History 🏺 Fallout Shelters and Cold War Memories

Maister

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Fallout shelters were a big thing during the 50's and 60's but began to fall out of favor during the 70's when the concept of MAD (mutual assured destruction) deterrent became the new paradigm. After several thousand nukes get detonated, it doesn't matter where they go off or where you live, radiation will put an end to the life you once knew. It's largely because of nuclear weapons and their associated deterrent effect among major powers, that there have been no major wars after WW2. So in one sense nukes haven't been entirely a bad thing.

I wonder if developments in orbiting satellites with lasers, or anti-ballistic missiles (yes, this kind of research is going on) will make the idea of using nuclear weapons thinkable once again? I hope not, but if it does we may see fallout shelters come back into vogue.


Anyone here have a home fallout shelter when they were a kid? I remember we had a room in the basement we designated as the 'disaster safe place' that we were trundled down to during tornado warnings. But apart from blankets, flashlight, and radio, I don't recall it being filled with canned goods or anything intended to sustain life underground for any extended period of time.

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SlaveToTheGrind

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My only fallout shelter while growing up as a preteen in the 1970s to early 1980s was the basement during a tornado warning. Went there on more than one occasion.
 

michaelskis

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There are "Preppers" that have modern versions of fall out shelters in the event that Civil Unrest becomes too much for local and state law enforcement agencies to control. I guy I know in Michigan converted his hunting camp into one of these in the event he had to get out of the city.

He built a 24'x24' basic concrete block square building and filled the voids with concrete, and then put 1/2 logs on the exterior to make it look like a log cabbin with a metal roof. It has normal looking windows, but there are drop down metal curtains in the inside of the window frame. Inside he has drywall and it looks really normal until you notice how deep the windowsill and how thick the walls are next to the front and back door. Outside he has a small enclosed area that has a generator and a large propane tank, but he also has a couple of solar panels on the roof that powers a couple of lights and the fridge. It is stocked up with enough stuff that I think he could live up there for a year without contact with the outside world.

Personally, the middle school that I attended had a basement that was converted into a fall out shelter. One door of the school on the side had the radioactive logo on it to indicate that if the USSR launched anything, the community leaders would gather there.
 

Whose Yur Planner

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I remember the bomb drills in elementary school. They would march us out in the hallways, have us squat down and put a heavy book behind our heads. The differences between a bomb drill and tornado drill were few. I always thought the bomb drills were kinda silly. If a nuke went off, being in the hallway with a heavy book would do you little good.I didn't know peppers. I also didn't know anyone who had a shelter.
 

Maister

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Personally, the middle school that I attended had a basement that was converted into a fall out shelter. One door of the school on the side had the radioactive logo on it to indicate that if the USSR launched anything, the community leaders would gather there.
Back in the day, many public buildings had these signs on them.
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I haven't seen one for years. I wonder if any are still posted on maybe some old county buildings somewhere out there in the Great American Desert?
 

Whose Yur Planner

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Back in the day, many public buildings had these signs on them.
View attachment 51472
I haven't seen one for years. I wonder if any are still posted on maybe some old county buildings somewhere out there in the Great American Desert?
It would be great to find one that looked half way decent. I'd hang it up if nothing else as a reminder of my childhood.
 

Maister

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It would be great to find one that looked half way decent. I'd hang it up if nothing else as a reminder of my childhood.
It's your lucky day!

As a child, the prospect of nuclear war was always somewhere lurking in the dark recesses of my consciousness as some sort of vague, ill-defined, ever-present threat/fear, but it was only as an adult, when it became my job at one point to keep tabs on what the Soviets were doing, that I began to think of what it all meant in experiential terms.

Movies like The Day After, or books like Alas Babylon also helped give the public some images to come to terms with what a nuclear war would actually mean.
 
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Planit

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I had a friend say "in case of nuclear disaster or war, run towards the light, it's quicker"



Check out the movie Blast From The Past.
 

WSU MUP Student

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Back in the day, many public buildings had these signs on them.
View attachment 51472
I haven't seen one for years. I wonder if any are still posted on maybe some old county buildings somewhere out there in the Great American Desert?

The building that our offices were previously in still had a fallout shelter sign near the door until it was remodeled when we moved out in '07. I wonder if the sign is still there? Maybe I should drive past sometime to check it out.

My daughter's school used to have a fallout shelter but they've since filled it in or turned it into storage or something. The sign is now framed in a little shadowbox and put up outside the administrative office.

This very cool MCM house is for sale not far from us:
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The listing says it "even has a bomb shelter!" Unfortunately the only picture of the bomb shelter that they show are the exterior door and an air shaft.
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Pre-Cold War memories: My dad has vivid memories of air raid drills in Metro Detroit as a kid during WWII. His friend's dad was a neighborhood "Air Raid Warden" and would go around during the drills to make sure that the blackout curtains were installed correctly and not letting light out of the individual houses.
 

kms

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I worked at a different conservation district for a few years. Their first office was in the county bomb shelter where records were stored.
 

terraplnr

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A previous owner of the house I grew up in had dug out and poured a bomb shelter but they didn't finish it with all the trimmings (like a door). So it was halfway filled in with dirt by the time we bought the house, and we'd just throw sticks and stuff down into it (through what was probably supposed to be the air vent). That's the extent of my experience. :p
 

Faust_Motel

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It would be great to find one that looked half way decent. I'd hang it up if nothing else as a reminder of my childhood.
I had one that an ex girlfriend hung onto when we broke up- from the basement of my college dorm. In the space at the bottom it said "erected by the dormitory authority of the state of New York," which was kind of cool.
 

Dan

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fallout_shelter_cheektowaga.jpg


I remember seeing a lot of rusting fallout shelter signs when I was a kid in the 1970s. I still occasionally come across one, and it takes a second to register.

One time, while doing some urban exploration in a tunnel network when I was in college, we came across big drums of civil defense water.

Growing up, a house across the street from mine had a large basement room that was reinforced with thicker walls, steel beams on the ceiling, and the like. The wall between the room and the rest of the basement was made of cinder block. There was also a small side room, which probably would have had a commode or something similar. If it was a fallout shelter, I wondered if the rest of the house collapsed, how would the people in that room get out?

My dad had a DIY encyclopedia set from the early 1960s. It included a long article about how to build your own fallout shelter.
 

Whose Yur Planner

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It's the end of the world
And we know it
It's the end of the world
And we know it
And I feel fine.

Somebody had to go there
 
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