One of the particular memories I had as a child was when my parents asked me to select a doll, one that I didn’t mind missing for a while. They were going to pack it in box for the basement. At the time we lived in an older two-story house. Our basement did not have paneled walls or a linoleum floor. In fact I am not even sure it had a concrete floor as it was not the kind of place where I and my siblings ever went to play. I remember going down there once with my mom and seeing the lone bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling.
I watched as they packed cans of food and bottles in card board boxes, placing blankets on top along with a few items of clothing and the toy each own of us were willing to spare. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized these were “survival” items, packed in preparation for possible nuclear missile strike. Photos from a U-2 spy plane that flew over Cuba had shown evidence of mid-range offensive missiles being transported, and the Cuban missile crisis had begun.
Now, it is laughable to even contemplate engaging in nuclear war and expecting to win. However, at that time the elementary school sported black and yellow signs with three triangles within a circle, indicating a fallout shelter. I was not afraid of atomic bombs. My parents had grown to adulthood during World War 2 when it was considered almost unpatriotic to create fear concerning the United States and war. As a child I don’t recall hearing much discussion of the cold war and nuclear proliferation.
Shortly after that time we entered the spy craze on phase on TV. Shows were a kind of fantasy that portrayed suave, quick witted agents successful battling a diabolically evil organization that never could be completely defeated. I decided a few hours a week of watching fictional spies on TV was not enough excitement, and started checking out books on spies from the local library. Then, I got one that told true stories, the grim, deceitful trading of information for money, unsavory and unreliable sources, and a hefty dose of blackmail. There seemed to be no clear cut heroes.
The “Cold War” seem to fulfill our desire for a common enemies to vilify. But the first world and second world countries did not suffer as much as the third world, underdeveloped ones did. We poured advisers, weapons and often young soldiers into these hot spots were war was anything but cold and civil. In this way the increasing government money poured into military technology kept our economy growing, while contributing the the civil wars that crippled many of the thirst world nations. Of course some of these places became the hot spots that still threaten us today. “Cold War” was a misnomer, even though we were never foolish enough to use the highly destructive nuclear weapons at that time.