IMAGE OF BLOOD-TYPE TATTOO (provided by JAAD)

In the 1950s the relationship of the United States with its new nuclear arsenal was much like that of fumbling teenagers in the backseat of a Ford: enthusiastic, but woefully naive.

This was the era of luxury fallout shelters, Bert the Turtle‘s “duck and cover” and the M388 Davy Crockett…a horribly inaccurate handheld nuclear bazooka (seriously!). Not to be outdone, Indiana itself proved the setting for one of the earliest experiments in civil defense that remains equal parts ingenious and insane.


 

BERT THE TURTLE, 1952

During the early years of the Cold War, one of the tasks of civil defense involved establishing reliable sources of blood in case of nuclear attack. With the Korean War raging across the Pacific, the United States suffered a substantial deficit in its ready supplies of blood, and the attempted solution included organizing “walking blood banks” in regions of the United States. 

*I couldn’t help but think of the 2015 film ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’, in which the film’s protagonist served a similar function

ttps://orangebeanindiana.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/gr2_lrg.jpg”> BLOOD-TYPE DOG TAG

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To establish these blood banks, citizens first had to be typed and then carry dog tags listing relevant information, including their blood type. After thousands were typed and issued dog tags, researchers discovered less than three-quarters complied regularly. Although the program seemed a marginal success, civil defense committees, first in Chicago and then Lake County, Indiana, decided on a more intrusive but permanent method of marking blood sources, calling it Operation Tat-Type.