Civil Defense Community Fallout Shelters

“Town of the Times” is a 1963 color film from the Office of Civil Defense, starring Hollywood actors Ralph Meeker as George McCardle and Larry Gates as William Groves — two school board members who clash over the implementation of a public fallout shelter system. The film, from Wilding Productions, opens in a typical 1960s American town, “the one with the good Chinese restaurant and the movie theater that smells of popcorn,” as the camera pans along average citizens going about their lives as we catch glimpses of local stores and the town movie theater showing “The Day the Earth Caught Fire” and a newsstand with a furious Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev on the cover of the September 8, 1961 issue of TIME magazine … with a nuclear fireball behind him. And standing sentinel over the town: a Civil Defense siren. “No one thinks about it much any more; too many crises, too many scares. So we push it to the back of our minds, where it waits.”