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October 6, 1961: Build a Family Fallout Shelter

Posted October 06, 2006 6:00 AM by Steve Melito

On October 6, 1961, President John F. Kennedy advised American families to build fallout shelters for protection from radioactive debris in the event of a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Earlier that year, Kennedy had proposed spending over $200 million to "identify and mark space in existing structures – public and private – that could be used for fallout shelters in case of attack." According to Kenneth D. Rose, author of One Nation Underground: The Fallout Shelter in American Culture, some American families had already prepared for Armageddon. A June 1961 study from governors in 40 states "reported that more than 60,000 family fallout shelters had been built or were under construction". By 1965, as many as 200,000 family fallout shelters were in place.

The Family Fallout Shelter, a 32-page publication from the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization, provided Americans with building plans for five basic fallout shelters. Only the least expensive plan, the basement concrete block shelter, was intended as a do-it-yourself project. Louis Severance, a farmer from Akron, Michigan, designed a custom shelter with a ventilation system, escape hatch, kitchen, running water, and sleeping and living area for a family of four. The shelter, which cost about $1000, featured concrete walls and a 10-inch, reinforced concrete ceiling. As Severance said, "Ever since I was convinced what damage H-Bombs can do, I've wanted to build the shelter. Just as with my chicken farm, when there's a need I build it."

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#1

Re: October 6, 1961: Build a Family Fallout Shelter

10/08/2006 11:42 AM

For those who have the luxery of a fallout shelter, I am told that they make excellent wine cellars. Thus if the cold war comes back, and goes HOT, you can celebrate the end of the world in style.

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#2

Re: October 6, 1961: Build a Family Fallout Shelter

11/16/2007 3:49 PM

Thank god that doomsday never happened , not US or SU whole world would have cursed there ancestors and suffered the worst human disaster in history of man kind

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