1950s Bomb Shelters

I'm so excited about the upcoming release of the third Rosa Reed Mystery, Murder at the Bomb ShelterThat's just four days away! Are you as excited as I am? I sure hope so. 🙂

In the meantime, I've written a fun interest piece on bomb shelters. 

The Cold War was one of the most interesting and defining aspects of the era. Did you know that even though public safety drills were routine throughout the 1950s, it was not until the 1957 Gaither Report that bomb shelters were encouraged? Escalating tension with the Soviet Union led to president John F. Kennedy's speech on Oct. 6, 1961, where he strongly advised Americans to invest in bomb shelters. He also pushed for the creation of a network of public bomb shelters which cost taxpayers $100 million.

Even so, many Americans were ahead of the times. The paranoia surrounding the Cold War had been heightened long before Kenndey's proclamation. Global tensions had begun as early as the end of World War II, due to disagreements between Russia and the USSR. The USSR's push to expand its powers across Eastern Europe, combined with America's interventions in national affairs furthered a sense of mutual mistrust.


The term ‘Cold War' was coined as early as 1945 by author George Orwell. By 1949 the Americans were experimenting with hydrogen ‘superbombs' while the Soviets were testing atomic bombs of their own. Tension between the countries was exemplified in the space race. The successful launch and orbit of the Soviet missile Sputnik in 1957 unsettled many Americans, leading to the creation of family bomb shelters.

Bomb shelters, often referred to as ‘fallout shelters' were designed with the goal of protecting individuals from the harmful radioactive fallout due to nuclear war. Many of these shelters were located in basements or buried in backyards. Walls were constructed out of concrete blocks, often with sand floors to bury human waste. The cost of building such a structure was anywhere between $150 to $1000 at the time, depending on what supplies were used and if outside help was hired.

Shelters were built with the expectation that families might be inhabiting the tight space for as much as several weeks to months following nuclear activity. Consequently, those who could afford to, stocked their shelters with battery-powered radios, heating systems and chemical toilets among other amenities.

Do you remember the Cold War? I'd love to hear your memories.

Share your thoughts on my Facebook thread.

Murder's a blast!

Rosa Reed's holiday with the Forester Family in Santa Bonita has turned into an extended stay, and Rosa decides to make use of her Metropolitan Police training and sets up a private investigative business ~ just like her mother! But she finds she's not the only one who keeps business in the family, and when one of the members of the prestigious Gainer family is found dead in his bomb shelter, Rosa is invited to take on the case ~ much to Detective Miguel Belmonte's chagrin. If Rosa doesn't find the killer soon, the summer of  '56 just might be her last.

cozy mystery book cover



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  1. I think bomb shelters are very interesting. Wish we’d had one when I was young or that the house I bought had one.

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