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Local Artifacts From The Atomic Era

Once upon a time, youth in the '50s and '60s lived in fear. They practiced going to “fallout” shelters to escape the atomic bomb.

Independence resident Michael Scheibach has studied this period of American history extensively. In addition to combing through school newspapers, Sheibach’s collection of photographs, posters and other artifacts from Kansas City high schools tells the story of an America trying its best to prepare for the possibility of annihilation.

At the Kansas City Public Library, Scheibach gave KCUR's Susan Wilson a tour of the memorabilia that can be viewed at the exhibit 'Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow: Living With The Atomic Bomb.'

Interview Highlights

"It wasn't until August of 1949 when the Soviet Union exploded its own atomic bomb. And we really began seeing the escalation of information, warning people to be prepared  for the possibility and the real probability that there may be an atomic war."

"At its peak it was a very real and very scary time because Americans were told you know to expect the Soviet Union attacking us at really any moment."

"This whole era its just a dichotomy between the extreme serious 'Oh my gosh we might die in an atomic attack,' to popular culture kind of taking not only the fear but the fascination."

"If you were lucky enough to be in Missouri and South Missouri, you could actually buy a ticket believe it or not, that would allow you entry into the caverns of Missouri in case of an all out atomic attack."

The exhibit is on display at theKansas City Public Library Central Branch through January 7th, 2013.

This story was produced for KC Currents, which airs Sundays at 5pm with a repeat Mondays at 8pm. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KCCurrents podcast.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Susan admits that her “first love” was radio, being an avid listener since childhood. However, she spent much of her career in mental health, healthcare administration, and sports psychology (Susan holds a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Bloch School of Business at UMKC.) In the meantime, Wilson satisfied her journalistic cravings by doing public speaking, providing “expert” interviews for local television, and being a guest commentator/contributor to KPRS’s morning drive time show and the teen talk show “Generation Rap.”
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