I didn't want to melt.

The Declassified History. At midday, and again in the early evening of October 16, 1962, John F. Kennedy called together a group of his closest advisers at the White House. Late the night before, the CIA had produced detailed photo intelligence identifying Soviet nuclear missile installations under construction on the island of Cuba, some ninety miles off the Florida coast; now the president and his men confronted the dangerous decision of how the United States should respond . . . (The Cuban Missle Crisis)



I was in elementary school. Mom sent me off to school that day with full knowledge that it could be the very last day she said, "Goodbye, I love you." We lived about 3 miles from the huge Air Traffic Center that controlled the skies over Washington, Oregon, Idaho and into Montana. They were sure that one of those Nuclear War Heads would be aimed at our little piece of paradise in the Pacific Northwest. If war was imminent, and everyone thought it was, then we were a target.

Being so young, my understanding of the situation was limited. Everyone at our house was quiet and my parent’s faces were drawn and pale. I was worried about not having any socks and I did not want to eat my cream of wheat. It was leathery on the top and mushy in the middle.

Other than the tension in our little home, everyone was carrying on as usual. My sister Trish and I walked the mile to school together and Nick rode on ahead on his bike. Mike left early for his first period class in high school. Our four older siblings were off to Colleges and Universities.


The teachers at school seemed to be at odds just like my parents. They weren't allowing any noise in the classroom and they were whispering in the hallways.

Classes began with the teacher telling us that we would be doing a series of drills during the day. The first drill was very similar to what we did for earthquakes. We got to squat on the floor besides our top-heavy desks. We were hiding from something I was sure.

The second drill was fun because it took us out of the classroom. Every student lined up next to a classmate and then we power-walked to the high school about 3/4 a mile away where we were escorted into a basement hallway sitting butt to butt on the cold floor. I remember David S. sticking his stinky shoe under my bottom and jiggling it. He was a brat. (Now he is a surgeon.)

It seemed to take forever for the squishing of little bodies and the counting of heads. While we waited for the adults to decide on the seating arrangements the other kids started telling me about the "bomb" and how our bodies would melt. I also learned that radiation flew straight and couldn't sneak around corners. There was a wealth of information being shared over stinky saddle shoes and sticky bodies.

I think I had a tuna sandwich for lunch, because after that I never wanted tuna again. I still will not eat it. My stomach hurt and I attributed it to that. I didn't want to be bombed. Who was Khrushchev and where was Cuba. Why did they want to melt our bodies? I didn't want to go to town anymore because we had to drive by the Air Traffic Control Center. It must be a frightening place. When the 'crisis' was over my childhood had been robbed of some innocence. I discovered that my sweet little world where blowing dandelion seeds with a puff of breath could just as easily be blown away by a hydrogen bomb.

Mom was a Christian, and I know that she prayed with me that night and asked that my scary thoughts would go away.


She was also much wiser than I gave her credit. The next year she arranged for my classroom to go on a fieldtrip to visit the
Air Traffic Control Center.

Comments

Amanda said…
Thank you, Grandma for helping calm mom's fears. Not so much for the hair cut. :)

It is scary. It is all SO VERY scary.
Matt said…
i am reminded of my mother in catholic school but we are no less safe today--nuclear proliferation is getting out of hand. I honestly dont' know if we'll see more work in southeast Asia!!!o

WoW. and my dad is a korea war vet....

interesting stuff. so sad.more releveant now than ever!!!!1
Masago said…
I recall in those days being worried about this too. Even though we were up in Canada, the reality of the threat was just as real and just as pervasive.
Jenny said…
Wow. I guess worry is always present. Every generation has it's own fears of war.
Swampwitch said…
I, too, remember being so afraid of the "Russians." Those big rounded radar thingys that move back and forth really freaked me out. Today, I am still concerned about our World's safety.
CyberCelt said…
I remember the Cuban Missle Crisis. No one said anything, but all of a sudden there were 100 cans of condensed milk and veggies in our pantry. Mom? What's going on. She did not really know but what she did know scared her.

Girl, looking at that photograph is like looking at myself. Buster Brown haircuts. Did your mom cut it?
Karmyn R said…
Very scary - I've never heard that story before...

Even freakier is how much that picture reminds me of A and H - espcially A!!!!!
C said…
Maybe his shoe probing on your hind end was his way of experimenting with probing that led to his desire to be a surgeon. Just a thought ;)
kailani said…
I was born a few years after The Crisis so all I know about it is what I've read. It must have been a scary time for those who lived it.
Yvonne said…
I was only 3 at the time, so don't remember any of that, but I have to say, I get a creepy scared feeling everytime the topic of North Korea comes up. Everything I have read or heard just does not give my any warm fuzzy feelings....
Jenn said…
Thanks for the history lesson and story, I love them both.
Silent One ~D~ said…
Mom's (in hindsite) are always so much smarter...

We all have moments that define our childhood...gives us a point of reference, a peak at reality.
Thanks for sharing yours....

Popular posts from this blog

Sing in Spring

An Old Cold Spot

Earth Friendly