Not long ago I read a post from a lady who was wondering why people didn’t share their histories anymore?  She lamented how elders were not sharing their stories.  I remember reading her post & thinking she may be right, so today I’m going to attempt to pass along a little history (although I by no means consider myself an elder).

I was born in Winnipeg in 1955, so by the time I went to school in 1960 the Cold War was already a fact of life.  After the city appropriated our property to build a new development we moved into a brand new subdivision on the far west side of the city.  The new development didn’t have paved streets, but it did have an Anglo station (gas station) with an air raid siren mounted on a platform in the corner of their lot.

I’m going to digress a little here to give you some background on why Winnipeg felt they needed to be so prepared during the Cold War.  If you remember the US had dropped nuclear bombs on Japan in the 1940’s to bring an end to World War II.  The US had also fought a devastating Police Action in Korea in the 1950’s, so war was pretty high in most people’s minds.  And most people knew the USSR and the US both had a stockpile of nuclear weapons.  If you needed to send a bomb from the USSR to the US or vice versa what would be the easiest & shortest way – over the north pole of course!  And what lay between them – Canada!  Now Canadians were known from the two World Wars as very courageous fighters & soldiers, definitely on the side of the US should it come down to war.  If you wanted to cripple Canada, then you only needed to blow up Winnipeg because Winnipeg was the Gateway to the East AND the West as far as rail traffic, air traffic & road traffic went.

So if you were a little girl growing up in Winnipeg, you might not understand all the politics of what was going on around you, but you certainly knew you were afraid.  At school there would be “bomb drills” in addition to fire drills.  During bomb drills, you would grab your coat from the cloak room, hurry into the hallway of the school, sit with your back to the wall & your knees drawn up to your chest.  Then you would drape your coat over your heads & legs to protect you.  Unlike a fire drill where you were taught to escape the fire, when the bomb siren went off, you never knew if it was for real or not & there was nowhere to go to escape.  If you happened to be at home when the bomb siren went off, you hurried into your basement & crouched down next to a wall (preferably in a corner).  If you were outside playing you made a beeline for home & the basement.  Until the siren stopped, you never knew if you were safe or not, whether this was the time when the peacemakers had failed.  You could only kiss your a– goodbye & pray!

I can’t speak for others, but I personally think growing up like this made me even more of a peacenik.  Even though I was young to be a real hippie, I was vehemently against the Vietnam War & I really embraced the peace & love as professed by the early hippies.  The governments had stolen the innocence of my youth & I did not want to give them my teen years or early adult years as well with threats of war.  I wanted the governments of the world to find another way to settle their differences so no more little girls & boys had to live in fear.

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