MARION -- Marion resident Mike Trude was about 12 years old, living in his childhood home in Barrington, Illinois, when his uncle made history.
This week, the world is celebrating the 50th anniversary of that event, when American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon.
Armstrong's first wife, Janet (Shearon) Armstrong, was the sister of Trude's mom, Carolyn.
"I remember it like it was yesterday," said Trude from his office at John A. Logan College on Wednesday.
Trude is now an admissions counselor for Southern Illinois University and this week was filling in at the JALC office for a colleague.
"We watched it in the living room," said Trude. "We were glued to the television."
Trude said the event brought his family "our 15 minutes of fame at that time," with write-ups in several Chicago-area newspapers and even a brief appearance on television.
The funny thing was, though, that those photos were of Trude and his family watching a replay of the landing, because he and his brother, Jack, were actually playing baseball games on adjacent fields at the time Armstrong took what he termed "one small step for man ... one giant leap for mankind."
"My brother tells the story that he hit a home run just moments after Uncle Neil stepped on the moon," said Trude with a grin. "I'm sure he told that to Uncle Neil who probably gave that wink and chuckle ... 'sure you did, Jack, sure you did'. I don't think my brother ever hit a home run, especially at 11 years old."
Trude said his family spent a lot of time with Armstrong, despite living far apart. Both Armstrong and Trude's grandfather were avid muskie fishermen who liked to hole up in the family cabin in Eagle River, Wisconsin.
He recalled one visit to Barrington, just before Armstrong was chosen to fill a slot for the Apollo 11 mission.
"The whole family came to our house in Barrington," he said. "Uncle Neil was so much fun to be around. He had a tremendous ability to laugh and laugh with people."
Trude said that visit lasted for about five days, days that were spent swimming in the family pool, playing baseball, and tossing a football.
"We set up a tent in the backyard and the boys (Trude, his brother, and cousins Mark and Rick Armstrong) slept in it at night," said Trude. "I'm sure Uncle Neil did something to try to scare us because that's what he did -- without fail."
It was during this visit that Armstrong accompanied Trude and his mother, Carolyn, on a shopping trip. Trude said they dropped his mother at the local Jewel (a Chicago area grocery chain) and Armstrong suggested the two walk around the shopping center.
"I knew most of the people in that area," he said. "A lady I didn't know kept looking at us. Finally, she looked at Uncle Neil and told him he looked like the astronaut."
Trude said Armstrong replied, "That's what they tell me." He then winked at Trude and the two continued their walk.
"Neil Armstrong was my uncle," said Trude. "He was not the astronaut, he was simply Uncle Neil."
That, according to Trude, is how Armstrong saw himself. He was just a guy doing a job that had to be done.
"It wasn't about him being the first guy on the moon," he said, "it was just another mission ... land, get the rocks and the dust, get back to the lunar module, and hopefully get back to Earth."
Trude said Armstrong's job was probably the only time he was not joking around.
Trude said he doesn't think Neal and Jan Armstrong were well portrayed in the recent movie, "First Man," and says Hollywood took some liberties with the true story.
He also acknowledges, however, that the movie portrays a time when he, Trude, was not around his uncle as much.
"It didn't portray either of them with a sense of humor," he said. "They were fun to be with and it didn't come off that way in the movie."
Armstrong described the Apollo mission to his family like being on a roller coster, "constantly shaking, shaking, shaking and not knowing what the next little shake was coming from until they broke off the second booster.
"That put them on a trajectory to the Moon. It was nothing but perfectly calm silence then for the entire trip."
Armstrong said standing on the Moon and looking back at the full curvature and roundness of the Earth was "unbelievable."
According to Trude, Armstrong said the moon's surface was "softer" that they thought it would be. "He also described the moon as 'desolate.'"
Trude said it was not until adulthood that he fully realized the important part his uncle played in history.
"I actually had two uncles, one on each side, that when I realized what they had done, I thought 'Wow!'"
Trude's other uncle, Barney Ross, was one of the nine survivors marooned on an island with John F. Kennedy after the sinking of PT 109 in World War II. Ross was the first to swim to the island after the boat was cut in half by a torpedo.
Trude said that Armstrong shunned the limelight and downplayed his role in history. That was evident during Armstrong's visit to southern Illinois for Trude's first wedding in 1984.
"I was working at WCIL then," he said. His on-air buddies, Dennis Lyle and Mike Chylewski knew Armstrong was coming to the wedding, and they played it up on the air.
"I begged them to not embarrass me or my Uncle Neil," he said. "The day of the wedding, Mike brought in a life-size poster of Uncle Neil and asked him to autograph it."
Trude said his aunt and uncle only stayed at the reception for about 45 minutes. "People were coming up and wanting to talk to him or get autographs," he said. "He came up and told me 'your Aunt Jan and I are going to head out. This is your day and I don't want to take away from it.'"
Trude said that was the last time he actually got to see Armstrong. Neil and Jan Armstrong separated and then divorced in 1994 and Trude never again found himself at the same family functions that his Uncle Neil attended. Armstrong died from cancer in 2012.
What he does know, though, is that Neil Armstrong, astronaut, was most definitely not interested in the limelight.
"He just wanted to be a regular guy," he said. "He could have made a fortune appearing and speaking at public events, but didn't think he had anything to say."
Trude said offers would roll in and Armstrong would ask for "ridiculous amounts" to keep from having to appear.
"It just wasn't about him, he thought," said Trude. "It was about Mercury, Gemini and Apollo."
Trude came to work this week to see an email from childhood friend Bill Fitzgerald, who he hadn't seen in 20 years.
"Just finished watching the documentary 'Man on the Moon'," Fitzgerald wrote. "It was a great tribute to your uncle. I've been thinking about that moment when a photographer caught you surrounded by your 12-year-old teammates in the baseball dugout. I'm sure that none of us recognized the magnitude of the accomplishment occurring 230,000 miles about our heads ... crazy!
"Your uncle was a total stud. I loved the humility with which he lived his life and final mission ... just a pilot who loved to fly and teach others about it. Never sought the limelight. You should be proud of him."
Trude smiled, his eyes telling the emotion.
"I am proud," he said. "If I could see him tomorrow, it would be amazing to have him back in my life again. He was just so much fun."