As eyebrows are raised as Russia tests a new ground launched cruise missile, my thoughts drifted to those pre-test treaty times when the sight of a truck toting a missile was just part of Cold war summer fun.
Summer beach traffic during the Cold War had its own special flare.
The huge-wrap around picture window in the rear of my Grandmothers Cadillac offered unexcelled visibility to see and be seen, allowing uninterrupted lavish vistas of Long Beach Road, as we drove to her beach club El Patio to spend the day.
Along with the flashy Ford Fairlaine convertibles filled with wind-swept teenagers blasting their radios… “Mr Sandman, build me a dream” a common sight on those mid-century roads was the military convoy of trucks loaded with soldiers followed by long trailers carting not-so-secret-missiles clumsily covered with olive drab-colored tarps on their way to the Missile base in sunny Lido Beach.
Along with the construction of the snazzy beach clubs up and down the narrow strip of land, the government had built for M’Lady’s and Gents protection, a Nike installation.
Kept in cold storage were 60 Nike Ajax guided surface to air Missiles deep in concrete bunkers buried in the sand…”Mr Sandman Please turn on your magic beams, Mr. Sandman bring me a dream!”
Building Sandcastle Missiles in the Sand
Sometimes, while driving past the chain linked enclosed Missile base, standing in the shadow of the Grand Lido Beach Hotel, that Jazz age bubblegum colored sand castle in the sky, I might catch a glimpse of those Mighty Birds from the road as the soldiers put them up on their launches.
One week out of every month the base was placed on alert so some very lucky guests at the hotel, Long Islands answer to The Riviera, were treated, at no extra cost, to an extra thrill.
Whether you were dining at the elegant restaurant with its retractable roof for feasting under the stars or being entertained by flashy stars like Connie Francis, Edyie Gorme and Sammy Davis Junior, at the ritzy circular nightclub, you might get an extra floor show feasting your eyes at the sight of 40 foot long beckoning to behold Nike Aircraft Missiles aimed at the sky ready to shoot down any enemy bombers.
It was a real showstopper!
Gazing out the back of the Caddies large panoramic rear window the lingering image of the powerful Missiles thrusting into the deep blue summer sky would slowly diminish, resembling the tiny dioramas of model missiles preparing for launch displayed in the store window of Moe’s Hobby World.
Just as the image faded, we would arrive at the Beach Club.
© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.