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Duck and Cover


“Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight!”

And remember kids: The Blast Does Not Travel at the Speed of Light, but the Light from the Blast Does

{ 24 comments… add one }
  • Terry May 13, 2022, 8:27 AM

    I remember that fear instilling well while in grade school. Gov at its finest, fear mongering. Fear mongering is in overdrive currently.

    • gwbnyc May 13, 2022, 12:09 PM

      I vividly recall the reaction to the cuban missile crisis, it was pronounced. one of our elementary school teachers flipped in front of us.

  • jwm May 13, 2022, 9:14 AM

    The film was made in 1951. Claude O Owen Elementary school opened in 1958 in Trenton Michigan. I started first grade, there that same year. We didn’t do Duck and Cover. There were tunnels built under the school. We had fire drills, tornado drills, and H-bomb drills. For tornados, and H-bombs the rules were strict. You got up, stood at the side of your desk, and marched single file out of the room, down the hallways, and down the stairs into the tunnels. We were lined up against the tunnel walls, and ordered to sit. NO TALKING! There was hell to pay for the student who talked. Then they shut the outside doors to the tunnels, and killed the lights. The teachers patrolled the hallways with flashlights. Within minutes the dark tunnels became hot, and stuffy, and it felt like you couldn’t get a breath. Some kids would start crying. Eventually they sounded an ‘all-clear’. and we’d file silently out of the tunnels, and back to class. Every Saturday at noon we heard the air raid sirens. Conelrad on the television. H-bomb shelters. One of my high school friend’s parents actually had one in the back yard. It was a steel tank sunk under the back yard lawn. Had a hatch like a submarine. Great place to smoke weed at parties.
    Even so. I’d trade that that was, for this that is in a heartbeat.

    JWM

  • Jack Lawson May 13, 2022, 10:25 AM
  • Rob De Witt May 13, 2022, 11:11 AM

    Procedure taught in the ’50s, in case of nuclear attack:

    1. Squat down
    2. Put your head between your knees
    3. Bend over, and
    4. Kiss your ass goodbye

    • Jack May 13, 2022, 2:31 PM

      That was the first thing I thought of when I saw the subject of that vid. I remember that my dad, a B-26 pilot and WWII, prob around 1956-57 alluded to the same advice as your above, to my grandfather and they both got a sardonic kind of laugh out of the though. I remembered it years later when I was older and heard it again, knowing what it meant. Grim as Hell today, just like it was then.

  • javaguy May 13, 2022, 11:18 AM

    I lived in upstate NY during this time in the small town of Plattsburgh which was the location of a Strategic Air Command base. Nuclear capable B-52’s were stationed at the base and there were minuteman missile silos in the surrounding area. Our school did do duck and cover drills and being six or seven at the time I was too young to realize the futility of these drills. As I look back I know if we would have gotten into a nuclear exchange Plattsburgh would have been a major target and nothing short of a deep bomb shelter would have kept us safe. Also, I do remember having a few nightmares as a child of nuclear bombs going off. Although I have to admit that as a kid even with the occasional drill we didn’t dwell on the possibility of nuclear war, we went on being kids and enjoying life.

  • Mike Seyle May 13, 2022, 11:44 AM

    We were living in Houston. Dad was seriously considering having a bomb shelter dug into our back yard. Discussing it over supper, he said that if he was at work when the bomb hit, before entering the shelter, one of us would have to shoot the dog, Schultze. He looked at mom, who shook her head. He didn’t bother looking at my brother, who didn’t know which end of the rifle to hold. So I spoke up. “I’ll shoot her, dad.” He never put the shelter in. The dog died of old age.

    • gwbnyc May 13, 2022, 12:03 PM

      a family in the rural portion of our town had a shelter. it got played in and was an attraction while parties were in progress.

      there were radar dishes in a neighboring town, called it “the nike site”.

  • gwbnyc May 13, 2022, 12:00 PM

    …if you were a real brown nose, ya got to lower the blinds.

  • Dr. Jay May 13, 2022, 12:09 PM

    We picked up an old school desk at a yard sale a couple of weeks ago. So we’ll be safe.

  • Bill in Tennessee May 13, 2022, 12:17 PM

    I was in 1st grade in 1952 in a tiny little town in the east Tennessee mountains. Our sole concern was that we were about 60 miles from Oak Ridge, the Atomic City. We knew it might be a strategic target so all of us followed the news, especially later during the Cuban missile crisis.

    Ah, what a time that was, and I would go back there in a heartbeat.

  • jwm May 13, 2022, 1:35 PM

    I have traveled a lot in America. I’ve crossed the continent well over a dozen times. I’ve had this conversation with many people in many different parts of the country, and the story is always the same:

    “We knew we’d be one of the first targets because…”

    In Michigan, it was because of Detroit, and the manufacturing industries. In West Virginia, it was a power plant. In the Dakotas, it was the ICBM’s. Other places it was a military base. It seems to have been ubiquitous, a shared nightmare. Or maybe it was a shared sense of the deep value, the preciousness of our lives and homes. Being a target meant you were significant.

    JWM

    • SoylentGreen May 14, 2022, 4:37 AM

      I never felt significant much, but I grew up in downtown DC in the 50’s – so there is that.

    • Andrew R May 14, 2022, 2:27 PM

      I remember, back in the ’70’s, seeing a map of the U.S. with red dots all over it. The larger the dot the larger the nukes. Cities like Chicago were targeted for massive overkill. I lived in a small exurb south of Chicago, just on the edge of one of the big red dots. It made me wonder how precise Soviet ICBMs were.

  • mary May 13, 2022, 2:50 PM

    Early in our married life, sweetie and I lived about 25 miles north of Carswell AFB in Fort Worth. We discussed what to do in case of the commies attacking and decided our best bet was to get in the car and drive towards the airbase hoping to die in the blast!

  • Anonymous May 13, 2022, 2:56 PM

    My elementary school, built in the post-war mid-1950s (I attended during the mid-late 60s), was something of an architectural wonder, and was featured with a photograph and caption in the Encylopedia Britannica. The classrooms and hallways had large, floor-to-ceiling window walls, almost entirely made of glass, except for the very thin, steel framing. We did the duck-and-cover drills, but, now that I think about it, with any significant blast or overpressure, we all would have been cut to shreds. Perhaps, the glass was tempered, but, still, we’re talking thousands of square feet of glass.

  • Elwood Blues May 13, 2022, 4:46 PM

    Get one of those elementary school desks with the chair built into it to survive Doomsday.
    The Indiana Jones with the refrigerator as nuke proof bunker is classic.

  • Callmelennie May 13, 2022, 5:53 PM

    Remember Kids, the light from the blast travels at 186,000 miles per second, which means it will reach your eyes and blind you in about .00001 of a second after the blast …… which makes this whole caution a bit pointless, dont you think?

    • gwbnyc May 13, 2022, 7:25 PM

      …lapped ya six times, here.

  • rocdoctom May 13, 2022, 9:14 PM

    Grew up in the 1950’s in the UP of Michigan. If we were nuked it was bad aiming. We did the drills though.

  • KCK May 13, 2022, 10:07 PM

    Survival: never give up.

    Best defense in nuclear warfare: don’t be near a nuke blast.

    There will not be a Nuclear Winter, and the proof is inside the book itself. Sagan, and every other doomsdayer, had to postulate fantastic, but actually not real, weapons. Failsafe. Fiction. Dr Strangelove: a failsafe doomsday weapon: fiction.

    If you’re not dead, partner, you are still in the fight.

  • captflee May 14, 2022, 10:47 AM

    I’m with Casey. Never say die. Prolly ought to buy some lifeboat rations with which to larder my hardback book shelter. Having relocated in my yoot a civil defense shelter (igglescout project) I can attest that the menu there (crackers, lemon drops, and canned water, unless it’s been modernized) ain’t all that appealing.

  • Mike Austin May 14, 2022, 5:31 PM

    “Duck and cover” drills were never about saving lives during a nuclear attack. They were about convincing parents and children that the US government was doing something—anything—to protect citizens during a nuclear exchange. The drills were meant to shore up the government not to actually do anything to save Americans. The US nomenklatura knew that their “duck an cover” drills were worthless.

    So what to do to survive a nuclear blast? How should I know? All the so-called research on it harkens back to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. No one—absolutely no one—knows that answer. So many are fearful and thus respond to that possibility irrationally.

    In the 1950s a Catholic priest was shooting pool, smoking a cigar and drinking a beer at a local tavern. A man asked him, “Father, what would you do if you knew Christ was returning in one hour?” The priest said, “I would would shoot pool, smoke a cigar and drink a beer.”

    Why worry about something out of your control? You have no input concerning the US engaging in a nuclear exchange with Russia. You may as well worry about copper production in Chile. So eat, drink and be merry. Take Strangelove’s advice: Learn how to stop worrying and love the Bomb.

    Allow me to let you in on a secret: Every man dies. The date and method are beyond our control: Salt water crocodile, stage 4 cancer, car crash, gun shot, nuclear war—you cannot know. But you can choose how you meet your end. Be at home in Christ. Meet your end with pool and cigars and beer if you can.

    “None of us are ever invincible,
    Even though many of us think we are…
    We all live for today,
    But what about tomorrow?
    What then? What then? What then?
    Long ago, long ago,
    Why oh why?”—Lena Flagbe

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