I was 5 years old with a new green plaid dress and I was in kindergarten two blocks from my home. The world seemed full of promise as I posed with my younger sisters under the ripening apricot trees on my first day of school.
I also remember Grandma and Grandpa’s new red brick house adjacent to our white frame house. Much like my own now, it had a massive concrete basement. Not furnished but with four small windows and a walk in pantry.
Every year we canned vegetables and fruits by the ton into sealed jars. Marked by date and the proper seal noted by their creator. They were lined up in alphabetical order, holding promise for a winter’s day. From our own gardens we canned beans, corn, odd looking meats, rhubarb, sorta smashed looking peaches, and apricots. Colors of the rainbow hidden under the stairway.
I remember a year so far distant almost hour by hour. Because fifty years from these very October days in 1962 our harvest included cots, blankets, beds, pillows, clothes, and stuffed toys. Baby bassinets and food for the Little Girls.
And Dad covered the windows with tinfoil, though in his trained Navy mind, he knew that aluminum foil could not block out horror that hung across the world.
Cartoons along with the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Hour, Lawrence Welk, too were blurred by Walter Cronkite as he tried to keep us up to date with the blockade of ships circling the southeast coast.
So very little was actually said as adults tried to hide their fears. I think that is what frightened me most.
It’s not like that sudden burst of adrenaline an adult gets when they have a chance to save their child. Like my mom did when I was 16 and I froze behind the steering wheel of the old Rambler on the Boulder Turnpike.
I felt the fear. A long drawn out, anguishing adrenaline as our families who had seen war held their breath for 13 long days.
But mostly I remember the foil on the windows, even I knew it was not enough to hold back a nuclear blast.
A “Peace with Freedom” was offered by our President.
The fall air today is crisp and the wind sharp, full of the scent of harvesting corn and sugar beets.
Gifts of peace we take for granted. Gifts of promise like those jars in the pantry that hung in the balance while we stared for 13 days and nights at foil covered windows.
Waiting for a blast of radiance that was held back by a combination of the sweat of diplomacy.
Perhaps, it is just the type of day to remember that with crisis comes unity. And we can remain united without the fear of crisis and war and politics.