Traumafesssion: Dustin in Minnesota on Jack and Jill and Gas Masks

Greetings trauma fans!

In these days of COVID-19 and mask-wearing, I was reminded of a childhood trauma I read in Jack and Jill magazine when I was maybe 9 or 10 years old.

For those unfamiliar, Jack and Jill was a children's literary magazine aimed at elementary school-aged children. The 1970s being what they were, some of their stories focused on ecology and the environment, including one (whose title escapes me) that was somewhat terrifying.

It took place during a time when air pollution had reached an unprecedented high and children were required to carry World War II-style gas masks with them. When the alert sounded, they had to put on their masks. One little boy forgot (and I don't recall whether it was by accident or on purpose) his mask one day and went to play baseball after school with his friends. The alert sounded and all the kids scrambled to put on their masks and get home to safety.

The little boy rode his bike home, only to find the doors all locked. Nobody was home, and he could only look through the window in fear and despair at the gas mask he left on the kitchen table.

After that point, the story shifted gears and mentioned the importance of combatting air pollution, but the reader was left wondering in horror what happened to the little boy.

Dustin in Minnesota

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