A Cold War Love Story: The Mininson Family Shelter

The Mininson Family Shelter

The Mininsons pictured descending into their family shelter in the suburbs of Miami on July 12, 1959.

Mininson Shelter Image #2

The Mininsons photographed for Life Magazine along with their supplies for the fourteen day stay. The couple later expressed that they wished that they had brought more food with them, as well as tools for repairs.

  In 1959, newlyweds Maria and Melvin Mininson celebrated their honeymoon by descending into a “22-ton, steel and concrete 18x24 foot shelter 12 feet underground” in the suburbs of Miami for two weeks- the “crucial period of fallout danger." In the Life Magazine article covering their story, the Mininsons are pictured with their unconventional “wedding gifts”- a large stock of food, water, and sanitation equipment carefully arranged in their picturesque backyard. The couple saw their stay as an experiment in the physiological and psychological effects of post-nuclear survival, documenting their experience with claustrophobia, bad air quality, and high temperatures. While their endeavor was adventurous and unconventional, the event became a symbol of the power of traditional marriage in the face of nuclear crisis. The family unit was seen as “the first positive step toward survival in the atomic age” (May 103). The Mininsons- and the family fallout shelter in general- represented a romanticized image of marital bonding, familial security, and ingenuity when countering challenges to morale in an increasingly unstable world. While not all couples were as bold as the Mininsons, these ideals of domestic life were the aspirations of many suburban families during the 1950s and 60s.