The Big Yellow Horn

In my never ending quest to determine exactly who I am and what made me who I am, I have been thinking of my childhood back in the early sixties. I grew up in Southbridge and it was a nice little town. It still is. I think where you are raised, as well as by whom, is a big factor in how you yourself will turn out.

It's funny how you remember certain isolated incidents throughout your life. And as we get older, at least me anyway, I think of these things and wonder what there connection is to my life. (Hmmm, could this turn into a book?) One thing I remember is the big yellow horns.

I started school in 1961, Eastford Road School. As I recall right next door there was a big yellow horn, made a heck of a noise as I recall when they tested it. It was the air raid siren placed there by the Civil Defense people. I seem to recall another one up on South Street as well, and I am sure there were more around town. In 1961 those sirens would be what would save our lives. If they went off, depending where we were, we would do different things.

Yes, I remember the "Duck and Cover" drill, where we would have to duck under our desks and the nuclear fallout wouldn't fry us. This was later replaced by the advent of the fall out shelter. There was one in the school although we never actually went there. If we weren't in school, we were supposed to go to the nearest shelter, I remember being shown where they were by my parents, they all had the same sign.

These were scary times for a five year old I tell you. We just knew those evil Russians were going to launch a nuclear attack at any time. I can recall our teachers being pretty nervous about this. Not that they would come right out and say it, but you could feel a certain tension in the air when we had the drills or we talked about these things. Don't forget, these were people who had not long before had lived through World War 2.

I remember one fall day, October, 1962, when in the middle of the school day, for no apparent reason to us, we were all sent down to the gymnasium and were put in various groups, by family and residence. We were told we would be getting out of school early and some of us would be taken home on buses while others would wait for our parents to come get us. While I don't remember how my sisters and I got home, I assume it was my father who picked us up, I do remember thinking something was wrong with my mother, she seemed especially agitated by something.
Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (2nd Edition)
Read about the Cuban
Missile Crisis in this
book from

We were never given an explanation, but when I got older, actually it was much older I was reading about the Cuban missile crisis and then I flashed back to that day, and put two and two together. While we weren't told this, my mother thought we were all going to die because someone's finger was on the button. Even later, in the seventies and eighties, I recall always wondering what would the Russians do? I had kids then and I knew how my mother must have felt, not wanting to worry us, but she was scared to death. We came pretty close on those October days.

I wonder now how that whole thing, the Cold War and the threat of nuclear destruction, might of had an effect  on me and even my generation. Did it mold us in a certain way? Did it change our attitudes about things like life? I certainly remember at various times in my life thinking we could all be dead tomorrow if someone decided to push a button. So, I wonder did this have something to do in the change in the culture of our society? People are not the same as they were back then. I often write about morals and morality and how it seems we no longer have the same moral compass as we had when I was young, could this have something to do with it? I don't know, but I will keep searching for the answers.
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