I Remember the Day John F. Kennedy Was Assassinated – Part 5

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When I was four or five, I actually remember my parents having a discussion about building a bomb shelter. This wasn’t weirdo survivalist off-the-grid b.s. This was a conversation regular people had and it was out of a real fear the Soviets would launch a missile strike.

My parents never built a bomb shelter but for years on the cover of magazines like Popular Mechanics there were stories on how to build your own bomb shelter. And a fascinating and chilling novel was published in 1959 which became a classic and remains so to this day about what the aftermath could be.

I remember reading this novel in 1974 because of a fear in the back of the mind that Armageddon could come. This was a part of life for anyone who thought beyond the next hamburger. The novel is A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr (4 stars) and my great friend and fraternity brother, Bob Warren, recommended it to me. (This was in recompense for having tricked me into reading Atlas Shrugged (1 star) which is about as boring as one can possibly imagine.)

I mention this novel and the year I read it to give you a sense of what we sometimes thought about — that everything would be blown to hell. And since we were thinking that in the 1970s, imagine how scared people were in 1963 when Jack Kennedy was shot and killed. I can tell you that just listening to people then and the years to come that no one ever thought that Lee Harvey Oswald did it by himself.

[Images courtesy of Atomic Annihilation, Age of Paranoia, and Popular Science.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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