You may recall back in June I devoted a Saturday Squirrel post to pictures of some majestically beautiful squirrels from the Eastern Hemisphere. Since all of the featured squirrels were from countries in the old Communist Bloc, I made several Cold War references in the post. I was surprised when two weeks ago, I received a comment on that post that turned out to not just be some Spam that slipped through WordPress’ filter. I was taken to task by “Amber”, who read my playing off old Cold War themes as misinformed political garbage that was blatantly anti-Russian and factually incorrect.
Amber, bless her heart, was only looking for pictures of beautiful squirrels and ran into a sentiment that obviously came from a time before she was born, and one that she thus can not understand and therefore must think is invalid and incorrect. To bring anyone born after the fall of the Berlin Wall up to speed, from around the end of World War II through the 1980′s, there was a clear cut “cold war” between the US and the USSR, democracy vs. communism, that (Korea and Vietnam notwithstanding) never actually escalated into a direct active war. Thank God, or we likely wouldn’t be here today.
The “Us vs. Them” propaganda was big on both sides, but there was no doubt what the consequences of an attack by either side would have resulted in. Many TV shows and movies played off the potential nuclear doomsday scenario that loomed over the earth like a thick black cloud for four decades. Both sides took precautions to not only prepare itself for a potential counterattack, but to prepare its citizens for the impending horror an atomic bomb would wreak should one be dropped in a populated area. The US did this by releasing one of the cheesiest children’s educational films in history…
While “Duck and Cover” has been skewered and parodied in about every way imaginable since it was released in 1951, trust me, I will devote a post to breaking it down in my own hilarious way sometime in the future!
But our vigilant Civil Defense team did more than just entertain us with talking turtles and teaching us to put our head between our knees and kiss our asses goodbye, they also encouraged people to create a lot of these…
If you were alive in the 80′s, you’ve very likely seen one of these signs before in real life. We had one at my elementary school, along the stairs leading into the basement. I also remember one at our YMCA. These were places you were supposed to be able to go to in the event of a nuclear attack and stay safe while everything else around you was melting.
While there were many fallout shelters built during the 50′s and 60′s that were actually constructed to provide safe haven from atomic fallout, in reality, most fallout shelters were just glorified basements that not only weren’t gonna stop those dangerous gamma rays that would turn your liver into charbroiled steak, but probably didn’t even have a stash of Spam and Tang for all of the survivors. I’m pretty sure there was nothing in our school’s basement that was edible…
But it probably didn’t take much to merit a building getting one of the infamous black and yellow signs. After all, sometimes just the feeling of safety is good enough to satisfy the people… and when people noticed all of the fallout shelter signs as they went about town doing their business, it made them feel better knowing there was a place they could quickly run into and hunker down so they could get fried from the inside out in the company of total strangers. It’s kind of like how people feel so much safer driving a car with an airbag even though it’s probably going to rip their head off of their shoulders when it inflates.
Alas, my younger readers like Amber will never realize the blissful simplicity of knowing exactly WHO the enemy was, and WHAT they were going to wipe us out with like we had back in the Cold War days. When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 90′s and the threat of atomic warfare subsided, the Fallout Shelter became a relic and most went back to their old purpose of serving up school lunches and hiding dead bodies. Sadly, the old reliable threat has now been replaced by the much more unpredictable attacks of modern terrorism, and there isn’t much diving into a Fallout Shelter or curling up like a turtle is going to do to save us from those unconventional kinds of assaults.
So The Nest gives a big Flashback Friday salute to the Fallout Shelter and its promise of safe haven from The Big One should it happen to be dropped on our hometown. While we no longer have the old Soviet bear to kick around anymore and make us tremble a bit in our boots, at least there is one bold lunatic out there to keep us on our ducking and covering toes, scrambling for the nearest triple triangle placard of sanctuary. And I hear he even likes Rainbow Donkeys….