I was 11, in 1960, when Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union in his U-2 spy plane.  In my eyes he was an American cold war hero. Like today, in other matters, Captain Powers had his detractors.  He was called a traitor and many other names. He would not be released, in a trade, until 1962.

I was in 6th grade at the time and completed what for me was a huge project on Capt. Powers for Mrs. Miller.  I remember it as quite elaborate.  What we might call a “paper” today was assembled from colored construction paper, pages torn out of Newsweek or Time Magazine (Life was oversized and too big), and three hole notebook paper.  The article pages and notebook pages were carefully affixed with glue when one sided and stapled along one edge if two sided.  I was very proud of my work.


This was the time of shelter drills. The Soviets might attack at any time.  We had to be prepared. Under our desks or out in the hallway away from windows we sheltered.  These drills have never been forgotten, the fear faded but not until long after times began to change.  I wonder how long my grandchildren will remember sheltering from domestic shooters.

1960 was also the year of the shoe banging incident when Communist Party Chairman Nikita Khruschev of the USSR removed his shoe and banged it on the desk at the United Nations General Assembly.  This was very undiplomatic behavior, only five months after the capture of Francis Gary Powers and indicative of the state of world affairs.

These were bad times.  It would be two years later in October 1962 that the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted.  I was 13 in 9th grade at JHS 44 and we were all following events at home and in social studies.  Soviet missiles 90 miles from Florida were unacceptable and President Kennedy took us to what we were sure was the brink of nuclear war when he faced off with the same Nikita Khruschev and forced the removal of the missiles.  These were not only  bad time but frightening times.

It was decades later that I learned that much of what we had been taught about the USSR was as false as what they had been taught about us.  We were minor players in the cold war and indoctrinated by the propaganda on both sides by our governments.  The big lie was a tool of both sides, like the big lie was used in the 1930s and is being used now.