As man first walked on the moon 50 years ago, my father was getting ready to holiday for the first time in Scotland. To visit his ‘then’ girlfriend, my mother in Blantyre.
Amongst dad’s things was this Czech newspaper. Dated 21st July 1969, 1 day after the moon landing and just 10 days before Joe came to Scotland. The main headline is at the side of the front page about a student uprising and a smaller article about an earthquake in San Salvador. This was heavily censored press.
However, such a huge, worldwide news story like the moon landings, couldn’t be ignored, even by communism.
Incredibly, the Czech press only devoted less than a quarter of the front page, the size of the article itself showing its reluctance to admit Western success. I’ve zoomed right in. “Its a historic night as man lands on the moon!”.
Czech journalists did their job well. They were so heavily censored and monitored by “iron curtain” that they wrote the entire article without mentioning the words “America, USA or NASA”!! This was structured, deliberate and directed news for the people.
My dad likely would have been fascinated by the freedom of speech and movement, coming to the west the following fortnight…. in everything he encountered. It was a warm Summer in 1969. Later in the 80’s, I remember him telling me the Blantyre parks, Loch Lomond, Arran and the Calder was so beautiful. I can just imagine those 21 and 22 year olds, with their Czech Dictionary, paper and pen “chatting up” each other.
He didn’t need another holiday. The wee Stonefield Crescent lassie and the wee Electrical Engineer Soldier married 4 months later.