Sunday, February 06, 2022

Watched “The Day After” from 1983 and No Wonder Warnings for Children Not to Watch When I was Little

I was reminded recently of a made for TV movie The Day After. You can watch the full movie via YouTube. Carrie and I watched the movie as I was not sure I had ever seen it. When it came out back in 1983, I remember I was in grade school and my parents would not let me watch the made for television movie. I believe it re-aired a few times in past years, but either forgot about it or did not know it was being aired. A friend at work reminded me that the grocery store in the first half of the movie was the IGA store at 9th and Iowa (now the The Merc), so I had to find the film so I could finally watch it and see the IGA store. 

I worked at the IGA store at 9th and Iowa for a few years. Different store than what it was back in 1983, but still an IGA store. When I worked at the store, it was in the 1990’s and it was called Alvin’s IGA. I loved working in the grocery store. I loved the constant change being part of the grocery business. I worked in various positions at the store starting as a stocker and working my way up through the years. I think I worked for Alvin’s IGA for about four years and when I finally left the store, I was managing frozen food and dairy as well as manager at night. I had so much fun and great memories working at Alvin’s IGA. I wish I was able to keep in touch with many of my co-workers from the store, but we have since lost touch and do not connect with them via social media either. Working in the grocery store was so great that I could see myself when I retire that I go back to work in a grocery store. 

Anyway, my friend, Erik, at work told me that the IGA store at the time in 1984 was in the The Day After movie. So, Carrie and I watched the movie. It started off with nice stories of a girl getting married, a scientist at KU, and a few other stories. Then the bombs hit Kansas City and all hell broke out. Sure enough, in the first hour I saw the IGA store where I would eventually work. The store was being ransacked as people were in panic mode with the bombs. I did not take notes, so I am thinking now it was people were in crisis mode as they knew the bombs were on their way to Kansas City as the United States had launched our bombs and thirty minutes later the bombs would strike, so people were emptying shelves and in full panic mode. Still, it was cool to see the front of the IGA store at 9th and Iowa where I used to work.

Carrie reminded me that back in 1983 when the movie was going to be released that schools sent home notices parents warning not to let children watch the film. So, I missed out on watching it back in 1983 and then I had not watched the whole film until 2022. I can see why there was a warning not to let children watch the movie. It was scary to watch the bombs hitting Kansas City and the effects of those bombs. In the ending of the movie, it warned that the effects of a nuclear strike would be much worse, but the movie got the point across and it was frightening to watch.

I remember my parents talking about the fear of nuclear attack from the 1960s and how frightening it was to think that it could happen at any time. School children practicing taking cover by putting their heads under books or their desks. The fear that the strike could happen at anytime and that there was not really any way to avoid the threat. No, hiding under desks or putting books over your head is not going to save you from a nuclear attack, so the thought of the threat happening at any time was a fear. I can also understand why the local school districts back in 1983 sent home warnings to parents about not watching the movie. After all, the parents of many of the children from 1983 would have gone through the fear of the 1960s prior to their children being born and could relate to the fears of the time. Again, good reason not to allow children at the time to watch the movie. It was frightening to watch and think about what we would do in that situation.

The Day After is one of those movies that when talk to friends and people claim they were in the movie. The movie was made in Lawrence, KS and the Kansas City area, so I remember casting calls in and around Lawrence, KS. I recall one girl from my school (Sunset Hill Elementary) was in the movie. Sure enough, when watching the film I recognized Joleen from the movie. The actress being Ellen Anthony from Lawrence, KS. Ellen was a grade ahead of me I believe, but I remember her from school. 

I have friends who said they were in the movie, but there were so many scenes of devastation where people were in Allen Field House, the banks of the Kansas River, or other areas of the state in despair following the attach that many people can claim they were in the movie. While it was frightening to see the movie and effects it had on the community from the movie, it was fun to see downtown Lawrence, Allen Field House, and many other recognizable places in Lawrence, KS.

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