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The 1960s: Do you remember fallout shelters?

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
“Helter skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast…”

– “American Pie,” by Don McLean

Ladies and gentlemen, we’re having lots of fun in Hillsboro in the early 1960s. We’ve gassed up a classic Studebaker, bought ’60s clothes, did some grocery shopping at Albers on West Main and Kroger on Muntz Street, took in a couple of movies, went to the county fair and watched a couple of Hillsboro High School football games.

Let’s look in the newspaper and see if there’s anything else interesting going on around here.

Well, take a look at this advertisement, “Family Fallout Shelter,” by the Highland Stone Division. It asks us, “Why prepare a shelter now?”

Good question.

It tells us that, “Fallout can threaten more people than blast and heat in a nuclear attack,” then stresses, “We do not want a war. We do not know whether there will be a war. But we know that forces hostile to us possess weapons that could destroy us if we were unready. These weapons create a new threat – radioactive fallout that can spread death anywhere. That is why we must prepare.”

OK, now I’ll have some bad dreams tonight.

Fallout shelters are “necessary insurance,” no matter where we live. Of course, “(i)t will not be needed except in emergency. But in emergency it will be priceless – as priceless as your life,” we are told.

Maybe we should phone “Lynchburg 103” right away and talk with the fine folks at the Highland Stone Division off of U.S. Route 50 (then called Route No. 5) near Fairview.

We can buy a fallout shelter for $154.84 complete, which includes concrete blocks and all material necessary to construct the shelter.

Ugh, so we have to build the thing ourselves, but it does come with “building instructions furnished.” Or we can “contact your contractor for erection costs.”

This makes one wonder how many folks bought and built family fallout shelters from Highland Stone or other places. Do you know of any such fallout shelters around here that exist today?

Also of interest in the newspaper from October 1961, nearly 600 people were welcomed to the “new” Highland District Hospital in an open house; incumbent Hillsboro Mayor Frank Hiestand was seeking his third term and was opposed by Democrat challenger Jacob “Jake” T. Wagoner; and the Hillsboro varsity football team lost 21-6 to Circleville with fullback Doug Bays scoring the Tribe’s only touchdown after Harry Glaze recovered a fumble that made the score 6-0 HHS at the time.

Let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next time.

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at

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