Life before the days of Personal Destruction

washington dc

In the age of Personal Destruction, I wish for the days when I woke up without caring about what was happening in Washington, DC.

My home town

ST Patricks
Courtesy of Jeff Draegar

I grew up in a small mid-western town. I attended a small town Catholic school. Aside from striving to be top in my class, I worried about atomic bombs, nuclear winter, and who might win the World Series.


The Cold War was something for adults to speak of but the subject of atomic bombs was more personal. Several times a year, the principal of my school ran drills which required the students to drop quickly to the schoolroom’s floor and hide under their desk. We couldn’t crawl out until the announced all clear. This was an air raid drill response.

I never understood how “the Russians” could drop a conventional bomb on my school which was in the middle of the country. I, also, didn’t understand why anyone thought hiding under my desk would protect me against an atomic bomb delivered by a missile.

Cold War

The Cold War was something for adults to speak of but the subject of atomic bombs was more personal. Several times a year, the principal of my school ran drills which required the students to drop quickly to the schoolroom’s floor and hide under their desk. We couldn’t crawl out until the announced all clear. This was an air raid drill response.

Nuclear Winter

cold war
history.com

Nuclear winter was something my friend, David, and I learned of by reading about it. With that knowledge, we spent hours around campfires creating plans for surviving an attack and thinking about what life would be like afterwards. We never considered we wouldn’t survive an attack.

I can still visualize the Rand McNally Road Atlas map of the United States we used to create boundaries for our new world post apocalypse. There were forts to defend against invaders. Arms and munitions took our fantasies to new heights.

Neither of us feared to dream. (Neither of us considered radiation, just what was that to two ten-year-olds?)

Brooklyn, I mean Los Angeles Dodgers

I followed baseball during my elementary and high school days. I could listen to the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals’broadcasts on my small five transistor radio, but neither was my team. So, I eagerly listened when the Brooklyn, and later, Los Angeles Dodgers played either team. Many were the nights I laid awake with the radio under my pillow to not disturb my brothers sleeping in the same room.

businessinsider.com

When President Kennedy ordered the blockade of Cuba, we came close to living our fantasy. I listened to family conversations that President Kennedy might attack Cuba but didn’t appreciate their concern. The concern there might be a war with Russia. Thank God Premier Nikita Khrushchev blinked and pulled the missiles out of Cuba.

Almost, actually drafted

Selective Service System

Excepting for the brief time in 1963, I left the things happening in Washington, DC to Washington, DC. That changed in 1965, the year I graduated from high school. I faced the draft and found myself classified 1-A, eligible for military service by the Selective Service System. Though I reckoned I would be drafted in a year, I got a job and went to work. This was a more productive use of my time than worrying about the goings-on in Washington, DC. Yes, I was drafted seventeen months later, and released from active duty in 1992.

I wish I could go back to those uncomplicated and relatively stress free days.

Comments welcome as always. Are you influenced by the news? Or care what happens in Washington, DC?

4 Comments

    • Dwane

      It is interesting, but I think it is most scary. I, also, hope it wakes people up. It would make a good plot for a novel, unfortunately it is real.

      Earnie, thanks for the comment.

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