In early '60's grade school we sang a local folk song to the tune of "Glory, Glory Hallelujah'--
"A mushroom cloud is rising over Nagasaki Bay, a hundred thousand people will be burnt to death today!!!"
Later in the day we'd do the duck & cover drill amid much giggling and squawking, dutifully hiding under our little wooden desks with arms covering our heads. I went along because it wasn't voluntary, but didn't believe it for a minute. TV showed pictures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, entire blocks of buildings were reduced to dust, so hiding under my desk like Bert The Turtle seemed awful damned silly. Did the Gov't really think we were that stupid? Yes, apparently so.
My education continued... I didn't understand at the time we were being trained as Deltas -- machine operators, ditch-diggers, cogs, grunts -- bit did notice that any sort of so-called 'culture' got down-played. Our "Music Class" consisted of a smelly old lady who once a month showed up with a record player, passed out little 'triangles' with strikers and played the John Phillip Souza march while we ting-tinged along. Precisely on the hour she packed-up and scrammed, never spoke a word about music or how it was composed, various instruments, zilch. The same woman showed up occasionally for "Poetry Class" and that consisted of her reading "I think I shall never see, a poem as lovely as a tree" with ridiculous flourishes and intonations and then dashing out the door on the hour mark. The whole attitude behind it seemed to say:
"That was music and poetry, children. Didn't it sounds trivial and foolish? No need to concern yourselves with it."
We learned to read and write well, knew how to add, subtract, multiply and divide, and got a heavy dose of basic White history and geography. Yet we weren't taught the difference between the Emperor of Japan and the King of Siam -- all Asians were 'Japs" bent on destroying America. In fact, the phrase "Made In Japan" was used as slang for cheap, poorly made products. Anybody from Eastern Europe was probably a Commie or Commie sympathizer. Why the war in Korea was going on right then to keep the Red Devils from marching right down Main Street!
College, what's that, ain't twelve years of school enough? Don't need a degree to make table legs, plastic paint brush handles or rolls of paper! Every guy had an uncle or neighbor or pals pal who could get him in at the mill, or shop, of factory. Even our parents were skeptical -- "Your father never went to college, and we have a nice home and a used car! Don't waste your time, son!" Less than 10% of my high school class went on to higher education.
The big plan as far as we were told was to get out of HS, find a job and a cheap over-painted apartment, buy a used car, marry or knock-up Betty Lou -- not necessarily in that order -- and live happily ever after. Drink beer on weekends, party with the HS gang, and have kids like it or not. We weren't familiar with the term 'working poor' and imagined ourselves to be living the American Dream, but there were no options, either. By the late sixties the local mills and factories started getting bought up by conglomerates we'd never heard of, wrung out for every cent and then abandoned. All those notions of getting promoted to shop manager or shift supervisor with a twenty-cent/hr raise went right out the window with the quick scribbles of some corporate pens.
Always be ready with the Draft Card, too -- better dead than Red, kill a Commie for Mommy. The Gov't had decided that some other Commies needed killing more than the the first bunch of Commies. Lets see now... two uncles killed in Europe in WWII, a brother and three cousins killed and wounded in Korea, and now we're supposed to replay this again to kill people are no threat to us. Okay, why? No, because Uncle Sam said so doesn't work anymore, sorry.