I Remember Television


Atomic Age Classics

It's a special treat on I Remember Television: a look at the original educational films the U.S. government created for school children and the general public back in the 1950s and 1960s on what to do if a nuclear bomb explodes in your neighborhood. Anyone remember Bert the Turtle?

AIRED: January 18, 2018 | 0:58:25

(perky upbeat music)

(slow paced music)

- [Narrator] Now wasn't that nice?

- Hello everyone, I'm Dr. Piers Britton.

Welcome to I Remember Television Again,

Remember as kids when we watched a video in school

instead of having to do work?

In the 1950's, many such films were made specifically

for that purpose and they are now collectively

known as the Atomic Age classics.

These educational short films, when watched with

the benefit of hindsight are sometimes informative

and sometimes corny, but always fun.

Tonight, we will experience three of them.

All pertaining to a topic dominating

the minds of Americans in the 1950's

the possibility of nuclear war.

Once radioactive weaponry was introduced to civilization

in order to bring about the end of World War II

it had society on edge.

And these films served an important purpose.

If you're a video game player,

you may recognize similarities between these short films

and the video games series Fallout.

The game is in fact based on these educational films.

It's a depiction of what people from the

1950's thought the future would look like.

While I'm on the subject, here's another interesting tidbit.

The famous Thumbs Up character from Fallout

is based on a rule the Federal Government

used to tell people.

If you see a nuclear bomb detonating

off in the distance, hold your thumb up to it.

If your thumb covers the nuclear cloud

you're a safe distance away.

If it the nuclear cloud is bigger than your thumb,

you need to get further away from the explosion.

Our first entry primarily educates

on bomb testing sites.

These have turned up in some notable contemporary fictions

set in the 1950's.

Who could ever forget when a mishap led to

Philip J. Fry becoming his own grandfather on Futurama

and the refrigerator scene was unquestionably

the most talked about one

in Indiana Jones in the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Now we get to see how the powers that be,

including the Federal Civil Defense Administration

and the United States Air Force viewed such sites

and what they felt the public needed to learn about them.

So without further ado, the film, Let's Face It.

(dramatic music)

(ominous music)

- [Narrator] Let's Face It,

the threat of hydrogen bomb warfare

is the greatest danger our nation has ever known.

Enemy jet bombers carrying nuclear weapons

can sweep over a variety of routes

and drop bombs on any important target

in the United States.

The threat of this destruction has effected

our way of life in every city, town, and village

from coast to coast.

These are the signs of the time.

(loud siren)

Only in practice now, a rehearsal, a training exercise.

But tomorrow, this siren may mean the real thing.

And if you hear it as you drive in your auto,

as you sit in your office, or work at your bench,

wherever you are, what will you do?

What will happen to you?

Let's face it.

Your life, the fate of your community

and the fate of your nation, depends on what you do

when enemy bombers head for our cities.

And that is why civil defense was organized.

To teach you how to survive in the thermal nuclear age,

by taking shelter, or by evacuating your area, as directed.

Civil defense will teach you how to take care of yourself,

your family, and neighbors.

How to get official instructions

and act according to plan.

In time of atomic attack the usual professional services,

police, fire, a welfare hospital and ambulance,

could be bombed out, too busy,

or unable to get to you and your family.

Civil defense control points would function

as the nerve centers for dispatch of organized

assistance to disaster areas from outside

the target districts.

Every preparation is being made to deal

with emergency conditions which would be created

by enemy attack.

To provide for communication with the public

during an actual attack, our broadcasting industry

and the federal government developed CONELRAD.

This system permits the broadcasting of official news

and civil defense instructions without helping

enemy navigators find our cities

by following radio beams.

The CONELRAD frequencies are 640 and 1240

on your standard radio dial.

A hazard unique to nuclear warfare is radioactive fallout.

Unseen, unheard, and odorless,

this substance can only be detected

with sensitive instruments.

Special training is necessary

for radiological safety experts.

Their duties will be to check radiation levels

in both damaged areas and probable fallout areas.

When sufficient warning time could be obtained

by early detection of approaching enemy aircraft,

withdrawal from key target cities or fallout areas

may be ordered by local civil defense authority.

The instinct of survival is inherent in all of us.

And national survival requires that each one of us

assume his share of the responsibility.

There is work to be done

and each much cooperate.

Opportunities for training with the Red Cross

and other groups are everywhere.

The combined efforts of many trained individuals

are needed to make civil defense a forceful reality.

This training is invaluable in preparation

for enemy attack or the savage fury of nature.

(loud winds)

Experience in past disasters has proved

the value of advanced training and the need for more

stockpiling of emergency food supplies,

medicines, and other critical items to care

for the injured and the homeless.

However, it was the awesome power of atomic energy

as demonstrated in wartime use that brought to sharp focus

the new problems concerning human survival

and the urgent need for a civil defense program

based on facts about the atomic bomb.

Opportunities to gain this information

came with the study of structures

and controlled atomic tests.

Conducted at Enewetak Atoll in the Central Pacific.

The main objective of testing is weapons development.

To strengthen national security.

But also included are scientific experiments

for the atomic energy commission,

military projects for the Air Force, Army, and Navy,

and defense tests for the

Federal Civil Defense administration.

Primarily concerned with the effects of nuclear weapons

on cities, industries, and people.

The tremendous effects of heat and blast

on modern structures raise important questions

concerning their durability and safety.

Likewise, the amount of damage done to our

industrial potential will have a serious effect

upon our ability to recover from an atomic attack.

Transportation facilities are vital to a modern city.

The nations life blood could be cut

if it's traffic arteries were severed.

These questions are of great interest

not only to citizens in metropolitan centers,

but also to those in rural areas

who may in a danger zone because of

radioactive fallout from today's larger weapons.

We could get many of the answers to these questions

by constructing a complete city

at our Nevada Proving Ground

and then exploding a nuclear bomb over it.

(loud rumbling)

We could study the effects of damage over a wide area

under all conditions,

and plan civil defense measures accordingly.

But such a gigantic undertaking is not feasible.

Instead we build representative units of a test city.

With steel, and stone, and brick, and mortar.

With precision and skill,

as though it were to last 1,000 years.

But it's a weird fantastic city.

A creation right out of science fiction.

A city like no other on the face of the earth.

Homes, neat and clean and completely furnished,

that will never be occupied.

Bridges, massive girders of steel spanning the empty desert.

Railway tracks that lead to nowhere,

for this is the end of the line.

But every element in these tests is carefully planned

as to its design and location in the area.

A variety of materials and building techniques

are often represented in a single structure.

Every brick, beam, and board will have its story to tell.

When pieced together these will give some of the answers,

and some of the information we need

to survive in the nuclear age.

At varying distances from ground zero,

the point of detonation,

numerous experimental elements are assembled.

Underground structures and facilities of various types

play their part in duplicating the complexity

of the modern city.

The vast research program includes testing

such items as covering materials, paints,

varnishes, plastics.

Also various fabrics and samples of clothing.

On the outskirts of our test city

a synthetic forest has been erected

to determine the protective value

of foliage and trees.

To give us a ringside view of the event,

high speed cameras stand like lonely sentinels.

Ready to photograph the hurricane of fury.

Before leaving the test area a final check is made

on the multitude of instruments and technical devices

which will record a variety

of blast phenomena for future study.

Now with all the elements in place,

our test city is complete.

From the air it's center will appear as a bullseye

to the bombardier at H hour.

On the morning of shot day, official observers,

technicians, and scientists, gather at News Knob

to await the momentous event.

This is the payoff for months of planning

and preparation on the part of the atomic

Energy Commission, the military services,

civil defense, and other test agencies.

As part of an experiment to observe the phenomenon

of atomic detonation at close hand,

military personnel and defense officials

dig in within a few miles of ground zero.

After a final briefing from the officer in charge,

just before H hour, the men disappear into their fox holes.

Every precaution has been taken for their safety.

They're told to crouch low.

Shield their eyes and remain down

until the signal to rise is given.

Now the moment of greatest anxiety.

Waiting those last few seconds.

(dramatic music)

Seconds later the blast wave reaches the trenches.

(loud thunder)

As the tower of smoke and flame looms overhead,

one thought is upper most in all minds.

Now it's over.

The fury of it had stunned some,

but not one was injured.

High above the smoke ring puff

by atomic breath rises skyward.

Watched by the men who had faced it.

A scouting party takes the first look

at the scattered wreckage of the test city.

The imprint left by the hurricane of fire

and blast remains here for us to read and analyze.

From studies of ruins and damage such as this,

we get the hard to come by knowledge

that helps us form rules for survival in modern warfare.

While only atomic bombs are tested in Nevada

the results can be scaled for the larger

far more powerful thermonuclear weapons.

A hydrogen bomb will destroy a greater area

than the atomic bomb.

And will release more dangerous radioactive materials.

But the problems of rescue caused by blasts

and fire along the periphery of damage remain the same.

In these fringe areas civil defense training

can save many lives.

Lessen damage from secondary fires

can help establish emergency facilities.

Now in a helicopter, the radiological safety men

measure the amount of radiation.

When readings indicate safety for human beings,

the troops are led in for a tour of the area.

By double checking with Geiger counters

every inch of the route, men can now enter safely

and confidently areas spotted with

radiological contamination.

An indication of the progress made

in understanding atomic hazards.

And thus, each test adds to our growing fund of knowledge.

For it is only by investigating and experimenting

that we get the facts to keep our military

and civil defense program up to date and effective.

Every bit of twisted steel makes it's contribution.

Blackened ruins and ashes of a structure

add another chapter.

The shattered wreckage of a dwelling

offers an eloquent testimonial.

Piece by piece, like the parts of a jigsaw puzzle,

our stories assembled, analyzed, and evaluated.

Then the survival facts are made available to you

through your local civil defense program.

In the thermonuclear age,

civil defense like military defense

must be flexible.

It must develop and grow

even as the forces that threaten our existence.

And so until men of good will have turned

this awesome power to peaceful uses,

let us recognize the threat to our way of life.

The threat to our survival.

And Let's Face It.

(slow paced music)

(slow dramatic music)

- While this first film primarily focused

on teaching audience members about nuclear testing sites,

it did in the beginning touch upon

how to deal with the fallout from such a bomb safely.

Our second film focuses entirely on that.

Utilizing actors playing quintessential 1950's

nuclear families.

Yes, pun intended.

Whether or not you like that I hope you like the film.

Here it is, produced by the legendary studio RKO

in collaboration with the Counsel On Atomic Implications.

(ominous music)

- [Narrator] within this universe there are many

natural elements and forces at work,

and in his search for truth and the betterment of his lot,

man has uncovered gravity.

The invisible anchor that keeps him

safely bound to earth.

Electromagnetic force which he uses in industry,

and atomic power, the explosion of an

inconceivably tiny particle of matter

setting off similar explosions in other atoms,

the energy of the atom.

Scientists have long known about radiation.

One of atomic energies chief characteristics.

Today they can detect the amount of radioactivity present

at a given time with many specialized instruments.

One of these is the Geiger counter.

(faint clicking)

- Say, what is that clicking?

- You must be radioactive.

Wait a minute, don't worry.

You see your watch has radiation,

but it comes from the paint on the numbers

that make it glow in the dark.

- Well what do you know about that?

I've been carrying radioactivity around with me

and didn't even know it.

(loud clicking)

- [Narrator] Of incalculable aid to mans

physical well-being have been the discoveries

of medical science in the field of radiation.

The most recent medical research in radiation

has produced the whole battery of radioactive medicines

manufactured at Oak Ridge Tennessee

and sent to hospitals all over the country.

Atomic weapon to save lives.

And in the field of industry,

advances in the use of radioactive substances

are constantly benefiting man's search

for newer and better methods of production.

- And we need every sheet of steel plate

of exactly the critical thickness.

No more, no less.

- How can you get a measuring device

sensitive enough to show a variation of

one ten thousandth of an inch without stopping production?

- We can use radiation.

- How?

- You station a radioactive substance

at this point in the production line

and pass the steel over.

Over the steel you put a gauge

to measure the amount of radiation coming through.

Now, if this steel plate varies in thickness

in one direction or another,

the amount of radiation getting through

to the gauge will vary.

And that gauge will register the change.

- Looks as though you've beaten it Bob.

- [Narrator] But, what about the atom bomb?

(dramatic music)

(loud explosion)

It has been stated that to speak of atomic energy

in terms of the atomic bomb

is the same as speaking of electricity

in terms of the electric chair.

It is true however, that the energy

which gives us the power to heat,

the heat and light to make things move and grow,

is the same energy released in the explosion

of the A-bomb.

Through state and local governments

all the responsibility for action and cooperation

within the limits of their own jurisdiction.

The local air raid warden of World War II

with his pipe tin hat

will have a new more specialized fellow worker,

the radiological monitor or meter man.

His job will be to determine the extent of contamination

by radiation in atomic attack.

The meter men will probably not use the Geiger counter

because it is primarily for sensitive measurements.

Their basic instruments of detection

will be ion chambers which accurately measure

larger amounts of radiation.

In addition, the community civil defense unit

will set up attack warning devices.

Suitable shelter in case of emergency.

Emergency communication centers.

Adequate firefighting equipment.

Hospital and first aid facilities.

Every person has heard some of the rumors

and old wives tales of this atomic era.

- Who's been giving you this information?

- Well the boys down at the plant been-

- You know there's a limit to what this A-bomb can do?

You asked me if a flash from an atomic bomb

could blind everybody,

of course not.

You look directly at the burst and bright daylight

you might not be able to see for a few minutes.

At night it might last for an hour or two.

But, in either case it would only be temporary.

Now as for the radiation of the bomb,

the chances that it will change your ability

to have children,

or that it will affect any future children you might have

are less than one in a million.

Radiation will not make a place uninhabitable forever.

Possibly temporarily.

No, the atom bomb will not blow up the world.

- Then what will it do?

- [Narrator] The three ways in which an atom bomb

does its work are no mystery.

The first is flash or fire.

The second effect is blast.

These first two effects of the A-bomb are therefore

but a tremendously magnified version

of any simple explosive.

It is the a bombs third effect

that is entirely new to explosives.

Radiation or radioactivity.

But this radiation can be stopped.

For example, six feet of Earth, three feet of concrete,

or a foot of steel all provide sufficient protection

against radioactivity.

Even very close to the center of explosion.

Fire, blast, and radiation.

These are the three effects of an atomic explosion

which endanger man.

You are given warning, (loud siren)

if there is a designated shelter

or a reinforced concrete building available,

go to it without delay.

But, even at home you can effectively defend yourself.

- Elsie, where are you?

- [Narrator] I'm closing off the upstairs.

- Good, get down from there as soon as you can.

Close all the windows, draw the blinds,

and pull the drapes in front of them.

That'll keep out fire sparks and glass splinters

if the windows break.

Close all the doors behind you too.

We've got to make this place practically airtight.

Check everything here that might cause fire.

Complete coverage is what you're after.

The light colors reflect the heat

to protect you from flash burns.

It's better to wear coveralls because they're loose.

And I can take them off and leave them outside

in case they become contaminated.

- The heavier the cloth the better the insulation.

- Elsie, you better pull the drapes

on the windows back there.

Joe turn on the radio.

- What about Mrs. Canny the aircraft spotter?

Does she have to stay outside in this?

- She'll be spotting the planes alright.

And for people like her like to stay outdoors

in an emergency, heavy, loose fitting,

all white clothing is the best protection.

- [Narrator] Follow instructions.


- Very little time left.

Since radiation travels in straight lines,

I'd say the way I fixed this corner of the basement

gives us plenty of wall and earth

and material between us and the possible military objective.

We're well protected from the window too.

Yes sir, even if a bomb blew the house over

we have a pretty good chance here in the basement.

- The walls can never be too thick.

Now children, I want you to sit down here against the wall.

That's it.

Now crouch tight up against it.

- Now listen kids,

if they're dropping an atomic bomb

it may go off any second now.

Whatever happens, I'll give the signal

when it's all right for us to get up.

If there's an explosion

we'll wait about a minute after it's all over

then we'll go upstairs and take a look around.

See if it's all right for us to clean up.

- [Narrator] This man has made good use

of the time given him by warning.

With calm and intelligence he has employed the means

of self-defense at his disposal.

Thus, every man can greatly increase

the chances of bringing his family and himself

through any attack unscathed.

But this man has an advantage.

A well protected cellar.

If there is no basement in the neighborhood,

seek shelter on the first floor of the house

and in a room with solid walls

with as many walls as possible

between you and the probable target area.

Get under a sturdy object.

Table, desk, bed, close to the wall.

If debris should fall,

the two will provide good protection

The most important thing is to keep out of line

with the windows and to close them off

so that broken glass will not fly in.

Lie down flat on your stomach.

Cover your face with your right arm

so that it is protected by your elbow.

Grasp the back of your neck with your left hand.

But wherever a substantial underground

shelter is available, it provides the

shortest safest possible protection against atomic attack.

(loud explosion)

- [Narrator] Civil defense bulletin.

This has been an air burst.

All persons attached to civil defense groups

report to your post immediately.

- Let's go, folks.

Elsie, bring the blankets.

We'll find out what happened to the windows.

- But what about the radiation?

- Well this was an airburst, honey.

If the radiation didn't get to us

when the atomic bomb exploded,

just about all the dangerous stuff is gone.

It went straight up into the air.

The terrific heat makes it do that.

And I don't think we're close enough to ground zero

for the radiation to have even touched us.

(solemn music)

Elsie, you better tack those blankets up around

the windows so that we can keep the house warm.

I'm going outside to see if the house

has been damaged by fire.

If we're all right I'll have to check the neighborhood.

- But will you be all right?

- If there are any fires honey,

they're just ordinary fires

and we're supposed to help stop them.


you'd better clear up the broken glass

and all this debris.

All in all I'd say we've been very lucky around here.

Nothing to do now but wait for orders

from the authorities and relax.

I'd hate to have gone through this without warning.

- [Narrator] You're out in the open.

Without warning you're startled

by an intense flash of light.

You have seconds before the shockwave will hit you.

Before the debris starts flying.

Hit the dirt!

Get behind the nearest and best shelter.

A ditch, a depression of any kind,

but get down flat on the ground.

Flat on your stomach.

With your right arm covering your face,

your left hand and grasping the back of your neck.

If you're out in the open in a built up area,

dive for the nearest concrete archway.

The nearest and best shelter.

Cover your mouth and nose with your handkerchief.

It will help to keep out any possible radioactive dust.

If you are blinded, it is only temporary.

With the blast over, get out of the wreckage.

Remembering to keep as clean as possible.

You're inside, perhaps in your own apartment

when the flash occurs.

You have seconds.

Move toward the nearest doorway,

corridor, or a stairway.

Or get under a bed or table.

Or get behind the couch or other large heavy objects.

(loud shattering)

- Are you alright mother?

- Yes.

Alice, Alice, turn on the radio.

- Where's Buddy?

- I think he was out playing ball.

Mother pull the drapes and shield the windows with them.

- He must have been caught out there in the blast.

- [Narrator] Civil defense bulletin.

This city has just undergone a surprised atomic attack.

This was an air burst.

Check for fires.

Further bulletins are following immediately.

- Shouldn't we go out and look for Buddy?

- No, he's been hurt.

Disaster units we'll take care of him.

If he's all right he'll come home.

- Draw a pan full of water right away Alice,

and keep it covered.

- Won't it be radioactive?

- No.

And don't take too much.

Otherwise you'll pull down the water pressure

the firefighters need.

- I'd better go on the fire escape

and see whether any fires have been started.

Mother go downstairs and see if old Mrs. Simmons is alright.

- Fine, I'll go.

But let me know just as soon as you hear what's

happened to Buddy.

(dramatic music)

Oh Buddy's here, he's home!

- Buddy, tell me quickly,

where were you when the bomb dropped?

- I was playing ball at the school diamond.

I came home as fast as I could.

I ran all the way.

- Are you alright?

Oh you're hurt!

- The school's close to where the bomb exploded.

Mother get Buddy's clothes off,

then take him into the bedroom

and have him lie down immediately.

Clean up any of the cuts or bruises and bandage them.

- [Buddy] Boy it was hot grandma.

I never felt anything so hot.

- Buddy was much closer to the bomb than we were.

Do you think he could have been exposed

to prompt radiation?

- I'm afraid he was in the danger range.

He shouldn't have exercised so much,

running home after the blast.

(faint sobbing)

- Corey, we've got to get him to a doctor.

- No, Alice we're gonna follow through

cleaning up the house just as if we

hadn't been caught unaware.

And as for Buddy, the best way to help

radiation sickness is to lie down and rest

until you get medical attention.

If Buddy has heavy nausea within two hours

it means he may have gotten a dose of radiation.

- Oh my.

- I said may.

If he has sickness induced by radiation

isn't necessarily fatal.

That's when we'll get him medical attention.

Now we work to do.

- What can I do?

- Throw any of the food that was out in the open

during the blast has to be kept separate from the rest.

Then as soon as we're notified to use the water,

wash everything.

Cans of food, pots and pans, the sink.

But leave anything you think might be contaminated

to be tested later by the Radiological crew.

- Wouldn't it be best to just get out of the city?

- No, any evacuating needs to be carried on

the proper authorities will decide it.

We'll be notified and get orders and instructions.

Right now the safest place for us is right here.

We're pretty lucky Alice.

Cement apartment house.

No fires, not much blast,

only a few broken windows.

And chances are Buddy will be alright.

And if he isn't, doctors can help radiation

sickness considerably by using whole blood.

Don't worry, darling.

- [Narrator] This man caught unaware

by acting quickly and sensibly

has minimized the danger to himself and his family

from the after-effects of anatomic air burst.

While most Americans need consider only the airburst

in their plans for self defense against the A-bomb,

to people living on the shores of large bodies

of water, the water burst brings additional danger.

In the case of an atom bomb detonated underwater,

there is hardly any danger from flash.

There is still danger from blast

and it's resulting debris.

But the area of damage is small.

But the severe danger is from radiation.

Lingering radiation.

Radiation is trapped in the water.

And the heat and blast cause the water to rise.

Then it falls causing mist

which emits radiation wherever it falls.

- [Narrator] Civil Defense bulletin,

this has been the water burst.

Stay inside or get inside

and wait for further instructions

from your local civil defense authorities.

- We aren't even gonna budge for about an hour.

After that we may have to wait another 24 hours

before we even think about going outdoors.

That radioactive mist will settle on everything.

Contaminate everything it touches.

- The rule is, keep away from the moisture.

To stay as far away from radioactive mist

and water as you can.

- That's right, son.

- Well then, we'd better go upstairs

and fix the living room windows.

They're probably broken

and the moisture will get to us that way.

- No, stay put.

We've taken every precaution to defend

ourselves against radiation already.

If we move to unprotected parts of the house now

we may get a bad dose of radiation.

So we'll stay put for at least an hour.

- What if we were outside dad?

- Then we get inside quickly,

and behind enough material that would absorb

the radiation before it got to us.

(slow paced music)

Joe, finish tacking this blanket for me will you?

- Sure.

- And when you're finished you'll have to

wash your hands thoroughly.

I think I got a little breeze just now.

A nice cool breeze of radioactive mist.

Now folks, watch while I give a demonstration

of how to defend yourself against lingering radioactivity.

First you remove all the clothing

you think might be contaminated.

Then you scrub every part of you

that you think might be contaminated.

Once, twice,

and again.

- Do you think you got it bad, dad?

- No, I don't think so, son.

But if I have I'm not gonna have it bad for very long.

That's the whole idea of this scrubbing.

If you get a little radiation,

don't let it stay with you long enough

for it to build up it's dirty work.

'Cause that's one way radiation can make you sick.

If a little of it gets to you

and stays with you long enough,

it can do almost as much damage

over a long period of time as one big

dose all at once.

- If you're radioactive right now, daddy

does that mean that we can catch it from you?

- No, Meg, I've got it all to myself.

- Do you think we'll be alright, Jim?

- Elsie, we've taken every precaution

to block that radiation out already.

If it doesn't get to you right away

it starts to die.

It may linger for a while but it does die.

And we can wait it out.

We've got all the time in the world.

- [Narrator] This man knows that his best defense

against lingering radioactivity is patience.

Calm patience.

In a water burst, the odds are with the man

who stays put.

- [Narrator] But what about the H-bomb?

- [Narrator] The hydrogen bomb,

though it might be 1,000 times more powerful

than the atom bomb would only cause damage

over a radius 10 times as great,

and the damage would be similar in kind.

Hence, the principles of self-defense against

the H-bomb would not change those of A-bomb.

They would become more vital.

Some of the scenes you have just seen

have deliberately been made slower

in order to bring home to you

what precautions might be taken under ideal circumstances.

When the alert is sounded of course,

you might not have time to do all of these things.

Most important is to take cover in the basement,

the center of the building,

or in a doorway if you're in the street.

Meanwhile, remember that civilian defense

is everybody's business.

All over the world today powerful forces

are at work for the preservation of international peace.

It is the hope of civilization

that the harnessed power of the atom

will work for the good of mankind.

(dramatic music)

- Remember, these Atomic Age Classics

were all produced as a way of providing

school children entertaining ways of learning life lessons.

While you can beat a bomb showcased families

where the father would take the lead

as expected at the time,

our next one concentrates on children themselves

and tries to be a bit more equal opportunity.

What matters most though,

at least as far as the intended audience was concerned

are the cartoon segments.

We get to see a fellow named Bert

demonstrate principles of safety as best he can.

Which is actually better than we humans can.

Your interest peaked?


Here once again made by the

Federal Civil Defense Administration,

this time with input from the Safety Commission

of the National Education Association is Duck and Cover.

♪ Dum dum

♪ Diddle dum dum

♪ Diddle dum dum

♪ Diddle dum dum

♪ There was a turtle by the name of Bert ♪

♪ And Bert the turtle was very alert ♪

♪ When danger threatened him

♪ He never got hurt

♪ He knew just what to do

♪ He'd duck and cover

♪ Duck and cover

♪ He did what we all

♪ Must learn to do

♪ You and you and you and you

♪ Duck and cover

- [Narrator] Be sure and remember what

Bert the turtle just did, friends

because every one of us must remember

to do the same thing.

That's what this film is all about.

Duck and Cover.

This is an official Civil Defense film

produced in cooperation with the Federal

Civil Defense Administration

and in consultation with the Safety Commission

of the National Education Association.

Produced by Archer Productions incorporated.

Hey Bert, come on out and meet all these nice people.


Oh, all right.

We really can't blame you.

You see Bert is a very very careful fellow.

When there's danger,

this is the way he keeps from being hurt.

Sometimes it even saves his life.

That's why these children are practicing

to duck and cover just as you do in your school.

We all know the atomic bomb is very dangerous.

Since it may be used against us

we must get ready for it.

Just as we are ready for many other dangers

that are around us all the time.

Fire is a danger.

It can burn whole buildings if someone is careless.

But we are ready for fires.

We have a fine fire department to put out the fire

and you have fire drills in your school

so you know what to do.

Automobiles can be dangerous too,

they sometimes cause bad accidents.

But we're ready.

We have safety rules that car drivers

and people who are walking must obey.

Now we must be ready for a new danger,

the atomic bomb.

First you have to know what happens

when an atomic bomb explodes.

You'll know when it comes.

We hope it never comes but we must get ready.

It looks something like this.

There is a bright flash, brighter than the Sun,

brighter than anything you've ever seen.

If you are not ready, and did not know what to do,

it could hurt you in different ways.

It could knock you down hard

or throw you against a tree or a wall.

It is such a big explosion,

it can smash in buildings and knock signboards over

and break windows all over town.

But if you duck and cover like Bert,

you will be much safer.

You know how bad a sunburn can feel.

The atomic bomb flash could burn you

worse than a terrible sunburn.

Especially where you're not covered.

Now, you and I don't have shells to crawl into

like Bert the turtle so we had to cover up in our own way.

First you duck

and then you cover.

And very tightly you cover the back of your neck,

of your face.

Duck can cover underneath the table

or desk or anything else close by.

In Betty's school they are talking about

the atomic bomb too.

That he is asking a teacher,

"How can we tell when the atomic bomb may explode?"

And a teacher is explaining that

there are two kinds of attack.

With warning and without any warning.

We think that most of the time we will be warned

before the bomb explodes.

So there will be time for us to get into our homes,

schools, or some other safe place.

Our civil defense workers and our men in uniform

will do everything they can to warn us

before enemy planes can bring a bomb near us.

You maybe in your school yard playing

when the signal comes.

(loud sirens)

That signal means to stop whatever you are doing

and get to the nearest safe place fast.

Always remember, the flash of an atomic bomb

can come at any time.

No matter where you may be.

You might be out playing at home when the warning comes.

(loud siren)

Then be sure to get into the house fast

where your parents have fixed a safe place for you to go.

If you are not close to home when you hear the warning,

go to the nearest safe cover.

Know where you are to go

or ask an older person to help you.

You know the places is marked with the S sign?

They are safe places to go when

you hear the alarm.

If there is a warning you will hear it

before the bomb explodes.

But sometimes, and this is very very important.

Sometimes the bomb might explode

without any warning.

Then the first thing we would know about it

would be the flash.

And that means duck can cover fast.

Wherever you are, there's no time

to look around or wait.

Be like Bert.

When there is a flash Duck and Cover and do it fast.

Here are some older boys showing what to do

if the flash comes when you are not in the classroom.

This is what to do if you should be in a corridor.

You duck can cover tight against the wall this way.

Remember to keep your face in the back of your neck

covered tightly.

Try to fall away from windows or doors with glass in them.

Then, if the glass breaks and flies through the air

it won't cut you.

You might be eating your lunch when the flash comes.

Duck and cover under the table.

Then if the explosion makes anything in the room fall down

it can't fall on you.

Getting ready means we will all have to be able

to take care of ourselves.

The bomb might explode when there are no grown-ups near.

Paul and Patty know this.

And they're always ready to take care of themselves.

Here they are on their way to school

on a beautiful spring day.

But no matter where they go or what they do,

they always try to remember what to do

if the atom bomb explodes right then.

It's a bomb!

Duck and cover!

Paul and Patty know what to do.

Paul covered the back of his head

so that he wouldn't be burned.

And Patty covered herself with the coat

she was carrying.

They knew how to duck and cover.

They acted right away when the flash came.

If they had been at this doorway when the bomb flashed,

Paul and Patty would have ducked and covered this way.

Like this girl.

Heavy doorways are a good place to duck and cover.

She will be safer too.

Here's Tony going to his Cub Scout meeting.

Tony knows the bomb can explode any time

of the year, day or night, he is ready for it.

Duck and cover!

Attaboy, Tony, that flash means act fast.

Tony knows that it helps to get to any kind of cover.

This wall was close by

so that's where he ducked and covered.

Tony knew what to do.

Notice how he keeps from moving

or from getting up and running?

He stays down until he is sure the danger is over.

The man helping Tony is a civil defense worker.

His job is to help protect us

when there is danger of the atomic bomb.

We must obey the civil defense worker.

We must know how to duck and cover in the school bus,

or in any other bus, or streetcar.

Duck can cover!

Don't wait, duck away from the windows fast.

The glass may break and fly through the air and cut you.

Sunday's, holidays,

vacation time, we must be ready every day,

all the time to do the right thing

if the atomic bomb explodes.

Duck and cover!

This family knows what to do,

just as your own family should.

They know that even a thin cloth helps protect them.

Even a newspaper can save you from a bad burn.

But the most important thing of all

is to duck and cover yourself.

Especially where your clothes do not cover you.

No matter where we live, in the city or the country,

we must be ready all the time for the atomic bomb.

Duck and cover!

That's the first thing to do.

Duck and cover.

The next important thing to do after that

is to stay covered until the danger is over.

Yes, we must all get ready now.

So we know how to save ourselves

if the atomic bomb ever explodes near us.

If you do not know just what to do,

ask your teacher when this film is over.

Discuss what you could do in different places

if a bomb explodes.

Older people will help us as they always do.

But there might not be any grown-ups around

when the bomb explodes.

Then, you're on your own.

- Remember what to do friends.

Now tell me right out loud.

What are you supposed to do when you see the flash?

- [Narrators] Duck and cover!

♪ Duck and cover

♪ Duck and cover

♪ Duck and cover

- Our last entry for tonight also features animation

but is very different in turn from Duck and Cover.

It's by far the most chilling of these four shorts.

And it's narrator speaks in the dark

tone you'd expect from someone discussing the

horrors of atomic warfare and trying to prepare

audiences for unprecedented dangers.

Film buffs will notice a scene that could've

inspired the opening of the movie Vertigo.

Though if this were made by a feature film director,

most would probably guess Kubrick before Hitchcock.

Yet this short was not meant for any

sort of entertainment.

It was meant to explain essential steps for survival

in the face of deadly radioactivity.

And it still serves as a strong time capsule

for the scary early days of the Cold War.

Here it is, produced by some notable companies,

including none other than the legendary

Encyclopedia Britannica, Atomic Alert.

(ominous music)

(loud clicking)

- [Narrator] Clicking sounds.

Sounds that reveal the presence of radioactive rays.

The instrument, a Geiger counter,

is converting radioactivity into sounds we can hear.

This radioactivity is coming from

a small piece of radioactive material

inside this plastic cylinder.

The small amount of radioactivity

coming from the cylinder is harmless.

The luminous dial on this watch

also gives off radioactive rays

which we hear on the Geiger counter.

Even when there's no radioactive material near,

the Geiger counter continues to click.

This is caused by cosmic radiation

that continually bombards us from outer space.

But we don't get enough cosmic radiation to harm us.

Today Atomic Scientists produce radioactivity

in large amounts.

Radioactivity and radioactive materials

have many peacetime uses.

But we know too that they can be used harmfully

as in atomic bombs.

The chance of your being hurt by an atomic bomb is slight,

but since there is a chance,

you must know how to protect yourself.

To protect yourself you have to know what the bomb does.

Besides blast there's radioactivity and heat.

Can we protect ourselves from these?

These children are protected.

Concrete walls help stop radioactivity.

Any wall stops the heat.

The heat scorches the house but does not harm the children.

Any solid gives some protection.

The thicker it is, the better.

We have the national defenses to intercept an enemy

and we all form a team

to help each other through emergencies.

You are on that team.

So is your family, each member of it.

And in your community,

every doctor, fireman,

every policeman, and nurse,

every lineman, and operator,

every civil defense worker.

In fact, every community employee

is ready to help you if you need him.

So your community is prepared for emergencies

and ready to help other communities.

We have state and national headquarters for civil defense.

And your city has a civil defense core.

We have a warning system

and a system of defense.

Yes, we have the equipment and the people

for an effective team.

But like any team,

it can win only when everyone knows his job

and does it well.

What is your job?

What if a warning siren sounds?

What should you do? (loud siren)

Look for cover, the nearest cover.

Don't try to make it home

unless home is the nearest place to go.

Don't hesitate, find cover.

(loud siren)

Everyone is in on this.

Strangers will understand.

Finding shelter quickly may save your life.

If you can't get into a house,

get behind a wall or a steep embankment

on the side away from the city.

Civil defense teams will go into action immediately.

If you're home, you've work to do.

- Hi, Susie, everything's fine upstairs.

How are you doing here?

- [Susie] Okay I guess.

- That's good.

- [Narrator] We repeat, cover windows to protect

against the possibility of broken glass,

heat, and radioactivity.

Turn off fires.

If you are home and are not assigned

to civil defense duties, go to your prepared shelter.

Those who are in shopping centers,

go to prepare our--

- The whole fire in the kitchen is out.

Now we'll go down the basement.

- [Narrator] Practice alert we are assuming

that the attack will come on the waterfront area.

- See, it's just practice.

All rushing around for nothing.

- Now there's just where you're wrong.

We need this practice, now come on let's do our job.

- [Narrator] That's good thinking.

We all need practice.

Here's a clean well-prepared shelter in the basement.

Ted and Sue have a battery radio

and they have soda ash and stirrup pump fire extinguishers.

They have other emergency supplies too.

A flashlight, a well-equipped first-aid kit

with plenty of bandages, tape, and scissors.

A Red Cross first aid book,

a few cans of food, a good supply of water,

blankets, and an electric lantern in reserve.

- You know, Susie,

this stuff would come in handy on a camping trip.

- I'd a lot rather be on a camping trip.

Say, what would we do if we didn't have a basement?

- At school they told us

we should be away from windows

and behind double walls.

You know, like an inside hall.

- [Narrator] Ted's right.

If you live in an apartment house,

you can't all go to the basement.

Head for the shelter area.

If none is marked for you,

find cover away from windows and in a hallway of possible.

Wait for the all clear.

Be calm.

If you're on the playground,

run for shelter.

If you're in the schoolyard,

get into the building, move quickly,

but in good order.

Inside, go to the shelter area you've been assigned.

Take your place on the floor.

Here's one good way to protect your eyes and neck

in case of a bombing.

Wait for the all clear.

(loud ding)

So far you've been watching a practice drill.

But what if there is a bombing?

A bombing that comes without warning.

What is your job then?

Find cover immediately.

Don't look at the flash.

Stretch out.

In about one minute the immediate danger is past.

Then head for safer cover.

Another bomb may fall.

Get indoors if you can.

Shed your outer garments,

they may have radioactive particles on them.

If you're home, take shelter

and stay down for about one minute.

By then the danger from radioactivity,

heat, and blast have passed.

Protect your eyes and neck.

- Let's get things shut up.

- [Narrator] Sue found shelter under her bed.

- It's dead.

Let's get the battery set.

- [Narrator] When the house current is off,

that battery radio is essential.

Keep tuned in.

- [Narrator] The air burst of 3:01 p.m. was zeroed

on Union Station.

Heavy damage extends from about 14th Street north

to as far south as the waterfront.

- You know we're lucky.

That blast was miles from here.

- [Narrator] Undercover unless you have civil defense...

I've just been handed a bulletin.

There's been an underwater burst at the waterfront.

Water thrown up by the bomb is falling as mist and rain

and it is radioactive.

Avoid radioactive mist and rain.

- What does he means by radioactive?

- According to what Dad said,

the radioactivity gets into the mist and rain.

And if the mist and rain gets on you

it's apt to make you very sick.

- What would you do about it?

- I'd scrub thoroughly with a detergent and water.

- What's a detergent?

- It's something like mom uses

when she washes dishes and clothes.

- [Narrator] Don't drink tap water it may be contaminated.

- [Narrator] Ted and Sue are waiting for the all clear.

(loud knocking)

- I'll see who it is.

Hello, who's there?

- [Narrator] It's your block warden Mr. Carlson.

- Come on in, Mr. Carlson.

- Hello, Ted.

- Hello.

- Ted this is Mr. Franklin,

our radiological monitor.

He's here to check for any radioactivity.

I saw your mother down at the shopping center.

She's fine.

- Well, there's no damage here.

- No, it's been very good here.

- Hello, Sue.

- Say, have you seen my dad lately?

- [Carlson] He's down at headquarters

and boy he's really busy.

- Yeah.

- Well, there's no radioactivity here.

- Say Mr. Franklin, is that a pen on your coat there?

- [Franklin] Oh no, that's a dosimeter.

- A dosimeter?

What's a dosimeter?

- Well it measures the amount of radioactivity

that I've been exposed to.

But this is the meter that I use to check with.

- Hey, Mr. Carlson is there anything

I can do outside to help?

- No, Ted everything is under control.

You just stay here till the all-clear signal is given.

You've done a good job.

- Thank you, Mr. Carlson.

- [Carlson] Bye, Sue.

- Bye.

- [Narrator] A good job.

That's what everyone must do to be safe.

Doing a good job means simply following the rules

in an alert or an attack.

And waiting until all is clear again.

In this early and troubled stage of the Atomic Age

our very lives may depend on always being alert.

(suspenseful music)

- We've seen a plethora of fun videos tonight haven't we?

Some may say this of course would have

been better than listening to a teacher ramble,

but as a professor, I totally disagree.

If you're watching us at home on your TV

or on a mobile device at KVCR.org,

we're particularly flattered.

We hope we can count on your viewership

for our next episode as I Remember Television Again.


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