With the current talk about raising the nuclear threat level, I am reminded of the Cold War and fallout shelters of my childhood.
Frankly, these are memories we would all rather forget!
I grew up during the Cold War (1947-1989), as did my husband and many of my friends.
Here is a great summary of the Cold War from History.com.
Note: as a history buff, I love www.history.com
According to the History article, after World War II there was mutual distrust and enmity between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Both countries built up their arms, including nuclear arms. The stakes were high on both sides because of the threat of mutual destruction with nuclear weapons.
While I grew up under this Cold War ‘cloud’ and I don’t remember being particularly fearful. I imagine my parents were anxious, but I don’t remember them talking about it. And I was too busy just being a kid. What I do remember from that time are ‘duck and cover’ (under your desk) exercises and nuclear fallout shelters.
“My Fellow Americans,” he wrote, “nuclear weapons and the possibility of nuclear war are facts of life we cannot ignore today.”John F. Kennedy, 9/15/61
The President went on to implement a program to identify buildings that MIGHT be able to protect people from nuclear fallout. Buildings were identified and stocked and signs went up on the outside, such as the sign in the lower right of today’s collage. I think my elementary school was designated as a fallout shelter and I imagine that reassured my parents. I also remember the signs on the buildings on Central Avenue (our main street). I never went into one.
Here is another article from History.com about the nuclear fallout shelters. According to the article, the ‘fallout shelter’ concept was flawed from the get-go.
“People reasoned, when faced with the prospect of nuclear war, climbing into a shelter probably wasn’t going to do that much good.”Steven R. David, Professor, International Relations, John Hopkins University
While the Cold War didn’t officially end until 1989 (when Soviet influence waned in Eastern Europe), I don’t remember much about an ongoing nuclear threat after the 1960’s…..until now that is.