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