Chemtrails are bullshit, of course, but in 1950s America, there was definitely something in the air.
That was especially true if you lived in desert areas in which the U.S. government was conducting A-bomb tests. Windstorms at just the wrong moment could cause havoc, blowing radioactive mist into unsuspecting nearby communities.
One such bomb, nicknamed “Harry,” was detonated in Nevada on May 19, 1953, with gusts carrying its fallout 135 miles, running headlong into 5,000 people, including those on the set of Howard Hughes’ film The Conqueror. Legend has it that a cancer cluster among cast and crew was the result, although that seems more urban legend than medical fact. Nonetheless, some citizens were outraged by the recklessness, and the bomb was rechristened “Dirty Harry” in retrospect.
A month earlier, the Atomic Energy Commission had carried out another detonation in same state. Just after the explosion, a pair of radio-controlled planes carrying mice and monkeys were flown through the radioactive cloud. The strange scene, which was conducted in the name of biomedical research, was recorded in an article in the April 6, 1953 Brooklyn Daily Eagle.