Fly away home.
Your house is on fire.
And your children all gone.
All except one,
And that’s little Ann,
For she crept under
The frying pan.
October 1962 the world waited and prayed with bated breath as the USA and the USSR faced each other over the installation of Soviet missiles in Cuba. Those of us who were children did not fully know what was happening.
We sensed the growing apprehension in our parents and teachers. Adults huddled around backyard fences and school corridors in hushed whispers, and sometimes we heard crying muffled by trembling hands over quivering lips.
Church services were very solemn. Prayers were long.
In school we practiced drills—sitting in the hallways with our heads bowed. Civil Defense hats and arm bands were visible on the streets. Bulldozers were digging holes in the ground with concrete trucks racing up and down streets as bomb shelters were built. Those who had bomb shelters bought supplies for the long haul and fortified their shelters against intruders.
The evening news showed pictures of ships, barbed wire on beaches with soldiers; the black and white pictures of the White House looked ominous. There was a chill in the early autumn air as well as the chill of fear gripping the older people.
The brink of nuclear war and the prospects of nuclear winter were placed in abeyance when the USSR backed down. The world was granted a reprieve that late October, but the Cold War would linger for years to come with the threat of global extinction just a button away.
In December 1963 LADYBUG LADYBUG, the brilliant film written by Eleanor Perry and directed and produced by her husband Frank Perry, premiered. In its 82 minutes it told the story in solemn black and white of a rural school which received a yellow warning of an immediate nuclear attack within the hour.
William Daniels played Principal Calkins who attempted to determine if this was an accident or the real thing. His efforts proved fruitless; the lines of communication were confused, and panic grew.
The school is evacuated. The focus is on the children especially one young girl and boy, Sarah and Steve. Sarah is denied admittance to a bomb shelter by a group of her friends, and she runs off to find shelter. Steve who is safe in the shelter decides to go after her.
Sarah finds an abandoned refrigerator in the dump. Steve arrives later and passes her hiding place. It is a poignant moment in the film because the viewers know the fate of Sarah as Steve continues his desperate search for her.
As he hears jets overhead, he lamentingly cries, “Stop! Stop! Stop! The cry of innocents is showed by the silent fate of Sarah and Steve’s cry for the madness to stop.
The Cuban Missile Crisis on which the film was partly based was a time of madness. The world stood on the verge of annihilation with human devices which could have unlocked the secrets of the cosmos which brought forth creation, but in human hands could bring about the total destruction of this planet traversing the cosmos. In conclusion:
“For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.” President John F. Kennedy
G. D. Williams © 2012