What’s Those Numbers On The Screen, Daddy?

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the last Apollo rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, a Saturn I-B with three astronauts on board that were going to dock with a Soviet Soyuz rocket with two more cosmonauts on board that particular rocket.

Believe it or not, I remember it, even though I was two months shy of four at the time.

My mom and dad each worked at the Publix at Indian Rocks Shopping Center in Largo, Florida. My dad would work mornings until the early afternoon while my mother tended to me. Then I got in the car with her and went to work, then came home in Dad’s car a few minutes later.

One of the things I wound up watching a lot in those years was game shows, and it always seemed Channel 13 (WTVT, then the CBS station, now a FOX station) was on. I’m pretty sure that watching shows like Gambit, The Price Is Right, The Match Game and others taught me how to count and do math. My mother tells me I could read the TV Guide at a young age and figure out what was on what channel.

One day I’m watching The Match Game (which I really didn’t understand at the time, but I always found it funny when Gene Rayburn said the word “blank” for some reason) when I see the face of News Guy (Walter Cronkite), and seeing what looked like this candle on the screen with a bunch of numbers on the bottom turning.

Was this some kind of game show? The numbers made think so, and my dad made sure I kept watching, as something was going on that was important.

Soon, this candle rose from its stand, and I watched in amazement as it soared into the heavens. I didn’t really understand it at the time, but I must have thought it was really cool.


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