20 July 1969

I sat in front of a tiny, portable black and white television set in the dining room of our apartment on the south side of Chicago, fascinated by what the screen displayed. Or, rather, fascinated some of the time by what the screen displayed — much of the time nothing of interest was actually visible. Let’s face it, most of the broadcast was very dull. But early in the day a news reporter, probably Walter Cronkite, had said that before they left the moon the astronauts planned to toss out their bag of garbage.

I couldn’t believe it. Not carry their garbage back for proper disposal? Litter on the moon? Hadn’t they heard of “take only pictures, leave only footprints”? Was the abandoned bag of garbage intended as some bizarre trade for the rocks and sand they were going to carry away? Or were they just being litterbugs, too lazy to find a trash bin?

So I insisted on staying up, sitting in front of that tiny tube, waiting, through hours of boring black and white moonscape views with oddly-clothed human shapes bouncing about the scenery, to see whether they were actually going to do this thing that seemed so unlikely in that age of advanced technology and advancing ecological thought.

Finally, at some late hour in the evening Chicago time, what appeared to be a small white object dropped from the Lunar Module and the module rose from the moon’s surface. Litter dumped on the moon with U.S. government approval, live before a television audience of millions. I suppose I shouldn’t complain about the MacDonald’s bags that appear spontaneously in our front yard.


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