Sybil's "ON THIS DATE... 1951"...


Boys and Girls, you might not be old enough to remember a time in schools when children like yourselves were taught a song called "Duck and Cover". It was about how if an atomic bomb ever exploded in your town, you should duck under your little desk and cover your head with your arms... or maybe your eyes with your little hands... whatever. But even before that, there was a funny song and game that grown-ups made up called Better Dead Than Red. The Army and the nice men at the CIA decided that if a bad country ever came to your town and wanted to kill everyone, then everyone should fall down and pretend to be dead already. This photo is of a class in Wauseon, Ohio taught by Mrs. Edith Edelin. She's doing the play-dead exercises that the Army and the President wanted us to learn. And here she's playing funny records of comedy and naughty songs to try to make any of the children laugh, and blink their eyes, and move around and show the bad people that they're really alive. Mrs. Edelin said that everyone had to be very still and think about sad things so they wouldn't laugh! Sometimes Mrs. Edelin would even walk around and poke or tickle someone… or whisper funny words in their ears… or tell them their kitty had been run over by a truck with a clown in it… or stab them with a thumbtack. "NO WRIGGLING! NO GIGGLING!", she would yell at the class. Unfortunately, little Mandy Polkoff did just that: giggle and wriggle, and Mrs. Edelin told everyone that Mandy would have gotten them all killed... or worse! That's when Sally-Anne Petrarca pushed Mandy down and yanked her pony-tail. And Jimmy Fannis took her Dale Evans lunch box and started eating the home-made brownies her grandma had made for her that weekend... right before she bumped her head... and died. And that is why, every day around the USA, classes of eight and nine year old children would spend their recess time, grabbing their throats, choking loudly, falling to the floor, and pretending to be dead... all for cookies and chocolate milk, and a special gold star on their "I'm A Play-Dead-Patriot" card at the end of each school year. And that was on this very date. Back in 1951!

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