John Tuohy's MY WRITERS SITE: Happiness ...................

John Tuohy's MY WRITERS SITE: Happiness ...................: ABOUT THE AUTHOR John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washington DC. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood Unive...

Jack Davis

Jack Davis has passed away. While he is rightly remembered for his MAD era celebrity caricatures, the piece that has the most profound personal effect on me is his cover for 1955's 'Impact' #1, illustrating a panel from Bernie Krigstein's legendary story "Master Race". Krigstein's internal art is a masterpiece of its kind, but so is Davis' cover. This is the original art board for the cover before it was colored.

McDonald’s in Japan latest burgers are a blast from the past

by: Tyler Hlavac 

McDonald’s Japan is attempting to heavily cash in on nostalgia, as their latest marketing push has unveiled two new throwback burgers: the 1971 Roasted Soy Sauce Japan Burger and the 1955 Smoky America Burger.
 Now, some of you may be wondering, why 1971 and why 1955? Well, time for me to throw a bit of McDonald’s history your way. McDonald’s, the original U.S. burger joint, was originally formed in the 1940s in California as a mom-and-pop-type burger place. However McDonald’s, the monolithic corporation, considers their “actual” founding to be in 1955 when businessman Ray Kroc bought into the company and opened the first franchise in Des Plaines, Ill. This began the company’s transition from local burger shack to an inescapable global chain.
 As for 1971, this is the year when the very first McDonald’s opened in Japan. The first store was located in Ginza, which is a popular upscale district of Tokyo. Images provided by McDonald’s shows people waiting in very long lines to get in. So, imagine a McDonald’s opening in Manhattan, and long lines of wealthy and trendy people gathering in line to buy a burger. Yeah, I can’t imagine it either.
 Now, enough history and on to the burgers. Are they any good? The first burger I tried was the 1955 Smoky Burger which has made the rounds in some European McDonald’s and is somewhat popular. The burger has your standard onions, lettuce and tomato, but seemingly what makes it ’Murica is bacon and an awesome smoky-sweet mustard sauce. The sauce is really good and was the highlight of the burger. I could literally taste the smoke (in a good way) and visions of 4th of July barbecues danced in my head.
 Now, to address the burger’s brother, the 1971 Roasted Soy Sauce Japan Burger. This one I approached with a bit of apprehension. Whenever food from other countries are adapted to Japan, things can get a bit lost in translation (see Japanese seafood and mayonnaise pizzas). The promotional material also explained that this burger was never actually for sale in Japan, but is meant to capture the “spirit” of that point in time. If that’s the case, then 1971 must’ve involved drowning things in mediocre soy sauce because that’s what happened with this burger. It was not good. It appeared to have mostly the same ingredients as the 1955 burger except with cheese and no onion. It was pretty boring and not great tasting; I gave up halfway through and didn’t bother finishing. Am I culturally biased? Maybe. But my Japanese wife had a bite as well and she wasn’t impressed either.
 It’s also worth mentioning that McDonald’s Japan is also offering “classic” fries to go with these burgers. They taste pretty much like regular fries to me, except they came with the delicious sauce from the 1955 burger - so that was cool.
 So, overall I’d like to see the 1955 burger stick around and the 1971 burger to go somewhere else. Unfortunately, McDonald’s Japan has different ideas. The 1955 will be gone by the end of this month, while the 1971 burger will stick around through August. So, go enjoy 1955 burger while you can…and uh, a 1971 burger as well, I guess, if you like soy sauce. Both burgers cost 490 yen each or 790 yen for a fries (non-classic version) and drink set. The classic fries cost 300 yen. If you can find some coupons, which there are plenty floating around, you can get a burger set with classic fries and an additional burger on the side for 1270 yen.


100 best nonfiction books: No 26 – Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin (1955)

Baldwin’s landmark collection of essays explores, in telling language, what it means to be a black man in modern America
On a voyage of self-discovery: James Baldwin. Photograph: Ralph Gatti/AFP/Getty Images
Robert McCrum
In the spring of 1820, Thomas Jefferson, who, in an early draft of the Declaration of Independence, had launched a withering assault on slavery, confessed to an associate that the plight of the American negro was a momentous question, which, “like a fire bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror”.
Race, still the greatest of the unresolved issues within America, has already inspired one entry on this list – No 5, Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama. With James Baldwin, African-American literature reaches one of its 20th-century masters in fiction (Go Tell It on the Mountain and Giovanni’s Room), a name to stand alongside Langston Hughes, Richard W Baldwin is also the author of some important nonfiction, several landmark essays of great power and beauty on the place of the black writer in white America. In this genre, Notes of a Native Son is a recent classic. For Henry Louis Gates Jr, it was Baldwin who “named for me the things you feel but couldn’t utter… articulated for the first time to white America what it meant to be American and a black American at the same time”. The 10 essays collected in Notes of a Native Son – on subjects ranging from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to 1940s Harlem – distil Baldwin’s thinking. It is a source book for a subject that Langston Hughes described in a review of Notes as “the troubled problems of this troubled Earth”.
Throughout his writing, Baldwin never shies away from a frank and disquieting acknowledgement of feelings
Baldwin frames his work as a crucial journey of self-discovery. He had, for instance, first to confront his complex relationship with his father, a preacher: “He [Baldwin’s father] could be chilling in the pulpit and indescribably cruel in his personal life and he was certainly the most bitter man I have ever met; yet it must be said that there was something else in him, buried in him, which lent him his tremendous power and, even, a rather crushing charm.”
At the same time, almost as taxing, he had to investigate himself: “I was trying to discover myself – on the whole, when examined, a somewhat dubious notion, since I was also trying to avoid myself.”
In Notes, Baldwin is much franker about the “condundrum of colour” than the complexity of his life as a gay man, perhaps because race could be rhetorically linked to a historical crime: “It is a fearful inheritance, for which untold multitudes, long ago, sold their birthright. Multitudes are doing so, until today. This horror has so welded past and present that it is virtually impossible and certainly meaningless to speak of it as occurring in time.”
Describing himself as “a survivor”, Baldwin senses the stirrings of liberation in postwar America and notes the changes that have begun to occur in his lifetime:
“When I was young, I was being told it will take time before a black person can be treated as a human being, but it will happen. We will help to make it happen.”
On top of this struggle, there was for Baldwin the continuing problem, common to all artists, of authenticity: “One writes out of one thing only – one’s own experience… The difficulty then, for me, of being a negro writer was the fact that I was, in effect, prohibited from examining my own experience too closely by the tremendous demands and the very real dangers of my social situation… I have written about being a negro… only because it was the gate I had to unlock before I could hope to write about anything else.”
At the same time, unique as it is, Baldwin insists that his is an authentic American story, even if it’s one that “no American is prepared to hear”. He writes: “The story of the negro in America is the story of America… it is not a very pretty story, a shadow which lies athwart our national life. [The negro] is a social not a human problem; to think of him is to think of statistics, slums, rapes; it is to feel virtuous, outraged.”
Baldwin is edgy and provocative about this idea: “In our image of the negro breathes the past we deny, the beast in our jungle of statistics. It is this which defeats us, which lends to interracial cocktail parties their rattling, genteel, nervously smiling air: in any drawing room at such a gathering the beast may spring, filling the air with flying things and an unenlightened wailing.”
Finally, Baldwin goes on to nail the problem with passion and persuasiveness: “The making of an American begins at that point where he himself rejects all other ties, any other history, and himself adopts the vesture of his adopted land… In the case of the negro the past was taken from him whether he would or no; yet to foreswear it was meaningless and availed him nothing, since his shameful history was carried, quite literally on his brow.”
Throughout his writing, Baldwin never shies away from a frank and disquieting acknowledgement of feelings: “There is no negro living in America who has not felt, briefly or for long periods… naked and unanswerable hatred; who has not wanted to smash any white face he may encounter; to violate, out of motives of cruellest vengeance, their women, to break the bodies of all white people...”
Despite this admission of rage, Baldwin can also be entertainingly satirical, as in his essay on Carmen Jones: “Hollywood’s peculiar ability to milk, so to speak, the cow and the goat at the same time – and then to peddle the results as ginger ale – has seldom produced anything more arresting than the 1955 production ofCarmen Jones.”
All of the foregoing culminates in the title essay, Baldwin’s declaration of independence. Speaking of his struggle to vindicate himself as an artist, he writes: “This fight begins, however, in the heart and it has now been laid to my charge to keep my own heart free of hatred and despair.”
This becomes a statement of intent which Baldwin would fulfill many times over in the career that followed.
A signature sentence
“I knew about jim-crow but I had never experienced it; I went to the same self-service restaurant three times and stood with all the Princeton boys before the counter, waiting for a hamburger and coffee; it was always an extraordinarily long time before anything was set before me; but it was not until the fourth visit that I learned, in fact, nothing had ever been set before me: I had simply picked something up: negroes were not served there, I was told, and they had been waiting for me to realise that I was always the only negro present.”

John Tuohy's MY WRITERS SITE: Cool

John Tuohy's MY WRITERS SITE: Cool: ABOUT THE AUTHOR John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washington DC. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood Univers...

The Russell-Einstein peace manifesto – archive

11 July 1955: Bertrand Russell issues a declaration calling for the renunciation of war in an age in which nuclear weapons are threatening ‘the continued existence of mankind’
 Bertrand Russell’s peace declaration, 9 July 1955.
The week that Albert Einstein died he endorsed with Bertrand Russell a declaration calling, in the name of science and common sense, for the renunciation of war in an age in which nuclear weapons are threatening “the continued existence of mankind.” On Saturday Lord Russell published the text of the declaration, signed also by six other scientists. On the same day he posted letters to Sir Anthony Eden, President Eisenhower, Marshal Bulganin, Mr Chou En-lai, President Coty of France, and Mr St Laurent, the Prime Minister of Canada.
He asked them to consider the declaration and said: “It is my earnest hope that you will give public expression to your opinion as to the problem dealt with in this statement, which is the most serious that has ever confronted the human race.” The declaration concludes with a draft resolution. Lord Russell and his colleagues suggest that it could be adopted by a conference of scientists, summoned to determine impartially and without political prejudice the facts about the consequences of exploding nuclear weapons. The resolution says:
In view of the fact that in any future world war nuclear weapons will certainly be employed and that such weapons threaten the continued existence of mankind, we urge the Governments of the world to realise and to acknowledge publicly that their purposes cannot be furthered by a world war and we urge them, consequently, to find peaceful means for the settlement of all matters in dispute between them.
Two Reservations
The declaration has already been signed by six professors besides Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell. They are Professor P. W. Bridgman of Harvard, winner of the Nobel Prize for physics , Professor L. Infeld of the University of Warsaw; Professor H. J. Muller of the University of Indiana, winner of a Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine, Professor C. F. Powell of Bristol University, winner of the Nobel Prize for physics, Professor J. Rotblat of the University of London; and Professor Hideki Yukawa of the University of Kyoto, Japan, winner of the Nobel Prize for physics. Professor Joliot-Curie, the French nuclear physicist and another Nobel prize-winner, has also agreed to sign but has made two reservations. The more important concerns the suggestion that war should be abolished.
Explaining Professor Joliot-Curie’s reservation, Lord Russell said on Saturday that he thought the professor did not wish to renounce, on behalf of subject peoples, the right to revolt. As Lord Russell understood it, the professor’s view was that many injustices could be remedied only by revolution and that the right to revolt against tyranny must be preserved. Lord Russell made it clear that this was his interpretation of Professor Joliot-Curie’s opinion. It was an opinion that he (Lord Russell) did not share.
Nevertheless all the present signatories and Professor Joliot-Curie as well agree that modern nuclear weapons represent so grave a threat to the survival of the human race that it is now urgent that Governments should formally and in practice abolish warfare.
Explaining the declaration on Saturday, Lord Russell said that it showed that in a nuclear war neither side could hope for victory and that there was a very real danger that the human race would be exterminated by dust and rain from radioactive clouds. It pointed out that neither the Governments nor the public were aware of the true dangers, and that an agreement to prohibit nuclear weapons might be useful but would not provide a solution, since they would undoubtedly be manufactured and used if a war broke out. “The only hope for mankind is the avoidance of war. To call for a way of thinking which shall make such avoidance possible is the purpose of this statement.”

The Manifesto led directly to a conference of scientists, held in Pugwash, Nova Scotia in 1957. The aim was to work towards reducing the danger of armed conflict and seek solutions to global security threats.

Throwback Thursday: That day in 1955 when South Bend became a ghost town

In 1955, at the height of the Cold War, South Bend leaders conducted a practice evacuation of the city. Dubbed Operation Exit, the Civil Defense exercise was designed to simulate the steps that would required in case of a military attack or a natural disaster. Starting at 3 p.m. on a Wednesday — June 29, 1955 — Civil Defense sirens went off, the signal for up to 50,000 people to exit the central business district, nearby neighborhoods and factories, and travel by car or bus to designated areas north or south of the city. People obeyed. Within 90 minutes, downtown South Bend was a virtual ghost town. City leaders and Civil Defense planners deemed the exercise a success.

80,000 Acre Refugio Fire Of 1955

Film: 'A Terrible Price To Pay For Man's Carelessness'
Beth Farnsworth,

An old documentary has surfaced showing the largest fire to burn in the Sherpa Fire zone 60 years ago. "Watershed Wildfire" is the title of the film put together by the Department of Agriculture in 1958.
It was a scorching, hot summer in 1955.  Los Padres National Forest was closed to the public because of one of the worst extended periods of fire danger in years.
"At a ranch in the foothills, a generator house caught fire," the film's narrator explains.
It was right off Refugio Pass.
"It looked like a big one! The fire broke out at a bad time when more than 50 other fires were already burning in California," the narrator said.
The flames spread, pushing a massive tower of smoke into the air. Despite firefighting resources stretched thin throughout the state, 1,000 reinforcements were brought in: Soldiers, Seabees and Marines, even "firefighting Indians from Arizona." 
The fire line stretched 70 miles around the monster blaze.
"It would take 2,500 people nine days of continuous work to control the fire," the film's narrator said. "A terrible price to pay for man's carelessness."
30 mile-an-hour winds hurled the massive flames from the ridge lines to the canyon floors, stopping traffic along roads and highways, damaging railroad ties, and  setting telephone and power poles ablaze. The intensity from the flames also dissolved creek and river banks along the way.
"The watershed became a red hell," the announcer said.
Eventually, backfires set in Bear Creek stopped the nearly 80,000 acre wildfire, which burned all the way to to the ocean and up to the water's edge at Cachuma Lake, coating the drought-dwindled body of water -- that hadn't been dammed yet -- with ash.
"From Santa Barbara to the north was a near solid mass of charred blackened brush," said the narrator.
Those who cleared their properties beforehand and received added protection from bulldozers had homes to go back to. The film includes an aerial shot of a hilltop house encircled by a large dirt pathway cut by firefighters operating dozers, unscathed; another image portrays half of a home standing, surrounded by charred brush.
Within weeks, the rebuilding of damaged homes, replanting of dead agricultural crops and reseeding of the charred Los Padres National Forest began, thus laying the framework for fighting fires -- and rising up after them -- in Santa Barbara County.

Carmen Basilio and Tony DeMarco

Carmen Basilio, right, hits Tony DeMarco with a body shot during their world welterweight title fight on June 10, 1955 . Basilio knocked out DeMarco in the 12th round Photo by Frank Monell

Martin woman still missing; sensational 1955 Palm Beach County murders led to conviction without bodies

Where’s Tricia Todd?

Authorities in Martin County will be back out today searching for the body of the 30-year-old hospice nurse, whose ex-husband has confessed to killing her but so far won’t say where he put her, beyond indicating a wooded area somewhere around Hobe Sound. Sheriff’s deputies already have searched the area for nearly a month without result.
Can a person still be convicted of a murder without a body?
That legal issue came into play in Palm Beach County in what still is regarded the county’s crime of the century: the assassination of Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Curtis Eugene Chillingworth and his wife Marjorie.

Former municipal judge Joseph Peel, was convicted, mostly on the testimony of one of the two hit men, of ordering the murder. The Chillingworths were seized from their oceanfront Manalapan cottage on June 15, 1955, taken by boat out to sea, bound, and tossed overboard. Their bodies never were found. Florida State University criminal justice professor Dale Nute, who rubbed elbows with some of the Chillingworth investigators at the forerunner to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, said he believed it was in fact the first murder conviction obtained in Florida without a body.

In 1955, a strike shut down D.C. public transportation. Here’s how people coped.

By John Kelly Columnist

In the summer of 1955, Capital Transit employees went on strike. You might find some stories in The Washington Post’s archives that would be interesting to current riders coping with Metro’s service interruptions.
— Arnold Moore, Alexandria, Va.
If you lived in Washington in July 1955 and walked into any of the 81 stores operated by Peoples Drug, you may have seen a bulletin board that invited you to jot down your name, address and phone number, along with the time you needed a lift — or could offer one — and your destination.
That’s one way our forebears dealt with the last major, long-term interruption in the District’s public transit system: lots of ad hoc carpools.
Of course, the disruption 61 years ago was more extensive than Metro’s current “SafeTrack” year-long maintenance program. Today’s single-tracking, station closures and early shutdowns affect only the subway, while on July 1, 1955, all 375 streetcars and 750 buses of Capital Transit stopped moving, as union workers struck for higher wages.
When the strike ended 52 days later, The Post reflected on the experience and concluded that “the reaction left no doubt that a large metropolitan city — no matter how well it improvises — is sorely hit when its mass transportation facilities are taken away.”
No doubt.
On the first workday of the strike, traffic was “chaos,” but things improved. How did people cope? Like this:
They took their own cars. Rates of car ownership were far lower in 1955 than they are today, but they were higher than they had been in 1951, when a three-day Capital Transit strike bedeviled the city.
There were obvious downsides to driving. Between 6 and 7 a.m., vehicle volume increased 23 percent. In the first two weeks of the strike, 966 traffic accidents were reported, compared with 749 for the same period a year earlier.
Even so, AAA — that reliable booster of car use — claimed that people were getting to work faster, because the streets were clear of pesky Capital Transit trains and buses.
They formed carpools. The District’s traffic director,George E. Keneipp, implored Capital Transit patrons to share rides. He urged people to go door to door in neighborhoods and office to office at work to arrange carpools. Not everyone listened. Keneipp complained that too many cars carried only one or two people.
And not everyone felt comfortable in a carpool. Many single women were loath to ride with strangers.
They took taxis. Cabdrivers reported that business was up but that the work was harder because of the increased traffic congestion.
The police were mobilized. As the strike deadline approached, all annual leave was canceled for D.C. police officers. Once the strike began, hundreds of cops spread out to direct traffic. There was at least one police officer on every downtown street corner. Some had two or three. (When the strike was over, three of the city’s newspapers — The Post, the Evening Star and the Daily News — presented a plaque to the police chief thanking him for the “patience, courtesy and cheerful spirit” his officers had shown.)
There was free parking. To accommodate more cars headed downtown, District officials greatly relaxed parking rules. Parking at meters was free and without time restrictions. Commuters were allowed to park on the trolley tracks that ran down the middle of city streets. This turned Pennsylvania Avenue into a massive parking lot.
The District estimated that it lost $36,800 a month in parking revenue. Oddly, 1 in 10 motorists were still feeding the meters.
“They must be out-of-towners, or people who absentmindedly put a nickel in,” said the District’s tax collector, Guy W. Pearson.
They walked. There was no mention of cycling in the stories of the 1955 strike, but plenty of people employed shoe leather.
This had several benefits. A reader named John B. Wentworth wrote The Post to say that things were quieter during the strike, the air was cleaner. Walking to work in the morning was invigorating. Walking home at night made people tired, sending them to bed earlier. Wentworth wrote: “This will save their eyes from television, it will save light bills, and tomorrow they’ll feel 100 percent better than they’ve felt in the morning for weeks.”
The strike had ripple effects. Church attendance was down. A Nationals baseball game was postponed. Downtown merchants reported a 7 percent drop in sales. (Suburban sales were up 10 percent, as consumers shopped closer to home.) Private parking lots suffered a loss of revenue as motorists took advantage of free parking at meters. Hotels reduced their rates to lure tourists worried about transit.
“The situation is not normal,” District Commissioner Robert E. McLaughlin said as the 1955 strike loomed. “And we’ve got to face it. Don’t go to town if you don’t have to. Leave earlier than usual if you have to go. Be patient in delay, particular if you’re driving.”
That’s still good advice.

Rare 'Inverted Jenny' Stamp Stolen in 1955 Returned


It was swiped from a display case at a convention in 1955. Now, six decades later, a rare misprinted stamp known as an "Inverted Jenny" has been returned to its owner.
Federal authorities announced the handover Thursday at the World Stamp Show in Manhattan, two months after a man who inherited it from his grandfather brought it to an auction house and then waived claims to it after learning it was stolen property.
"They did the right thing," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said of the man, Keelin O'Neill, who received a $50,000 reward for the stamp, which could be worth up to $200,000.
O'Neill, who is from Northern Ireland, expressed no regrets. "It's been a great experience overall," he told reporters, wearing a tie emblazoned with images of one of the most famous stamps in U.S. history.
The mystery of the missing stamp has long fascinated philatelists. It's a tale that stretches back to 1918 when a collector bought a sheet of 100 airmail stamps at a Washington post office and discovered to his delight that the image of a biplane was accidentally printed upside down.
The 24-cent stamps were numbered on the back and sold off to postage enthusiasts, and four of them wound up in the collection of a wealthy New York woman, Ethel McCoy, who paid $16,000 for the quartet.
In September 1955, she put them on display at a show in Norfolk, Virginia, where they were brazenly stolen despite tight security.
"The thief cut a cord binding two of the exhibit frames and slid back the covering sheet of glass several inches," author George Amick wrote in his 1986 book, "The Inverted Jenny: Mystery, Money, Mania."
Diego Rodriguez of the FBI's New York office said it was a whodunit from the start.
"There were no witnesses, no suspects and very little evidence to pursue," he said.
One of the four stamps, No. 75, resurfaced in Chicago in 1977 and was seized by the FBI; McCoy donated it to the American Philatelic Research Library. Another one, No. 65, turned up in New York in 1981 and was donated to library, which was given ownership rights by McCoy before her 1980 death.
The whereabouts of the last two stolen Jennys — nicknamed as such because the misprinted plane was a Curtiss JN-4 model — remained a riddle.
Fast forward to March of this year, when O'Neill contacted the Spink auction house and said he thought he had found an Inverted Jenny in a box he inherited from his grandfather, who had bought it at a rummage sale.
"I had no idea about the history and importance of the stamp," O'Neill said.
George Eveleth, the head of the philatelic department at Spink, said he at first assumed it was a forgery.
"I didn't take it seriously because I know where 90 of the 100 are," Eveleth said. "The chances of him having the real McCoy, so to speak, were between slim and none."
O'Neill made an appointment to bring the stamp to Spink's New York office in mid-March, but he never showed up.
Eveleth said he guessed the young man had determined the stamp wasn't real after all. In actuality, Eveleth said, O'Neill got to New York and decided to take a detour, traveling to Florida for spring break.
Two weeks later, he re-emerged in New York, Jenny still in hand, and presented it to Spink. The specimen had been altered at some point in its history, probably to hide its identity, and Spink's experts couldn't immediately determine if it was genuine.
They brought it to the Philatelic Foundation, where experts confirmed that it was, indeed, the stolen Inverted Jenny No. 76. Scott English of the American Philatelic Society got the FBI involved, and the stamp was put under a protective order through the federal courts until it was legally transferred to the research library.
Although the Jenny has been turned over to the rightful owner, O'Neill won't go away empty-handed. He got a check for $50,00 from the Mystic Stamp Company, which offered the reward several years ago in hopes of cracking the ice-cold case.
No. 76 is worth between $150,000 and $200,000, according to English. Another Jenny sold just a few days ago for more than $1 million, but the stolen stamp is not in as good condition.
Its discovery has thrilled the stamp-collecting world. Even Bharara, the federal prosecutor, said he was captivated by the case, having collected stamps himself as a child.
But key questions about remain unanswered, including who stole the McCoy block in 1955, where the fourth purloined stamp (no. 66) is now, and who had No. 76 before O'Neill's grandfather.
"That's a mystery that remains to be solved," Eveleth said.

1955 Civil Defense drill tested atomic bomb attack response

Editor's note: On Dec.11, 1816, Indiana became the 19th state in the Union. Lake, Porter and Newton counties originally were one, but on Jan. 28, 1836, Porter County was created. A year later, on Jan.18, Lake County became independent. As the state celebrates its bicentennial, the Post-Tribune will be taking a regular look back at the history of Northwest Indiana.
In the spring of 1955, the United States was continually on alert in preparation for an attack by our enemies. The Cold War raged quietly and citizens were told remain vigilant against the threat of Communism.
On June 15, 1955, the nation was put to the test: a national Civil Defense exercise called for a mock atomic bomb attack on 50 U.S. cities — including Gary, Fort Wayne and Chicago.
The exercise, "Operation Alert 1955," was a test to determine the readiness for a "near saturation assault" on industrial regions in the Midwest, Northeast and Pacific areas of the country.
Promoted stories from
President Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in the mock state of emergency and was whisked away from the nation's capital by car to a "wooded mountainous area," according to news reports at the time.
Gary Civil Defense estimated the rescue operation would take 26 hours and would be directed by county staff. But a "what-if" article featured in the Post-Tribune offered a harrowing account of what might have happened in Gary if the simulated bombing of Gary had been real.
According to the story, "Thirty-thousand were reported dead and upwards of 40,000 injured in the atomic holocaust which engulfed Gary at 2:22 this afternoon. Nike battalions were reported to have downed 15 enemy bombers over Lake Michigan but one slipped through to hit Gary with an atomic bomb believed to be five times as powerful as the one which leveled Hiroshima. From Griffith, the atomic cloud could be seen rising up to 40,000 feet."
Gary Mayor Peter Mandich and Civil Defense Director Z.R. Bardowski remained in the city to observe the test, but other city employees relocated to a county highway garage near Crown Point.
The day kicked-off in Gary with a leaflet drop by the Gary-Hobart Civil Air Patrol of 60,000 pamphlets telling citizens they "are helping the Reds" if they aren't cooperating with the Civil Defense organization. The leaflets were to target the downtown area of the city, but wound up in other areas.
The first siren sounded at 11:03 a.m. to warn that simulated enemy planes had been detected over the Arctic region on their way to the U.S., according to a Post-Tribune article. The take-cover alert came at 2:12 p.m., and the police department aimed to clear the streets of pedestrians. "Motorists, while complying with police orders to stop, did not get out of their cars to take cover. This was due primarily to the fact that many were out-of-towners who didn't know what the test was all about," the Post-Tribune reported.
Though today there are renewed fears of a terrorist attack on U.S., local defense operations have changed quite a bit.
"In 1955, the (Porter County) Civil Defense was a one-man operation," said Russell Shirley, director of Porter County Emergency Management and Commander of the District 1 Task Force.
Emergency Management evolved from the civil defense program and "now we have two full-time staff members a part-time secretary and 30 volunteers. The District 1 Task Force has more than 300 volunteers throughout Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Newton and Porter counties," said Shirley.
The district volunteers come from all walks of life, said Shirley, and they include police officers, firefighters, EMS and citizens —men and women. "There's one female on the hazmat team and about 100 women on the District Task Force. Porter County has 10 women volunteers — one of our volunteers is a psychiatrist," Shirley said.
One of the biggest differences between today's Emergency Management and the Civil Defense effort is the ability to deploy to other areas using the District 1 Mobile Command Center. The vehicle is equipped with computers, radio, camera and other high-tech tools. The Mobile Command Center is booked locally throughout the summer and can be seen assisting with security at event in the various counties.
"Mike Webber, deputy director, has been to Alaska. He was there as a learning opportunity during wildfires and to assist," Shirley said. "We would never have done that in the 1940s and 1950s."
In addition, the district also has a mobile canteen truck and trailer unit donated by Task Force Tips, a Valparaiso-based national maker of firefighter equipment
Recently, Porter County Emergency Management overhauled its tornado siren system.
"The old sirens were anywhere from 10 to 50 years old. Some were from the World War II air raid sirens. We have 57 locations, mostly in the north as that is more populated," Shirley said. "They get tested at 2 a.m. every day. They rotate and we make sure they are in good working condition. ... On the first Tuesday of each month, there is a sound test."
The Greg Phillips Emergency Services Center in Valparaiso includes a radio room where radio operators can "communicate with people anywhere in the world," said Shirley.

Nancy Coltun Webster is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.