Wednesday, September 30, 2009

You Will Wear Dog Tags. Yes, You Will.

Reading the 1950s Ypsi papers. They have a curious tone. Very...restrained, or, gets the wisp of an impression that this was a very conformist, "lock-down" time.

At any rate, one also picks up the feeling of Cold War fear. There was a crazy scheme going on in town dealing with blood-typing everyone "in case of an atom bomb attack." The idea was that you'd wear your blood type on dog tags around your neck 24/7--so in case of disaster, the city would have a "mobile blood bank" from which to draw.

Dusty D is sorta glad I didn't live in this era--it seems too unaccepting of oddballs, and the palpable fear of things falling from the sky that comes through in the old papers is unpleasant. Dusty D is thankful she lives in a peaceful time without the need to dig a bomb shelter in the backyard--uh-uh, that space is for tomatoes!


Richard said...

Hi DD,

The "restrained and contained" aura of the 1950's that you note has happened before and will happen again in our history. You and I will see it in our coming elder years (I was born in 1964), after the tragedy of the slow melt down that has already begun continues to play out over the next ten years or so. The period beginning about 2025 or so will be marked by an economic boom that will follow the current depression, and society in general will have a conformist bent much like there was during the period between the end of WW 2 and the Kennedy assassination.

One of my favorite books is an amazing read about the generational changes that come around in an average eighty year lifespan. These cycles are made up of significant cultural and sociological changes that are distinct to each generation and their place in time.

You can liken the current times to the 1930's depression, and before that the crisis of the civil war.

Do I sound crazy? Check out "The Fourth Turning" written by William Strauss and Neal Howe. A good precis is at

Love your blog! Makes me miss Ypsi even more than I already did.

Dusty D said...

Dear Richard:

I was born in the summer of 1967, so you and I are contemporaries. Thank you for your kind words. Glad you're stopping by to read.

That's certainly food for thought. I appreciate the book recommendation and have put it on my list. Thank you.

Diane said...

Your posting about the "dog tags" sure brings back memories! I believe I still have mine somewhere and I certainly have my parents tags. At least back then, everyone knew their blood type! As a kid, I thought the tags were kind of neat.

Diane said...

I just had to share this blog with my Bible Study group this morning and I found out some interesting things. Not everyone was familiar with "dog tags". A lady from MA didn't know what I was talking about. Two people from Saginaw, also said they didn't have "dog tags". A lady from Hale, was familiar with them and did wear one as a child. Another lady from Detroit, did not have them. A lady who lived in New York also said she never heard of them. I am wondering if they were only regional and/or because of the potential threat to the area in which one lived. At first I thought it was due to larger metropolitan areas, but that idea did not seem true. Were people in Ypsilanti at more of a threat? Is that why we had to have them? Was Hale, Iosco County, more threatened because of the air base? My husband, who lived in Cleveland,had to wear "dog tags".

By the way, my husband said they really didn't work. He was a teenager at the time and he said the girls exchanged tags with their boy friends. The girls also liked to decorate them with finger nail polish!

It would be interesting to know just which areas had to wear these, since it definitely was not country wide.

Dusty D said...

Dear Diane: I LOVED reading your fascinating recollections! That's absolutely wonderful about the nail polish--I had to laugh!

Thank you for the honor of sharing this blog with your Bible Study group. It is interesting that you mention that the group members do not remember the blood typing-dog tags plan--but I have the reason for you!

The reason is that Ypsilanti was only 1 of 4 test centers selected by the Michigan Civil Defense Commission to try out the dog-tags plan. It was one of the test cities.

I have several stories on the subject and I would be delighted to copy these and make PDFs to email to you if you like. You don't have to state your email here in public, but if you would like to email me at ypsidixit @, I can email them to you.

ALSO, I would absolutely love to include your memories in an upcoming story about the dog tags for the Ypsilanti Courier next week. Would that be acceptable to you? I can quote you using your name or not using your name. Whichever option is comfortable to you would be fine.

I have to turn in this story this coming Sunday, so I hope very much to hear from you!

I am really thrilled about the opportunity to include your memories in my article--that would be an honor for me and would make me very happy--I really value including the voices of community members who actually experienced this history! That is invaluable.

Do you have more memories of the dog tag experience? Whatever you remember, no matter how tiny-seeming, would be invaluable, and thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

Thank you again, and I hope to hear from you!

Incidentally, I apologize for using your first name--I try to respect my elders, but I'm afraid I don't know your surname. At any rate...thank you again!

Dusty D said...

Diane: p.s. The 4 Michigan cities selected in 1950 by the Michigan Civil Defense Commission for the dog tag plan were Jackson, Alma, Birmingham, and Ypsilanti.

Diane said...

Yes, you may include my dog tag memories in your writing. I have certainly enjoyed this posting!

Dusty D said...

Diane: That is great. Thank you! I'll post a link to the story when it's published.