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Fallout from the Sixties

by Eva Pasco

Fallout Shelter 
As a child growing up in the Sixties, the Cold War was as palpable a dark cloud as the mushroom blast over Hiroshima. StilI fresh in my mind are clips of Nikita Kruschev banging his shoe on a lecturn while delivering the line, "We will bury you!" Then there was the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 where President Kennedy proved Russia placed nuclear missiles in Cuba, and imposed a naval quarantine around Cuba to force their removal. Scary stuff! Since the threat of nuclear annihilation seemed imminent, one survival antidote was that of the nuclear fallout shelter stocked with civil defense biscuits, canned goods, and booklets suggesting exercises while confined. 
While these fears lay dormant inside me throughout 1962, I was a sixth grader at Lincoln Community School. Our school could not accomodate the town's growing population, so fifth and sixth graders were relegated to the Maccoll Field barn on Breakneck Hill Rd. Every Friday before school let out we had to empty our desks and stow away our books and implements inside a pillowcase so the desks could be stored in a corner to clear the floor for square dancing. Nevertheless, we country hicks were hip to the drill--the one which prepared us for a nuclear holocaust.  "Fallout shelters? We don't need no stinkin' fallout shelters!" Our desks would protect us! 
When Miss G gave the signal, we'd crouch beneath our desks despite the wobbly legs on some. In that lowly position one could glimpse the topsy turvy world of loose crayons, books teetering on the edge, points of scissors and no. 2 yellow lead pencils facing outward, along with the occasional wad of gum strategically stuck underneath for a rainy day. The crux of the situation is that we all bought into this line of safety, confident our rickety desks would save us from heavy debris and radioactive particles in the air until our parents could come get us. I hereby nominate the school desk to be added to the memorabilia housed in any Cold. 

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