It was a period when Americans were torn between hope and fear.
While television was evolving into America's most popular pastime and Fats Domino and Buddy Holly dominated the music charts, Americans in the 1950s also grappled with the threat of a nuclear war with the Soviet Union and the fear of communist conspirators in their midst.
"Drop and cover" became the mantra of school children throughout the United States who were trained to duck beneath their school desks or take refuge in the nearest ditch whenever they heard an air raid siren.
It's within that framework that Elaine D. Walsh's debut novel, "Atomic Summer," is set.
"I did a lot of research on this period of history when people were so anxious," said Walsh. "We were in the midst of a Cold War. Sen. Joseph McCarthy was convincing America that spies were everywhere. (Ethel and Julius) Rosenberg had just been executed for passing information about the atomic bond to the Soviet Union. Nuclear tests were taking place in the desert and Americans were building bomb shelters in their back yards."
"Atomic Summer" is set in a fictional town in upstate New York in 1953 and revolves around the lives of three teenage girls who have an innocent conversations about what each of them would do if the end of the world were imminent. The conversation becomes the catalyst for a prank that spins wildly out of control and draws in an entire town."
For Walsh, a New York native now living in south Brandon, this first novel was a long time in the making.
"I've always wanted to be a writer," said Walsh. "I can't remember a time I wasn't writing."
With the goal of writing America's next great novel, Walsh majored in English at the State University of New York at Geneseo.
However, the necessity of earning a living soon overshadowed her writing ambitions. She entered the business world and is currently an executive with a prescription management company.
But her dream of becoming a published writer never abated. She began writing in her spare time -- late at night, early in the morning, on planes as she traveled for her job.
"'Atomic Summer' is actually a book I began writing 10 years ago," said Walsh. "I set it aside when I got busy. But, earlier in the year, I dusted it off, re-edited it, revised it and updated it."
In the 10 years since she first began writing the book, the publishing industry has undergone a transformation. Writers no long have to depend on the whims of an anonymous editor at a big-name publisher to reach their audiences.
"I decided to capitalize on these changes in the publishing industry and market my book independently," she said.
"I've been very pleased with the response," said Walsh. "I've been getting a lot of good reviews. People seem to really enjoy it. Everyone tells me it's a page turner, that it moves quickly and the characters are interesting."
However, Walsh isn't expecting to rake in riches with her book. In fact, all proceeds from "Atomic Summer" will be donated to a cause that's near and dear to her heart.
"'Atomic Summer' is dedicated to my mother who passed away 3 ½ years ago from a rare and aggressive form of cancer known as primary peritoneal carcinoma," said Walsh. "And 100 percent of the proceeds from my book will be donated to cancer charities. I want to use my talent to raise money for causes I care about."
Among those Walsh wants to help with her book's proceeds is longtime friend Kathryn "Kitty" Fowke. Friends have established a foundation for the Lithia resident diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a malignant cancer of the muscles.
When the Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute wasn't able to treat the cancer, Fowke traveled to Germany to undergo an experimental treatment at the Lentz Clinic, treatment not covered by insurance.
Fowke is currently back home following a successful treatment but will return to Germany in a few weeks to ensure that the cancer has not returned.
"I have a sense of responsibility to use my talents and gifts to help others," said Walsh. "This book is really about living my dream while helping others."
Walsh is currently working on her second novel, "Restoration," to be released next summer.
Residents can read the first chapter of Walsh's book on her website.
For information on upcoming fundraisers for Fowke, visit Hope for Kathryn "Kitty" Fowke.