1959–1962 There were air raid drills at school then. I suppose they really started quite a bit earlier. I bet it wasn’t long after Nagasaki, but I started in ‘59. There were posters on the wall. A pedantic turtle taught us brand new first graders to identify the sights and sounds of a thermo-nuclear device and then to choose the quickest safest reaction to it. The first 2 years that was a basement hallway. In the 3rd grade we were in a portable classroom so we would duck under our desks. We could put a paper on our head if we wanted. Well, that seemed like a good idea.
Walking home from school, I would choose a place to run to on each new block I traveled, in case the bombs came now. Usually it was a space between two houses with especially dense foliage.
You know, somewhere to “duck and cover” and close your eyes until the danger has passed. Apparently eyelids are an important feature for protecting our vision when the bombs fall.
Eventually Bert, the turtle posters came down, It seemed to little me to coincide with the missiles of October and our President’s heroism. Of course with distance of time I see many things differently. Maybe it was the assassinations that I remember throughout that decade. Maybe we stopped expecting to feel safe.
It was a confusing time to be a kid, but when I listen to others tell of their experiences and their children’s’, I suppose it wasn’t so much worse, only different. Even the 50s which were apparently “great” for a certain privileged subset still had polio — and Little Richard — so that couldn’t have been good.