Thursday, July 15, 2010
DURING THE CUBIAN MISSLE CRISIS WE DID OUR PART---SORT OF!
If you are a "baby boomer" like I am, then you no doubt remember the atomic bomb proof school desks that we used to hide under during air raid drills. Some how I could never understand why we had to go out into the hall and kneel down against the lockers during a tornado alert, as our desk would not withstand strong winds, but would shield us from gamma rays and other things scientific.
I hope those guys at the school desk company worn correct protection when they tested those desks before shipment.
I once bought several hundred surplus school desks at a county auction. For a brief moment, I thought about taking the tops off and lining my house with them to shield me from the space rays that invade my head (I found that lining a baseball cap with tin foil is just effective AND less labor intensive--always a plus for me) so I traded them for a lawn mower and 2 weed-eaters.
Back at Hogansville High School, standing between the drive and the old water tower, was the Canning Plant. I was told that back before my time local farmers could bring their produce from their gardens and can the extra. WOW! Wouldn't that be great today, what with all the "Green" markets that are held everywhere from Hogansville to Atlanta.
The cannery is long gone now, but back in 1962, someone came up with the idea to can water for everyone to put in their fall-out shelters. Sadly I do not know the details on this project, but it sure would be a great little piece of history for our little community.
The head of the department for developing young men was Mr. V.R. Stephens. Actually he taught Shop and Agriculture. He was the sponsor for the F.F.A. and almost single-handedly turned young boys into young men. He was one of my boyhood heroes and I hope to do him justice in a blog soon. Mr. Stephens either was asked or volunteered to head up the canning project. I choose to believe that he volunteered--that was the kind of man that he was.
Because this was such an urgent project, Mr. Stephens would have his classes go to the canning plant to run the plant instead of sitting in class. This was good character development and we didn't even know it. It was a pretty straight forward process running the plant. You just had to boil the water and keep the cans on the assembly line and the automation handled the rest.
Now we come to the "fly in the ointment" of this story. Back then smoking was a big part of everyday life. If you got caught smoking at school, you didn't get sent to alternative school (there was no such thing then), Mr. Stephens, or any of the other teachers would give you 3 licks with a heavy paddle and send you on your way. Most of the women teachers usually sent you to one of the men, because the men could more punch into it. Mr. Stephens was especially against boys smoking and was on constant patrol.
Mr. Stephens should have know better than to leave us unattended to go back into the school. There was steam swirling around and coming out every window when someone said, "We could smoke a cigarette and no one would know." So before you could say," Fidel Castro don't love his mama", everybody had lit up.
Well that was a dumb idea from the get-go. There wasn't 3 puffs taken of those cigarettes, when the look-out said, "Put out the cigarettes, here comes Mr. Stephens!" You gotta know we didn't have a plan of what to do after we lit up. Hell, teenage boys can't think that far ahead. Something to do with undeveloped DNA or something like that. At any rate, The Hand of Justice (Mr. Stephens) was coming and we were all holding! There was only one logical solution, throw all the cigarette butts in one of the cans going down the line and seal it before we get caught.
As soon as Mr. Stephens stepped through the door, he got that look on his face. Of course he smelled the cigarette smoke, he was a non-smoker to make matters worse. He never said a word, going all about the room looking for that tell-tale cigarette butt and the guilty party involved. He never mentioned the incident, he could not find his evidence.
Years later, I used to think of all sorts of scenarios of what would have happened if someone had needed that precious can of water and to have opened it up to find nearly a pack of half-smoked cigarettes. What a bunch of dumb bunnies we were!
The only thing that saved our sorry asses was that JFK called the Soviets bluff and they backed down. I am not a Democrat, but I was for "fourteen days in October!"