Re: Veterans of Cold War, Free Lance 11/10/23

Sightless only able to see the bones in his legs followed by an explosion of reds, purples and greens, then a violent buffet by a windless powerful mystery happening 68 years ago severely embedded in the mind of our Hollister Navy veteran.

He and his fellow shipmates experienced a hydrogen bomb test in the South Pacific as far away as 30 miles. This was 1956 in the heart of the Cold War. Cold because no armies faced each other but heated as each side frantically engaged in a nuclear arms race. Scientific knowledge needed a lot of catch up work. So did military strategy and use. Hollister seaman Joe Vallejo, and his shipmates provided critical information.

The 50s were a different era. In those Eisenhower years we drove eight-cylinder cars with cheap polluting gasoline. We ate better with refrigerators but had no deep freeze to satisfy our ice cream crave. Drug stores with soda fountains were the only place to buy a vanilla, chocolate or strawberry cone or milk shake, soda or banana split. I fondly remember Whalen’s Drug Store on the corner of Fifth and San Benito streets, featured a popular soda fountain.

Past thinking congealed around a nuclear bomb race of fear. The race to massively nuclear-arm the U.S. and USSR prevented a catastrophic war then, but now works only to misdirect money.  Thinking has changed. Most countries have morally turned away from this “Doomsday Machine” and have signed the ICAN (International Countries against Nuclear) Treaty.  

The non-nuclear majority realize that one bomb on one combatant army can poison and starve all because of deathly radiation and a nuclear winter.  

Furthermore, because of their extreme expense to manufacture, store and use, these monster weapons become unneeded appendages for countries that would rather live and spend money to uplift people rather than to kill them. Twenty-first century thinking would rather dump nuclear weapons into the garbage bin of history than mistakenly use them.

Mary Zanger


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