Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters
A follow-up to my post yesterday about the invention of 'fallout biscuits' in 1961
In 1971, eight tons of these biscuits, or crackers, caused the floor to collapse at the South Carolina State House:
"All of a sudden the walls of the State House began to shake and then the whole world fell in," said Woody Brooks, whose office is next to the storage room...
"We know there were some crackers back there," Brooks said, "but who would have thought there were eight tons of them."
The Greenville News - July 11, 1971
Back in 1961, the U.S. Office of Civil Defense came out with 'fallout biscuits.' They were vitaminized crackers. The idea was that people in fallout shelters could live on these for weeks, or even years, if necessary. The biscuits were cheap to make and lasted pretty much forever, so huge quantities were prepared.
Fast-forward to the twenty-first century. The various places wheres the biscuits were stored, such as the University of Montana
, now faced the problem of how to get rid of the thousands of boxes of these things.
Orlando Sentinel - Jun 2, 1961
Fort Myers News-Press - May 11, 1961
"how the housewife of the future might do her shopping during danger of atomic attack. The ensemble consists of a hood and goggles for protection against atomic flashes, a cloak and a gas mask to protect the lungs from atomic dust."
Because not even the threat of nuclear war is going to stop the weekly shop!
Akron Beacon Journal - May 7, 1957
How the atomic bomb inspired hairdressers.
La Grande Observer - July 30, 1946
Liliana Orsi, a 22-year-old beauty in Rome, Italy, displays her new atomic hairdo and the photo of the atomic blast which inspired it. It took a hair stylist 12 hours to arrange Liliana's coiffure, so it's not recommended for daily wear. It's an old fashion and something dangerously new. — Mar 8, 1951
What these press agents won't think of! From one Las Vegas beauty salon comes this hair style, modeled by showgirl Terry True. And that big upsweep at the top is supposed to symbolize a mushroom cloud effect of a bomb explosion. The dark ring is a switch, with a jeweled clip to brighten things up.
(AP Wirephoto — Mar 2, 1951)
Mansfield News-Journal - Apr 29, 1946
You get a killer tan, even at night.
The original residents of Bikini were never able to return
The Miami News - July 3, 1946
Found a better quality copy of the picture. (source
Prompted by the recent threats from North Korea, Guam's Office of Civil Defense recently issued guidelines on what people should do in the event of a nuclear emergency. It included the advice that you should wash your hair with shampoo or soap. However, you shouldn't use conditioner "because it will bind radioactive material to your hair."
Interesting and potentially useful to know.
More info: Guam Civil Defense Fact Sheet
In 1953, Corwin D. Willson of Flint, Michigan patented the Atomic Bomb Car. Though the official title on the patent was a "sedan having versatile structure."
His idea was that if the United States were "atomically attacked," people would need to flee the cities, and then they'd have to live in their cars. But most cars aren't designed to be lived in. The solution: turn cars into mobile bomb shelters that could provide temporary housing for people. Essentially, he was patenting a camper car, but he was trying to market it as a defense against atomic attack.
From the patent:
Obviously, today's family car, while as numerous as dwellings, would fail, under threat of atomic attack, to meet the needs of millions of families simultaneously for widely diffused family shelter during an emergency probably timed to occur in mid-winter and to be of some duration. yet, once some practical: i.e., simple and economically possible, means is found for making the average car quickly convertible to housekeeping use, then the threat of the atom bomb to our cities loses some of its menace.
It is commonly acknowledged that the physical structures of congested areas are doomed once atomically attacked, The real problem is: how sensibly to save the lives of the inhabitants of cities thus marked for destruction and temporarily house them so that the business of resistance may go on in spite of the chaos engendered? Americans own as many motorcars as dwellings: 30,000,000 cars. If these cars were built as taught herein and if the civilian masses, against whom the next war acknowledgedly will be waged, were trained to diffuse in an orderly fashion to points prepared in advance and to occupy their convertible motorcars as temporary family dwellings till the danger passed, then one of the greatest problems to face the coming generation would have found a simple, economically sound and eminently satisfying solution.
More info: JF Ptak Science Books
, Patent #US2638374A
If the crystals are glowing, it's time to get going.
The Opelousas Daily World - Sep 6, 1957
I'm guessing that if this actually worked to cure headaches it was because of the placebo effect. Although radium does, of course, produce heat, which might help a headache. But if there was enough radium in the cap to feel noticeably warm, it must have been incredibly dangerous.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - June 11, 1937
The AMVETS organization announced its plan to issue plastic dog tags to all civilians in the United States, to help identify people in case of an atomic emergency. The tags would carry the wearer's name, address, and blood-type. The tags were plastic in order to "prevent radiation effects in the event of an atomic explosion."
AMVETS hoped to have the tags issued to all Americans within 18 months, but obviously that never happened.
Some searching has revealed that President Truman and actress Doris Day were presented with their own atomic dog tags, but I'm not sure that anyone else ever got one.
Philadelphia Inquirer - Sep 29, 1950
New Philadelphia Daily Times - Sep 28, 1950
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