In the 1950s nuclear war seemed imminent. Seattle is a city that was a prime target with lots of military contractors and very strategic military bases nearby. I don't remember doing any "Duck and Cover" drills at school. I think those were done before I reached school age. But the threat still loomed large. When you were a kid in the 1950s the way all the adults were talking made a lot of kids think they'd never live to be 30 or 40. I know I thought that way as did a lot of others.
I just got off of the phone with a friend. I told her I was writing about how the fear of an imminent nuclear war traumatized the Baby Boom generation. She said she couldn't agree more. She told me how she thought doing duck and cover drills gave her PTSD. She said she was afraid to take showers because the sound of the water reminded her of the sound that jet planes make, and she was afraid she would die in the shower. To this day she can only take bathes.
I can remember going on a Cub Scout campout to Saltwater State Park on the shore of Puget Sound between Seattle and Tacoma. We were sleeping in out tents. Then in the middle of the night a nearby air raid siren started howling and woke us up. My Father told me not to worry and to go back to sleep. But the sieren kept on going and going. I thought it was our last hour on earth. I was terrified laying there in my tent. I'll never forget that night.
Experiences like these profoundly traumatized a generation of Americans. I believe that shared psychological trauma led directly to the generation of rebellious young Americans in 1960s and the rise of what was called the "Counter-Culture". They saw the societal paradigm of their parents as a dead end, and searched for better alternatives. Well I'm sure I don't have to go into all the facets of the societal changes that began to unfold in the 1960s. Questioning the status quo then led to a flowering of long overdue constructive changes in a multitude of ways we take for granted today.
I suspect the generation growing up now may be equally traumatized by the increasingly drastic effects of Global Warming. I hope they too will see the societal paradigm of their parents as a dead end, and rebel against it. Because only the members of a society on a destructive course have the power to make a course correction.
Please share your experiences if the Cold War affected you and changed how you view the world.