Fifty-eight years ago last month was the Cuban missile crisis. I was just 20, living in Washington, D.C., and had just started working for a couple of lawyers, while my roommate worked at the School for Advanced International Studies. We had no TV, so when we heard the president was going to address the nation, my roommate’s father picked us up so we could watch the speech.
knew something was up. My roommate’s boss had written an article for the New
Republic the month before about Cuba, and with all the rumors and following
JFK’s speech, he was inundated with media calls. At the end of each day, as he
left the office, he would say, “See you tomorrow, God willing.”
Our apartment was a block away from Dupont Circle, which had been identified as an air-raid shelter; you know, in case of nuclear attack. My roommate and I spent several evenings discussing what we would do if we heard the air-raid sirens: run for Dupont Circle, or just start drinking all the alcohol we had.
I often ate my lunch in a little park near my office off Pennsylvania Avenue. After JFK announced the blockade of Cuba, for a few days, there were dark clouds in the sky to the south. Real clouds, not just my fear.
A year later, I was living down the street in a communal house. One of the residents had just gotten out of the Army, mostly for talking too kindly about communism. He told us that during the missile crisis, another soldier had said, “We might be going down there.” To which he replied, “You might be, but I’m not. Viva la revolucion!” That was one of the facts the Army held against him.
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