Movie day memories from NASA

Posted by Daniel Pendick
on Monday, March 26, 2007

I'm a late boomer, born in 1963 at the tail end of the baby boom generation, which is generally cited as those born 1944-1964. My childhood coincided with the heyday of the U.S. space program, and along with it, a public-relations push we school kids experienced as the occasional and treasured "movie day." You could doodle, or snooze, or, in my case, make origami cranes and frogs.  (OK, I was a geek.)

Today I was reminded of those halcyon movie days when I stumbled across a collection of NASA public-affairs films digitized by Google and posted on its Google Video site. They include such gems as "Planet Mars," "The Eagle Has Landed," and "Exploration of the Planets." The films are typically a half-hour or less - just long enough to fill a class period after the obligatory, "OK, folks, let's settle down..."

These films were made from 1962–1981, entirely overlapping my primary and secondary education. That means I would have seen many of these NASA flicks in science or history class at John J. Daly Elementary School in Port Washington, New York, or, later, at Hauppauge Middle School.  Even today, the narrators' grave and authoritative voices seem vaguely familiar, relaxing and anesthetic in the way that nostalgia can be. No doubt I fell asleep to more than one.

But, to be serious for a moment, I really loved these films. They helped to spark my imagination for science. Later they called me a boomer, but at the time, I was just another Space Race kid.

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