Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

C: Flygirlusa Makes Me Remember The Cuban Missile Crisis

cuba_rel94 I was perusing flygirlusa and she jogged my memory about the Cuban Missile Crisis with her post.  I’m really telling my age, here, because that was back in September 1962; and, if you must know, I was 10 years of age.

For you spring chickens, I suppose I should explain:  John Kennedy was our president; Nikita Khrushchev was prime minister of Russia.  We kids were a little afraid of this grandfatherly-looking prime minister because just two years prior he had banged his shoe on the podium in a display before the United khruschevshoe Nations; just a few years before, we were told, he had promised to “bury” us!  Clearly he was the bad guy here.

Our guys found out that there were Russian missile pads on Cuba, just 90 miles south of the US.  At the time, Russia was who we Americans feared most.  There was a tense month or so, after which the Russians dismantled and removed the missiles in exchange for the US’s promise never to invade Cuba. 

As I was looking at Wikipedia about this, I learned somethinred phoneg new.  It was after this crisis that the “Hotline” between Russia and the US (“the red  phone”) was instituted, following a treaty named, appropriately enough, “The Hotline Treaty.”  Who knew?

What I recall about the Cuban Missile Crisis are these things:

  • Air raid sirens being tested at various times of the day.  We still have siren test on Wednesdays at noon.siren
  • Having to walk home from school  in the middle of the day in some sort of test.  I guess this was to see if we all got there within a certain time??  I’m not sure, I just know that I was told that in the event of an attack, I should hurry directly home.  I expected to rendezvous with my mother there, as she was always at home.  It was my father I worried about.  What if he was at work?  Could we ever find one another in the confusion of the attack?
  • Having the “Civil Defense” guys come to our class to talk, bringing with them the insignia indicating that there was a “bomb shelter” nearby, say in the basement of a building.   See that little yellow and black “wheel in the picture below?”  It was everywhere…we knew where to go!  I always had visions of overcrowding.  Would we be able to get in?
  • Folks being urged to built bomb shelters (could double as tornado shelters!) and stocking them with supplies.  Again, my mind’s eye conjured up images: We’d be snug in our bomb shelter (not that we ever had one…), all supplied up, and then our pesky neighbors would be banging on the door to let them in and share our supplies.  What a dilemma!
  • Tasteless crackers that came in survival kits.  They were gray and felt like that bumpy gray cardboard that egg crates used to be made of—sort of like gray paper mache.  Pure nutrition, I guess—no flavor!
  • Not being able to eat snow because it might contain radioactive “fallout.”  No snow ice cream…


Truthfully, some of this did worry me, but I don’t think it was quite as scarring as we might imagine nowadays.  I just did my drills and kept on growing up.

With all this tension piled on a ten-year-old, it’s a wonder that I did not end up on an analyst’s couch long before my husband left.  On the other hand, maybe it explains a lot…C


Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Let me add my 2 cents here with my crippled hand (NEVER ever try to carry in several grocery bags in one hand as you scurry into the house because it's dark and you can't look for snakes) --yep I live out in the country and it's dark and there ARE snakes!!!So as I type this out with my one hand I do recall those Civil Defence drills--they scared the you know what out of me. My high strung mama wrung her hands with anxiety when JFK gave Kruschev the ultimatum --"get those missiles away from the U.S. where they were directed--OR ELSE!!! Or else WHAT??? We feared the worst and were terrified by the balding bully Kruschev! I remember bugging my mama about getting my Halloween costume. "We may not even be here on Halloween", she replied. Can you imagine telling a child such a thing. Oh, well, my mom wasn't one to reassure a frightened child. Such was her way--she just didn't understand---but I spent several sleepless nights--lying awake till the wee hours when I heard the turn of the key in the lock and the familiar footsteps of my father arriving home late from his job at the newspaper. His habit was to go to each bedroom, turn on the light to check on us--I was usually asleep before he reached my room! Great post "C"!
The other Cowgirl "V"

Vee said...

Some kids are more resilient than others... When I was 16 years old, a long time after we were huddling in the hallways or under our desks whenever the alarm sounded, that siren began blaring. Only my sister and I were home. I insisted that she join me under the ping-pong table in the basement. She refused. I huddled anyway much to my sister's amusement and my chagrin. The siren had misfired and I daresay that I was the only one in town who reacted "properly."

Oh, and do you remember sugar becoming quite expensive? It was at that time that my mother cut our sugar consumption way down. This affected the taste of our Kool-aid something awful. It took awhile to get used to it, but even today if I have the stuff made with a full cup, I can't tolerate it. Probably couldn't tolerate it anyway.

jan said...

The basement cafeteria of my elementary school was a 'fallout shelter'. The walls were lined with cardboard 50 gallon drums, presumably filled with those awful crackers. It was a reminder every day at lunch time that sooner or later, we would be reduced to ash by Russia...

Sixteen Chickens said...

I'm afraid my memory only goes back to watergate, but at the time my daddy was in the USNavy on a ship headed for Cuba "just in case" and received some kind of medal for this years later.

troutay said...

I was too young to feel any tension. However, our new house that my father built did have a fall out shelter.

It had that earthy musty smell to it and was under the garage.

Suzanne said...

I have memories of ducking under my school desk and covering my head. I guess the adults felt they needed to have "a plan", but that was hardly a plan.

If you are interested in reading about how people are living in Cuba today, read Generation Y. The Cubans were the other side of the coin. They were taught to fear the U.S. and told that we had missiles pointed at them - true! President Kennedy was a good poker player for sure.

Happyone :-) said...

I was 11 at the time and I don't remember being at all worried. I do remember the drills and we had to go down in the basement at school.

Vickie said...

Yep, school drills for me, too. And when jets used to go over our area and "break the sound barrier", I just knew it was the Russians fixing to bomb us!

My grandparents had a storm shelter for tornados and a bomb shelter as well. Papaw built it using concrete walls. I remember later on when mamaw used to store jars of canned goods in there cuz it stayed cooler than the house. I didn't like going in there because there were spiders...

Karen said...

I was born in 1965, but I do remember my grandparents blackout shades from World War II. Seeing them and hearing the stories was a real history lesson.

KathySue said...

Since I grew up in the same house with V, I too remember the tension caused by the Cuban Missile Crisis in our household. I don't think I lost much sleep over it but do recall worrying about no snow ice cream like C! I also remember thinking if I managed to get in a shelter how in the world would I ever be able to get out? How would we know it was safe to leave?

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