Friday, September 24, 2010


No Place to Hide-Fallout Warden

When the United States government began marking and stocking public Fallout Shelters on a large scale in 1962, the Office of Civil Defense began producing training booklets for would-be shelter managers. One of these documents (“not intended for distribution to the public”) was entitled “Guide for Community Fallout Shelter Management” dated June 22, 1962 [U.S. Government Printing Office: 1962 0—64331]. In subsequent years, the government also put out a series of surreal training films on the topic including Public Shelter Living: The Story of Shelter 104 (1964). This post examines the Guide.

Shelter Cvr

The first thing that the modern reader notices about the material is how non-committal it is. The words “For training purposes only” on the cover page is the opening tip-off that the bureaucratic authors are hedging their bets mightily. And who can blame them for the disclaimer? This document is, after all, the government’s version of what life might be like after an atomic attack—you’d want some wiggle, too. No wonder the Department of Defense didn’t want the document shared with the public…

Not intended for public
The booklet is a mostly boring recitation of boilerplate civil defense assumptions (we don’t even get into the shelter until chapter three!). For your convenience, this post will share the more interesting text excerpts from the document.

The excerpt presented below is, like a lot of the booklet, is overly optimistic… 

Shelter entry
One of the more valuable pieces of advice offered to the potential shelter manager is not to overpromise the estimated time of departure…

Shelter Manager-Extreme Caution Shelter Manager-Extreme Caution-2

One of the first things the document gets to is smoking because the authors no doubt assumed that surviving World War III would cause survivors to want to light up….

Info Program for Pub Shelters-Shelter Smokes

It is interesting to note that the topic of smoking (above) is given more space in the booklet than instruction on what to do with someone who expires during their shelter stay…

Bodies of persons 
And then there is the other, more mundane kind of waste management…

Waste Disposal
And what is the shelter manager supposed to do if someone breaks the rules? Based on the answer below, it would seem that he should break out the riot gear that is not mentioned anywhere in the booklet (but we know must have existed).

CD Revolver Ad

When not handling dead bodies, breaking up insurrections or dealing with waste, the shelter manager was supposed to keep the “shelterees” entertained…

Special Activities
Occupying Public Shelter-Checkers

And spiritually fulfilled…

Spiritual Activities
Of course, in the ever-optimistic, but cautious verbiage of the government authors, there would come a time to leave the shelter…

Leaving the Shelter
In the back of the book there are handy forms (for instructional purposes only) to help the shelter manager implement order on chaos. First there is the shelter registration form…

Shelter Form
And then there is a sample schedule to better regiment the extreme monotony…

Shelter Schedule-Text Intro      
Shelter Schedule-Lights On

Shelter Schedule-Dinner

Shelter Schedule-Lights Out

Occupying Public Shelter-Sleepy Shelterites


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