The Mason Gulch Fire is still with us. Colorado Central, a magazine that I sometimes write for, has asked me for a 2,000 word essay on preparedness, evacuation, looters, and all of it. After hurricanes Rita and Katrina, a lot of writers are talking about "go bags, " cash stashes, food storage, firearms, and not letting the gasoline tank go below half full.
Survival literature has a long history in America. Just 45 years ago, during the height of the Cold War, George Leonard Herter, founder of Herter's Inc., (now part of Cabela's) had a few things to say in his eccentric cookbook Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices.
One appendix is titled “In Case of a Hydrogen Bomb Attack You Must Know the Ways of the Wilderness to Survive.”
Get out of town, he says, regardless of what the “would-be authorities” say. “Have a wood stove that can be set up in abandoned house or shelter.”
He continues with more suggestions: dried food, matches in waterproof containers, and .22 rifle with at least 1,000 rounds of ammunition for both small-game hunting and self-defense. “Bombings bring looting and the looting is done in most all cases by so-called friends who live near you. This is what happened in both World War I and II.” (Herter came from a Belgian family.)
Finally, after discussing medicines, Herter concludes, “Have 5 one-pound cans of tobacco. This is your fortune. If there is any food or material available that you need, the tobacco will get it for you when money will not.”
There is a peculiar thrill to imagining cataclysmic disaster of such a scale that money would be worthless and you would be picking off looters from the entrance to your cave.
Here in southern Colorado, though, I will stick to planning for forest fires and blizzards.