Thursday, May 13, 2010

Growing Up with Nuclear War Fears Part Three: The Blue Room


Part Three: The Blue Room


From as far back as I can recall - in my near-60-years of living on God's Good Earth - I have been aware of the hard, cold, brutal fact that communist controlled missiles are pointed at me anywhere I may be in the United States of America. Though the Cold War of American freedom loving countries verses freedom mangling communist countries has been declared to be over, there are still communist and other missiles that have their guidance systems programed to strike targets all over the USA.

When I was in the eighth grade, during 1963-64, at Dundalk Junior High School in Baltimore County Maryland, one of our teachers took our one class on a field trip to "The Blue Room" in Fort Meade, Maryland - where her husband was a captain in the US Army. He served as officer in charge of The Blue Room. It was a pleasantly lit room with all blue lights, no white lights, lots of radar screens with Army operators steadily watching them, and a clear, thick glass wall with a soldier on the other side very quickly and deftly - quite amazingly - writing backwards on his side of the glass - words which were frontwards on our side - then very quickly erasing some of the words and then deftly writing some more stuff backwards that we could all read frontwards from where we were standing.

First, it was explained to us schoolkids that blue lights are the easiest artificial light on the eyes and that is best for the army guys spending long hours everyday carefully watching the radar screens. Those soldiers were keeping track of the radar blips of every airplane flying in the Baltimore Washington flight corridor.

Then we were told about the guy writing backwards. It was then that we noticed several soldiers seated behind the backwards-writing soldier and the seated soldiers were talking on telephones. The captain said that the guys on the phones were talking to air traffic controllers at (what was then) Friendship Airport. The air traffic controllers were steadily telling the men on the phones the flight numbers and other pertinent info of planes that the air traffic controllers were in contact with. The men on the phones were telling the man writing backwards what the info was, so that he could write it on the glass wall for the radar operators on the other side of the clear wall to see and compare with what they saw as blips on their radar screens. Hence, any flying plane not double checked like that would be considered to be possible enemy aircraft sneaking around up there either spying on or ready to attack Americans.

It was right about then that I noticed right next to the closest radar operator man's hand there was a four inch wide, red, translucent, plastic, double hinged, safety cover over top of a three inch wide, solid black plastic button
that had FIRE written in white on it. It was obvious that all the radar operator had to do was to move his hand a few short inches, flip that double hinged red, translucent, plastic, safety cover off of the top of that black plastic button with FIRE written in white on it and he could push the FIRE button down with the heel of his hand and shoot a missile up into the air. It was obvious, but I was so stunned at seeing it - THEE! BUTTON! (one that could begin a war) - there so readily accessible (I could have reached over and very easily had FIRED the missile me-own-young-self) that I blurted out, "You can push down on that button right now and shoot off a missile!?!?!"

The radar guy sitting there in a chair at the radar screen looked up into my quite animate, adolescent face, he smiled rather sheepishly, and with an ever-so-slight nod of his young-American-man's head and in a restrained, mild voice he said, "Yes."

I knew right then and there that he did not want to ever have to flip that red safety button off and push down on that black FIRE button. Everyone in that room was feeling the exact, precise, same train of thought as the young soldier by THE BUTTON.

Then the captain told us young, adolescent, eighth graders something that I could never forget. He told us that the missiles controlled by THE BUTTONS in the Blue Room were all located in hidden, buried underground missile bunkers all over Maryland. The captain said that at that very minute a farmer may be may be riding on his tractor, whilst plowing his farm field that is located over top of one of those buried bunkers, and if the missile in it had to be fired then the two feet or so of topsoil on top of the bunker would begin to quake and shake and slide off the bunker doors as the thick, heavy, steel, bomb blast proof doors spread open upwards and flipped the farmer and his tractor off to the side as the missile raised up and shot off into the wild blue yonder - at enemy aircraft that wasn't crafty enough to fool our radar systems and the dedicated soldier radar operators.

But that is not the most unforgettable aspect of the day.

The most unforgettable information we junior high school kids were given privy to, that afternoon in Ft. Meade, was that the US Army had missiles pointed at Fort Holabird in my great American hometown of Dundalk, Md. and some where also pointed at the Bethlehem Steel Mills in Sparrows Point, Md. a few easy miles from Dundalk and where I went several times a month during my entire growing up years, because my grandparents lived in the small American mill town there and my family went to church in that wonderful, family friendly mill town named Sparrows Point.

On that 1963-64 day in Ft. Meade's Blue Room, we junior high school children from Dundalk, Maryland were hit with the brutal realization that we not only lived 'under the gun' of commie-rat missiles - as we had always known - we lived with the very real possibility that American missiles would one final day wipe us and our families, friends and neighbors right off the face of the earth.

I accepted then, and still do, as completely reasonable and sensible why our own missiles had been pointed at me and mine during the entire time that I was growing up in Dundalk and Sparrows Point.

Fort Holabird contained the - top secretive and also positively pertinent to America's well being - U.S. Army Intelligence School. Bethlehem Steel was known for producing war armaments for America and our allies. If the United States' enemies were to set off one of the newest modern war terrors - The Neutron Bomb - over the Dundalk and Sparrows Point areas - the effects of a Neutron Bomb is to kill all life below its detonation area but not break a single twig on a tree - the enemy would capture Ft. Holabird and Beth Steel intact. They'd only have to conquer a small section of the East Coast of the USA in and around Maryland at first, then get the intel files, fact books, spy equipment and other Top Secret stuff from Holabird to know a whole lot more about how to conquer the rest of the United States, along with the entire world; in-depth intel files on America's friends as well as our enemies were maintained and stored at Fort Holabird; and the enemy would also have been able to produce fresh armaments made at Beth Steel to do the rest of the conquering with.

The enemy could not be allowed to capture Fort Holabird and the Bethlehem Steel Mills. I preferred, and still do prefer, death over the losses of such supremely valuable assets to my enemies.

Fug it. When ya gotta go, ya gotta go.

Copyright 2010 David Robert Crews {a.k.a. ursusdave}

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