“Jackrabbit, this is Big Boy…”

I don’t know why, but I have always found military training and propaganda films from the 1950s and early-to-mid 1960s soothing. It may be that it reminds me of another, simpler, better age (we know how it all ends, or doesn’t, as these missiliers prepare for the “first day of a nuclear war”), something related to my youth, which is far behind me.

When I was young — kindergarten and first grade — and my dad was stationed at Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs, and then at the Naval Post-Graduate School in Monterey, he would get these McDonnell Douglas promotional calendars highlighting the company’s aerospace and defense products. Just big pictures, with a simple calendar, each something different — a rocket, a satellite, a radar dome (Mitsubishi produced something very similar promoting its regional jet this year) — and yet all McDonnell Douglas “products.”

I remember two years of those. I want to say 1971 and 1972. There might have been more.

Why was this a simpler time? I suppose times before can always seem like simpler times to those of us living in the chaotic and complex now. There was certainty in that world, a certainty that I don’t see or feel (and maybe that feeling is more important) in there world today. I doubt it was simpler, of course. People have always been and will always be people, and no one in any of these films has any idea what’s coming. Death was far more likely in Southeast Asia than it was in toe-to-toe nuke-u-lar combat with the Ruskies. After all, these were people who trained and prepared for nuclear war with an urgency and seriousness we no longer possess. (And not even when we panic about North Korea.) But in many ways, we don’t have to possess that seriousness anymore.

Their world has passed. And I can feel nostalgic for it because none of the worst things they prepared for came to pass.

Anyway, one of things I like about YouTube is that so many of these films are now there, free for the viewing. So, if you want to learn all there is to know about a retarded laydown delivery…

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