Update: With Austin in North Korea' s sights, now’s as good a time as ever to revisit Cactus Pryor's 1960 civil defense classic "Target … Austin, Texas." Its depiction of the “usual mid-morning traffic” on Congress Avenue is just as funny than anything to be found under the hashtag #whyaustin.
Original Post (July 13, 2012): Here’s some Friday the 13th viewing: “Target … Austin, Texas,” a civil defense film from 1960. Produced by the storied KTBC TV station, the 20-minute film is a fevered remnant of the cold war-era.
Narrated by the one and only Cactus Pryor, the film walks us through the steps one exceptionally well prepared Austin family takes when it learns nuclear missiles are bearing down on the Violet Crown. Their civil defense approved steps – calmly heading down to a well-stocked fallout shelter, for instance – are shown in contrast to the frenzied or disbelieving reactions of the less-prepared. Who do you think makes out better in the end?
The film was posted online by Conelrad, a website trafficking entirely in atomic age goodies like “Target … Austin, Texas.” They even posted a thoroughly detailed rundown of the film, accurately noting the “spooky public domain soundtrack” makes the movie “more ‘Carnival of Souls’ than ‘Duck and Cover.’”
It’s been a good couple of months for online finds documenting the old, weird Austin. The city has also posted a 1943 film, “Austin, Texas … The Friendly City” online, equally packed with old school landmarks. (I’m still waiting for the gift basket I was apparently due from the Austin Chamber of Commerce.)