Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Practicing at school: Eastford Road, October, 1962.


"All right, children. Everyone file out of the room into the hall. Be very quiet. Now, children, I want you to line up against the wall in a single line. When I call your name, say 'Here' nice and clear.  Brent Abrahamson."

"Here."

"Billy T----"

"Here..." And on through the entire class roster.

"Children, we're going to do just as we practiced yesterday. Everyone sit on the floor. Now, pull your knees up. Put your hands at the back of your head. Lock your fingers. Close your arms and lower your head to your knees. Now don't move until I say ' Okay.' ... and 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. All right, children. You did very, very well. Now, let's go back into the classroom."

As we children walked home from Eastford Road School in Southbridge, we wondered why we had to do that thing in the hall every day. We noticed that the adults seemed to have worried looks quite a bit lately.

Our conversation was interrupted by that eerie sound that we were hearing every day. It sounded like the siren on the fire trucks only much louder. It had a sound that could really scare you if your parents hadn't told you it was nothing to worry about if it came at 3:30. They were just testing it. If it came at another time, we should come right home. If we were close to the school, though, we should go there.

We were 10 years old and used to not understanding lots of things adults told us to do. We did not know about the crisis. We did not know that down in Cuba some Soviet missiles were being aimed at the United States. We didn't know we could be in danger. 

But we did know that we had to do what we were told. 

And we knew that the adults loved and cared for us.

And that was enough.

C2012