Saturday, May 9, 2009
When I Was Still A Child
When I was still a child I began to see the disturbing outlines of a world that had assumed vaguely threatening forms. There were the communists. Atheistic hordes of Asiatic peoples enslaved by dictators wanted to destroy us. My constant question to myself was "What would you do if these Chinese communists came to your town and demanded you spit on the crucifix?" I saw myself heroically refusing such a desecration and being slowly tortured in a most excruciating fashion. Then I saw myself spitting on the crucifix and being killed anyway and then going to hell as a result. And then I saw myself spitting on the crucifix and actually getting off and becoming some kind of Chinese slave, yet still alive. Many years later it was the Russians. The Russians, also communist, had powerful missle bombs that could fly across the ocean and destroy our whole country. During a drill at school that was supposed to save you from this the teacher made us climb under our desks and cover our heads. Even though this was terrrifying and gave me nightmares I thought that being incinerated all at once was better than being tortured in front of your whole family or vice versa. Nonetheless, we were suddenly on the verge of what was politely called a "thermonuclear exchange". Our president John Kennedy, who had just been elected, was in a showdown with the Russian leader Nikita Khruschev. We were all proud of our young president. He was a Catholic just like us. Khruschev was a big old baldheaded guy who took off his shoe and pounded on the podium he was speaking at. He looked really mean and threatening just like a godless atheistic communist dictator would look. Right out of central casting. Khruschev had moved his all destructive warheads into Cuba and Kennedy wanted them out. The Russians refused to budge and so we were on the brink of war. In the fourth grade, along with counless other schoolkids across the nation, we would regularily get down under our desks and curl up into a ball covering our heads. The nuns also would gather us all together in the gym and we would say prayers so that God would save us from the communist bombs. Then suddenly after several weeks of this, it came about that the Russians decided to take their missiles back to Russia. Everybody relaxed. Our young and handsome president had won the faceoff with the old baldheaded Russian monster who wanted to blow up our cities. I remember seeing John Kennedy once when he visited our city. His motorcade on its way from the airport on the street that passed in front of our school. The shiny new cars all stopped directly in front of our school and the president stood up and waved to us all gathered together on the lawn in front of the church. Only a little while later something dreadful happened. John Kennedy's motorcade was driving down a street in Dallas, Texas when gunshots rang out. The president had been shot. The nuns took us all to the gym to tell us the news. They sent us all home and we watched the television as Walter Cronkite told us that our president was dead.
Posted by yardfarmer at 8:22 PM