for the assassinated (murdered) presidental candidate, Robert F. Kennedy, brother of the late (dead) President John F. Kennnedy.

We all have datable memories, I’m sure, and some of these include great historical events such as the moon landing. What is your oldest datable memory? Are you on the edge of a wave for some famous event?


Note: The Sea of Tranquility in the title of this post is an area on the moon.

Photo credit: Ocean wave in Pacifica, California, Wikipedia CC

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17 Responses to From the Sea of Tranquility to the Edge of the Wave

  1. Peter says:

    Dear Jeff,
    You have a quite good long memory

    Not all people have a memory of their childhood time as you does.
    I,myself can’t remeber a thing from the time I was a five years old
    It doesn’t matter how historic an event is still most 5 year olds , I think, are not capable of understanding the sensitivity or magtitute of the event ,not to mention to remeber it down to the smallest details ,43 years later.
    No wonder , you have come up with eslpod.
    Today’s post is the best proof that our dear Dr. Jeff McQuillan is a genius!!!


    The air head:))

  2. Dan says:

    Hello everyone,

    Congr. Jeff. Nice picture there and you also came up with a good title.

    One of my odlest datable memory is the fall of the Berlin wall.
    At the time I was serving in the military at a NATO base in Verona, Italy.
    Do you guys remember? there also was the Gulf war and one of my brothers was there on a navy ship.


  3. kurumi says:

    Dear Dr.Jeff

    As far as I could remember,the biggest world news for me was ‘The Fall Of A Berlin Wall’. I don’t think I was interested in watching news when I was a child. At that time I was 17,and it gave me a strong impression that there are a lot of things happenning outside of my country.
    Thank you for the interesting topic. Trying to dig my memory is a quite enjoyable work.^^


  4. elcomandant says:

    My oldest datable memory is when I was 27 years old. It happened the 23th of February, 1981. Just six years from Dictator Franco had died.

    I arrived home after work a little nervous because of the news. The media were saying confused things about a coup in my country, Spain, and the principal city implicated was where I was living, Valencia. Besides of that, I was living with my wife and two little children who were 3 and 1 year old. In the radio just sounded clasic music and, once in a while, some unclear news. Suddenly I started to hear a deafening sound on the street. My wife picked up the girl, I picked up the boy and we went out the balcony on a fifth floor to see what was going on.

    It was light-night, the street lights was on and it was quite cold. We can see along the street of three hundred meters length a lot of tanks running. They had its little round doors on the top open, and inside, we could see a red light and one soldier stand up watching outside with a big weapon on his hands. We are embracing our kids because we didn’t know what was to happen and we came back inside home to put our children to bed. Fortunately our King, Juan Carlos I, took part in the event and thanks God the river returned to a safe level.


  5. tania says:

    Hi, Elcomandant! No news from you for long time.
    Wellcome among us!

  6. tania says:

    Hi! Thanks to ESL Podcast 814 – Getting Rid of Bugs and Rodents I was able to understand an article about the issue of the rodents from Yosemite National Park.
    Thank you.

  7. tania says:

    Hi! Many thanks for the Ernest Hemingway’s biography.
    He is so great for “reinvigorating the short story genre with his crisp style, with his writing style and use of declarative sentences.”
    “A Farewell to Arms established Hemingway’s stature as a major American writer and displayed a level of complexity.”
    “Hemingway called his style the iceberg theory: the facts float above water.”
    Thank you.

  8. Dan says:

    Hello guys,

    Here, I can smell the fall is coming. Some leaves falling down and temperatures in the mornings and evenings going down little bit.
    I can see the woods gradually shifting colors and Autumn’s insects coming.
    As every year it is beautiful. I wonder what fall smell like in L.A.

    By the way, could you guys say something about the palm trees that you have down there?

    About my earlier post, I wanted to add that I remember my brother coming home from the Gulf with this great home stereo, that for the time, was really good.
    It was a lot more cheaper there to buy those things.


  9. Peter says:

    I m wondering If the Expresion ” Datable memory ” is used exclusively for historic happenings over a life span ,or generllay from everything
    I would always use ” if my memory serves me right”
    As far as my memory concerns

    I m wondering if all the three expressions could be used interchangeably for every monumental event in sb’s life

    I have never heard of ” Datable memory ” up untill yesterday when I first laid eyes on it here on this very blog which I m really appriciative regarding it . Words like these extend my horizon,And give me the upper hand

    Thanks Jeff for the astute input.

    Yours truly ,

  10. Peter says:

    Way to go Tania,

    I personaly believe ,That is how eslpod is intended.

    It is programmed to straighten out all the confusion we have with respect to English language, so we will have a clear picture of it.

    Every week the big picture is getting sharper and sharper , isn’t it ?

    By ” the big picture ” I mean the perception and understanding we are developing of English language,here at Eslpod center


    Keep up the good work Tania

  11. Nele says:


    Jeff, we are born in the same year. I can remember that I was in my own bed, because I was a little sick, and I watched a moon landing in TV. I was very happy that I was sick, because it was later in the evening and normally I had to sleep at this time.
    I´m not sure, if this was the first moon landing or one later.

    I also remember a small personal event from New Year 1969/1970. We have had an calender in the workshop, the last sheed shows a big 1969 and I was allowed to burn this with a lighter at midnight. In my memories I can see how the numbers of 1969 dissapear in the flames. A new decade has started. In this age it was a great event for me.


  12. Øyvor Steinsheim says:


    Thanks a lot for all the latest podcasts, very interesting stuff again, and a lot of new words!
    As for my oldest memories..I was 2 years old when my sister took me with her to watch a new bridge nearby being built!
    After that I can`t remember anything till I got 6..
    The moon landing..!! So exited we were..I can still feel the terrible moment when listening to my radio when they counted
    down for the landing..10-9-8… I was in my own room, listening to my radio(we didn´t have a TV at that time)..and at the
    very moment they landed, I wrote the date and time with a pen on my wall=)
    Another special event was the day when Robert Kennedy was murdered, for many years I collected photos and artickles about this man,
    ..actually I still have both that collection and the newspapers of the Moon landing!

  13. elcomandant says:

    Thanks Tania.
    Life sometimes makes you change.
    I’m glad to stay around again.

  14. tania says:

    Hi! Thank you for the pronunciation of the word “Chevrolet”.
    We adopted the words “lobby” and “dispute” with the same meaning and a similar pronunciation.

  15. tania says:

    Hi! For the phrase “you might be jumping the gun” we say “you might be jumping the horse” with the meaning that you exaggerate.

    We use the phrase “when it’s right, it’s right” but with the meaning that what is correct, it is correct and we can’t change anything.

  16. tania says:

    Hi! Thank you for the explanation “how to address in – laws”, the spouses are legally married.

  17. tania says:

    Hi! Thank you for the explanation of the phrases: one-bed apartment, two-bed apartment, three-bed apartment.

    For the phrase “This conversation is making my skin crawl” we say “This conversation is making my skin of hen”.

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