Fallout Shelter

[Strangelove’s plan for post-nuclear war survival involves living underground with a 10:1 female-to-male ratio]
General “Buck” Turgidson: Doctor, you mentioned the ratio of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn’t that necessitate the abandonment of the so-called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned?
Dr. Strangelove: Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of the human race. I hasten to add that since each man will be required to do prodigious… service along these lines, the women will have to be selected for their sexual characteristics which will have to be of a highly stimulating nature.
Ambassador de Sadesky: I must confess, you have an astonishingly good idea there, Doctor
—-Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

You don’t see very many of these anymore.
Waxahachie, Texas

The Federal Government is moving forward to bring into operation fallout shelter space for large groups of people under very austere conditions. Many homeowners, communities and business firms can and will provide more adequate and better located shelter space for their own needs. The Federal Government is backing this effort with a massive dissemination of technical information. In addition, we will inform those who cannot afford costly structures on low-cost methods of improvising shielding against fallout radiation. The people of this country will be urged, by me, by the Governors and by other leaders to do what is within their means.

I look forward to the closest cooperation between all levels of government in the United States to move rapidly towards this goal. Your committee is making a major contribution in stimulating participation by the state governments in the nationwide civil defense effort.
Sincerely,
JOHN F. KENNEDY
Letter to the Members of the Committee on Civil Defense of the Governors’ Conference. October 6, 1961

Someone younger than me would find it very hard to imagine how ubiquitous the “Fallout Shelter” sign was during the time of my youth. They were everywhere.

This was the time of “Duck and Cover” films being shown in school. Even at that young age I remember looking down at a puddle of sweat on the floor where it had dripped off my forehead as I crouched under my school desk in an air raid drill and thinking, “What the Hell? We are all going to roast!” I had recurring nightmares of Russian nuclear strikes, air raid sirens, and the end of mankind.

But times have changed… if not improved, and I haven’t seen a Fallout Shelter sign in decades. Until we stumbled across one on a photowalk in downtown Waxahachie.

So, if “Rocket Man” fires off his missiles in anger and insanity I guess you better get in your car and haul ass to Waxahachie, Texas, and hope there is room in their fallout shelter. It’s right off the town square, across from the statue of the Confederate Soldier. There should be plenty of room.

I won’t be there.

Major T. J. “King” Kong: Survival kit contents check. In them you’ll find: one forty-five caliber automatic; two boxes of ammunition; four days’ concentrated emergency rations; one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills; one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible; one hundred dollars in rubles; one hundred dollars in gold; nine packs of chewing gum; one issue of prophylactics; three lipsticks; three pair of nylon stockings. Shoot, a fella’ could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.
—-Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Roku and roll

Rabbit Ears

Rabbit Ears

 I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain. Time to die.

—Roy Batty, Blade Runner

My father’s day present arrived in a little box yesterday – Candy bought me a Roku box.

I remember when I was a kid, people had only one television. Now, our house, a family of two when the kids are in school, has five televisions set up, plus any number of laptops (I usually watch entertainment on my laptop). Once, I told my kids we didn’t have VCRs when I was a kid (this was when we were all still watching VHS tapes – which already seems a long time ago) and they said they couldn’t imagine how anyone could get through the day. I tried to tell them that when I was a small child we didn’t even have color TV and they only looked confused, with their eyes scrunched up.

In many ways, I miss the one TV days. There were only three channels so everyone watched television together and they watched the same thing. I had a friend with a large family and I used to like to go to his house where the living room would fill up with family, friends, and hangers-on. My favorite was Saturday Night at the Movies, where second-run films would be edited, chopped up and interspersed with commercials, then sent out over the ether in glorious blurry black-and-white.

In the middle of the extravaganza would always be a Coca-Cola commercial. My friends’ mother would immediately haul herself up from the couch and stride to the kitchen for a cold bottle of Coke – The Real Thang. It was like clockwork. We would laugh but she never figured out what we were laughing about. She never knew that the commercial was sending her out for a cold, sweating bottle, either. She actually thought she was thirsty.

TV

Since everybody across the land watched the same thing every evening there was always a discussion of the evening’s entertainment around the water coolers the next day.

In 1964, I remember when the Beatles went back across the pond. That seemed to be a big deal back then, like it actually mattered where a rock band was physically located. It felt like we would never see or hear from the adorable mop-tops again. Though I was only seven years old, I was saddened by this – it felt like an era was passing.

It seemed like only a few days later (the exact chronology is very fuzzy – I was only seven years old) another British band appeared on Ed Sullivan. There was some buzz among the adults in the room that these kids would now replace the Beatles, so I watched and paid attention. This was almost fifty years ago, but I still remember I had a glass of milk in my hand when they came on.

Right away, I was mesmerized. They didn’t have the energy of the Beatles, but there was something…, something I couldn’t figure out, something that I knew a seven year old kid wasn’t privy to, but something, something special, something somehow unsavory yet seductive about these guys, especially the lead singer.

It was, of course, the Rolling Stones, and I was right – nothing would be the same again.

You can Watch it Here. You can’t imagine the effect this had on a seven year old kid in 1964.

So now, a half century later, in this best of all possible worlds, I spent a few seconds hooking up the Roku (they aren’t lying when they say that hooking it up is simple) and the rest of the evening running back and forth from the TV to my laptop in another room carrying a series of slips of paper with passwords and setup codes until I could get the channels working (they don’t tell you about this part).

So now, we can sit down with a small pile of remote controls in the darkened corner of a back bedroom (we’ll move it to Lee’s massive TV when he goes back to school) and stream the whole world into that little box.

It’s really cool, it really is, but it doesn’t have the effect of a blurry static-besmirched Mick Jagger wriggling beneath a pair of aluminum-draped rabbit ears. It’s not the television’s fault – it’s not the technology – it’s my eyes. They aren’t seven any more. They are worn out now. They have seen too much.

Stones

Stones