by Art Chantry ( firstname.lastname@example.org) :
early in his presidency (i think around the time of the cuban missile crisis), president john f. kennedy mailed a little booklet to every household in america. it’s title was “fallout protection: what to know and do about nuclear attack.” it was done up in serious bright yellow and black like an emergency street closure sign and had both the words ‘department of defense’ and ‘department of civil defense’ prominently printed across it. it even has a great ‘dept. of defense’ seal/logo thingie popped in there on the cover to let you know how serious it is.
the brain freezing fear of end-of-the-world nuclear attack (and all the giant bugs and radioactive monsters it would create) was so profound that we all remember the newsreel footage and classroom drills of “duck and cover” (if you’re old enough). but, many of us forget about items like this simple little informational booklet. millions of these things went out in the mail. if that wasn’t enough to freeze the blood, nothing could. and it’s DEAD serious, too.
fallout was still a new idea. it seems that in the nuclear biz, every ten years or so (usually coinciding with a particularly scary international event or paranoid manipulative presidency) there is another ‘racheting up’ of the nuclear fear. i remember when “EMP” (electro-magnetic pulse) was discovered and announced. then there was the ‘holes in the ozone layer’ and those missing russian ‘backpack bombs’ and middle eastern nuke programs. and can we ever forget ‘nuclear winter’? these ‘new discoveries’ come along like clockwork to keep the nuke business active and fat and happy. now we have ‘dirty bombs’ and ‘nuclear black market’ and general terrorism to toss around. it’s like a ‘planned obsolescence’ of fear – a carefully determined calculated effort to keep the funding flowing. we’ve known about all of these things since the very first atom bomb test. but, this info gets released in drips and drops to be of maximum use in the branding of our fears for political and business use. fallout was simply one of the earliest ones trotted out to scare the crap out of us.
this booklet tells you how to survive radioactive fallout. it’s a real hoot to examine because it’s so stupid and and so utterly scary. for instance, if you are caught out on the open (and a huge percentage of us would be), we are instructed to dig a hole as fast as you can and pull debris over the top of you to avoid fallout from coming in contact with your person. then stay there for ohhh, say… six months to a 2 years? ah, and don’t forget to hold your breathe, too.
so, when every household in america got one of these things, it started a flood of paranoia and a ‘rally around the leader’ routine that gets used to swing votes over and over. thousands of americans stockpiled food and built ridiculously expensive and completely useless fallout shelters. apocalyptic fears even made guns take off in the marketplace in really huge unprecedented numbers, helping to launch the ridiculous gun lobby and it’s huge political power. we’re being herded like sheep (and sold to the highest bidder). except, we’re too stupid to see it. we actually believe all this crap they tell us. it’s sort of embarrassing when you think about it too hard. good thing so few of us ever bother to think at all.
a friend of mine recently sent me a file of this great nuclear brochure form the same period as that JF fallout booklet. it’s titled, “4 wheels to survival”. it’s got one of those really cool early 60′s ‘atomic modern’ cartoons of a family happily driving away from a small city in the far background following an arrow that leads them away from that town. using the bright ‘emergency’ orange ink, they create a giant target that engulfs the home town they’re leaving. the interior of the booklet is set in bold bold type instructing you to – in case of a nuclear attack – hop into your car and drive as far away from ground zero as fast as you can.
this delightfully designed and written bit of unintentional black humor is 100% serious and was distributed all over america. there is real money dumped into this thing and many hours of professional effort sincerely attempting to inform the otherwise ignorant public about what to do in case of an atom bomb gets lobbed at us by them pesky ruskies. it’s basic instructions are simple – RUN LIKE HELL!!!!