The steamy summer of 1961 may have been sweltering, but the Cold War had moved into a deep freeze by July putting a glacial chill in the balmy summer air .
Hovering right beneath the surface of that sunny glow from our Coppertone tans was a bone chilling sense of foreboding.
Like an eerie portent of things to come, the number one song of summer, “Tossin n Turnin” could be heard reverberating from transistor radios on sun-drenched beaches coast to coast.
By the end of July, the nation itself would soon be tossin’ and turnin’ turnin’ and tossin’ at the terrifying thought of nuclear confrontation between the US and the Soviet Union over the heated up crisis in Berlin.
With waves of East German refugees pouring into Free West Berlin, the border was closed leading to the eventual construction of the Berlin Wall.
The risk of a military conflict, one that seemed as if it could escalate at anytime to a terrifying confrontation between the 2 most powerful antagonists of the Cold war US and the Soviet Union, was at an all time high.
With an ego the size of his alleged nuclear arsenal, a volatile Nikita Khrushchev sounding remarkably like Fearless Leader on Rocky and Bullwinkle, boasted quite publicly that USSR thermonuclear strength was unmatchable, and would leave America and….. by extension me, in a cloud of radioactive dust.
Rattled, Americans were nervously twisting the night away as the jousting match between President Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev escalated to an all time high.
GI Joe in Suburbia
While the world poised for a showdown of wits and wills between those two Cold war Warriors, much closer to home, my parents planned a big family barbecue
My father was CO in charge of the Barbeque Brigade.
While wives stayed safely behind the lines, the men folk were recruited and deployed to the front.
Well fortified to do battle with gin n’ tonics firmly in hand, they mobilized around the Weber grill in a primal huddle of their own as they anxiously awaited orders.
Like the infantry sent to do battle, these buttoned down bar-b-que enthusiasts, combat ready in their comfort-in-action-perma-press pants, gathered on all sides of the roaring fire.
The torch had indeed been passed to a new generation, our war hero President informed us, and passed directly into the hands of these bespectacled men in clingy ban-lon, all of whom had served our country in the Second World War.
Only 15 years earlier, this bunch of balding band of brothers, blissfully barbecuing in my backyard, had returned from that greatest of all wars in their GI issued haircuts, war-weary but triumphant to confetti and parades.
What they had done in the war and what the war had done to them was never discussed.
Hot Summer… Cold War Part II Next Post
Copyright (©) 20012 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved -Excerpt From Defrosting The Cold War:Fallout From My Nuclear family
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