Have you made your Doomsday plans yet? I ask because my own are bogged down. I have just discovered that when the SS18s start flying, I am, under the Crisis Relocation Plan, supposed to head for Fort Defiance, Va.
It is, I am told by the principal of the high school where we of Washington's Ward 3 are to assemble, an unincorporated township of 2,000.
"They are good people," Charles Huffman told me on the phone. "I think they would accept the people from Washington pretty well as they came down Route 81. But when they saw them taking over their homes and their food supplies and their gas, I am not really sure."
I would take my chances with Fort Defiance, except that I know I could never find it. I have never been able to find any place in Virginia. It goes back to my early days in Washington, when both major highways in the Old Dominion were named for "Marse Robert," Lee Highway and Lee Boulevard. I have spent many hours in police stations, in my dinner dress, screaming at a policeman, "Stop saying east and west, say left and right."
The last time I crossed the river unattended, I ended up in an old people's home. As usual, my host had said, "It's easy, you can't miss it." But four highways later, I took the first right available in search of signs of human life. I flung myself into the first lighted building I saw. "Where am I?" I asked in the stillness of the lobby.
The gentleman who came out from behind the desk had a speech impediment. I caught the words "retirement village." But as I raced down the hall in the direction of the telephone, he followed me in great agitation. He managed to convey the fact that if I left my car in the driveway, it would be towed away. Marvelous, I told him. If the police came, one of them might know how to get to Hummingbird Lane, and might even tow me there.
While I was dialing, my eye fell on a poster asking for volunteers for the variety show. Could I qualify? I know the words to lots of old songs; I don't waltz badly. If accepted, I might be allowed to spend the night.
My host on the phone chirped, "You're only three blocks away." Then, picking up the Virginia panic in my voice, he added, "I'll come and get you."
I don't know anybody in Fort Defiance well enough to call up and ask for escort service. It's 31/2 hours away from Washington, and rich in possibilities for missing the turn at the aqueduct. Don't tell me I could simply follow the other cars down 81. What if I blundered into the Ward 3 line destined for Elkins College and got turned away?
Bus transportation will be provided, I hear. I have considered it. Maybe I could make it to the proper stop with my shovel, my lunch, my documents, my change-of-address notice for the post office. But what about the door for my fallout shelter? I feel I would get a much warmer welcome in Fort Defiance if I brought my own. Mr. T.K. Jones of the Defense Department says if you dig a hole, place a door over it and pile dirt on top, you won't get to glow. But assuming I could get a door off the hinges, it certainly wouldn't fit in the overhead rack of the bus. Do I really want to go to my grave with a door on my lap?
So I don't think Fort Defiance, although I love the name, is for me.
I recently checked out the facilities near The Post on a tour with Women's Strike for Peace, and I had to agree with the review of the Lafayette Building accommodations given by one of the marshalls. "It has a lot of electrical equipment and exposed steam- pipes, and you could have 11 floors fall on you."
In the course of my reading, I have discovered another option for survival. I read about it in "Science" -- a Pentagon plan to bury missiles and missile crews inside mountains, for extrication after a nuclear attack and one last blast at the Soviets. It's called Deep Underground Missile Basing (DUMB). If you don't mind being buried alive for as long as a year, it might be for you. It's not perfect yet, mind you. For instance, how do you get the missiles and their sitters up to the surface when the all-clear is sounded, presuming you could hear it at 5,000 feet below?
The solution put forward by one of the DUMB planners, a Mr. Eugene Sevin of the Defense Nuclear Agency, gives me pause about volunteering. "A good demonstration would probably consist of locking up a crew and letting them dig their way out."
It's the being locked up that has kept me from inquiring if the military takes people whose favorite television show is "M*A*S*H."
It would be my luck to end up entombed with a bunch of cigar-smoking, bridge-playing, punk-rock fans who talk professional football statistics and support the war above. Or even an ex-policeman from Virginia who says north and south instead of right and left.