Growing up in the Cold War

December 14, 2014

The museum in Albuquerque, NM. photo by Steve Davis

During a recent road trip I visited the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque, New Mexico. More about the museum itself in a future post, but the gift shop had some old government publications for sale. I picked up one titled, “Survival Under Atomic Attack”. This is a printed by the Office of Civil Defense, State of California in October 1950. California reprinted it from a federal government brochure.

It is an extremely interesting document from the Cold War era. The government tried to prepare and reassure the populace by telling them it was actually possible to survive an all-out nuclear exchange between the USSR and the United States. Not only that they actually told people that life would go on much as before. Reading this brochure I found it so asinine that I actually laughed out loud at a lot of the contents. I thought I’d share some of the ‘deep thoughts’ found in the booklet.

On the very first page it states,


you can live through an atom bomb raid
and you won’t have to have a Geiger counter,
Protective clothing, or special training in order to do it.

The secrets of survival are:




Forgive my skepticism but okay folks whatever you say.

Then there is a page titled “Kill the Myths” I found this just absurd. Here it is,

Myth #1 “Atomic Weapons will not destroy the Earth. Not even hydrogen bombs will blow the earth apart or kill us all by radioactivity.”

Yeah right they’ll just kill most humans, animals, and all other life and leave the planet uninhabitable.

Myth #2 “Doubling Bomb Power does not double destruction.”

This is total bullshit. Nuclear weapons would be detonated above their targets causing enormous damage. The governments who control these weapons have done extensive testing and know full well that this statement is an outright lie.

Myth #3 “Radioactivity is not the bombs greatest threat.”

Maybe not over the short-term, but over the long-term it is the greatest threat. It would linger and as proven by studies of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagaski, do damage for generations. Why do you think those x-ray techs in the dentist’s office run out of the room when they take those shots of your teeth? Why do they drap that lead vest around you and your vital parts? It’s because of the radiation. Granted it’s only in small dosages from x-rays, but nuclear weapons emit massive amounts of radiation when they explode.

Reading this document at this time in our history is an amusing peek into the mindset of those in power during one of the most frightening periods in recent history. As a child who grew up during the Cold War the contents of this document are beyond comical. It shocks me that we actually believed this stuff. I guess it reassured us that we shouldn’t have been scared. Hell no in reality most of us were scared shit-less!

My personal philosophy in the event of an all-out nuclear exchange was simply that I would prefer not to survive thank you. Let others deal with the nuclear winter and fall-out that would affect the Earth for thousands of years. Let others try to live on without law and order. Let others live on without the benefits of modern civilization like drinking water, heat in winter, and food. The dead would be better off, of that I have no doubt.


National Museum of Nuclear Science & History
Alburquerque, New Mexico

Plains of Death: Armageddon Up Close

June 20, 2008

Driving across the northern great plains of the United States many of us have seen the many missile silos scattered across such states as Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. It’s almost surreal to realize the weapons contained below ground at these sites are capable of ending civilization as we know it.

Because of the end of Cold War, tensions between the world’s superpowers, Russia and the United States, are very low at the present time. Most of the missile sites have been deactivated under treaty agreements, the missiles removed, and their nuclear warheads destroyed or put into storage. However, there are still over 500 of these missiles deployed across the norther plain states today. The Minuteman missiles in these silos are the backbone of the United States Strategic Air Command’s nuclear deterance force.

There is a new National Historic Site under the administration of the National Parks Service, Department of the Interior. This is called “Minuteman Missile” and is located in South Dakota about 75 miles east of Rapid City along Interstate 90. It consists of an underground missile control center and a missile silo. I intend to try to visit it soon to add to my knowledge of the Cold War era.


These missile sites are pretty inconspicuous. Not much is above ground, but they are heavily fenced with razor-wire and marked with ominous signs warning of the use of deadly force on trespassers. The military patrols the active sites and apparently there are movement sensors and cameras included in the site security. Stop and look if you want, but don’t approach the site or attempt to cross the fence.

The silos contain the Minuteman Inter-Continental Balllistic Missile (ICBM). Some chilling facts concerning these deadly arrows of destruction,

  • Can strike a target over 6,000 miles away in less than 30 minutes.
  • Have a speed of over 15,000 miles per hour. They can cross the United States from east to west in less than 10 minutes, The same distance by car takes over 40 hours.
  • The missiles are deadly accurate. Some say with 100 yards, although that is Classified.
  • Remotely controlled from an underground control centre.
  • Mass produced.
  • Solid fueled rockets. This meant they were ready to launch immediately. No complex preparation was required as with liquid fueled rockets.
  • Armed with nuclear warheads about 10 times more powerful than the Hiroshima or Nagaski bombs. In fact they are “city killers”.

At the height of the Cold War the missile fields of South Dakota alone covered and area of over 13,500 square miles. This is an area larger than the state of Maryland.

This site will be a sobering reminder of the Cold War and hopefully a warning to future generations of the potential to exterminate mankind. Up until now drivers on Interstate 90 have passed by without giving these installations a second thought. Now it is possible to get a chilling look behind the scenes. It will be a reality check for most of us. Remember the other side had and still has the same capability to destroy us.

Information can be obtained at:

National Park Service   (click on South Dakota on their map)


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