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'F' as on Frank

Moon memories

Watching the 40th anniversary coverage of the first Apollo moon landing earlier this week instantly brought to mind one of my favorite childhood toys.

I was a little kid then, but I remember the hubbub surrounding the moon landing.

In the aftermath, I later received a toy called "Billy Blast-off." Billy came complete with a space suit and even a battery operated lunar car.

The power pack on his back let you shoot colorful lights in his space gun - don't recall Buzz Aldrin wearing one of those bad boys on his hip - and allowed Billy to walk.

Billy's walk was actually something between a stagger and a hobble, but as a kid it didn't matter. It was just so cool to see him move in his space suit.

In the initial flush of excitement over the moon landing I also remember my mom buying a bottle of children's shampoo shaped like the Apollo capsule.

The shampoo was incidental to me.

The thing I was interested in was using the shampoo as soon as possible in order to use an attached air pump that sent the capsule flying into the air only to splashdown in your bath.

There was even a plastic-lined Apollo game that accompanied the shampoo package.

The rush from the moon landing wore off, actually, and I only vaguely remember the later moon landings. It almost seemed like they became old hat, taken for granted.

Billy and the shampoo-turned-spacecraft are both long gone. I think my parents either threw them out or sold them at a garage sale after I left home.

But for a moment this week Billy's clumsy hobble flashed back in my mind like it was yesterday.

To paraphrase Neal Armstrong, it was one small stumble for a little toy, one big boost to the imagination of a little boy.

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