Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Bomb

A while ago someone said in comments (Carrie, I think) that she used to worry about The Bomb when she was a child, and RadioactiveJam has posted a video on his blog that makes me understand how The Bomb could consume a child's imagination. (There is an alternative link if the embedded video on his site doesn't work.)

I am SO glad we didn't have to watch this sort of thing at school in New Zealand. It would have given me nightmares. Not that I think Carrie was at school in the fifties, when this little educational film was made, but I guess there was something similar, conveying the same feeling of threat. I don't think, in NZ, we ever considered ourselves a target for anything like that. (Although in my first job we had a deranged client who used to come in with highly detailed maps and plans and explain to us all about how the 'Japs' were going to invade, and where, and how vulnerable we were and WHY WOULDN'T ANYBODY LISTEN TO HIM?)

The film is rather unspecific. All you really get from it is that there is some scary horrible Someone (they don't say who) out there who wants to bomb you, thus giving you, um, something worse than a very bad sunburn, and that if this happens you should 'duck and cover.' Even covering yourself with a newspaper will help, we are told. I wonder if any of the advice would have been useful if a bomb had actually been dropped?

Did any of my U.S. readers get lessons at school about what to do in the event of a bomb, the way they show in the film? What about in other parts of the world?

We only ever got ordinary old earthquake drills, which were kind of fun. The one time there was an actual earthquake during school hours, my class was outside running around, so we didn't feel it. The first we knew of it was when someone peered into the classroom next door and saw all the kids (and the teacher) huddled under their desks looking pale and scared. Our response to this was to crowd around the window pointing and laughing, so I guess our earthquake preparedness drills hadn't worked very well.


Radioactive Jam said...

I schooled in the sixties and don't remember anything like this. Maybe as people in the US became more aware of certain grim realities, the idea of protection from newspapers and desks lost its ability to bring reassuring complacency.
(and thanks!)

Robert said...

Maybe it was a regional thing. I remember the bomb drills in school, as if hiding under our desks would make a difference.

We even had a house in Texas with its own private bomb shelter. Of course, for us, it was a place to take girls to make out.

kenju said...

I started school in 1946 when I was 5. I remember bomb threats, and the drills where we learned to duck and cover. I remember black outs in the evenings. I remember people building bomb shelters and I used to wonder what would be left for them to come out to - after the bombs hit - if indeed, the shelters saved them.

melinama said...

Yes, we did "duck and cover" and even as a little kid I wondered why crouching under a desk, or the alternative - sitting in the hallway (which had lots of windows) with my raincoat over my head - was going to protect me from anything.

Carrie said...

We never had any sort of education about what to do if the bomb was dropped. I think I watched too many movies at home because things like that weren't really discussed in school. We didn't even have earthquake drills at my school, though when I was a teacher we had them and one day we had an earthquake and all those cool teenagers who refused to go under the desks during the drills were under the desks in point 5 seconds when the room started shaking.

I knew if we were hit by the bomb we'd all be dead with no hope for survival. No wonder I was neurotic.

Btw, have you ever read Tomorrow, When the War Began? It kind of reminds me of the guy who thought New Zealand would be invaded. Australia is invaded in the book, and a group of teenagers are left to fend for themselves. It's YA. My students LOVE that series.

BobCiz said...

Back in the late fifties, when I was in grade school, the Cold War was at its coldest (or hottest, I guess), and we had the occasional bomb drill that, even at my young age, seemed to be useless. Being vaporized seemed more likely than surviving by crouching under a desk. I did have a couple friends whose fathers built bomb shelters in their basements, well stocked with survival goods like canned beans and flashlights with extra batteries. I could only laugh at their paranoia, although I didn't know that word at the time. I wonder if those canned goods are still there along with the paranoia.

Badaunt said...

I can't imagine how that must have been, to be told that someone might bomb you. Kenju, you had blackout curtains? I didn't know they lasted beyond WWII, and didn't know they were used in the US at all.

Carrie, I haven't read those books, but they sound like the kind of thing teenagers would like. What teenager doesn't dream of one of the few people left in the world? Actually, come to think of it, I have to admit that sometimes I wonder what Osaka would look like if some disaster struck and it was deserted and the weeds started growing up around the buildings and through the cracks in the concrete...

But judging by the responses here, I wonder how many kids actually believed that the precautions would help?

Megan said...

Interesting. My generation never dealt with a bomb scare here in the United States. (Living in CA, however, we've done countless earthquake drills.) In my parents' generation, the Cuban Missile Crisis was a present part of their mindset. Nowadays all we hear in the US is about these "terrorists" even though we can't protect ourselves against an intangible ideology.