Welcome to Piedmont Communities


LoginMy User ProfileCreate a SiteInterest GuideWeb Site DirectoryHelp


Click to view the main Interest Guide.
Page Links
 Index  Works Cited
 The Cold War in Winston-Salem  Feedback
 Cold War Events  Guestbook
 Civil Defense Media  
The Cold War in Winston-Salem
The Cold War and the Civil Defense programs had a intense effect on the city of Winston-Salem, located in the piedmont region of North Carolina.
The Cold War in Winston-Salem (The paper)
The Cold War began in the years immediately following the end of WWII. It ended with the destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Western fear of communist expansion and the advancement of atomic science hastened the climax of the war. Many different factors contributed to the Cold War, but by the 1950's they had condensed into one major idea: Communism was an institution of evil that disregarded human life. This anti-communist sentiment was felt all over the United States, even in the rural piedmont region of North Carolina. Winston-Salem was a medium sized city that was very diverse. There were just as many business owners as working class. This economic variety greatly affected the Civil Defense involvement in Winston-Salem.
By 1950 the city of Winston-Salem had recognized the need for Civil Defense. This realization was fueled by the Soviet detonation of their first atomic weapon in August of the previous year (Schoenherr) and by President Truman ordering the development of the Hydrogen Bomb (Dept. of Energy). With hydrogen bombs looming on the horizon, the United States quickly made its move toward Civil Defense and fallout shelters. Winston-Salem's first involvement was to appoint a Civil Defense divis ion. Robert W. Gorrell served as the director of the local defense organization; members included J. R. Durham as deputy director and Gwen Harris, Frank W. Docker, and R.F. Brooks as assistants to Durham. This committee was the third of seven divisions to be created in Winston to handle Civil Defense (10 March 1950). In 1951 air raid deputy director Harold Essex announced that one civil defense organization remained to be developed. Essex volunteered to do double duty as an associate deputy of the radio broadcast communication as well as the deputy director of the Air Raid Services. This division would include all communications in the community along with responsibilities for setting up emergency communication, the establishment of a warning system through radio stations and sirens, and providing facilities for handling welfare issues from within the affected area (31 March 1951). These air sirens that Essex talks about were often tested and usually scared the public. Albert Beamon remembers hiding under the bed when the sirens went off. Later in 1951 the police department announced that it had selected 25 officers to be trained in Civil Defense. Chief of police Jim Waller said that this was one of the phases in preparing the police department for civil defense. The police had to pass a Red Cross first aid test and take classes on the atomic bomb (19 June 1951). As Cold War tension grew later in 1951, three women made instruction cards to be distributed to over 12,000 Forsyth County families. Louise Ziglar Joyce, Elizabeth L. Tuttle, and Mary K. Routh made the pamphlets that included instruction cards on air raids and a household first-aid kit. The pamphlets were passed out to 31 home demonstration clubs and 20 4-H clubs to be delivered to their respective neighborhoods (22 Sept. 1951).
For a few years things seemed to have calmed down, however there was a resurgence in the fallout shelter drive in 1960. The second meetings of the N. C. Civil Defense Assocation was held in Winston-Salem on September 12, 1960. Seventy-five people from all over the state attended and the emphasis of the meeting was "protection for the person." The representatives had a panel discussion about government funding and a lecture on "Radiological Fallout-The Threat and the Defense." The importance of this meeting was that it discussed the need for shelters and the economical ramifications of building one. Winston-Salem's agriculture population was not left out of the loop either when it came to Civil Defense. In November, Roy Thompson wrote an article for the journal about what to do with the cows when the bomb fell. It seems that the Department of Agriculture had thought about this and gave instructions as to where to put the cow and what to do with her milk. The need for shelters was gradually on the increase and would continue to do so through the next few years.
Interest peaked in 1961. Hamilton W. Howe, director of Civil Defense for Forsyth County and Winston-Salem, announced the first Civil Defense fallout shelter in the basement of the Warner family. The shelter was open for the public from January 21, 1 to 4 PM on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The shelter was built by Ervin Building Co. and cost about $740. This shelter was the first of its kind to be funded and built by the government. The shelter was built of
concrete block weighing 144 lbs. per cubic foot and covered a 9 by 12 foot area that would house Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Warner and their two children. This prototype shelter was stocked with bunk beds, food and Civil Defense radiological detection equipment (13 Jan. 1961). N. B. Booras, president of Forsyth Living Shelter Co., put prefabricated metal fallout shelters for sale in 1961. The shelters come in a variety of sizes and cost anywhere from $525 and up. Two models were displayed at Thruway Shopping Center for 60 days and orders would have been taken immediately and installation would have begun in three weeks (11 August 1961). By September 28, 1961 Edward P. Griffin, director of State Civil Defense, said that the interest in fallout shelters was booming. Currently there were a total of 5,000 shelters that had already been built or were either being built. These spanned all economic brackets and even two African American tenant farmers in Edgecombe County were constructing a shelter for their families. Griffin directly cited the crisis in Berlin and the recent resumption of nuclear tests in the USSR for the resurgence. He also drew a clear difference between the popularity of Civil Defense in 1961 and the lack of interest in 1960. The popularity of community shelters was also increasing. North Senior High School was being proposed as a possible site for a community fallout shelter. The cost of the community shelters was estimated at $50,000 to $100,000. The gym of the school "would accommodate all the students under standards set up in fallout shelters," and require that it have no windows and be made of eight inch slabs of concrete (14 Oct. 1961).
Since Griffin's report on increasing interest in fallout shelters was on the rise, things accelerated even more quickly by the end of the year. Professor Willard F. Libby started a series of articles in the Winston-Salem Journal called "Atomic Survival." The third of these tells people how to build a fallout shelter for just $30. He describes how he built his shelter by digging horizontally into the slope of a hill and lining it with bags of dirt (8 Nov. 1961). On November 13, Professor Libby tells the readers how to survive during an attack. He emphasizes knowing what to do and being to protect yourself in case the attack comes. His next article instructs that if the bomb does fall there will be time to get home to safety: "The odds are very strong that most of us shall have warning of an impending attack." He brings up the fact that when the bomb does drop a person has "one to several hours to assemble your family . . .unless you are in the immediate blast area." Libby points out that most schools do not have fallout shelters and that the children should run home in the case that the bomb does fall. The Civil Defense siren signals and the Conelrad broadcast on the radio would let someone know what was happening and unless they were in the blast radius they would have the time act rationally and get to safety (14 Nov. 1961). Professor Libby likes community shelters as well as individual fallout shelters. Professor Libby provides evidence that community shelters that hold 50 to 100 persons are the cheapest type of fallout shelter available. A community of people could build a shelter for $100 a family, which is considerably less than what a typical family shelter would cost. He also points out that the Russians are far more sophisticated in building their fallout shelters (16 Nov. 1961). The mentioning of the Russians was surely intended to motivate the public to quickly build their shelter. The Winston-Salem Journal wanted to see what the local teenagers thought of the Fallout Shelter defense so five local teenagers were invited to the paper to discuss their opinions. The five local teens from Forsyth County expressed their distrust in a fallout shelter program in a school. One teen pointed out that more effort should be used to preventing the need for a fallout shelter. Another pointed out that knowledge of a fallout shelter in a school during a real emergency could quite possibly endanger the students. These five teens seemed to exhibit a distrust of the fallout shelter system and generally thought that nuclear war was far-fetched (25 Nov. 1961).
Until October of 1962 when the Cuban Missile Crisis happened things had calmed down and the need for fallout shelters and Civil Defense seemed to have dissipated. On October 29, 1962 city and county officials were informed of precautionary measures needed to prepare against any emergency from the Missile Crisis. Evacuation of Winston-Salem would only be an option if Winston-Salem was a target, but "What is in Winston-Salem that anyone would want to bomb (A. Beamon remembering what his mother told him when he asked if Winston-Salem was a target)?" Admiral Howe cited that there were less than 200 home shelters in Forsyth County and instructed the public to turn to the Conelrad broadcasts in case of emergency. Three days later after the tensions in the Cuban Missile Crisis had subsided the interests in fallout shelters were still skyrocketing (29 Oct. 1962). By the early part of 1963 things were already starting to calm down again. There was a meeting of the CD leaders of Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point on February 9 and after that the Winston-Salem Journal only reports Civil Defense meeting changes and relocations of the offices.
Due to the decrease in the Civil Defense program it eventually came to a halt. After this there were no more articles about Civil Defense. There is no real transition period; there is no resurgence. The interest in Civil Defense just seems to disappear into thin air. The articles in the Journal follow a wave like pattern: anytime something major happens there is a resurgence in interest of the Civil Defense programs, but generally people tend to go on with their lives. The articles in the paper parallel the involvement of the people; at times there is a great interest, at other times there just isn't. Like anything else, Civil Defense just got old.
Works Cited for the Paper
Beamon, Albert I. Personal Interview. 10 February 2002.

Braddy, Mamie H. "Civil Defense Police Start Training Soon." Winston-Salem Journal. 19 June 1951.

"CD Meeting Opens Here." Winston-Salem Journal. 12 September 1960.

"Civil Defense Leaders Named in Plant Protection Division." Winston-Salem Journal. 10 March 1950.

Dawson, Jo. "School Shelter Considered." Winston-Salem Journal. 14 October 1961.

"Essex Announces Air Raid Services Defense Staff." Winston-Salem Journal. 31 March 1951.

"Fallout Shelter Completed Here." Winston-Salem Journal. 13 January 1961.

Hunter, Rixie. "Interest in Civil Defense Still High." Winston-Salem Journal. 29 October 1962.

"Instruction Cards Distributed." Winston-Salem Journal. 22 September 1951.

"Interest is Booming in Fallout Shelters." Winston-Salem Journal. 28 September 1961.

Libby, Willard L. "Community Shelters are Cheap, " Winston-Salem Journal. 16 November 1961.

Libby, Willard L. "How to Build a Shelter for $30." Winston-Salem Journal. 8 November 1961.

Libby, Willard L. "Stock Your Shelter With All Essentials." Winston-Salem Journal. 13 November 1961.

Libby, Willard L. "There'll be Time to Get Home." Winston-Salem Journal. 14 November 1961.

Poindexter, Jesse. "Public Officials Briefed On CD Emergency Reaction." Winston-Salem Journal. 26 October 1962.

Schoenherr, Steven. Cold War Policies 1945-1991. April 19, 2002.

"Three City Civil Defense Leaders Meet." Winston-Salem Journal. 9 February 1963.

Thompson, Roy. "When Atom Bomb Falls, Put Bossie in the Barn." Winston-Salem Journal. 17 November 1960.

US Department of Energy. Nuclear Age Timeline. April 19, 2002.

Wingate, Alice. "They're Not Looking for a Place to Hide." Winston-Salem Journal. 25 November 1961.

 
 

Click to learn more about Opt Software!