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Okie’s Car, Area 12, Nevada Test Site

In my brief lifetime, the Russians have always been someplace on the list of disturbances for our nation. When  I lived in Denver as a child, we spent a lot of time in school performing ‘duck and cover’ drills for that day when Russian bombers and/or missiles would fly over the North Pole to drop atomic bombs in our backyard. While I crouched under my desk, I looked out at the teachers standing around watching us and right away knew they were to be sacrificed. We were the future of America while they were last year’s models, to speak. None of them ever ducked and covered although I did once see Mrs. Philips in the broom closet fussing with her clothing while Mr. French adjusted his pants. It was all very confusing.

I lived with a scientist and an artist who did block prints and fabric designs and as a side job, also fed us and kept the house clean. They bought a development house near Denver in a suburb called Lakewood. Its claim to fame was that my Dad’s lab was close by so he could pedal his racing bike to work when the weather agreed. For me, Lakewood was where my Cub Scout Den and school were. Conveniently it had a roadside store alongside US6, although my fascination with the place was the large collection of hubcaps. US6 was the main highway heading west from Denver. Hubcaps were in vogue and every car tried to keep their four on the wheels. Soda pop was a nickel and the bottles earned 2¢ when returned. My allowance was a nickel.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, the guy with the mass-spectrometer in his lab, bottles of liquid nitrogen, and slide rules was actually a nuclear scientist. I assumed a lot in those days, including that he was a geologist, while in reality he had worked on the atomic bomb. He knew all about those Russians, and he spoke the language. When I was about eight I discovered my Dad spoke 13 languages, and had gone to school for a week or two to learn Russian. You could say he had a way with words.

But I digress. Time passed, the missile drills ceased, and we moved away from Denver and indeed away from the US for a few years, and only returned so Art could divorce Science at age 40, and thoroughly mess up our lives. Science moved to Dallas, and Art stayed in DC so my smart sister could attend Sidwell Friends and I could get prevented from going to Yale as ‘Legacy’ kid. Art and Science were too busy arguing to do anything constructive for anybody else. And then JFK got shot, but they bickered on forever.

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