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It's The End Of The World As We Know It...And I Feel Fine.

I Feel Fine (album)

Kim Jong-Un of North Korea tested a bomb the other day; he detonated a puny nuclear device. This means the end of the world is near, right? Maybe, but I’ve heard this song before. For me, growing up in the 70s and 80s meant Russia was going to annihilate us at any moment. Though that never happened, we were prepared. There were dangers far worse lurking in the shadows.

My grade school in Detroit was built in 1947, during a time in our history when Russia was developing its own nukes and therefore a threat. And since Detroit was a major industrial city, we became a primary target. It was a massive structure that came with a huge underground shelter. We were told that if the Russian attacked with nukes, we would be safe from the radiation if not from the initial blast. In fact, it was designated an official “Fallout Shelter” for our sector…or region…or district in Detroit. I don’t recall exactly what it was. In any case it was quite a building.

By the time I attended the school in the late Seventies the building was showing its age. It wasn't exactly crumbling around us, but it was in dire need of serious maintenance. That didn’t mean the fallout shelter wasn’t still functional. Hell, bingo was held there every Friday night. It was the only space that could hold that many people. It was three times the size of our gymnasium.

We still used it for our drills, though. People realized a decade earlier that the “Duck and Cover” drill was, well…stupid, but we still practiced air-raid and tornado drills that required a calm and orderly procession down to the shelter. Once there, the kids (actually it was me) were anything but calm and orderly. So while we waited for the “All Clear signal from our principal, I would make it snow.

The water and heat pipes that sprang from the antique boiler and branched out toward the upper levels, were covered in a thick asbestos wrap – insulation – that hadn’t been changed since 1947. The janitors always left their brooms leaning up against some wall and I always grabbed one. With a good WHACK! of the broom handle, the asbestos insulation’s dried, outer wrap cracked open and a steady shower of fine yellow dust would float down over the girls, land in their hair, coat their long eyelashes and make everyone cough. It was awesome.

We had our drills once every month, which means I made it snow nine times every school year. I must have done this for at least two years straight. And while I think that our school kept us safe from Russia's ominous presence, I had been the real threat. It was I who endangered everyone in that dusty old basement, and I fear that I have probably given half of the kids, including myself, lung cancer.

Talk about irony!!

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This post first appeared on The Noiseless Patient Spider, please read the originial post: here

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It's The End Of The World As We Know It...And I Feel Fine.


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