A post from Bad Dad Cartoons earlier today about “Stop, Drop, and Roll” reminded me of “Duck and Cover.” Are you old enough to remember Duck and Cover? I am.
Duck and Cover was a method promoted by the Federal Civil Defense Administration for protection if a nuclear bomb exploded. It was taught to generations of American school children in the early 1950s until the end of the Cold War in the 1980s. By following the Duck and Cover steps, we kids would be able to protect ourselves in the event of an unexpected nuclear attack. Or so we were told.
Life back in the early 1950s and 1960s was shrouded by the threat of Cold War. There were rising tensions between the two nuclear superpowers, the U.S. and the Soviet Union. A nuclear attack might come at any time without warning, according to our government. To ensure we were ready for that, there were periodic air raid drills during each school year.
In case of a surprise attack, we were told to stop whatever we were doing, to duck under our desks, and then to cover the backs of our necks and our faces with our hands and our arms.
The final instructions were to bend over, stick our heads between our legs, and kiss our little asses goodbye.
Okay, that last part wasn’t really in the official Duck and Cover instructions. But even back in the first grade I wondered how crawling up under a wood desk would protect me against a nuclear blast.
Figuring that adults knew more than little kids, when the air raid drill sirens would sound, I would dutifully duck under my desk, just like all the other kids, and assume the fetal-like position, confident that my wooden desk would protect me when the dreaded nuclear bomb dropped in the middle of the schoolyard.