Re: In case of an attack...

03/24/20 - posted by Paul Judge

With the title of this thread, “In case of an attack...” jb of course was resurrecting a phrase familiar to those of us who remember the post WWII decades. It is a relic of Civil Defense measures of the Cold War period. As children we recall the ‘Duck and Cover’ drills, pamphlets with plans for building and stocking a home fallout shelter, and for San Franciscans we were accustomed to the air raid sirens that were shrilled every Tuesday at noon. Signs appeared in public places designed with three inverted yellow triangles inside a black circle that directed people to the location of public radiation fallout shelters. I didn’t know until looking into it what those three triangles indicated. The following is from the Civil Defense Museum web site (Yes museum lovers, there’s a museum dedicated to this matter.)

“How many really understand the real significance of those black and yellow markers? There are six points to the shelter sign. They signify: 1. Shielding from radiation; 2. Food and water; 3. Trained leadership; 4. Medical supplies and aid; 5. Communications with the outside world; 6. Radiological monitoring to determine safe areas and time for return home.”

Another memory from those times were the CONELRAD symbols at 640 and 1240 kHz frequencies on the dials of most radios sold in the US between 1953 and 1963. CONELRAD (Control of Electromagnetic Radiation) was a method of emergency broadcasting to the public of the United States in the event of enemy attack during the Cold War. All radio and television broadcast stations shut off and listeners were to dial to those two frequencies for information. Again, something that I was unaware of until researching this topic was that even CONELRAD frequencies would be interrupted for brief periods to prevent enemy bombers to use those radio frequencies to guide them to their target.

In their matter of fact fashion yet still acting in a manner not to frighten us kids our parents implied that if the Soviets launched a nuclear attack, we wouldn't survive the blast to need a fallout shelter.

Thus, in September 1959 when Nikita Khruschev came to San Francisco I was keenly aware of his visit. It pleased me to learn that he enjoyed the beauty of San Francisco. Somewhere I picked up a false sense of security when I heard that he said to the effect that he would never order an attack on the City. I’d be curious to hear from others if that is their recollection, or did I conjure that one up to sleep better at night?

“SF visit puts Soviet leader in a good mood before high-level US summit” Nikita Khrushchev spent only a day and a half in San Francisco, but he filled up the time — with plenty of media attention following him. Bill Van Niekerken Sep. 11, 2019

What residual memories from that time period do you recall?

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