One evening after dinner, our father watched a rerun of
Gunsmoke. Oscar sat beside him, holding the booklet, Your Survival
in Nuclear Attack, that the Civil Defense warden had distributed
that afternoon at school. The first through sixth grades — Oscar
was in sixth, I was a year younger — had assembled
in the school cafeteria. Then the warden turned off the
lights and showed us a picture of a cloud surging
violently upward, as though, through the enormous pressure, it suddenly
released itself from the hard darkness of the earth’s core.
“Dad,” Oscar said, “We have to build a bomb shelter.”
Paraphrases from Mother Sorrows by Richard McCann.