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.