It was autumn, 1962, and (unlike this year) the thermometer was climbing. So was the economy. Dad’s income was booming. To celebrate we’d decided to shoehorn a swimming pool into our miniature suburban Southern California back yard. Visions of bikinied girls and all the spectacular dives I’d make to impress them glided through my pre-adolescent head. We visited half a dozen swimming pool sales lots—they were everywhere in the 60s. Life was good, and soon to be gooder! We found a pool company, appropriately named Aladdin, to make our wishes come true, and were about to close the deal when…

President Kennedy announced the Cuban Missile Crisis: Russian missiles with nuclear warheads aimed at the United States!

Everything changed. At school we learned to “duck and cover” (because no measly foreign-made atomic bomb could stand up to a well-made Masonite desk!). Dad came home with brochures, and suddenly we were visiting bomb shelter sales lots—thmakj279jwhich also were everywhere in the booming 60s. We stepped down into one depressing abyss after another, and were about to close the depressing deal when…

At the end of October, President Kennedy announced that the crisis had ended. He and the Russians had come up with an 11th hour bailout based on the MAD (mutually assured destruction) doctrine. In a nutshell: If you destroy us, we’ll destroy you and then we’ll all be dead and no one will be left to care who started it.

So Dad tore up the bomb shelter lit, rubbed the Aladdin brochure, and soon the sweetest little swimming hole in all of balmy suburban SoCal appeared!

Three days later the least scary Halloween I’d ever experienced arrived.  I’d come to realize that zombies and ghouls were nothing.

It was humans you had to worry about.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Boom!

  1. I remember the Missile Crisis all too well. Looks like you survived that Halloween quite nicely, and hopefully found a lovely girl to invite poolside.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A swimming hole instead of a nuclear bomb shelter? Sounds a better way to wait for doomsday; floating on an inflatable with a large Piña colada 🙂 Gee can you imagine now having “dive under your desks” emergency rehearsals at schools? How times have changed. .. but for the better?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I remember it – all. A bit older than you, so my first memory of a world out of whack came when Sputnik came on the scene. Duck and cover, oh yes. That illusion of control. And learning that life can turn on a dime.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I recall my father checking to see if his army uniform still fit.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember those useless duck and cover drills all too well; as well as seeing all of the school buses parked in front of my elementary school all day long. As if what? These vehicles plodding along at 25mph could outrace incoming missiles whizzing around at speeds 600 times faster? We’d be safer at home? How fortunate that Kennedy was able to [1] go the diplomatic route with Khrushchev to avert WW-III and [2] prove to humankind that who sits at the Oval Office desk really does matter.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Eliza says:

    Sad, but true.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nancy Ruegg says:

    We ducked and covered in the school basement–so much safer. I wonder if the saintly prayer warriors of the time didn’t impact the outcome of that crisis? When we get to heaven, I have a feeling we’ll be surprised at who has really influenced history!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The bomb shelter I grew up with is still there but is sealed off now. However, we used to pretend it was a dungeon/mad scince lab/Bat-cave/any other games we could think of. It even had an unfinished escape tunnel that would have come up in the woods if my grandfather had finished it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mitch, this is eerie. I just spent much of today editing the part of my memoir that happened in 1962, immediately prior to, during, and after the Cuban missile crisis. I was nine years old at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I was in first grade during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and for several years afterwards, I was terrified every time I heard an airplane pass overhead.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. masercot says:

    My father was flying over Cuba during that crisis. He told us that we were about two inches from war with the Soviets…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pam Webb says:

    I was fortunate in that one neighbor put in a pool and another put in a bomb shelter. Great play places growing. And of course there was MAD magazine to read while enjoying both extremes: splash and duck.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Kim Smyth says:

    We did too…love Mad magazine as kids that is. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Ann Coleman says:

    I remember those bomb drills too! We were instructed to go out into the hallways, kneel down and place our hands over our heads, as if that would protect us from a nuclear bomb. I still wonder what impression that left on all of us. But you are right: the only thing we have to fear (besides fear itself) is our fellow humans…..

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Jennie says:

    Great story, Mitch. I remember those events well.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. nancyehead says:

    I don’t remember the desk ducking. My memory that defined human horror was November 22, 1963–the day JFK was assassinated. I guess we all live that moment, even if our parents try to protect us from it.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I can’t even imagine the situation! Thanks for writing this…

    Liked by 1 person

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