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Chilling moments in the Cold War

October 30, 2006

Oct. 30, 1962: Cold War drills were a part of life at Miraleste Elementary School in Rancho Palos Verdes -- and a brief test of the signal system sounded each day at 9:30 a.m. On this morning, when a "yellow alert" sounded unexpectedly at 8:40 a.m., school officials assumed they were facing a real attack, The Times reported.

When the telephone company said it knew of no malfunction, the principal announced on a bullhorn, "Teachers, move your groups home!" the newspaper said.

"The groups started off briskly, some pupils to be dropped off a door away, others to walk as far as 2.3 miles -- for what?" The Times said in a reconstruction of the events. "To be with loved ones -- those who could get home -- on this, maybe the last day of the world."

At 8:50 a.m., the telephone company said it was a false alarm.

School officials headed off in cars to find the teachers taking children home and to tell them the good news.

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