Toronto. As a youngster I can remember the early August 1945 newspapers headlining that America had dropped an atomic bomb on Japan. We read in awe about the devastation of Hiroshima, amazed that one small bomb could wreak such damage on a city. This event was quickly followed by a second one, a single bomb once again, this time dropped on Nagasaki with the same result. Japan surrendered a few days later.
The war ended but the testing continued. We had no idea what radio activity meant, or how the bomb could cause such damage. A year later LIFE magazine (July 15, 1946 issue) published pictures airborne photographers recording the blast over Bikini Atoll. And the issue the next week (July 22nd) showed the famous mushroom shaped cloud the photographers recorded.
My thanks to George Dunbar for noting the two key LIFE magazine photos from the summer of 1946. Between release of the two issues, I turned 9 years old… one of the last of the people born before the atomic era began with its songs of mushroom shaped clouds, bikini bathing suits, and massive paranoia.