Maple Ridge’s Leslie Michael was among the hundreds of millions around the globe who, in July 1969, followed the progress of the Apollo missions closely, but he’s also a unique fan of NASA.
The 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing is coming up on Saturday.
On July 20, 1969, NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to walk on the moon.
In addition to watching celebrations of the anniversary of that storied moonshot, Michael will be following the rising fortunes of a piece of personal lunar mission memorabilia which is going under the auctioneer’s gavel online, via Hanson’s Auctioneers in Derbyshire, England.
Michael has always been a history buff and in the early 1960s was inspired by what was obviously going to be a great moment for humanity.
“It shows the indomitable spirit of man,” he said.
In July 1969, he was in Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, watching with thousands on a giant screen as the lunar lander touched down on the surface of the moon.
“I was in awe when I heard Neil Armstrong say, ‘Houston, Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed.’”
“It was history in the making.”
He remarks that it took such little time to go from the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers in 1903, to walking on the moon.
“I’m a history buff – I’ve always been fascinated by it. Man can be a b… when he destroys, but he’s amazing when he builds.”
He followed NASA’s progress from the time U.S. President John F. Kennedy pledged to bring a man to the moon and bring him back safely. He didn’t have a blog, so he marked the history the way people did in 1969 – with a scrap book.
It’s been a labour of love, regularly updated, and signed by two astronauts: Aldrin, the second man on the moon, and Eugene Cernan, who was the 11th and final man on the moon.
“It took me 50 years to do it,” he said, noting the autographs only came in 2010, when the two astronauts were in Vancouver for the Olympic Games.
The scrapbook is 60 pages, and full of the information that the editor Michael – who is a career printer and also a published author – felt should be included.
An example is a magazine advertisement of congratulations to America from Japan.
“Isn’t that beautiful? These two had been adversaries in World War II.”
There is also his own title to an acre of moon real estate Michael purchased from a U.S.-based lawyer who believed he was exploiting a loophole in international space law, along with a map showing his.
When he bought that, his friends started calling him “Luney Leslie,” he smiles.
He hates to part with his one-of-a-kind scrapbook, but his kids haven’t shown proper enthusiasm for the topic.
“You know kids these days…”
So he wants to bestow it with someone who will appreciate the project.
“I feel sorry to let it go, because it’s part of my life, but I’m getting old – I’ll be 82 next month.”
There is an opening bid of £ 120.
Michael notes, however that a page from the operation manual for the lunar lander that Armstrong and Aldrin used to touch down on the moon is expected to go for $7-$9 million, by Christie auction.
Those figures have got his head in space.
If the bidding for his scrapbook can get rolling, then the sky is the limit, he supposes.
“Anybody can bid, the world over.”
It will be open for bidding from July 18-24.