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I am 52 now (2007) so I grew up in the cold war. For many years, I believed that the nuclear holocaust was at hand, so much so that I would hear thunder and think it was a nuclear attack. I suppose the constant news on the subject was a contributor. I finally outgrew it.
My parents told me when I was little that we were going voting, I miss heard and thought they said boating. I was gravely disappointed when I figured out I miss heard.
In 1986, when I was 5 there were summit talks ("Gipfeltreffen" in German) between Reagan and Gorbatchev in Reykjavík, Iceland. I understood that it was an island far off and just pictured the two heads of government climbing up that high mountain (like I knew in the Alps) with a palm tree on it to have a very serious conversation on top of it. I thought it was useful because everyone could run down the other way if they didn't like each other. It took me a while to understand that such talks didn't need to be on islands nor mountains.
In 5th grade, my class took a tour of the state capital building. When I got home, I excitedly told my parents that I saw the room where they execute people. I was so proud; I mean, how cool is it to see where they execute people? I was horribly embarrassed when they corrected me and told me that the "Executive Office" has nothing to do with executing people.
The (current) Iraq war started when I was about 8. I wrote a letter to the PM of Australia, advising him "stop being friends" with George Bush because I thought he was a bad influence, and was worried Australia would join the invasion.
I seriously believed that he would take my advice!
I had a belief that if you dialed 1234567890 on your home telephone, that you would call the President of the United States.
i used to think huge sattelite poles that were as tall as bulidlings was were the president wold sit and have his meetings.
I used to believe that the state seal (you know, the picture on the state flag) was an actual animal seal! I believed that every state had an animal seal at the state capitol! I believed this until I was in 7th grade.
I belived that in order to be President you had to run a race and I'd alaways want to see the race but no one would Know what I was talking about.
This is not my belief. This is one of my frends. He thought that when a Preadent dies, They go to The United Stats of Heven. He also thougt that Gorge Bush was dead. I said "He not dead. He still at the White House. Im going their soon."
He took it the wrong way and said "You Going To DIE?
I once wrote to John Major and asked if he would be my penpal. I really believed he had nothing better to do! I thought it could be a nice hobby for him.
When someone mentioned the word 'politician', I always pictured people who worked in washington D.C. who always wore red white and blue dress suits, and red white and blue tophats. I always believed that politicians carried a little american flag with them too.
When I was young, I was driving in the car with my father, and they were talking about politics on the radio. The words "Democrat" and "Republicans" kept coming up, and I asked my dad what the difference was. His response was, "Well, last year they elected a Democrat. In a few years they'll get sick of him and elect a Republican. Then the same thing will happen and they'll elect a Democrat again." This was my understanding of the U.S. political system until around my senior year in high school, when I discovered that it was a bit more complex than that. As my knowledge of politics grew, however, I came to realize that my dad had pretty much summed things up pretty accurately.
I grew up in West-Berlin, when is still was in the middle of Communist territory. Passing the border by car to transit through East-Germany (for a holiday, typically) took hours and the controls were harsh, with dogs and seaches and lots of paperwork and lots of questions.
I thought the reason was fighting highway robbery and always felt uneasy when we were visiting countries like Denmark of Switzerland where you wouldn't be harrassed for hours when entering. I thought they were irresponsible and dangerous places!
I always thought that the president was the richest man in the world.
I haven't seen this variation on the Watergate theme yet:
Like a lot of the others here who were around six or seven years old during Watergate, I had a very literal interpretation about some kind of "Water Gate" that was broken, clogged or overflowing in some way. I put that together with all the "bugs" I kept hearing about and thought that if you turned on a sink faucet bugs would come pouring out. I only remember being afraid of the faucets for a day or two (it was probably only an hour, lol!) before my parents straightened it all out for me but I I still think about it every time I hear the word Watergate.
When I was four, I got into an argument with my uncle. He said that the vice president was Spiro Agnew. I said it was Uncle Sam.
I used to believe that communist is someone who wears weird military uniform, grows a bushy moustache (I watched too many films in primary school) and hates Church and religion - so since my neighbour never goes to church and isn't shy to tell he doesn't believe in God, I was convinced that he is civil form of communist. Then when in school, at history lesson, our teacher told as that communist countries like Soviet Union or Northern Korea were to blame for genocides of millions and that communism is the most bloody form of governing in history. I was scared like hell because putting two and two together I came to conclusion that we live next to insane murderer!
I just assumed that the President was one of the richest people in the world when I was in elementary school. (At the time the president was Clinton) Cause money equals power over a nation, right?
When I was 4/5 (U.S. kindergarten age), I believed that "the government" (which I often heard my parents discussing) was the title of a man who looked like George Washington.