Wednesday, September 3, 2014

September 1961 – Fallout Shelters Part 1

Here are a few Journal articles from September 1961 about fallout shelters that reveal the ongoing concern back then in Lorain about a nuclear attack. My parents seriously considered building a fallout shelter along with some neighbor friends that lived right behind our house on W. 30th Street.

(Back here and here on the blog, I presented some amusing government handbooks about how to survive a nuclear attack.)

Anyway, the first Journal article (below) ran on September 1, and points out that fallout shelters were going to present some possible building code headaches for the city.


Fallout Shelters Are Not Covered in Building Code

Fallout Shelters may be violating city building codes if they are built outside the setback lines in front yards, City Building Inspector Jay Boey believes.

Boey made this observation after studying a booklet put out by the federal government called "The Family Fallout Shelter." It is available at the mayor's office at no charge.

Because of recent interest in shelters to protect persons from the results of atomic blasts, the structural aspects of the buildings have been brought to light.

Boey says he doesn't know whether the shelter should be classified as a dwelling unit or an accessory building.

Nevertheless, the inspector points out, Lorain's present laws would require the shelter to be placed at least 40 feet back from the front property line in new allotment sections.

Older section setback lines are determined by the average setback of existing dwellings, and new dwellings must stay behind the line.

Boey thinks it is up to the Civil Defense director to take the initiative in determining what should be done as far as shelter construction limitations are concerned.

He indicated City Council could pass legislation which would allow shelters in setback limit areas.

If fallout shelters are built in back yards, they probably would meet city codes, Boey explained. He could only put them in a class with swimming pools, which now don't need permits for building in the city.

Dwelling units must meet certain specifications for light, area, heat and the like, Boey said. He isn't sure whether these would apply for shelter dwellings.

Meanwhile, Nickoloff Builders, 1688 E. 28th St., has been advertising that it will build shelters in basements for $895. The response hasn't been heavy, the firm reports. Only one all has been received.

Illustration courtesy of the book Bomboozled: How the U.S. Government Misled Itself
and Its People Into Believing They Could Survive a Nuclear Attack (2011)


Anonymous said...

I wish my parents would have built one!!!


Drew Penfield said...

Gotta love how the drawings always make the people inside look comfortable and happy. "Here honey, sit back and read a book while the world is incinerated. We've got at least a few weeks before we die of starvation or radiation poisoning."

Dan Brady said...

It would be interesting to know just how many fallout shelters were built in Lorain County during that era. My parents scuttled their plan to build one with a neighbor, because of the awkward complications (grandparents lived in another part of town, etc.) Plus I wonder if the Twilight Zone episode "The Shelter," (which aired in September 1961) had anything to do with it?

Anonymous said...

We had that "In Time of Emergency" booklet around the house and some of the illustrations TERRIFIED me!

Drew Penfield said...

I agree, Dan, that would be interesting to know. I wouldn't be surprised if one or two are found underground during new construction someday.