“Atomic Express” was a Cold War pop culture website I ran for several years. It was taken down hard by Russian hackers once the latest iteration of unpleasantness in the Ukraine started and I was too busy to restore the thing. I am working now to bridge its remains onto this site.
Physical manifestations of the Cold War remain all around us, no matter where you or I go today. In North America, the fledgling steps towards the internet of today lay in the early air defence information technology systems, spread like a web all over Canada and the United States. The interstate highway system we love and ride daily was a product of the Cold War-designed to bypass nuc’d cities and act as emergency airstrips for bombers and fighters. In the western part of Germany, most of the civil infrastructure was geared to support Third World War combat operations. The fax machines in use today are descended from the top secret Canadian MUFAX system of the late 1950s. How about touch-tone phones and microwave ovens? The list goes on….
Though many people are deeply interested in the First and Second World Wars in the Twentieth Century, for me the climactic struggle of that age was the Cold War, where life on earth itself lay in the balance, when a globally-catastrophic war could have occurred in minutes. That concept is extremely difficult to grasp today, but it was a reality that many of us growing up then had to deal with in one way or another. I’d like to do everything I can to get that across to you, especially if you didn’t experience it or had little idea of what was going on behind the scenes at the time. There were occasions when the world was, as they say, on the brink.
The central motif of the Cold War will remain the picture or film of a mushroom cloud generated by the detonation of a nuclear weapon during testing, plus the attachment of the word “Atomic” to everything in the 1950s. Indeed, popular culture of the day included hits like Slim Gaillard’s smooth “Atomic Cocktail”….
“Press a button, Turn a dial
Your work is done for miles, and miles….”