(From the soon-to-be published novel copyright 2010 Donald Riggio)
In the 1950’s, the whole world expected an explosion.
The atom bomb, the devastating, destructive device used to bring World War II to an end less than a decade earlier was a weapon in the arsenal of both the United States of America and the Communist regime of the Soviet Union.
After the armistice was signed in 1945, the five victorious allied nations along with forty-five other countries formed the United Nations, an organization whose hope it was to prevent any further hostilities by using the combined armed forces of member nations as peacekeepers. At the time, most of Europe remained occupied and divided forming an “iron curtain” between the democratic countries and Soviet Russia. The German capital city of Berlin was divided east, governed by the Russians and west under the control of the allies. In 1948, Russia pushed for reparations from West German industrial plants located solely in allied sectors. The American President, Harry Truman denied this claim and the Russians retaliated by closing off their section of Berlin declaring it a Communist State.
The following year, things became more complicated. Nearly all of Mainland China fell under the Communist rule of Chairman Mao Tse Tung. Early in 1950, Russia and Red China entered into a thirty-year mutual defense treaty creating a huge monolithic Communist bloc that many believed threatened the free world. The power of the UN was soon tested.
On June 25, 1950, 135,000 Communist troops crossed the 38th parallel and invaded South Korea. In Washington, Truman believed this to be the beginning of World War III. He immediately ordered General Douglas MacArthur to prepare a counter-assault. In September, UN forces conducted an amphibious landing at the Korean City of Inchon placing 40,000 troops, artillery and tanks onto the Korean peninsula. The Red Chinese responded by hurling thirty-three Divisions into the fray. MacArthur requested enough men and material to push the Communists back and invade China. Truman refused knowing full well that to do so was risking war with the Soviets. The “police-action” in Korea would drag on.
As the Presidential election of 1952 approached, Truman’s popularity waned. He was forced to fire MacArthur when the General began to publicly criticize his Commander-In-Chief. The fighting soon reached a stalemate and it became obvious that the hostilities would not reach a clear conclusion militarily. The Republican candidate for President was former General and war hero, Dwight D. Eisenhower. A poll named him the “most admired living American.” In his campaign he promised to clean up the mess in Washington and end the war in Korea. As a result, Truman decided not run for re-election and, in November, Eisenhower won in a landslide. He became President in a time of ideological conflict known as ‘the cold war.” Communism became the new enemy.
At home, Americans were seeing “Commies” under their beds at night. A mass hysteria brought on by the threat of Communism and the fear of Atomic War swept the nation. Homeowners built fallout shelters in their basements. School children conducted “duck and cover” drills in their classrooms, hiding under their wooden desks to protect themselves from radiation poisoning.
With the stage set, people all over the country listened to feel good songs with innocent and inoffensive titles like, “(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window,” and “High- Lilly, High – Low” they held their collective breath waiting for the inevitable explosion to come.
But it wouldn’t be the kind of explosion anyone expected.
Rock and Roll quote of the day: "How much is that doggie in the window? The one with the waggly tail. How much is that doggie in the window? I do hope that doggie's for sale." From: (How Much is) That doggie in the Window? by" Patti Page.