Fifty years ago Jerry Ricketts, of Utahville, was at home at his apartment in Coalport watching CBS News’ coverage of the historic moon landing on his 20-inch Emerson television set.
The moon landing was a big event for all Americans but especially so for Ricketts. He worked for Erie Technological, of State College, which made electronic components for NASA, some of which were used in the Apollo 11 spacecraft.
The company was proud of its role in the historic program and kept a photograph of the Apollo 11 spacecraft on its bulletin board highlighting the parts it manufactured.
Ricketts was a line supervisor and he was involved in making radiation filters and the two-way radio headsets used by the astronauts.
Walter Cronkite came on the television and suggested viewers wanting to take a picture of the event place their cameras on something flat, like an ironing board. Ricketts said he didn’t have a good camera so he put his Kodak 110 camera loaded with black and white film on his ironing board and snapped two photographs of his television screen.
One picture turned out a little blurry but the other one is very clear.
For the next 31 years Ricketts said he kept the pictures safe. In July of 2000, his niece Karen McDonald, of Osceola Mills, married Neil Armstrong’s son, Rick Armstrong. Ricketts said he had hurt his back so he couldn’t attend the wedding himself but his daughter, Shelli, was going and she was in the wedding, so Ricketts gave her the two pictures and asked her to ask Neil Armstrong to sign them.
Ricketts said Neil Armstrong was a very private person and rarely signed autographs so he wasn’t sure if he would do it.
But his daughter got to dance with the famous astronaut at the wedding.
“How many people get to dance with Neil Armstrong, the man on the moon,” Ricketts said.
And afterwards she asked him if he would sign the photographs and he agreed.
Unfortunately Ricketts said he never got the opportunity to meet Neil Armstrong in person before Armstrong died in 2012.
But Ricketts said he kept the photographs safe and they are still in great condition, but unfortunately he didn’t keep the negatives.
And although he has enjoyed owning and looking at them Ricketts said he is considering donating them to a museum.
“I think its time they move on,”Ricketts said.