50 Years since the Giant Leap for Mankind

On July 20, 1969, at 3:17 pm (Little Rock time), the lunar module Eagle set down in the Sea of Tranquility on the moon. Astronaut Neil Armstrong radioed to Mission Control in Houston, “The Eagle has landed.”

At 9:39 pm, several hours ahead of schedule, Armstrong opened the hatch and started his slow descent to the lunar surface.  At 9:56 pm, he set his booted foot on the moon and uttered his now famous (and garbled) statement: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

At 10:15 pm, astronaut Buzz Aldrin joined Armstrong on the moon.  The pair explored the surface, conducted experiments, took photos, and planted the US flag.  They also spoke with President Nixon.  Shortly after midnight on July 21, the pair returned to the Eagle.  Twelve hours later they began heading back to the Apollo 11 which was orbiting the moon piloted by astronaut Michael Collins.

Since the Arkansas Gazette was a morning paper, they did not carry the news until the morning of July 21.  Though the Arkansas Democrat was an afternoon paper, they published their Sunday edition in the morning. And since the events transpired after what would have been their afternoon deadline, their coverage did not appear until the afternoon of July 21.  (During liftoff, the Democrat got the lead on the Gazette by publishing stories on it in their July 16 edition while the Gazette had to wait until July 17.)

As expected, much of the news in those papers was about the moon landing. Even some of the other news had a lunar bent. A photo showed US soldiers in Viet Nam listening on the radio to coverage of the landing.

But there was other news going on.  Egypt and Israel were still fighting.  Indira Gandhi celebrated a political victory in India, while Spain was looking toward Prince Juan Carlos eventually becoming King upon the death or retirement of Franco (which would not come until 1975).  It was announced that Senator Ted Kennedy would be charged with leaving the scene of an accident after his wreck in Chappaquiddick which resulted in the death by drowning of his companion,  Mary Jo Kopechne.

Closer to home, the new Miss Arkansas, Marilyn Kay Allen, was adjusting to her new role.  The Arkansas Constitutional Convention continued to grind on.  The Travelers lost 4 to 1 to Amarillo on the road.

Little Rock Look Back: Apollo 11 Lifts Off on July 16, 1969

On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 lifted off from Florida as 528 million people (15% of the world’s population at the time) viewed it on television.  As would be expected for that historic trip to the moon, both the Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas Democrat were filled with stories covering all aspects of the preparations and the launch.

The Gazette carried a story in which Sargent Shriver, then Ambassador to France, recalled his brother-in-law John F. Kennedy saying that if he died before the US landed on the moon, he would be watching it from his rocking chair in heaven and would have a better view than anyone on earth. The comments were made on May 25, 1962, the same day President Kennedy addressed a joint session of Congress about the quest to send man to the moon.

But Apollo 11 was not the only thing in the newspapers.

  • July 16 was the first preliminary night for the Miss Arkansas pageant.
  • Ruth the elephant was ailing at the Little Rock Zoo.
  • The Arkansas Constitutional Convention continued
  • The Loch Ness Monster had gone into hiding according to Scottish officials
  • Plans were underway to bring private Little Rock University into the University of Arkansas System

Sports headlines included:

  • The Cardinals beat the Phillies 5 to 0
  • The Travelers were rained out at home.
  • Joe Namath was in secret meetings with NFL leadership regarding his retirement plans. He’d announced them rather than give up ownership of a club frequented by mobsters.
  • Brooks Robinson was named to his 13th consecutive All-Star game.

In advertisements (and there were pages and pages and pages of advertisements – comparing them to papers of today one really sees how much a drop in revenue newspapers are facing):

  • Curtis Finch Furniture offered a side by side refrigerator with icemaker for $499
  • Bruno’s was now serving wine and cocktails
  • Moses Melody Shop had a color TV for $399.50
  • Pfeifer-Blass was selling shoes for $3.50 and women’s jersey dresses for $11.99

2015 In Memoriam – Bert Parke

1515 ParkeBert Parke enjoyed music.  While he may have been better known for listening to the organ at the baseball park (first Ray Winder Field, then Dickey-Stephens Ballpark), he also enjoyed the organ at Christ Episcopal Church.  Of course his affection for the church organ cannot be separated from the fact that his beloved Ann Blair was often in the choir singing with the organ.

To many in Arkansas (and — let’s be honest, beyond Arkansas), Bert was known for his decades-long association with the Arkansas Travelers. He was part of the small group of businessmen who kept baseball in Little Rock in the 1960s by turning the Travelers into the nation’s only community-owned professional baseball team. In the 1970s, he served as Treasurer of the Travelers before being elected as President in 1980. For the next 30 years, he served in that capacity until becoming President Emeritus in 2010. Just weeks before he died, Bert was elected to the Texas League Hall of Fame.

As a businessman, he led Democrat Printing & Lithograph through many innovations and changes. Through it all, he made sure it continued to serve its customers. He passed this on to his sons Frank and John. To his children and grandchildren, he also passed on to his family the importance of philanthropy and serving the community.  He and Ann Blair co-chaired the first Opus Ball for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. At the time, there were very few black tie balls in Little Rock, so their leadership was crucial to the success of the event.

Bert also was involved in the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History; he was named an Honorary Lifetime Commissioner of that museum. A life-long member of Christ Episcopal Church, he held many leadership positions in the church and the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas.

These words do poor service to the man who was Bert Parke. He had a perpetual twinkle in his eye. His mouth was always curled ready to burst into one of his generous smiles. He met no strangers.  For a while in 2015, he and I both were using walkers as we trudged down the side aisle at Christ Church. Well, I trudged. Bert reveled in the affection as he worked the crowd in a way that would be the envy of most politicians who try to work a rope line.  Each week, he would check on my progress as I recovered from a broken ankle.

For a better job at capturing the spirit of Bert Parke, here is the Rev. Scott Walters’ outstanding homily which was delivered at his service.

Batter Up! – Science after Dark focuses on Baseball tonight at the Museum of Discovery

science baseballTake me out to the ballgame and Science After Dark at the Museum of Discovery to learn the science of baseball!  We have an all-star lineup including:
Tonight at the Museum of Discovery, it is the monthly Science After Dark feature for adults.  This month explores the Science of Baseball.  Learn about the science of pitching, hitting and catching tonight.

Among the features are:

In addition, Damgoode Pies will sell pizza by the slice (to benefit the museum) and have a special ballpark pizza.  Stone’s Throw Brewing and Juanita’s Cantina will also be selling refreshments of the liquid variety.

The program runs from 6pm to 8pm at the Museum of Discovery. It costs $5, but is free to Museum Members.  If you attend several of these a year as well as visit the museum once or twice, you MORE than make up your membership fee.

Though school is back in session, don’t forget to take your kids to the museum.  If you don’t have kids, borrow some from a friend, neighbor or relative — you’ll be their hero.  Or just go by yourself – the Museum of Discovery offers activities and exhibits designed to engage literally all ages.

Wildwood’s LANTERNS continues tonight

LANTERNS!, Arkansas’ only deep-winter outdoor festival, illuminates Little Rock for a fourth year of family fun and glowing entertainment. Admission includes live entertainment, family activities and a cultural experience like no other in Central Arkansas!  The event concludes tonight from 6pm to 10pm.

LANTERNS! celebrates the first full moon of the lunar year with a variety of indoor and outdoor entertainment. Visitors will take a mystical stroll along paved pathways lit by fire pits and luminaries into Wildwood’s winter woodlands to visit eight cultures around the globe.

From Asia to the Moon, LANTERNS!, is a magical evening designed to delight children and adults alike. This year’s vistas include:

  • China: the Lunar New Year celebrations in this country are the inspiration for the entire festival!
  • Paris: featuring FREE performances of dance (with Ballet Arkansas!), french art song and more on stage in the Lucy Lockett Cabe Festival Theatre, as well as dessert crepes and champagne for purchase in the lobbies
  • Rio de Janeiro: featuring delicious edibles for purchase from Cafe Bossa Nova, live Bossa Nova music and dancing!
  • India: featuring tasty delights for purchase from Star of India Restaurant and fabulous mango smoothies from Tropical Smoothie Cafe.
  • Shakespeare’s England: featuring fabulous performances by the Arkansas Shakespeare Festival and food for purchase, including Lear’s (Turkey) Legs!
  • Venice: featuring wishing lanterns and splendid desserts for purchase!
  • American Baseball: featuring giveaways from the Arkansas Travelers, baseball games on the radio and hot dogs for purchase from Little Rock favorite Hot Dog Mike!
  • and even The Moon!

General Admission:
$10.00 for adults
$5.00 for children ages 6 to 12
FREE for children ages 5 and under

Member Pricing:
$5.00 for adults
FREE for children 12 and under
Find out More about Membership!