Thursday, October 11, 2007
Does Anyone Remember When There Were Fallout Shelters Everywhere ...
When I was a kid growing up In Wichita Falls, I remember everywhere I would go I would see those cool yellow and black signs pointing the way to another "Fallout Shelter." I would always ask my mom or dad, what does that sign mean? They would always say don't worry about it and would quickly change the subject. That just served to arouse my curiosity even more. When we would go to a church, hospital, school, or down town, I would see these signs every where and I was dying to know what was in the mysterious "Fallout Shelter." I have been told that before I went to school there was a time when all of the grown ups went into full panic mode and feared the time to go to the dreaded "Fallout Shelter" was near. My older sister was in first or second grade and the year was 1962, I think in October when she would bring home a different letter every day from school advising as to the revised emergency plan. This was in response to the "Cuban Missile Crisis." It seemed Fidel Castro had let the Russians put some nuclear missiles down in Cuba just a short distance away from the U.S.A. until President Kennedy told Fidel to get rid of the missiles or else we are going to give you some of ours. Those were some tense times but Castro backed down and removed the missiles. Who knows how close we really came to getting a close look inside those "Fallout Shelters." I never did get to go inside one but I did get to go in a "Storm Cellar" or " Tornado Shelter" as some called them. I guess you could go so far to say "Bomb Shelter" as well. I lived right in the middle of "Tornado Alley" and about one in ten houses in Wichita Falls had one. The kids that had one in their back yard were held in high esteem that is for sure. They were great places to play though often declared "Off Limits" by the kids parents. That did not matter, kids went into them every chance they could. I don't remember ever actually going into one and riding out a bad storm. I do remember going out and watching a tornado when I was five years old. My wife grew up in East Texas and she does remember getting up in the middle of the night and going in her pajamas to ride out a storm in some ones "Storm Cellar." What fun that must have been to a child, probably real scary and real exciting all at the same time. It has been years since I have seen a sign pointing the way to a "Fallout Shelter" I do not think they exist anymore. The old department of "Civil Defense" has been replaced by the department of "Homeland Security." I guess there is always going to be a threat of some kind. Given the way things played out down at the Super Dome after Hurricane Katrina, I do not think we can count on the government or anyone for that matter, should a real disaster strike. That was a localized regional event. Can you imagine the chaos if a real disaster struck the entire nation at one time. Looking back, I think that the more things change, the more things remain the same. I think that is because times and circumstances change but people never really do. I do know one thing. I was right about all of the cool things that I just knew had to be "hidden" inside those "Fallout Shelters" so many years ago. If I had been able to sneak into one, I could have found barrels of drinking water, medical supplies, cases of survival crackers, cases of toilet paper, and real Geiger Counters among other cool stuff. Go over to the Civil Defense Museum website and see it for yourself. If only I could go back in time over four decades and sneak into a "Fallout Shelter." Just think of all the fun I would have had.
FHB, When I was about ten years old we moved to Fort Worth. Did not see as many "Fallout Shelter" signs but I remember the B-52's flying overhead very well. Seems like it was a daily occurance. I moved back to F.W. about ten years ago after a 19 year absence. I miss those old bombers for sure.
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