04/05/06 - billy crystal

In today's excerpt - Billy Crystal writes about his world growing up:

"This was an important time to be laughing.  We needed laughter because we were in the middle of the Cold War.  We had a president who was an aging war hero and a first lady too old to wear bangs.  We were terrified of the Russians.  It all started in 1957 with Walter Cronkite telling us, 'This is the sound from Outer Space.'  We heard a few electronic beeps, it was Sputnik, the first satellite to orbit the earth.  What the hell is this thing?  Eighteen inches around with a bunch of small knitting needle-type prongs protruding from it.  We're doomed, we all thought.  It's a death ray!

"Nikita Krushchev came into our lives then.  A squat, scary little man, and his equally scary wife, and the fact that Krushchev didn't speak English made him even scarier, so I became even more frightened of his interpreter.  How did we know this interpreter was getting it right?  Krushchev came to the U.N.  He took off his shoe and banged it on the table and screamed at us, 'WE WILL BURY YOU!'  At least, that's what they told us he said, what he really said was, 'THESE ARE NOT MY SHOES!  WHO STOLE MY SHOES?'

" 'The Bomb' was on our minds all the time.  We watched films in elementary school, showing what nuclear explosions looked like what they could do to a city.  Horrifying. ... We were practicing duck-and-cover drills, in school in case of an enemy attack.  They would hurry us into the hallway, we'd sit on the floor with our arms folded, our heads down, our legs crossed.  This position was surely going to save me when the Russians dropped the big one on us."


Billy Crystal


700 Sundays


Hachette book Group, USA


Copyright 2005 by Billy Crystal


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