Life in the Cold War: Man recounts experiences from the era

The Cold War era was a scary time for Americans where it brought out the best and perhaps the worst in all Americans. Over the Spring Break weekend, Jerry Lazor, who lived through some of the worst moments of the Cold War, was asked about his experiences in the Cold War to see what life was like for the average American during this time of fear and war. 

To start off the interview, Jerry was asked to just describe what life was like during the Cold War. He responded by saying that people were always talking about a possible war with the USSR due to their constantly growing influence throughout the world. He also said that there was no talk whatsoever of a possible de-escalation. He also discussed the battles with Kennedy and Khrushchev and how they were somehow able to avoid a nuclear war. 

During this period in history, there was a general fear among the people that they could be attacked and possibly killed by a nuclear missile from the Soviet Union. I asked my grandfather when he found out that he could be a victim to a nuclear war. “I had to have been in school when I was told about a possible nuclear war. I was probably around ten years old.” It’s hard to imagine the genuine fear Jerry must have had when he was told at just ten years old that he could die in a nuclear strike from a nation where his family comes from. 

Since Jerry had Russian in his blood, it was no surprise to think that his family was monitored by the government to see if they were communist sympathizers. However, this wasn’t the case. When he was asked if he was ever monitored by the government due to his Russian lineage he replied saying that he was pretty sure that he and his family was not watched by the government.

He explained that he grew up in Canonsburg, PA, which had a high population of Russian and Eastern European families, so it would have been difficult for the government to find a suspected communist sympathizer. But he believes there was some examples of some people in his town that were watched by the government. “We weren’t really in a position of power to be watched by the government”  

Mr. Lazor was then asked if he remembered the day when JFK was assassinated. He quickly responded with an affirmative. He was then asked if he remembered what he was doing when it happened as many people alive during the time say that they remember what they were doing when it happened. He said that he was at work at the time and another worker a few floors down came running up saying that he heard on the radio that Kennedy had been shot. 

During a conversation about the Cold War, it is often hard to not talk about the Vietnam War. A war that really tore the nation apart with people arguing whether to support South Vietnam or leave them to their own devices. The military draft also came back since World War Two where many men were selected into the armed forces to fight North Vietnamese forces. Luckily, Jerry was able to avoid the draft as he served his time in the Army Reserves and was able to get discharged before his unit was frozen and eventually sent to Vietnam. 

Whenever the Soviet Union fell, and the Cold War ended, there was celebrations across Eastern Europe. However, it didn’t seem to make much of an impact in the States as Jerry can’t even remember the day when the Soviet Union collapsed. 

Despite the Soviet Union falling Jerry didn’t feel that the United States fulfilled their goal of suppressing communism. He felt that did a good job at suppressing communism in the U.S., but he felt that the government could have done better at suppressing communism on the world stage. He also stated that they probably could have gotten more involved in countries that were fighting communism or the Soviet Union.