The problem with quotes is that they are often presented without the full context. You were quoting a quote, which makes it worse.
I've said in a few answers now that context is very, very important.
I did a bit of Googling and I found the source of Logsdon's quote, and there is a very interesting, and I believe important part missing from the quotation you found on Wikipedia:
"Our movies and television programs in the fifties were full of the idea of going into space. What came as a surprise was that it was the Soviet Union that launched the first satellite. It is hard to recall the atmosphere of the time. Fallout shelters, rabid anti-Communism, a sense of imminent danger from without and within," Logsdon said.
I agree with you, that actually recalling such an important time that you lived through should not be difficult. And if it were difficult for a particular person, perhaps due to fading memory in old age, then they wouldn't really be a good choice of person to interview and quote from in a history article!
When you consider what Logsdon said next (the words I italicised) I believe he may have meant that it was difficult, or painful to think about it because it was so awful. The fact that he actually lists some of the horrors and paranoia of that era really proves he could recall it.
Alternatively, it also occurs to me that this may be a quote from a spoken interview, and it may be that he just made a poor choice of word with "recall". If you substitute the word with "imagine" it makes a whole lot more sense. This is just a possibility. What we can say for certainty is that he didn't mean he couldn't recall those things.