item 1 >>> Now Playing… run for your life Before there was Judas Priest, there was a snappy little British band called Judas Jump. They had an LP entitled Scorch in 1970…the best cut is called “Cully,” but no could find on Youtube, so here’s “Run For Your Life.”
item 2 >>> LQQK @ †h∆†!… you cant do that Sure, this is lip-synced, but still it’s nice to see them in person, with kids dancing around like they were a normal band playing at a club or canteen.
item 3 >>> Yes in My Back Yard…Growing up in Danvers, I lived in the shadow of the Cold War. Well, didn’t we all? Duck-and-cover, fallout shelters, and all that? No, I mean literally…our house was within walking distance of Mutual Assured Destruction. In 1956, when I was about to turn 5 years old, my parents went from being renters to homeowners, buying a newly built ranch house along the north end of Summer Street. At the same time, Nike Site B-05 was constructed, not half a mile away, up a hill dotted with boulders, pine trees, and unassuming cows. The B in B-05 stood for the Boston Defense area, and these were established all across the country. Ours was Battery B, 605th AAA Nike Missile Battalion. It was manned by the Army until 1959, then the National Guard, and closed when the entire network was shut down in 1974. It is currently an Army Reserve Center, but unused since 1990.
item 4 >>> a.k.a. Station Hill…Now these installations were spread out over 2 different sites…ours was the IFC/Administration area…that’s Integrated Fire Control, where the radar was located, to detect incoming nasties. The Launcher and Housing (storage) facilities…the actual missiles… were up the Newburyport Turnpike in Topsfield, as seen in the left map. Those 2 locations are now abandoned, the adjacent housing development called Nike Village. The right map shows the my old neighborhood today, with the Nike Site and our house in red circles. Bear in mind that 50 years ago, none of these streets and houses in between existed. From Summer St. on the left, all across, and up to North St., it was one big, steep field…no Mohawk St., Delaware Ave., Huron, Erie, no Northfield development, nothing. There were 6 homes along where we were, a couple on the south side of North St. and that was it. We called this large hill “The Pasture,” and it was our playground. We built tree-huts, teased cows, and generally chased each other across the length and breadth of it. In the Winter, it was fantastic for sledding. We could even sneak up and “spy” on the base, venturing as close as we dared. The red X shows where in my memory the Nike Site was situated, obviously off in the wrong direction. But at the time, I knew exactly where it was, based on a map of the neighborhood I drew in 1961, and have to this day.
item 5 >>> God Bless Our Golf Ball…And while we were puzzled at first, we soon learned exactly what the Giant Golf Ball (some called it a Mushroom) was when it suddenly appeared in the late 1950s. It was a HIPAR of course, High Powered Acquisition Radar, seen here and from my map. The facilities were converted from Ajax to Hercules Missiles in 1959-60, and my family even attended an open house and got to see these bad boys up close. From left to right, Ajax, Hercules, and Zeus Nikes.
item 6 >>> NORAD rocks…The fact is, as kids we thought this whole deal was wicked cool. And we prided ourselves on knowing it was pronounced “Nikee,” and those hopeless nudniks who rhymed “Nike” with “bike” were looked down on with an equal mixture of scorn and pity. Here’s their emblem, and some lights just itching to light up.
item 7 >>> Someone once said…“If you’re not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative at 40, you have no head.” Sounds pretty good, but there are 2 problems…1st, it’s usually attributed to Winston Churchill, but there is some doubt…various earlier versions exist. 2nd, it’s meaningless without knowing exactly what is meant by “liberal” and “conservative.” Those labels certainly mean something different today than they did when I was 20, and I’m now 20 past 40. I can explain it best with the example of guns: Say there’s a place where guns of all kinds can be bought as easily as a newspaper…no background checks, no nothing…just lay your money down. Everyone can carry a gun openly in public, no license, registration or permit required. Sort of like an umbrella. There are even real working guns made for children. Now to me, such a situation would be liberal…they’re taking an extremely liberal attitude towards firearms. Doesn’t match today’s categories or definitions, does it? But that’s what I’m saying.
item 8 >>> Guns for Kids…My main piece was the Mattel Fanner 50…I even had the swivel holster for trick shooting. Single gun, but there were double gun holsters too. This was a cool rod, but inconvenient for shooting caps…having to place tiny green Stick’m’s on individual plastic bullets, then load each into the gun…pain in the butt. For noise and smoke, I had a Hubley Buntline Special…just slap in a roll, thread it, and start blasting. BTW, a Fanner 50 today, depending on the model, the condition, and if it’s still in the original box, can run you anywhere from $300 to $600. But that’s the Baby Boomer memory market for you. I wonder what happens when we’ve all croaked? Will anyone then pay even $10 for one? Sounds like a bubble preparing to burst, or am I missing something? Will future collectors be interested in owing toys their fathers or grandfathers owned? Or that they had as kids, like the Garbage Pail Kids and Masters of the Universe (see today’s Stolf’s Blog, link below, for Stinkor!)
item 9 >>> Choke, Cough, Wheeze…Pays to Buy the Best…Of course, if it was smoke you wanted, you could go with something like this. Notice it’s “safe, harmless, non-toxic”…yet still the “real thing.” That was because in those days, they could write anything on the package, without regard for reality, truth, or plain common sense. And nobody cared, cuz we knew it was all BS. You bought the product, used it, and what happened, happened. That’s just the way it was.
item 10 >>> Arms Race…Thing is, no matter how many guns you had, you always had room in your pants for more. One of the neighbor kids had a beauty like the one below…I think she got it from her older brother…yeah, girls had guns. Come to think of it, she was the only one in the neighborhood who threw rocks, too. We called this a “pirate gun,” altho Davy Crockett and Zorro also wielded flintlocks. Anyway, I probably let her borrow my Fanner 50 just so I could hold it…I was always a sucker for that swirly plastic effect…
Still, I also had one of these rigs, to take out any bogies that the Army Men couldn’t handle. ICBM was a private school…Immaculate Conception Boys Military…
shameless plugs from Mattel, they’re swell…
Other Daily blog at http://stolf.wordpress.com (the legendary Stolf’s Blog)
Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi