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When I was in grade school we would regularly have atomic bomb drills. One of my favorites was clambering under our little wooden desks, quick like bunnies, so that we would be "protected" when the shock wave hit our big picture window and sent thousands of shards of glass shrapnel into our classroom. Equally helpful was the instruction to unbutton the top button of our shirts, remove glasses and take sharp items like pencils from our breast pockets. The logic being that collars could strangle us during a nuclear blast, glasses became just more shrapnel, and number two pencils could shish kabob our eight-year old hearts. Often we were ordered to line up, double file, hold our partner's hand (hopefully a girl, hopefully without a sweaty palm) and walk, don't run, down to the school's basement. There we would crouch next to a cold cement wall, thus ensuring our survival, or burial, in case the entire place got flattened. Interestingly, I don't recall there being any real concern about radiation poisoning other than how it might create Tokyo-stomping monsters. But probably my most vivid memory is of something that never happened. I had a recurring daydream which involved me neatly surviving the end of the world, climbing out of the rubble that was once Oak Drive Elementary School, and then running home to save the lives of my parents. Sadly, in none of my heroic fantasies was I able to rescue my older sister (we didn't get along that well, so it was probably for the best). The reason I bring all this up is I was thinking recently about how an almost daily reminder to a child that he or she might die in a terrifying explosion could cause a kind of post-traumatic syndrome. In a way, it made me feel a bit more forgiving to the monumental failings of the boomer generation. I also thought I should try and mend fences with my sister.

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1st Aired: 24 Sept 2012