"Drop!" Our elementary school teacher barked this command and looked down at her wristwatch. Chairs scraped against the linoleum tiles as we hunkered down on our knees under our pint-sized desks, facing away from the windows, our hands clasped behind our necks, elbows to the floor. I squeezed my eyes shut tight too, puzzled but sincere.

From other classrooms there'd be the strange echo of children assuming the same useless cramped position. Then all would be quiet for sixty seconds.

It was called a civil defense procedure. Were atomic bombs supposed to be falling outside our classroom windows? I couldn't conceive of anything that sinister. It was sunny outside, and if you ran out onto the playground, you could see far out over the Pacific. No sign of trouble. The abandoned Nike missile sites dug into the steep hillsides near the school had no meaning to us.

After miniskirts became popular in junior high, they stopped calling drop drills since the drills had become a prime opportunity for the boys to look up the girls' dresses and catalog who was wearing garter belts and who was wearing pantyhose.

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