Duck and Cover!

 

Photo: Google Images; Duck and Cover drills in the 50s

I grew up in the 50s and 60s and during the Cold War between Russia and the United States school children were taught the “duck and cover” method to save our lives in case of nuclear bombing during school hours. Huh?  I vividly remember these drills that would come randomly during the school year in addition to our fire drills.

When the alarm sounded we were instructed to quickly and quietly (always quietly) to get in a huddle down on our knees underneath our desks with our heads protectively covered by our arms. I’m sure I wasn’t aware specifically of the reason for these drills at my young age but the energy surrounding the drill left me fearful and shaken.  Sometimes the exercise had us lined up and following our teachers out to the parking lot where waiting volunteer parents lent their cars as getaway vehicles to whisk us away off campus.

Not only would these drills be useless in protecting anyone during a nuclear blast but they added fear to an already too fearful child. We also had the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 60s…I lived in very close proximity to Cuba, and the Vietnam War was on television during the evening news.  It’s no wonder that I was well acquainted with anxiety as a child.

fire whips hysteria
crackling, consuming calm
frightened doe huddles

Join us today at 3PM EST as Toni presents Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub.

Ending the 60s on a High

The fifties were a time of “Leave It
To Beaver” and “Father Knows Best”, the
tv shows of that era got my rapt attention.
What wonderful lives those children led.
Clean, spacious homes, no one drunk on
the floor. No screaming fights in the night,
that awakened you with fear, everything calm,
loving and understanding. I loved those
shows and I loved my books and was an
ardent reader, books sa(er)ved me well
as I escaped from my reality to theirs.

It also was the time of the Cuban Missile
Crisis and when I was in elementary
school we had drills where we were
instructed to get under our desks and
cover our heads for protection in case
of bombings. We also practiced
evacuating the school and got into cars
driven by parents who would take us off
the campus to a safe area elsewhere.
I often wonder if those drills didn’t add
anxiety to my already fear-ridden little self.

School became more difficult for me to
manage as I entered puberty and new
hormones surging meant more changes to my
already stressed life. Life seemed to frighten
me more and more as I spiraled down into
what I can only describe as an emotional break.
I felt low and bleak.
By high school and when the panic would hit,
I snuck away from school and walked home.
What was happening to me? I had no idea,
only that I was in almost unbearable pain.
Funny that home would become my refuge, but
no, that was an illusion; it really wasn’t.

I remember watching the news and seeing the
war in Vietnam happening right on the screen.
I was grateful that my oldest brother had
escaped going and was stationed in Germany.
At the end of the sixties when I was 18, and out
of high school, I got a job in a law office and felt
independent and happy making my own money.
I had a boyfriend and had sex
and we smoked weed and I felt free.
The music of the day became my religion.
The Beatles evolved along with me and
as their messages expanded so did my mind.
The Moody Blues sang of astral travel and
raising your consciousness. Crosby, Stills, Nash
& Young swept me up with their meaningful lyrics;
I flew so high. I turned on, tuned in and dropped out.

Soon a newfound spirituality became my
focus and awakened me to a profound new
consciousness that propelled me
into a life that I had never imagined for myself.

The illusions of this world became crystal clear
and I no longer perceived it as I once had.
The shift was acute and my philosophical
insight could not be denied. My short relation-
ship with marijuana was over but I remained in a
perpetual high, induced this time by a drastic
change in my awareness. I found a yoga
teacher…or had he found me? I joined a
commune and meditated and my newly structured
life took me away, far away, from my past one.
I became a vegetarian and was disciplined
and devoted to strengthening my body and mind.
Light shown where there had been darkness.

The sixties closed with me on a high note and
for that I am ever grateful. Life continues
to change and evolve with letting go, holding on
and relaxing more into the belief that all will
unfold as it should.

Bjorn and Amy Jo Sprague invite us to write in free verse and share the decades in which we grew up or have lived:  http://dversepoets.com/2015/12/17/free-to-be-free-meet-the-bar/

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