Let me start this way. Let’s pretend we dug up a time capsule buried inside a White Owl cigar box labeled “Cold War” and exhumed from under the chicken coop located in our backyard in East Los Angeles. Buried back in the early 1950s for anyone to later discover and analyze.
Well anyway, here is what it might reveal today. Once World War II was over, the Soviet Union along with its conquered and occupied nations, flatly declared “We will bury you.” Directing their Vodka breath bombast towards us. We the United States. Russia obviously didn’t care for us. The United States government was not happy with Russia either as they occupied East Germany, Poland, Yugoslavia, and a few other Eastern European countries I have forgotten. Such post war events were not looked upon with favor or trust by America. Thus giving Russia and their captured allies the Cold shoulder. Get it? Consequently Russia cut off diplomatic relations and forbade travel in and outside of these countries. Plus Russia was developing the “Big Bomb” and intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. All to be aimed at American cities. So in turn America did the same and aimed missiles at Russian cities. Sort of annihilation Standoff on the streets in Dodge City. But thankfully it never happened. But later to be called MAD. Mutually assured destruction. Got it? To help you understand this so far read the book “Dr. Strangelove” or download the movie. But really it was mostly a war of words and threats.
But back to this Cold War thing. There was hyperbolic rhetoric going back and forth from continent to continent. Accusing each country of spying and sabotage. Bringing fodder for the Tom Clancy and James Bond stories. From Russia with love’ or “The Hunt for Red October.” Remember?
But anyway, just a noisy game of intercontinental Pickleball. Ping-ding! Ping-ding! Ping-ding! Most annoying to the casual observer. Once again known as the Cold War. Ugly words volleying back and forth.
Then there was the threat of Communism and the “Big Red Scare.” Senator Joseph McCarthy was accusing everybody in Hollywood as being Communist or Communist sympathizers and wanted to ‘Black list’ them all. McCarthy had frequent senate hearings and ruined many a celebrity’s reputations. Sending them into exile. As a result Edward R Murrow, a CBS commentator, spoke on radio and TV against the ‘Commie’ chasing McCarthy and put him out of business. Download the movie “Goodnight and Good luck.” Plus there was Senator Berry Goldwater a solid gold anti-communist running for president in 1964 who wanted to use the Big Bomb on Russia. No no no. Mostly a stupid idea back then.
Then there was the U2 spy plane thing flying over Russia. President Eisenhower denied the spy plane thing. But Russia shot down the U2 and captured Francis Gary Powers. A supposed CIA operative. Then later with our tried and true U2 spy plane US flew over Cuba and spotted missals coming from Russia with the intent to launch at America if need be. President Kennedy called Russia and Cuba’s bluff and Cuba returned the missals back to the Soviet Union. Download the movie “Thirteen Days.” That was scary.
Now here are my first memories as an eight-year old in second grade back in 1952. While at school we were to practice the following:
At the first prolonged ringing bell indicating a warning of a bomb threat while at school we kids were to drop down under our desks, crouch into a fetal position, and cover the back of our neck with our left hand. All meant to protect ourselves against a direct hit from an atomic bomb. I guess we did this exercise so many times no one ever tried to bomb us. Never the less, we practiced this maneuver many times during the school year. Which brings me to this question, what happened to our 60-year old second grade teacher Mrs. Block. I think she couldn’t squat down under a desk and instead hid in the coat closet where we kept our lunches. But not sure what we would have done with a bomb threat while at home. We had no school desks at home to crawl under. Boy howdy!
Then came along the idea of digging bomb shelters in our backyards. Usually a big square hole in the ground covered with a thick layer of concrete atop and supposedly stocked with survival supplies. Water, cans of Pringles, tuna, and cans of Frito Bean dip. Therefore here and there in the neighborhood holes were being dug for bomb shelters. Probably at least one or two on every block. Enough to shelter at least a half dozen survivors total.
Then came the movies. Failsafe, on the beach, The Missals of October, America with a K, Cardinal in the Kremlin, Dr. Strangelove (as mentioned before) etc. TV movies depicting every missal firing from Silos in America and Russian bombs exploding over America. All leaving us Americans with the sense of inevitable total conflagration. None the less, thank God it never happened, so far. However, leaving one a bit chilled and perpetually cold during those times. Kind of like today with China and North Korea. Always on each other’s case. Let me put it this way, it was cold back then without the hot. Kind of crazy. Are you following me? Good! Now you know. Cold War is not what we want to do any more. Back then, Cold War was too cold.