Duck and Cover

Do you remember the duck and cover drills in elementary school during the cold war in the late 50’s and early 60’s?  I do. I’m working on a short story about that experience and while doing some research I found films shown to students in the United States to prepare them for an impeding attack from the Soviets. I don’t remember seeing them at the old Kornelson School in Steinbach which is where I remember doing duck and cover drills and where we practiced walking home when the town siren blared. I assume the idea behind the school evacuation drills was that if there was a missile attack we should be with our families when it happened. Since in those days virtually all of our mothers were stay-at-home parents, it was safe to send us home during these practice evacuation drills. 

Miss Toews' Grade Four Class at Kornelson School

Miss Toews’ Grade Four Class at Kornelson School

My most vivid memories of this experience happened in grade four in the fall, which puts the date in  1962. I can still see myself walking away from the school with my little sister who was in grade two and Cathy, a girl who lived on our route home. I was assigned to make sure Cathy and my sister got home too. I remember the leaves were turning color and we were wearing sweaters. I’m thinking it must have been October at the height of the Cuban missile crisis. I was pretty scared that day so it has stuck in my head even though I was only nine years old.  For some reason Cathy, my little neighbour, wasn’t cooperating and I thought we three girls might be killed in a missile attack right there on Reimer Avenue in Steinbach.

When I was growing up we had a siren in Steinbach that rang through the town everyday at 6 pm and 9 pm so that children who were playing around town would know it was time to head home at 6 for supper and at 9 for bed.   During the time we were doing the drills I think that siren also rang during the day for our practices. 

We didn’t have a television till the fall of 1963 so I probably didn’t see the CBC news special in 1961 where a Canadian family spent a week inside a fall out shelter on the CBC grounds  in Toronto just to prove to the public it could be done and to show families how to prepare for an attack. 

I would love to hear from other people who have memories of this experience, particularly Canadians and people from Steinbach. 

Other posts about historical events………

German POWs in Manitoba

Visiting Tiananmen Square

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Filed under Canada, Childhood, History

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