Grandview Heights Moment in Time

Wayne Carlson
Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Historical Society
The Fries children (Eddie, Bobby and Susan) of Grandview Heights and their dog, Lixie, are shown under the watchful eye of their mother, practicing the “Duck and Cover” technique for protecting themselves from flying debris that might result from the detonation of a nuclear weapon nearby.

During the Cold War period, fear of a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union was widespread.

In 1951, the Federal Civil Defense Administration hired a New York City ad agency to create a film that could be shown in schools to educate children about how to protect themselves in the case of an attack.

The resulting film, titled “Duck And Cover,” depicted safety techniques in preparation for the dangers from such attacks. The film instructs students to "make like Bert the turtle: Duck under tables or desks, or next to walls, and tightly cover the back of their necks and their faces."

In the film, Bert is shown dropping to the ground (“DUCK!”) and retreating into his shell (“COVER!”) after an explosion.

This photograph is one of several from the March 4, 1951, Columbus Dispatch, which illustrated different precautions for protecting children from potential atomic-bomb attacks.

A Grandview Heights resident, Mrs. Edward Fries of 1204 Lincoln Road, is shown illustrating one of “six survival secrets for atomic bombs,” also published in the Ohio Civil Defense Bulletin. She is demonstrating on her own children, Eddie, Bobby and Susan, and their dog Lixie. Upon seeing a bomb flash, children were trained to run inside the nearest building, duck and cover their heads.

The Duck and Cover drills, which were part of President Harry S. Truman’s FCDA program, were aimed to educate the public about what ordinary people could do to protect themselves, and they became standard school drills. They were expanded to be applied in other situations where structural destabilization or flying debris might be expected, such as during an earthquake or tornado.

This historical narrative from the Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Historical Society was provided by Wayne Carlson.