Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Man In Space And A Woolly Mammoth Outside the Odeon Cinema


For us all, there are those dates. Those dates that get frozen in historical time. Those times when the actions of the individual become connected with great events in world history simply because they share the same date. Where were you when Kennedy was assassinated or when the Twin Towers fell? Where were you when it was announced that the first man had gone into space?

Like most people who are old enough to remember that day - fifty years ago yesterday - when it was announced that Yuri Gagarin had gone into space, orbited the earth, and returned safely, I can remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. I was outside the Odeon Cinema in Halifax, just across the road from the new Halifax Bowling Alley. I was on my way home from school, heading for the bus station, when I saw a newspaper billboard. "Man in Space" it declared in suitably large black letters. What may have happened in the lead up to the flight I cannot remember, whatever happened after the flight I can only remember vaguely. But that moment I read the newspaper headline remains frozen in time, perfectly preserved like one of those woolly mammoths they occasionally pull out of the Russian tundra.

By chance, I have a photograph of the spot where I read the news which I took a couple of years later. It was taken at night and after a heavy shower of rain. But in my mind, there is a young lad in his school uniform meeting up with the woolly mammoth of history outside the Odeon Cinema.

18 comments:

  1. I honestely can't remember what I was doing. For sure I remember the event, but not my own specific circumstances at the time, although we had definitely relocated to the UK by then.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't remember where I was at that moment, but I do remember all the brouhaha about it. If I remember correctly we even talked about it in class (I would have been in 2nd grade then).

    ReplyDelete
  3. I didn't hear about this at the time, for some reason! But I heard about the USA's Alan Shepard, only one month later. It wasn't until a few years later that I first heard of Gagarin.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I was just a little girl, but I remember much more fuss being made over Alan Shepard. All the kids wanted to be astronauts.

    ReplyDelete
  5. nice. love that first pic...too early for me but...9/11 i was in the air, emergency put down in ATL...for the challenger explosion i was in science class...

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love your recalling of where you were in that perfect moment in time. The comparison to woolly mammoths being pulled from the Russian tundra is so cool (terrible, terrible pun). Man in space, woolly mammoths and the cinema. What's not to love? Your title is great.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I like the newspaper - 'astronaut unhurt..' - didn't sound like they had much faith in modern technology.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Still in My mothers womb at the time - I wouldn't arrive till August that year. Which reminds me, I need to get something organised to celebrate.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I wasn't born until December that year, but I do remember distinctly where I was when Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon.

    I know the feeling, Mark, but as Eeyore - the character for whom the word lugubrious might have been invented - once said, "After, what are birthdays? Here today, gone tomorrow ..."

    ReplyDelete
  10. I wasn't born yet to remember this one, but I do remember the first moon landing in 1969. It was a big deal to be hustled out of bed to watch history take place on our little black and white television!

    Come visit my blog, Alan! You're featured today!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I heard about this anniversary on the radio (before my time) and wondered about it since when I gew up we had already put a man on the moon but at the time of this news, that didn't seem possible. Interesting to look back and think how big that news was at the time.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I was born, but not old enough to remember the Yuri Gagarin flight. I certainly remember the moon landings though.

    I love your link with woolly mammoths! The titles of your posts continue to entertain :D

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a Good Photo Alan! Just on the right is the cinema where I fell in Love with Haley Mills!
    I remember the massive skittle on top of the Bowling Alley.It has,of course, all gone now .Have you seen the new structure thats going up in it's place?Aint it massive! A New Cinema/bowling alley/Hotel & God Knows what else (maybe a landing pad for stray Soviet cosmonauts ?)It will radically alter the panorama of the town.
    [n.b. Sorry, I have been an erratic blogger at the moment! Too much hands on my time ! Abnormal Services will resume shortly I hope!]

    ReplyDelete
  15. Well I remember reading about him and even though I was 27, if it was 50 years ago, I was too busy raising a family and not much time for TV or newspapers. Of course he appears in the CW puzzle in different ways. You are one sharp writer and punster. Love it.
    QMM

    ReplyDelete
  16. Like Betsy, I wasna born as yet. But e'en so, we all bear witness to history as it unfolds, yes?

    ReplyDelete
  17. That's a beautiful photograph, and a poignant post.

    It's amazing how a moment that was meant to be just like any other-- a trip to the cinema, or a ride in a car, or a long walk home, they are meant to just be almost nothing, a piece of the usual everything--- and then one piece of news from the outside world means that very memory gets locked down as one of the most important in your life.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I was ten years old and thanks for rekindling the memories. I am seeing me peer over the newspaper my father is reading about the event.

    ReplyDelete