A Remnant from the Cold War Era

Fallout Shelter sign at Kinsolving dorm

Fallout Shelter sign at Kinsolving dorm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fallout Shelter sign inside the Waggener Hall

Fallout Shelter sign inside the Waggener Hall

I have recently found old (ca. 1950s-early 60s) nuclear fallout shelter signs one outside the Kinsolving dorm and the other inside the Waggener Hall on campus. They survived nearly 6 decades! I wonder whether the current undergraduate students would understand what those are meant for, or even recognize what they are. I was born immediately after the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was made (1963), so my generation was imprinted with significant level (if not at a level of health risk) of radioactive isotopes (Cs-137 or Sr-90) in the body. While growing up I used to think my generation should preserve our teeth or bones for the historic archive… kind of creepy thought for a young boy. These signs reminded me particularly of the bomb drills we used to practice in Korea in my young ages until the early 1970s. The threat of air raid or another war by North Korea was very realistic at the time. Duck and cover practices, escaping to a safe underground shelter, preparing a soap-rubbed wet masks, and putting a huge plastic bag on our entire body… they are still in my memory. Although we do not detonate the atomic bombs in the atmosphere any more, accidental release of lethal radioactive materials to the environment still happen occasionally as we saw from the Chernobyl and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant melt downs.  As we continue to live in the nuclear-powered era, perhaps these fallout shelters are not completely obsolete at least in terms of educational or awareness value, I guess.

 

Target Austin

Texas Department of Public Safety Historical Museum and Research Center

Sound | 1960

 

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