July 20, 2014

7/20/1969 Singapore Guest Revisits 7/19/2014





 On July 20, 1969, my husband Monte and I hosted a back-yard picnic at our then home at 69 Clarence Avenue in Buffalo, New York. Our black and white television was outside on a table across from the food.

During the evening, while the late evening temperature descended from the day’s high of 84.9F to a low of 62.1F*, all eyes were on the primitive pictures—made as good as could be by rabbit ears. We were waiting for the pivotal moments of the evening:

  • 4:17 pm EDT – The (lunar module) Eagle lands (on the moon).
  • 4:18 pm EDT – “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed,” Armstrong reports as the lunar module lands on the moon’s surface at the Sea of Tranquility. The module has only enough fuel to run for 40 more seconds.
  • 10:56 pm EDT – Armstrong says, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” as he becomes the first human to set foot on the moon.
  • 11:15 pm EDT (approx.) – Buzz Aldrin joins Armstrong on the moon. The men read from a plaque signed by the three crew members and the president, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”**

We were reminded of that evening 45 years ago by our recent house guest, Singapore resident Hung Pheng. He, his wife Bee Oon, and their son CZ, visited us in Laurel Mountain Borough between July 15 and July 19, 2014.


In 1968 Monte taught physics at the State University of New York at Buffalo. That same year we became Hung Pheng’s university host family. The math department graduate student didn’t live with us, but we opened our home to him for visits, meals, and events.

Although Monte and I moved to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, (he accepted a job there as physics department chairman) in August, 1969, our relationship with Hung Pheng continued. The student visited us numerous times during the remaining time of his five-year stay.

While acting as his host family we took Hung Pheng and a friend of his to New England. While camping at a York, Maine, beach,  the two Asian students went to the shoreline and dug clams, which they cooked for their breakfast. I’m certain they were amused that they had to share car space with the two pet cats we took with us.


We again hosted Hung Pheng in 1988 while living in New Castle, Pennsylvania, where Monte was pastor of Emmanuel United Methodist Church. This time we met Bee Oon. One day we visited Slippery Rock. There they found a pine seedling deep in the woods, and they planted the tiny seedling beside the pond near the house we were planning to retire to.

The tree grew large through the years, and we tried to send pictures so they could see its growth.

Pine tree blends in with other greenery,,,

Pine tree blends in with other greenery,,,

Fast forward to 2014. Hung Pheng and Bee Oon were back in the United States, this time accompanied by their college age son, CZ.  We met them in Buffalo, New York, on our way back to Laurel Mountain Borough after attending Monte’s family reunion in DeKalb Junction, New York. En route we stopped at a wharf (on Rt. 20) on Lake Erie in Erie, visited an Amish quilt store and an Amish wheelmaker shop (and were shown a century old wagon being restored); shopped at the outlet stores in Grove City, and drove around Slippery Rock. We ate at a variety of restaurants and visited several American homes before we returned to Laurel Mountain Borough.

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While visiting Hung Pheng renewed his acquaintance with our daughter Sandy. In 1970 he attended her baptism in Slippery Rock. The Singapore family also visited the Flight 93 crash site and attended The Country Cupboard store’s grand opening ribbon cutting, (at the restored Zider Store in Laughlintown).

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During their visit Bee and CZ had the opportunity to mow a lawn. Bee’s face broke into a huge smile, while CZ ran across the yard pushing the mower ahead of him.

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Bee also enjoyed trying on my hats, and laughed at one of my coffee mugs (a toilet bowl design). However, she chose to drink out of a Slippery Rock mug.

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Much of our conversation revolved around Hung Pheng’s memories and his delight in revisiting sites he remembered.

One of his memories was being in our back yard watching the first man walk on the moon. Sadly, he left our home July 19, so wasn’t here to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11’s landing on the moon after traveling 240,000 miles in 76 hours**.

QUERY: It’s one of the dates you don’t forget where you were, like when JFK was assassinated, when the plane hit the towers in New York…and the day Neil Armstrong placed the first human step on the moon. For those of my readers who are sufficiently aged, share where you were on July 20, 1969. Were you glued to your television set?


1 Comment »

  1. We were visiting my uncle and his family in Florida, near Cape Kennedy and watched the blast off from their yard…

    Comment by merry101 — July 20, 2014 @ 9:55 pm | Reply

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