The Memory Palace

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Episode 89:
Family Snapshot

Jun 03, 2016

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Music, Footnotes & Ephemera

The Memory Palace is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.


* First up is The Homeless Wanderer from Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou off of the Emahoy (Piano Solo) album, number 21 in the unimpeachable Ethiopiques series.
* Then we get some of To the Right the Enemy, to the Left the Sea from Simon Rakham.
* We finish with Stellify by Francesco Albanese.

* The bulk of the non-technical details from this one comes from Charles Duke’s highly readable memoir, Moonwalker: The True Story of an Astronaut Who Found That the Moon Wasn’t High Enough to Satisfy his Desire for Success. He’s a wonderful story teller and an amiable literary companion. I’ll also note that the end of the book, the last few chapters or so, are really a wonderful, clear-eyed, deeply felt story of how, first, Dottie’s faith, and then Charles’ set the course of the rest of their lives. If that’s the sort of thing that interests you, I really do recommend the book.

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8 Comments | Leave a Comment

8 Comments on Family Snapshot

  1. Pingback: Love Me More Perfectly – Podcast Broadcast

  2. Will says:

    This was absolutely beautiful. Well done!

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  5. L says:

    Charlie Duke is my favorite astronaut. The Apollo Lunar Surface Journals are required reading. For any moon landing fan. Transcripts. Of all the words spoken. On the moon. Preserved. For a long long time.

    Regarding Charlie’s “South Carolina lilt”, the voice in the audio clip telling Neil “we can see you coming down the ladder”, is not Charlie. Charlie was the CapCom for the first moon landing. He is the one saying “Roger Twang-Tranquility. We copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again.
    Thanks a lot.” Charlie watched Neil later exit the lunar module and go down the ladder while sitting in front of his tv at home.

    Charlie’s title as Lunar Module Pilot (LMP) was just that, a title. He was not piloting the lunar module at any time, John Young was. Young, as Commander, was most definitely the “Neil Armstrong” to Charlie’s “Buzz Aldrin” and not the other way around.

    While Charlie and John were on the moon’s surface, they got news from Houston that Congress had approved funding for the Space Shuttle program. The space shuttle was designed for low earth orbit, and the astronauts knew the next mission, Apollo 17, would be the last trip to the moon for a long time. No more moon shots, no moon base planned, not for the 1980s.

    Charlie knew he would likely not go back to the moon. Although he was the backup LMP for Apollo 17, that mission would be headed to a completely different area of the moon. If his family photo wasn’t destroyed by the heat from the sun, the same heat that the spacesuits were designed to protect humans from, his photo was gone as soon as the sun hit it. It’s the thought that counts though.

    Astronauts are competitive. They chose to go to the moon not because it was easy but because it was hard. Family life took a back seat to the achievement of landing on and exploring the moon. Was it worth all the time and effort spent, and the marital discord, for only a few days spent on the moon? At the time, the astronauts would probably have said yes.

  6. This story about Charlie Duke was great.
    A couple of things that I thought should be pointed out:
    First, the audio clip you have as Duke as Capcom on Apollo 11 was not him – “Okay Neil we see you coming down the ladder now…” was Bruce McCandless. Charlie Duke was Capcom for the landing of Apollo 11 and has the better quote when he said “Roger Tranquillity we copy you on the ground, you got a bunch of guys about to turn blue, we’re breathing again. Thanks a lot!
    The other point is that Duke’s photo has been exposed to UV light for 44 years and by all estimates has faded to a white piece of paper by now. But the gesture was there.

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  8. Tom Pilgrim says:

    Dear Nate,

    This episode is completely inspirational in it’s intention. I listened to it twice and both times paused, sitting quiet in my seat alone with my thoughts.

    The idea or notion of this solitary family photograph left up there and possibly forever, there it is right now as i write laying on the surface of the moon and likely never to be recovered or maybe one day…

    The thought of this, the gesture of leaving this photograph is so completely personal and so precisely human, to me this in some ways is more profound than staking your countries flag.

    Of course, being a father meant this resonated in a certain way however the idea, the importance of family, and children it is so fundamental to our culture and sense of being human (let alone the survival of our species!) the act of leaving this family photograph, it is so beautiful in it’s meaning and its’ emotion, it just blew me away!

    I am a relative newbie to the Memory Palace but i am hooked.

    Great job on the show Nate very poetic stuff.

    Tom Pilgrim

    London, UK