Evelyn Toynton

In the 1950s, at the height of the Cold War, my New York City primary school, like every other school in the city, held weekly practice drills to prepare us for being bombed by the Russians. The drill, which immediately followed the pledge of allegiance to the flag, consisted of us all crouching under our desks for ten minutes, though it was understood that if an atomic bomb were dropped on Manhattan, we would need to hunker down for longer. We were instructed to hug our knees to our chests and lower our heads to avoid breathing in poisonous Russian dust.

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