Cozy Fallout Shelters

 

Last week, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists made it known we are officially “30 seconds closer to midnight.” Their warning, a reference to the 70-year-old Doomsday Clock, which was adjusted Thursday to reflect statements made by freshly inaugurated U.S. President Donald Trump, places “doomsday” at 2 1/2 minutes away. It’s the closest the clock has been to midnight since the government started testing thermonuclear bombs in 1953, when bomb shelters were commonplace.

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In fact, commercially produced family-size fallout shelters were a feature of many suburban backyards. These apocalypse-ready rooms were engineered to fit cozily beneath lawns and patio furniture, and their sales fueled a cottage industry catering to the midcentury Boy Scout mentality. The Federal Civil Defense Administration (later the Office of Civil Defense), which was formed in 1950 to prepare civilians for nuclear attack, dispersed information for a mostly suburban audience (it was assumed cities would be toast), initially emphasizing evacuation before settling on fallout shelters as a viable recourse for survival.
In a letter published in the September 1961 issue of Life magazine, President Kennedy even urged Americans to install personal fallout shelters.
Of course these structures would have offered almost zero protection in the case of actual nuclear attack. But the Cold War was all about perception, and deception, and this was one lie a lot of people were more than happy to believe.

 Newlyweds hold hands as they begin their two-week honeymoon in a Miami fallout shelter in 1959—a demonstration of how well a family could exist in an emergency. (Getty Images)

Newlyweds hold hands as they begin their two-week honeymoon in a Miami fallout shelter in 1959—a demonstration of how well a family could exist in an emergency. (Getty Images)

 Cutout illustration of a family fallout shelter from the Cold War era. (Flickr)

Cutout illustration of a family fallout shelter from the Cold War era. (Flickr)

 Beverly Wysocki, top, and Marie Graskamp emerge from a new family-type bomb shelter on display in Milwaukee in 1958. (AP Photo)

Beverly Wysocki, top, and Marie Graskamp emerge from a new family-type bomb shelter on display in Milwaukee in 1958. (AP Photo)

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(L) Peggy Sinskey of Pacific Palisades, CA, entering her family shelter in 1961. / “If we’re not bombed, it’ll make a good den, play room, or dog house.” Los Angeles, 1951. (Los Angeles Public Library)

 A two-unit fallout shelter of the kind recommended by the U.S. Civil Defense Office combines two steel igloo shelters and accommodates six people in 1962. (Keystone/Getty Images)

A two-unit fallout shelter of the kind recommended by the U.S. Civil Defense Office combines two steel igloo shelters and accommodates six people in 1962. (Keystone/Getty Images)

 A dual purpose room—den and family fallout shelter—on display at the Civil Defense headquarters in New York, 1962. (Getty Images)

A dual purpose room—den and family fallout shelter—on display at the Civil Defense headquarters in New York, 1962. (Getty Images)

 Cutaway illustration prepared by the Office of Civil Defense of a group fallout shelter from the 1960s. (Getty Images)

Cutaway illustration prepared by the Office of Civil Defense of a group fallout shelter from the 1960s. (Getty Images)

 Workers gather in a combination fallout shelter and cafeteria at the Knoxville, Tennessee, plant of the Rohm and Haas Company in 1962. Scenic murals provide the facade of windows. (AP Photo)

Workers gather in a combination fallout shelter and cafeteria at the Knoxville, Tennessee, plant of the Rohm and Haas Company in 1962. Scenic murals provide the facade of windows. (AP Photo)

 Naval fallout shelter in Pearl City, Honolulu. (HABS/Library of Congress)

Naval fallout shelter in Pearl City, Honolulu. (HABS/Library of Congress)

 A mother and her children make a practice run for their $5,000 concrete and steel backyard fallout shelter in Sacramento, CA, 1961. (AP Photo/Sal Veder)

A mother and her children make a practice run for their $5,000 concrete and steel backyard fallout shelter in Sacramento, CA, 1961. (AP Photo/Sal Veder)

 Two men take shelter in a vegetable cellar to demonstrate FCDA recommendation that all persons get below the surface of the ground to avoid dangerous gamma radiation from H-bomb fallout. Colesville, Maryland, 1955. (Getty Images)

Two men take shelter in a vegetable cellar to demonstrate FCDA recommendation that all persons get below the surface of the ground to avoid dangerous gamma radiation from H-bomb fallout. Colesville, Maryland, 1955. (Getty Images)

author: Rian Dundon
Photography editor at Timeline.com

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Source: https://timeline.com/pictures-nuclear-fall...