Living the Fallout Life

fallout shelter buildingFallout Shelter Handbook

I love Red Scare materials and I am always fascinated by the prospect of supposedly living through nuclear annihilation. Remember, I am from the generation who was told to hide under my desk when the bomb drops, so I could be “safe”. Note the apparent normalcy of life underground in a bunker on the book cover. Note how everyone on the cover is just having a regular day. Mom is even wearing an apron and Dad is smoking a pipe, probably waiting for the Mrs. to make him a drink. The whole scene is just charming.

These books are interesting and might work in places devoted to contemporary accounts of the cold war. Even if one of my public library patrons was interested in building an underground shelter, I think we could probably come up with something a bit more current. In the meantime, enjoy the good old days.


emergency drinking water

building an underground shelter

underground stairs


food storage



  1. My favorite part was the lady checking her provisions. Hope she didn’t forget the pimentos!
    I read someplace that housewives were supposed to set up a sort of rotation system because canned goods could develop a tinny taste over time in the shelter, something that you wouldn’t want in your post-apocalyptic life.

  2. I wonder if the “HERSH Shelter Storage Water” was just bottled tap water? It worked for Pepsi (“Aquafina”) and Coca-Cola (“Dasani”).

    To survive a nuclear war in style, you really need something like the underground house in Las Vegas (which brings to mind the 1999 movie, “Blast from the Past”):

    Having lived through atomic bomb drills during the early 60s (one of which my Mom thought was the real thing, which terrified her) I’m afraid I feel no nostalgia for this stuff.

  3. Oh, yeah. I’m going down to the fallout shelter in a tight dress and heels — and is she wearing pearls?

  4. The plants in the garden where the people are going down into the shelter certainly look irradiated!

  5. Survival City, which is a historic look at the bomb-shelter movement, would be a much better choice for a library I’m guessing (it’s very good). That said, fascinating photos and pages.

  6. While in no way do I want to sound as if I am diminishing the threat of nuclear warfare I think I once heard that during the Cold War, ONLY a very small percentage of families (I assume they meant only American ones, as opposed to other countries) IN FACT had a fallout shelter of their very own!

    1. They must have been extremely expensive to build and stock. I wonder what bottled water cost in the 1960s.

  7. Oh, about 45 years ago, I babysat for a family with a fallout shelter. The entrance was off their basement and it went further under a hill. Even at 15, all I could think of was I would rather fry then stay in that airless concrete tomb. It was only used for storage at the time and the kids loved to show it off. Gives me the heebie geebies just thinking about it.

  8. Of course the man of the family is going to be pouring out water from a giant bucket — not!

    1. Omniviewer, took the words right out of my mouth. Perhaps the task of pouring-out had better be allocated to a family member (i.e. mom) who has a lifetime of experience, and knows better than to pour directly from a five-gallon bucket into an eight-ounce cup.

      That shelter on the cover is enormous, isn’t it? People who actually had their own shelters would have been ROFLing at the wildly improbably amount of floor space.

      Was there extra ventilation to handle Dad’s pipe smoke?

  9. This book is hilariously outdated! It’s like “Leave It to Beaver” for the apocalyptic set.

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