February 27, 2003
front page
more news
ad information
contact information


While duct tape may be flying of the shelves of hardware and home improvement stores throughout the U.S., it has not been a big seller at Deaton's Do it Best Hardware, manager Kathy McLemore says.

Residents not buying duct tape

Last week the Department of Homeland Security launched the new Ready Campaign, which encourages Americans to prepare for terrorist attacks by, among other things, compiling emergency kits that contain duct tape and plastic sheeting.

Apparently, many Americans listened. According to recent newspaper articles, duct tape and plastic have flown off hardware shelves and an Ohio company that makes duct tape recently increased production 40 percent to respond to demand.

But an informal survey of some downtown coffee drinkers — in other words, people hanging out in the front of The Emporium — suggests that, once more, Yellow Springs is way, way out of the mainstream.

In response to the question of how they’re preparing for a terrorist attack, about 30 local residents responded with plucky independence, a distrust of the Bush administration and a desire to deepen their spirituality.

“Hell no!” Ted Barker said when asked if he planned to prepare for an attack. “I have enough duct tape to cover my mouth so I don’t scream and that’s all I need.” Seriously, Barker said, he doesn’t consider Yellow Springs to be threatened. “I don’t feel like we’re a target,” he said. “If I lived in a city, I might feel differently.”

Many villagers stated that, while they might feel threatened in a large population center, they feel safe in a small Midwestern village.

“If I were in New York City or Los Angeles or any big city along the ocean I’d feel at risk,” said Chris Bailey. “But not here.”

This area survived a far more serious risk during the Cold War due to its proximity to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base when “thousands of nuclear weapons were on hair-trigger alert,” said Jim Klein.

“We lived with so much more danger then,” Klein said. Regarding the possibility of local terrorist attacks, he said, “I’m a lot more concerned about hitting a patch of ice and skidding off the road.”

A few people, such as Terry Whorton, said they do worry that Wright-Patt might appeal to terrorists. A self-described “Air Force brat,” Whorton said that when she sees someone in uniform “I shake their hand and wish them well.” Also, she added, “I pray.”

Villagers have not lined up to buy duct tape or plastic, according to Kathy McLemore, the manager at Deaton’s Do it Best Hardware. McLemore said that she’s aware of only three people, all older women, who purchased tape and plastic for preparedness.

At Town Drug, pharmacist Tim Rogers said that he has received only two inquiries for potassium iodide, which has been publicized as an antidote to radiation poisoning. Both inquiries came last summer, he said, and those who inquired lacked the necessary prescription. Town Drug does not carry potassium iodide tablets, Rogers said, but it does have the medication in liquid form, which is used as an expectorant.

Along with dismissing the Yellow Springs area as a likely terrorist target, many of those interviewed expressed their anger and scepticism at the government’s motivations for starting its recent preparation campaign.

“I tell my friends that I hope they’re not allowing themselves to be pushed into a state of hysteria by what seems to be gratuitous propaganda,” said Vick Mickunas.

John Brennan, standing beside him, agreed, stressing his belief that the Bush administration has heightened Americans’ fear of terrorists to increase support for a U.S.-led attack on Iraq.

“Bush has done nothing but fuel fears,” Brennan said. “I don’t trust this administration.”

Others, such as Bruce Heckman, echoed these concerns.

“I distrust Tom Ridge,” Heckman said, referring to the secretary of Homeland Security. “The administration has a vested interest in making us feel greatly at risk.”

Heckman said that he also refuses to give in to “the train of thinking that war is inevitable,” adding, “I don’t feel personally threatened by Saddam.”

Rick Donahoe said he doesn’t feel threatened by terrorists, because he believes the United States provides the real terrorist threat.

“We forget that there are people in Iraq sitting around in little towns sipping their coffee,” he said. “They are the ones who will be attacked by terrorists.”

Many middle-aged local residents said that their response to the terrorist threat is colored by having grown up with the fear of nuclear war during the cold war. As children, they experienced “duck and cover” drills at school, during which they were encouraged to protect themselves from a nuclear bomb by hiding beneath school desks.

“As a child I had a lot of anxiety about nuclear war,” said Jan Albright. “But you can’t live in fear. You have to live your life.”

Sue Hawkey remembers as a child living through the Cuban missile crisis, standing in her school’s playground and wondering if the plane flying overhead would drop a bomb. Compared to such pervasive terror, many local residents said, the current threat seems very small.

However, several did express some anxiety regarding a terrorist attack.

“It’s in the back of my mind,” said Leon Holster, who stated that although he’s thought about getting a new battery for his battery-operated radio, he hasn’t actually done so yet.

Larry Gerthoffer said that he feels “mildly anxious, but I’m not losing any sleep.” He’s been letting people know that they probably already have a sufficient water supply, since most water heaters contain 30 gallons of usable water.

Many expressed their opinion that, if terrorists do indeed strike, duct tape and plastic sheeting will offer precious little safety. Most important, several villagers said, is not allowing the fear of disaster to diminish our daily lives.

“I don’t buy into the fear,” said Marnie Neumann. “I think the worst thing you can do is to give fear your mind power.”

“Your whole life could be spent preparing,” said Cy Tebbetts. “I don’t want to be preoccupied by that.”

However, several local residents said that they do believe in preparedness, although it should go beyond the use of synthetic products. Rather, they’re seeking to prepare themselves spiritually for uncertain times.

“The most important part of being prepared is being present and alert,” said Cathy Price. “We don’t know what exactly to be prepared for, so we need calm alertness, bringing our heart and soul and body to being where we are.”

Helping her to develop such alertness, Price said, is a meditation practice.

Since Sept. 11, 2001 tragedy, Susan Bradford said that her family has been working on spiritual growth by participating in programs at the local Dharma Center. “That’s where the work has to come,” she said. “You can’t avoid disasters in your life,” but she believes that you can learn how to cope with them by developing calmness and equanimity.

To “keep from feeling helpless” about the terrorist threat and the possible war with Iraq, Jan Albright said that she chooses to “hold our leaders in prayer,” adding, “As long as there’s life, there’s hope.”

While he doesn’t feel threatened by terrorists and has made no preparations, Wally Sikes hopes others don’t interpret his stance as a statement against duct tape.

“Duct tape is one of civilization’s great inventions,” he said. “I’ve had entire automobiles held together with duct tape.”

—Diane Chiddister