Attack of the Suburban Housefly

Vintage movie Poster Return of the Fly 1959

Listen…..Do you hear it?

Bzzzzzzz……It’s coming back……a buzzing creeping crawling nightmare of terror…..the return of the fly”

That may have been the opening trailer in the 1959 Vincent Price movie Return of the Fly but it was a real life drama played out every summer of my childhood.

Scared in Suburbia

The first signs of summer approaching were the debut of Moms spotless white patent leather shoes and the appearance of the screened windows.

Late spring, as Mom would take down all our clean white clothing from the attic Dad would lug up the cumbersome galvanized steel screen windows from their winter hibernation in the basement replacing the heavy glass storm windows that kept the winter world safely at bay.

But the screens served an equally important job in homeland security. They were our first line of defense against any flying predators big and small.

In the days before air conditioning was commonplace, open windows were a necessity and a window without a screen was tantamount to a door without a lock.

Return of the Fly

Summertime would bring the appearance of a squadron of house flies infiltrating our home turf.

“Open Skies [1] might have worked as a foreign policy but it was strictly off-limits at home. For Mom the very thought of the flying insects intruding her sanitary space was as unthinkable to her as the idea of US planes conducting aerial surveillance of Russian military bases was for the Soviets.

Day and night regardless of weather conditions those buzzing flies could conduct their reconnaissance much to Moms dismay.

Dad brushed them off as harmless nuisances who accidentally strayed into our space, but the look of terror on Moms face who would scream bloody murder if someone accidentally left the screen door open for too long letting a fly into the house, pointed to the dangerous creature she perceived them to be.

vintage illustrations housfly and 1950s woman with screenShoo Fly Don’t Bother Me

Jet setting flies carried germs from one port of call to another, their flight plan apparently very simple- a direct route from the slums to the suburbs, with pit stops along the way to refuel in piles of manure and all kinds of filth, only to land as an uninvited guest at your dinner table.

It was as if these buzzing green bottle flies were conducting aerial surveillance of suburban installations. Equipped with radar on their metallic blue-green colored chassis their electronically scanned antennae could locate just the right plate of food to land on.

As a deterrent against these disease carrying predators, crumbs were never allowed to linger, spills immediately wiped up leaving no traces of a meal eaten, as if, like a burned CIA agent, they never existed.

Up until now these creatures would fly so fast Moms attempt to swat them down much like the Soviets attempt to intercept the American spy planes, was useless.

vintage picture of 1950s living room

That is until one season.

Attack on the Suburban Flys

Armed with her surface to air can of  bug spray that was  as potent in its objective as any surface to air missile the Russians used to down pilot Gary Powers in one of our U2 planes.

Not only did the spray boast right on the can that their level of DDT far exceeded Government standards for Insecticides, it was pine scented so it was pleasant to use, like bringing in a bit of the outdoors right into our home.

Just close your eyes and suddenly you were in the middle of a misty cool DDT sprayed forest.

[1] In 1955 at the Geneva Convention President Eisenhower had proposed a plan named Open Skies which called for the USA and Soviets to exchange maps indicating the exact location of military installations. Soviets rejected the plan declaring it nothing more than an espionage plot by the west. Soon after, Ike approved the use of high altitude spy planes U2s for spying on the Soviets. In May 1960 a downed spy plane that US claimed as a weather plane accidentally strayed into Soviet airspace. A red-faced Ike was stunned to learn that the soviets had shot down the U2 captured its pilot Gary Powers and our denials revealed to be duplicitous.

Copyright (©) 20012 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved -Excerpt From Defrosting The Cold War:Fallout From My Nuclear Family

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