One of the early postwar magazines in my collection is this delightful "how-to" book on building your own garage published by Popular Mechanics in 1953. The cover art is rendered in that colorful "commercial art" style that was prevalent in the late 1940s and '50s, somewhat reminiscent of Norman Rockwell. The cover art is signed "Korta," and in about, oh, 2 seconds of Googling, I found his bio. Robert Korta was head illustrator for Popular Mechanics for many years before becoming a freelancer. You've got to love "the Google!"
The surprise mentioned in the title? After several chapters on various types of garages—wooden frame, cinder block, and brick—is this chapter on building a bomb shelter, "What about an A-Bomb Shelter?" It really took be aback, although the timing of the book, 1953, places it squarely in the Cold War and McCarthy's "Communist around every corner" period. I remember a few homes in our neighborhood that had their own bomb shelters, and they were available to us in the event we needed it. I've always wondered what happened to those subterranean structures, but the original families have all died or moved away, and I'm not the type to knock on doors and ask strangers about their properties. The tone of the artwork is oddly light-hearted, with a bomb dropping out of the sky that looks like it could be stamped "ACME" on the side as in the Roadrunner cartoons. But then again, this was Popular Mechanics, not The New York Times.
The second spread of the bomb shelter chapter includes helpful sidebars such as which supplies needed to be kept at the ready in a shelter, distances from ground zero that would cause death and destruction and possible safety and a list of "things to do" when the bomb siren sounds.
I've scanned three sidebars and grouped them together here for easier reading. The list of supplies reminds me of the "duct tape and plastic window shields" we were told about after 9/11. Check out number 10 in the list on the left: "If you are within 1/2 mile of burst, and are still alive..." Yowsah!
B L O G N O T E — I finally have several days ahead of me without any work scheduled for my publisher and no gardening or watering to do, so I'll be working on new art. I'll be sanding and cutting wood, painting and everything else that I do for my pieces. I've been working on new pieces hit-and-miss for a couple of months, but I'm now going to get serious about it for a few weeks. I'll still put up a new post, probably every day, but I might not be "on" here to answer comments as much as I usually do. I tend to work 20 hour days when I'm creating, and don't get near my Macs with my paint-splattered hands and clothes. Wish me luck, lol!