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2nd July
written by Richard

Southern California families, especially homeowners, are currently pondering the question of their lives: To build or not to build a place to hide from nuclear attack. . .

A backyard bomb shelter.

A backyard bomb shelter.

Read here about “shelter mania” in San Diego: Fallout .


  1. Bonnie Rogers Fuson

    The Cuban Missile Crisis sparked my concern for my family’s safety. Knowing that San Diego was a potential target if the Cold War heated up, in 1961 we had purchased a house in San Carlos as part of our personal defense plan. I figured that Cowles Mountain would shield us from any blast if they dropped a bomb on the harbor or General Dynamics, and that Lake Murray could serve as a water supply. But seeing a need for more preparation than that, I called San Diego’s Civil Defense headquarters (which were then in El Cajon) to find out what their plans were in case of attack.
    A very patient gentleman outlined Civil Defense for San Diego County. He described how we were all to get into our cars (I didn’t even have one) and drive out Highway 80 (then a two-lane road) to Imperial Valley where we would await the all clear. I had never heard anything so ridiculous in my life! And proceeded to tell him so, in spades, punctuated by hysterical laughter and dripping sarcasm.
    “And just suppose,” I laughed, ” that we are successful in navigating the biggest traffic jam in history. And a million people end up in Imperial Valley, with the prevailing winds raining atomic fallout on our heads as we sit with no water, no food and no TeePee!” I hung up on that high note, realizing Civil Defense was no help.
    A few days later they called me back. Would I be willing to come into headquarters and serve as an advisor? Fat chance, says I. I have no car, no sitter and three kids under 5. Would I come if they hired a sitter and picked me up? Wow. I would talk to anybody about anything if they were over three.
    That’s how I ended up Women’s Liaison Co-Chairman for San Diego County Civil Defense. They realized that their idea of having all of San Diego trudge over the Lagunas was not feasible. Instead, a plan was devised to place food and water supplies, geiger counters, battery-operated lights, hazard suits, etc., in local neighborhoods to help those who survived an initial hit.
    They really needed people with common sense to help them address the situation. When I first walked into their headquarters I noticed a memo on their bulletin board. It listed some 20 steps to take in case of emergency. It instructed all personal to go to the basement, to sit in a corner clasping knees with arms, bend over, and, as the final instruction, to “kiss your ass goodbye.” That was the plan. And everybody knows most homes in San Diego don’t even have basements.

  2. Monica Bennett

    Bonnie, that’s a great story. Thank you for sharing it.

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