During yesterday’s lunch, we talked a bit about growing up with Civil Defense drills and whether or not our bottoms would give us away in the event of a nuclear attack whilst hiding under our desks. Three women, products of the era in which they grew up; threats of the nuclear age, something ominous called “the cold war”and what our fear levels were as children. Mine, it seems, was the highest, but, I defended myself. Our little house was, you see, the victim of space age testing.
It was one of those long-ago days that both my sister and I remember clearly and the same way. This fine autumn day was warm, the windows were open, and we were sitting with our grandmother at the kitchen table with an after school snack and homework. The scene still comes back as so vividly as pleasant and safe; an idealized vision of mid-century.
We all heard the loud crash at the same time, shattering the peaceful setting. Two elementary school sisters and their loving grandmother flew in a mad dash through a tiny hallway to the front door. The Eisenhower Expressway rolled past our house. The metal on metal sound of automobile crashes were familiar. We assumed an accident had occurred and it sounded as if it was right in front of the house. So we thought, until Dottie turned around and let out a scream.
There, on the carpeted living room floor, were hundreds of slivers of glass, dropped like a bomb, from our mid-twentieth century television set. Nothing else was disturbed. No windows or door or knickknacks. Just the television screen.
It is a long stretch of the imagination to remember what television screens were like in the early 1960’s. This was not the era of flat screen TVs, but, of big, bulky television sets with tubes and wires, rabbit ears and inches thick screens.
It was incredulous that only the television screen had blown out. Logic defied reason. The television had not fallen, just the screen, and a screen that size should have broken into several large shards, not slivers of glass.
Yia Yia tried to keep us calm, sending me next door to get my aunt, who was as perplexed about the scene as we were. We checked the house for other damage. Nothing else was shattered. Nothing else broken. Adjacent neighbors were fine. Of course, our shock soon settled into annoyance; no Bonanza or Mayberry. No Saturday Night at the Movies. We did feel a bit like Lost in Space.
The next day in school a classmate, Roseanne, announced that the back window of the family station wagon had exploded. Just the back window. It was shattered, like our television screen, into hundreds of little pieces. It happened at the same time of day as our own little explosion. They lived down the block from us.
Several days later, buried deep into the afternoon edition of one of the many newspapers then printed in Chicago, my dad came across a little article. It described complaints received about the random breakage of glass in the area. Our television screen and Roseanne’s family car, were the victims of space exploration and military might. Jets from Great Lakes had been conducting tests, breaking the sound barrier, miles up in the sky the day our television screen exploded. We never heard the sonic boom that day. Just the breaking of glass. Neither my sister, nor I, never forgot that day.
Have you ever experienced an unusual phenomenon?
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