I was talking to somebody the other day and he mentioned the old Nike Missile site in Cromwell. Now, you have to be pretty old to remember something like that so I, of course, do — a white geodesic dome off to the left of what was then Route 72 but is now apparently Route 372. Last time I checked, the ruins of Nike Missile Control Site HA-48 were still there, up behind the Friendly’s. The missiles were a couple of miles away, in Middletown.
Anyway, this complex was active between 1956 and 1968 and that’s the only reason we were able to sleep during the bad old days of the Cold War.
We knew there were Army guys up there night and day, hunched over their radar screens lest the evil Rooskies, led by Nikita S. “We Will Bury You” Khrushchev, should decide to send some bombers to wipe us out.
There were a dozen such sites in Connecticut back then, but only much later did I question whether they were actually expected to work — to actually shoot down the Tupolev bombers that might actually come over the top of the world to nuke us — or just to give us a sense of comfort.
Seems to me, knowing they were there was a mixed blessing.
Anyway, looking back now it strikes me as a good thing that the arms race eventually morphed into the space race.
That is, the Tu-95s and B-52s were still available, along with a growing arsenal of ICBMs, but we seemed to think of them less and less and instead wonder more and more about who would make it to the moon first, us or the bad guys.
Turns out it was us, and (is it tacky to boast?) I can’t help noting that in the half-century since Americans first set foot on the moon, no one has equaled that accomplishment.
But other countries have at least sent hardware to the moon, the latest being China, so kudos is due.
(As an annoying former copyeditor, I’m required by law to point out that kudos is a singular noun meaning, roughly, praise. That is, there’s no such thing as one kudo.)
Anyway, the other day China put a rover, called Chang’e 4, on the far side of Luna. With apologies to Pink Floyd, there is no Dark Side of the Moon, just the side we earthlings never see because of the astounding fact that the moon’s rotation keeps the same side always facing us — what are the odds? — probably the result of Terra’s powerful gravity pulling on Luna for all these eons.
Today’s gripe: Nobody faces their bills anymore. I mean nobody. Not even McDonald’s — which doubtless has a tested, tweaked and refined system for everything you could imagine — bothers to face their bills these days, so what you get in your change is a mishmash of bills facing up or down, even upside-down.
Even ATMs now do this, adding insult to injury because many vending machines and automated car washes (which, after all, are cousins to the ATM) still insist that you insert your bills as shown, face up, with Mr. Washington’s chin facing left.
Hmmm, what was this column about? Your guess is as good as mine.
Reach Glenn Richter at email@example.com