I know this will sound very odd if you didn’t live though any part of the Cold War but these signs were a subtle reminder that “The Bomb” could drop at any moment and there were times of great stress between the USSR and the USA when serious people in Washington thought it might happen — or so they say in memoirs et al.
These fallout shelter signs (the term means they sheltered you from “nuclear fallout” which was all the atomic particles and stuff that would fall on you if “The Bomb” was dropped) have vanished now. But they used to appear on every public building and most large private buildings. Wherever you looked, whether you were in Manhattan or in my little Southern town you would see these yellow and black signs indicating there was a bomb shelter in the building to which the sign was affixed. You got so used to seeing them that after a while you didn’t notice but you did notice on some level because they were everywhere.
And what made everyone so afraid in the early hours after Kennedy was shot and killed, was that the Soviets had done it and that a real war with nuclear bombs and everything might be starting. It seemed inconceivable that the President of the United States would be assassinated and the Soviets not be involved and truth be told do we actually know one way or another?
[Image courtesy of Fallout Shelter NYC.]