The Summer of 1969:

Wednesday; July 16, 1969

By Richard Mabey Jr.


Our true-life story so far: It is now the middle of July of 1969. I have begun taking swimming lessons at the Paterson YMCA. My swimming instructor, Lisa Ann, is a very pretty girl who had just completed her freshman year at Paterson State College. Lisa Ann is very kind to me. I have become quite smitten with her. I have just met Robbie, Lisa Ann’s boyfriend. He is crude, rude and obnoxious to Lisa Ann. The two of them have just left the indoor swimming pool area and I sit alone on the old, wooden bench beside the pool.  I go outside the Paterson YMCA, to find my mom waiting for me in her old Ford Country Squire station wagon. As Mom drives me home, Mom tells me that Lisa Ann lives in Lincoln Park on Elm Street!


There is a time and day when an event of paramount importance in our personal life correspondence with the very same time and day of an event of international significance. Such was the case of the Wednesday morning of the sixteenth of July in 1969. At approximately 9:30 that morning, New Jersey time, the Apollo 11 spacecraft was sent soaring into the heavens. And, it was at that very moment in time, when I was taking my swimming lesson from Lisa Ann at the Paterson YMCA.


I was devastated by how mean and rude Lisa Ann’s boyfriend was to her. It broke my heart to see how he treated Lisa Ann, when he came into the indoor swimming pool room at the Paterson YMCA. Mom had driven me home that morning, after my swimming class was over. I was so hurt by how Lisa Ann was treated by her boyfriend, that I had totally forgotten about the important Apollo 11 sendoff.


Mom and I pulled into the driveway of the old Mabey Homestead. As we walked into the house, there was my sister Patti and Aunt Helen watching the television. It was now about 11:30 in the morning. I remember as soon as my sister saw me walk into the living room, Patti jumped up off the couch and enthusiastically shouted, “Richie, you missed it! The big rocket got shot off to go to the moon!”


Aunt Helen gave out a big smile on her face. “It was something to see. It was really something to see!” Aunt Helen said with a certain abundant joy. 


Mom and I then both sat down to watch the continuing news coverage for a few minutes. Then Mom and Aunt Helen went into the kitchen to cook up some chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for all of us. 


Meanwhile, my sister told me all about the wonder and magic and majesty of the Apollo 11 launch. I had missed watching an historic event of international magnitude. It was good to be home, away from the smell of the chlorinated water of the indoor pool at the big city YMCA. It was so very good to be home, in dear old Lincoln Park. 


To be continued.


Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at Please place the wording “My Life Weekly” in the subject line. 



Apollo 11 was fired into the heavens on the morning of the sixteenth of July in 1969. The very time and day that I was taking my swimming lesson from Lisa Ann at the Paterson YMCA. 

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