From the Annals of Preparedness – In 1961, President John F. Kennedy advised American families to build bomb shelters to protect them from atomic fallout in the event of a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Kennedy attempted to assuage fears by claiming that the U.S. civil defense program would ramp up to provide such protection for every American. Kennedy’s warnings seemed correct when the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted over the USSR’s placement of nuclear missiles in Cuba and the prospect of “nuclear combat toe-to-toe with the Ruskies” seemed imminent.
Red remembers when the local Shopper’s World had a contest with the grand “prize” being a home bomb shelter. The drawing was won by a friend’s father who had it installed in the backyard where it promptly filled up with water. Red’s friend still has bitter memories of having to stand in knee deep water handing up buckets to try and drain the useless “shelter.” He also remembers touring a new hospital in San Antonio with a Boy Scout group where there was an elaborate basement bomb shelter complete with showers for washing radiation off as you entered, cots, blankets and immense stocks of food, water and other supplies. In reality, San Antonio would likely have been an immense field of fused glass and smoking rubble in the event of a nuclear war. If ever there was a waste of money on a pretense of caring about the populace – the bomb shelter craze was it. As they told us at school, in the event of an attack, take cover under your desk, put your head between your knees – and kiss your ass goodbye!