ARMED FORCES DAY: Anniston Army Depot
There were some areas of Bynum that were off limits to civilians (children included). The working area of the depot was off limits except to authorized personnel but, on Armed Forces Day, almost every year, we could board an OD green bus at the Theater Building and be driven around to inspect the tanks, guns and ammunition, look in the cold igloos where missiles were stored, see things that we normally could not see. The igloos felt cool and great on a hot summer day. The missiles were a little frightening, though. They had to be kept, as I remember, about 55 degrees or less. The igloos were made of earth, reminding me of toad frog houses, dug down into the earth underneath. Some of the missiles were longer than a person, and heavy. These missiles were just like newborn babies in the way that they were handled, very, very carefully. This was in the time of the Cold War, the Eisenhower regime, and on into the Kennedy administration. We somehow felt, in looking at all the ammunition stored there, that we could whip Russia, China, Cuba, Transylvania, and any and all countries who crossed us. No one ever thought that maybe we would all be blown to smithereens if something out there caught on fire. These were the days of bomb shelters outfitted with canned goods, (some were under people's houses, dug out from basements), drills that would teach us what to do if we WERE attacked by Transylvanians or gypsies, just in case. Movie headers and trailers were always telling us what to do in case of an attack on our soil. We grew up in the midst of bombs, tanks, shelters, and Russian threat and actually thought nothing of living almost on top of live bombs. It was just the way it was and we had no other way of living for comparison.
In Bynum Elementary School, on Wednesday, we would take 10 cents and multiples of 10 cents and fill up a stamp book. When the stamp book was full, we had bought ourselves a war bond, an $18.00 investment that would eventually mature to $25.00. We were all in agreement that we had to protect our nation, not protest it. Protesting the government came later. Our dads and some of our mothers made their living reclaiming tanks, sheltering missiles and working at all the jobs that were available at the depot and that was our daily bread. We embraced that way of life for it WAS our way of life. Men who went to work at the old Anniston Ordnance Depot in the 1940s had lately come through the depression and a lot had come through the Second World War and were glad, exceptionally glad, to have a government job and they would have done whatever Uncle Sam told them to do, shelter bombs, whatever. They were glad to show off what they did for Uncle Sam come Armed Forces Day. We LOVED Uncle Sam and frankly, I still do.
Shelia Slaten Crump