How did the early Cold War affect life in the US?
It completely changed our view of our general safety in the world.
The cold war, ICBMs, nuclear warheads, long range heavy bombers, were all being invented, improved and disseminated starting in the 1950s.
Many people firmly believed that nuclear war was unavoidable and began making preparations for such an occurrence. For the average American it meant building bomb shelters, hearing air raid horns being tested, sonic booms, and children practicing in schools what to do in case of a nuclear attack.
Fueling the fear was the Soviet Union and the United States each developing an atomic bomb larger than the other side. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima was about 15 kilo-tons. Both America and the USSR developed hydrogen bombs which exceeded 100 million mega-tons.