The Civil Defense Museum.
October 23, 2001 9:37 AM   Subscribe

The Civil Defense Museum. Americans are taking their personal security seriously again, but for decades the threat of nuclear annihilation was a constant presence. It seemed laughable in The Atomic Cafe, but the fears that led to fallout shelters and Bert the Turtle don't seem quite so ridiculous anymore.
posted by snarkout (11 comments total)
The last link includes a QuickTime of all-time fab-favorite Duck and Cover in a much manageable format than the chunky 26+ megs on the site.

I remember debating with grade-school chums the likelihood of a particular city being first on the nuclear hit-list. (Hometown San Antonio rated high amongst us because of its four Air Force bases and single Army base, as well as the Alamo ;-) I suppose kids nowadays are thinking the same thing, except with respect to terrorism or biological attack.
posted by Avogadro at 9:56 AM on October 23, 2001

I grew up near DRE Suffield in Alberta, where the chemical and bio weapons research for the Canadian Forces is conducted. Like Avogadro, I debated how high we were on the nuclear hit-list (we guessed we were pretty high thans to DRES). We had air raid sirens in town (they doubled as tornado warning sirens), and supposedly the school district had a nuclear attack preparedness plan. I was born during the cold war, so I don't remember what security was like at DRES then (I was 12 when the Berlin Wall fell), but I do know that there used to be a web site for DRES, and there isn't anymore. Some of my classmates parents worked at DRES.

There certainly is something to the idea of civil defense, if only in that it calms the tendency towards panic and paranoia.
posted by iceberg273 at 10:01 AM on October 23, 2001

I remember as a kid seeing Nike silos from the bus on the way home from school in the suburbs of Detroit. Were they really Nike silos? From an adult perspective, it seems pretty unlikely. But it shows you how pervavsive the whole cold war mindset was, that grade-school kids would imagine such things and think they were normal.

I don't know if it calms the panic at all, though. I bet I'm not the only person who had occasional a-screaming-comes-across-the-sky nightmares well into adulthood. The best artistic vision of what this will do to a kid may be PKD's story "Foster, You're Dead."
posted by rodii at 10:14 AM on October 23, 2001

Mm, tasty treats: "Fallout shelter food supplies came in the form of crackers, biscuits, bulgar wafers and carbohydrate supplement (hard candy). The shelter program goal was to stock 10,000 calories total per shelteree for the designated 2 week shelter stay. That amounted to a 700 calorie per day food supply to each shelteree." What on earth, I wonder, is a bulgar wafer?

This link also reminds me that we already had a perfectly servicable term for "Homeland Defense."
posted by redfoxtail at 1:12 PM on October 23, 2001

i am becoming convinced that our contemporary war efforts suffer from a lack of attention to typographical elements...
posted by judith at 1:28 PM on October 23, 2001

Re: Tasty treats
Take a look at Operation Teapot, in which the government investigated the "Effect of Nuclear Explosions on Commercially Packaged Beverages."
posted by rorschach at 2:32 PM on October 23, 2001

I don't know any of you people, but I think this is a good thread, and would like to see more of this sort.
posted by thirteen at 2:48 PM on October 23, 2001

Bert the Turtle, you say...hmm....
posted by rushmc at 3:37 PM on October 23, 2001

I, too, remember being totally convinced that our city was going to be wiped out in a war, because of the airplane graveyard and all the Titan II missles in the area. I also playing on the monkey-bars around this time of year in 1979, and talking about who would be the best Pres. to protect us from the USSR. It all seems real weird now. Anyhow, if you are ever in the Tucson area, go check out the Titan Missile Museum.

oooh, looks like this would be the time to go, too: "This October, the titan Missile Museum is proud to invite Southern Arizona to descend into pure terror as the mysterious Curse of Cibola bring the world's only publicly-accessible nuclear missile complex back to life during The Titan of Terror.
Beginning at 6:00pm on October 19, 20, 26, & 27 only, brave souls will have a chance to unearth the sleeping horrors that lie below. If you have the courage, we invite you to descend into the deep shadows as the Titan Site 571-7 (the Titan Missile Museum) transforms itself at dusk to present brand-new types of tours sure to induce plenty of screaming!" Hmn, a Halloween Haunted House theme seems to be a strange thing to do at a missile silo.

posted by eckeric at 4:28 PM on October 23, 2001

Great link! I went through the entire site tonight... I guess that must have something to do with being the son of a civil engineer.

Reminded me of a link to the Abandoned Missile Silo Tour.
posted by campy at 10:11 PM on October 23, 2001

What on earth, I wonder, is a bulgar wafer?

off-tangent, but since red asked: bulgar's apparently some sort of wheat grain.
posted by lia at 8:59 AM on October 24, 2001

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