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Cold War Safety

This Exhibit Contains 12 Items
1
Civil Defense newspapers, 1958

Civil Defense newspapers, 1958

Item 28917 info
Maine Historical Society

Maine Civil Defense Director Col. Walter Kennett, left, and Louis Berry, deputy U.S. Civil Defense director, stand in front of a board of newspapers that printed a two-page special on Civil Defense in Maine in 1958.

The articles covered all aspects of potential danger to Maine residents and ways they could be prepared in case of attack or natural disasters.

The headlines on the special section read "Five Maine Communities Devastated by Enemy Bombs" and "5 A-Bombs Rain Death on State."

The stories were intended to warn people about what could happen and what steps they could take.

Other headlines suggested, "You Can Survive" and "How to Cleanse Fresh Foods of Fallout."


2
Family fallout shelter, Portland, 1981

Family fallout shelter, Portland, 1981

Item 11056 info
Maine Historical Society

One of the survival methods promoted by Maine and national Civil Defense officials was home fallout shelters.

A booklet entitled "The Family Fallout Shelter" from the Office of Civil Defense Mobilization included maps of where nuclear fallout would occur if military and civilian targets were hit, concluding, "fallout shelter is needed everywhere."

Materials instructed people in building basement concrete block shelters, above-ground shelters, and other types of shelters.


3
State Office Building bomb shelter, Augusta, 1981

State Office Building bomb shelter, Augusta, 1981

Item 11055 info
Maine Historical Society

Public buildings across the country included shelters, with signs at street level identifying them as such.

Maps published by the national Office of Civil Defense and Mobilization show four unnamed targets in Maine. Accompanying text notes that "our air and missile bases will be primary targets" and that the enemy "would try to knock out our retaliatory power. He might also try to destroy our cities."

The threat was close by and real during the height of cold war tensions.

While the concern about nuclear attack lessened after the 1960s, the state of Maine, like other places, continued to be concerned about attacks or disasters and created underground shelters to keep communications and government operations going.


4
Maine Civil Defense Rescue Truck, 1954

Maine Civil Defense Rescue Truck, 1954

Item 28919 info
Maine Historical Society

Showing off one of four new, fully equipped Civil Defense trucks are, from left, State Police Chief Robert Marx, Governor Burton M. Cross, and State Civil Defense and Public Safety Director Harry A. Mapes.

The state received the trucks in August 1954.

While much of the state's Civil Defense efforts in the 1950s was aimed at preparedness for nuclear attack, the agency also dealt with natural disasters such as storms and fires.


5
Grandma's Pantry Civil Defense display, ca. 1957

Grandma's Pantry Civil Defense display, ca. 1957

Item 28915 info
Maine Historical Society

The Maine Civil Defense and Public Safety Department used numerous methods to reach Mainers about the danger and about preparedness.

Some of the techniques mirrored those used nationally.

Grandma's Pantry was an effort in Maine and other states to insure that women stocked appropriate food and beverages.

Some of the publicity stated, "...when Grandpa announced, 'Pack up. We're moving west,' Grandma put a portion of her pantry on the wagon, and was ready."

The program suggested that women have a three-day survival kit in the trunk of the car, ready for possible evacuation. Other Grandma's promotions urged a seven-day supply.


6
Grandma's Pantry Civil Defense card, ca. 1956

Grandma's Pantry Civil Defense card, ca. 1956

Item 29118 info
Maine Historical Society

Mainers who demonstrated that they had the necessary supplies ready -- food, water, first-aid items, flashlight, blankets, and portable radio -- could get a card certifying their membership in "Grandma's Pantry."

The supplies are detailed on the card.


7
Bert the Turtle, Rockland, ca. 1957

Bert the Turtle, Rockland, ca. 1957

Item 28914 info
Maine Historical Society

In addition to providing information and warnings about fallout shelters and rations, Civil Defense workers educated children (and others) about personal safety.

One of the most enduring campaigns was the Bert the Turtle "Duck and Cover" The symbol for a national Civil Defense motivational effort was Bert the Turtle, who taught children how to "duck and cover" in case of danger.

A live Bert, a 50-pound North African sea turtle, appeared on a float at the Rockland Seafood Festival in the late 1950s.

C. Bruce Wright, public relations director of the Maine Civil Defense and Public Safety Department, acquired the turtle from a Brunswick doctor who had gotten it from sailors at Brunswick Naval Air Station. It became a popular attraction promoting civil defense in Maine.

The sign under Bert's enclosure reads, "The Original Bert the Turtle lived 1,000 years because he knew enough to Duck and Cover. How about you?"

When the Civil Defense message changed from "shelter" to "evacuation," Wright "evacuated" Bert.


8
Civil Defense Week End poster, 1958

Civil Defense Week End poster, 1958

Item 28918 info
Maine Historical Society

Motivational and informational messages took many forms. Maine Civil Defense Week End or Civil Defense Week included announcements in churches, fire drills and evacuation shelter drills in schools and other public buildings, school assemblies with essay, poster and slogan contests.

In addition, volunteers put "CD for Me" stickers on car windshields, distributed air raid warning instruction cards, spoke at service clubs and to pharmacists, truckers, veterans, merchants' groups, Chambers of Commerce, industries, and other organizations.


9
Drive-in Civil Defense sign, Brunswick, ca. 1957

Drive-in Civil Defense sign, Brunswick, ca. 1957

Item 28912 info
Maine Historical Society

C. Bruce Wright, public relations director for the Maine Civil Defense and Public Safety Department, stands by the marquee at the Bowdoin Drive-in Theatre in Brunswick that displays a Civil Defense message.

Wright arranged to have drive-ins display the message during the off-season.

The sign reads, "See you next spring This is your life Protect it Join the Civil Defense Call Your Local Director."

It was part of a a multi-faceted motivational campaign the agency undertook.


10
Civil Defense hang tag, ca. 1958

Civil Defense hang tag, ca. 1958

Item 28916 info
Maine Historical Society

Another element of the motivational campaign of the Maine Civil Defense and Public Safety Agency was hang-tags that went on milk bottles that were delivered to people's homes.

The tag includes the iconic image of "Mr. Civil Defense" whose torso is created by the letters "CD."

He suggests three glasses of milk a day and offers three "Steps to Survival:" learning air raid signals, equipping a home shelter, and joining a Civil Defense service.

The tag also contains the slogan, "Alert today...Alive tomorrow."


11
Hurricane preparedness restaurant mat, ca. 1958

Hurricane preparedness restaurant mat, ca. 1958

Item 28913 info
Maine Historical Society

During Civil Defense Week, the Maine Civil Defense Agency also promoted hurricane safety.

Created in a cartoon style, the mat encourages checking emergency supplies, keeping the car in shape and full of gas for possible evacuation, keeping only small amounts of frozen food or a ready supply of dry ice, staying away from windows and off the roads during a storm, keeping children and pets indoors, and moving items from the cellar or other potentially wet spots.


12
Maine Civil Defense in Pictures, 1955

Maine Civil Defense in Pictures, 1955

Item 23404 info
National Archives at Boston

The board of "Maine Civil Defense in Pictures" summarized some of the activities of the state's efforts during the 1950s.

These include training, education, emergency drills, and communications efforts.

"Civil defense" eventually became "Federal Emergency Management Agency," which was later subsumed under Homeland Security when terrorism headed the list of concerns.

Regardless of the name of the agency, defense and preparedness for natural disasters remain the goals.


This Exhibit Contains 12 Items