10 Blasts From The Past All Cold War Kids Will Remember

Vintage | Throwback 70s

10 Blasts From The Past All Cold War Kids Will Remember


The 1960s and '70s weren't like other decades. It was a time when history seemed like it was happening all at once, and we were right there to see it all.

Here are 10 things you'll remember if you grew up at the height of the Cold War:

1. It seemed like war could break out at any moment

After World War 2, the Soviet Union quickly became an existential threat to life here in the United States, and the Civil Defense authorities loved to remind you:

Your home town probably had an air raid siren, and your family must have owned one of the pamphlets they made. The idea was to warn people how to stay safe during a nuclear attack, but mostly these leaflets, posters and books just terrified everyone.

But there was no reason to worry, as long as your family marked the two spots on the radio dial where you could receive CONELRAD emergency broadcasts. People were ready to run for the hills at any moment. Speaking of which...

The triangles on this car radio mark emergency broadcast stations.Auto Week

2. Fallout shelters were all the rage

Like we said, families were convinced that a war between Russia and the U.S. was ready to break out at any moment. That's why so many families built their own fallout shelters, or paid to have one built.

A family tests an example shelter.Ultra Swank

Most families built shelters in their backyard, or as an extension of their basement. Today you can still find many older homes with built-in shelters, which new owners use for storage.

Some families actually tried to keep their shelter a secret, because they worried their neighbors would rush to get in during a real emergency.

3. Out teachers taught us to "duck and cover"

Is it any wonder we were so terrified? Just like grownups, kids were expected to practice Civil Defense drills, and warned that they would only have minutes to get to safety during a real attack.

In case you couldn't get to safety in time, you were taught to "duck and cover" under your desk. The government even produced an adorable cartoon starring Bert the Turtle, which some schools kept airing right up until 1991.

So would hiding under a desk actually protect you during a nuclear attack? Actually, maybe. As long as you aren't smack-dab in the middle of the explosion, covering your body is an important safety tip.

4. The Space Race was in full swing

Neil Armstrong on board Apollo 11.Wikimedia

Throughout the '60s, America and the Soviet Union competed technologically, trying to out-produce each other by making more and more nuclear warheads. A side effect of this contest was the Space Race, a race to see who could reach the moon first.

While we remember the space race as a big science competition, there were real-world stakes too. Both governments planned to use the moon as a base for missile attacks, or for defensive weapons.

But in the end all we got was Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong's incredible moon landing, watched live by over 750 million people. Oh, and lots of fun Space Age food, like Tang and Easy Cheese.

And all of that Space Age innovation changed our homes for the better...

5. Technology was cutting edge

By 1965 more than half of all network programming was in color (remember when that sounded impressive?) and families were starting to invest in color TVs.

If your family really wanted to invest in a fancy appliance, your parents might have bought a touch tone phone - say goodbye to using that annoying rotary dial!

Family memories were captured on Polaroids back then, and while cassettes were slowly getting popular your family was probably still listening to The King using a record player.

6. It was the Golden Age of TV

Odds are you were rushing home after school to catch Adam West play Batman, but there were lots of other great shows. From Bonanza to the Munsters and Star Trek, there was something for everyone in the family.

But the real hit shows were comedies like Gilligan's Island, the Andy Griffith Show and Hogan's Heroes.

If you stayed up late you might catch something really weird, like a rerun of the Twilight Zone. It was better to turn in early and enjoy some Saturday morning cartoons, like the Flinstones, the Jetsons and Wacky Races. Can you believe all these great shows were on at the same time?

7. We didn't have many toys, but they were all great

Back then, kids would rather play outside with their friends than sit in the living room staring at the TV. But on rainy days there were lots of fun ways to distract ourselves. We had toy cars, Rock Em Sock Em robots, and even the original GI Joe.

If you really want a blast from the past, check out this old toy catalog and see how many of them you grew up with.

8. There were spies in the news

Even if you tried to distract yourself from the scary headlines in the morning newspaper, you had a hard time. Shows like I Spy, Get Smart and the Man from U.N.C.L.E. taught us that America and Russia were both full of spies and double agents trying to destroy the world.

A soldier jumps over the Berlin Wall.All That Is Interesting

And sometimes the real news stories seemed like they were ripped from the pages of a spy novel. People were sneaking through Checkpoint Charlie hidden in the trunk of a car, and American pilot Gary Powers was put on trial in Russia when his spy plane crashed over enemy territory.

American pilot Gary Powers.BBC

9. The country was changing fast

If you paid attention in school, your teacher probably told you a lot of scary things about the Domino Theory, the Cuban Revolution, and maybe even the Missile Crisis happening less than 100 miles from the Florida coast.

Lots of '60s kids are still traumatized by this famous TV ad from the 1964 presidential campaign.

Plus, hippies were starting to crop up all over America. It was definitely an interesting time.

10. It seemed like history was happening all at once

We were kids, so all we though about was going to school and playing with our friends, but all around us the world was changing in ways that were too big to wrap our head around.

The Civil Rights movement was in full swing, and so was the Vietnam War and all of the protests against it. Fashions became bold and bright, and women expressed themselves with new fads like short hair and even shorter skirts.

The Beatles changed music forever and the movies in our hometown theaters changed from mostly black and white to all in color. It was an exciting era, and we're lucky to have been born in time to experience it!

Share this list if you remember growing up in the '60s and '70s!

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories.