January 5, 2012

Fall Out Shelters are "In"

... backyard entrance to fallout shelter
photo: courtesy of James Vaughan/x-ray delta one

Here we are in American Suburbia. The kids are playing outside in the backyard with smiling Mother looking on. She knows that if the imminent threat of atomic annihilation should rear its ugly head, she has peace of mind thanks to good ol' American ingenuity - the family fall out shelter! She's ready to survive any menace.

No, no, no... that is not what we mean by surviving the nuclear menace! Let's try this again...

photo: U.S. Governement photography

Here we go! Now this is what your ideal fallout shelter would have looked like as envisioned in the early 1950's. It may not have quite the same appeal, but ummm... that's Life. In here, protected from the airborn effects of an atomic blast you would live with your family. Once you had your shelter structure completed and stocked, you could rest with some peace of mind. The family "foxhole" was much more convenient, practical and reliable than trying to reach a public shelter in times of emergency.

An example of a public fallout shelter as depicted on the January 1962 cover of LIFE magazine.

The public shelter. Crowded, no privacy, and probably has only one working bathroom on a good day. And wouldn't you know it? That nosey neighbor lady from down the corner is here to indulge you with her non-stop company for the next several weeks, prattling on about begonias and her gall-stone operation.

The Mrs: "Henry! I told you we should have built our own family shelter instead of wasting your time down at the pool hall, you lazy lummox!"
Hubby: "Yes Dear."

1962 ... high-rise shelter
A swanky high-rise shelter; photo: courtesy of James Vaughan/x-ray delta one

A very stylin' backyard shelter as portrayed by the publishers of Fawcett Books.

The family fallout shelter would usually have been built by the home owner as sort of a do it yourself project, and the whole concept of "do-it-yourself" was quite the popular thing to do in those days.

The Family Fallout Shelter @ nebraskastudies.org states that according to civil defense authorities, a concrete block basement shelter could be built as a do-it-yourself project for $150 to $200. Exactly how much protection they actually afforded was an open question — one that, thankfully, no one has had to test.... yet.

... prefab fallout shelter!
Pre-fab shelter; Photo: courtesy of James Vaughan / x-ray delta one

In fact, if you had the money or were simply a lazy lummox like poor Henry, you could even order a pre-fabricated fall out shelter. Just dig the trench and in she goes!

Pre-fab shelter; photo: courtesy of James Vaughan / x-ray delta one

It was recommended that people stay in the shelter full time for at least 14 days after a nuclear blast. Families with children were advised to stock their shelter with recreational materials to break the monotony. Monopoly games were popular. Other suggested items included playing cards and diaries to keep a record of one's stay.

"all the comforts of home"
Photo: courtesy of James Vaughan / x-ray delta one

Be equipped, be organized and be prepared. Life in the fall out shelter was basically approached like you would a long family camp out, only you were isolated underground and you wouldn't be roasting marshmallows.

1963 ... survival plan!
Photo: courtesy of James Vaughan / x-ray delta one

What would you do? Do you have a plan? What would you do if you were committing to protect you and your family with dead-certainty that atomic warfare was eminent?

1961- fallout shelter #2
Photo: courtesy of James Vaughan / x-ray delta one

And hopefully, when the all's-clear is given, and it's time to open that hatchway
... there will be a mid-century modern world to return to.

This has been another bulletin from
Atomic Living's Emergency Broadcast System

Please tune in again - Same Atomic time - same Atomic channel!


Mick said...

Do you have a Netflix account? There is a movie on right now called "Atomic Cafe" its a compiled film off different 1950's school films, along with news reals and test footage from Bomb drops. It's chilling, one thing they point out (and I never really realized) about public shelters and shelters in the bomb area all together is that radiation aside, the pure nuclear heat alone was enough to turn these "under ground shelters" into incinerators. (How true that is I don't know, but its a terrifying thought that none of the Public Address films touch on.) Its not a scary hyped up Hollywood movie, but its chilling and has a real insight into the Cold war and Cuban Missile crisis. Definitely worth the watch!

SusieQT said...

I love this stuff- sometimes I imagine digging in my yard and discovering an old shelter! LOL There is a great source of old documentaries about this, as well as old industrial films at the publicresource.org youtube channel.

Space Commander said...

Wow - What great sources Mick and Susie! A person could continue on and on about the shelter topic, there is so much to cover! And I agree, those Pre-fab tank shelters especially, they look more like a survival problem.

Utah Fallout Shelter Doors said...

Fallout shelter is an enclosed space specially designed to protect occupants from radioactive debris or fallout resulting from a nuclear explosion. Thanks for sharing.

NBC Fallout Shelter Filters

Disaster Bunkers said...

A basic fallout shelter consists of shields that reduce gamma ray exposure by a factor of 1000. The required shielding can be accomplished with 10 times the amount of any quantity of material capable of cutting gamma ray effects in half. underground shelters

North West Shelter Systems said...

Fallout shelter is a civil defense measure intended to reduce casualties in a nuclear war. Nuclear Bomb Shelter

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