Fort Worth, Texas

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

Nearly 500 years ago, Don Juan Ponce de León traipsed across Florida in search of the elusive fountain of youth. But the Spanish explorer may have been misguided about leaving home, as now Americans searching the Internet for rejuvenating vacation spots voyage to his native Iberian Peninsula in droves.

In spring 1958, I was about to graduate from Columbia College and head off as a draftee for a two-year stint in the Army. We were in the thick of the Cold War. Eisenhower was president and in Russia, a bellicose, bald little tyrant named Nikita Khrushchev, first secretary of the Communist Party, was claiming missile superiority over the United States and constantly threatening us with nuclear annihilation.

The mainstay of American defense was a growing fleet of giant Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses that the Strategic Air Command (SAC), under super hawk Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay, kept in the air 24/7, loaded with nuclear bombs and missiles, and ready to head into Russia on receipt of a coded order over the radio. America’s Cold War strategy was MAD—Mutually Assured Destruction—whereby if one of the big firecrackers on either side went off, each of us would blow the other to hell.

These were very tense times.

In April 1958, for a brief and glorious moment, all the angst and terror vanished amid a sudden lovefest between the people of Russia and America.

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