Tag Archives: Bomb shelter

The Self WHAT?

If you are disturbed by vulgarities and crass language, feel free to skip this post, but please come back next week because I don’t make a habit of subjecting people to it.

I have a nonfiction short story out in a new anthology published by Devil’s Party Press. The theme of this collection is a bad word in the title of each story. Lest you think this is sophomoric hijinks, the writers are all over forty!

Click through the photo if you want to order a copy. My story is called “The Self-Mindf**k.” See, I can’t bring myself to spell it out in public!  As for the title of the anthology, you can read the book cover above.

Seriously, though, my story is childhood memoir, about the way the fear and anxiety of living in my parents’ home over a basement bomber shelter affected my thinking—hence, the self-mindf**k. Here is a little “teaser.”

In the summer I turned six, my father dismantled his cozy basement workshop and built a secret underground bomb shelter out of cement blocks. This intrusion into our home was my first encounter with the Cold War. Television regularly put us through tests of emergency broadcasting via CONELRAD, and at school, duck-and-cover drills were weekly rituals. The goblins in our nightmares were “Commies, Reds, and Pinkos.” The anxiety this threat gave me was palpable and made even more acute because I was supervised by nervous parents. I had to wear a cumbersome lifejacket just to play in the sand at the beach. Overprotective was an adjective created for my mother and father. I don’t know if I would have been a fearful child if I had grown up in a different environment. Maybe part of it was genetic. But a fraidy cat I was–too scared to attempt cartwheels or to ride atop someone’s handlebars. Living across the street from an intimidating dog was one more frightening aspect of life in those days.


Thanks to Marie K. Bailey  I discovered I could post a deal on my first poetry collection Doll God on this blog. Ten bucks covers a signed copy and postage to a U.S. address I’m so sorry that I can’t offer the same deal to my friends in other countries. However, if you are interested in shipment elsewhere, please email me and let’s try to work something out.


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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, Book promotion, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Doll God, Family history, Memoir, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Writing

Sleeping Over the Bomb Shelter

When I was little, my father built a nuclear fallout shelter in the basement room which had been his workshop.  My house was the only one I knew of with a Bomb Shelter, which marked us as somehow . . . um, special.

On Monday I posted about my research on birthday parties.  We held them in our yard, our living room, and our basement.  Once we had a Bomb Shelter downstairs, that was the end of our basement parties.  For one thing, my parents didn’t want everybody knowing there was a shelter down there.  How well would that work if the Bomb hit and we ran down there and were stampeded by the entire neighborhood seeking shelter?

After the bomb shelter entered my house, a dark creepy feeling settled downstairs, under our feet.  When I had to go down there for something, I tried to avoid even glancing at the ominous looking door.


However, once I started researching these shelters, I discovered that it was a more common occurrence than I could have imagined.  Elaine Tyler May’s Homeward Bound details “Grandma’s Pantry,” the home bomb shelter.  Jean Wood Fuller, of the Federal Civil Defense Administration, enlisted “the help of the National Grocer’s Association, several pharmaceutical houses, and the American National Dietetic Association, [and] Fuller drew up guidelines for withstanding a nuclear holocaust.”  May makes the case that the marketing efforts were directed toward homemakers, who were considered to be exclusively women.

While May’s theory is an interesting intellectual exercise and probably has a lot of merit to it, I will say that in my house, it was my father whose idea it was to build the shelter.  Let’s face it:  construction was considered to be a manly task.

The photo on the cover of May’s book depicts a serious-looking family inside their own home bomb shelter.  I don’t remember ours looking so bright (well-lit) or so well-stocked.51L5tDApNNL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_

Lucky for me, I have the actual list of supplies which my mother wrote and the specifications my father used for building it.  These details will be incorporated into my book.

Here is a photo of an ideal home bomb shelter.  Ours was a double walled cement block room without any “built-ins.”300px-Fallout_shelter_photo

My parents planned everything very carefully.  There is very little evidence that they were any more paranoid than anybody else during the Cold War.  But Dad was certainly proactive.

Today my father says he remembers building it to keep his family safe, but he can’t believe how naïve he was to think it would actually work to protect us or that we would have enough safe air and provisions to last for any length of time.


Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Memoir, Research and prep for writing