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From the Archives: Students practice ducking during A-bomb drill

Dec. 1, 1950: Third-graders at Clifford Street School kneel at desks and cover their faces and eyes with their arms during a civil defense drill.
Dec. 1, 1950: Third-graders at Clifford Street School kneel at desks and cover their faces and eyes with their arms during a civil defense drill.
(Paul Calvert / Los Angeles Times)

In 1950, Los Angeles schools began classroom civil-defense training in the event of a nuclear war. A short story In the Dec. 2, 1950, Los Angeles Times explained:

What is the atom bomb?

“It is a bomb that blows up houses and makes the earth wiggle. Children have to be ready when it drops.”

Children in the public schools of Los Angeles are learning what to do if the worst happens.

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The third grade class in the Clifford Street School, 2147 Clifford St., was a pilot class yesterday as school officials tested techniques in defense against sudden A-bomb attack.

It was a very serious demonstration.

The children learned to stand up suddenly at a given signal by the teacher and kneel beside adjoining desks with heads buried in their arms.

First time they tried it there were some mistakes after Mrs. Margaret Biden, principal, gave the warning signal.

But, with practice, the children mastered the technique readily.

Dr. Jack Abbott, assistant superintendent in charge of school defense activities, said the classroom drills will be conducted in all schools shortly after Christmas.

Below is a May 28, 1957, Los Angeles Times photo illustrating the “duck and cover” method.

May 27, 1957: Seventh graders from Sarah Robinson's class at Hosler Junior High School in Lynwood cover their faces and hide under desks during full-scale red alert civil defense drill.
(Howard W. Maxwell / Los Angeles Times )

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See more from the Los Angeles Times archives here


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