I clearly remember getting on the school bus, looking out at my neighbor’s “bomb shelter” and thinking, “They say today might be our last day alive.” It was during the Cuban missile crisis. Besides the monthly fire drills – which in themselves were a wonderful invention for breaking up the routine of the day unless they came during recess which was seriously bad luck – we also had the occasional nuclear bomb drill. Our teachers seemed to have had a tremendous amount of faith in the materials that were used to construct our school desks. We were all directed to get under our desks for protection from a Ground Zero attack. Now the truth be told, my desk probably had a better chance at surviving a direct hit because it was the messiest one in the entire classroom, probably the entire school…for that matter, probably the school’s entire history. Every time I would open the top of my desk, papers would fly out that were crammed in so tight that they acted like metal springs instead of something made from wood fiber. It almost looked magical. It was kind of a poor man’s Harry Potter thing.
I always thought that those nuclear war drills must have had some serious impact on the psychological and emotional development of the children of that era. One day we are preparing for a nuclear attack and a few days later we are collecting pennies for UNICEF, during our Trick or Treatin’, in order to feed hungry children all over the world. Strange October. Combine that with the earlier years of a nearly daily indoctrination by the Mickey Mouse Club – M I C …K E Y… ‘Why? Because we LIKE YOU!’ and you have yourself a generation willing to believe in the nuclear reflecting power of the school desk.
I always wondered what the teachers were saying in the teachers’ lunch room during that time? “Man, those kids are sure stupid. All except that McMahon boy. His desk is so full of crap, he’ll probably survive!”
Now I wonder about the children of the post 9/11 generations. What desk do they have to hide under? Is it better to believe in the strength of a school desk than wondering if it is safe to go to school, attend a heavy metal concert, worship with worshippers, or eat at a restaurant?
For some reason, some how, it all keeps moving forward. The human spirit refuses to be put out. I wrote this song which is kind of about that. A couple of summers ago, before the water restrictions of the great California drought, I planted 50 tomato plants. I had an incredible harvest on one warm August day. I just looked at my arms full of tomatoes, looked up at the beautiful sky and thought “the glory of it all.” Brett Johnsen is playing all the instruments. Brett and my grandson, Gavin Cockrell, are singing the back up vocals too. You can blame me for the lead vocal. The Glory