Buffalo Man Lives In Underground Bunker
Clarence Rounds and his Bunker Home
Posted by: Stefan Mychajliw
Believe it or not, there's a guy that's been living in an underground bunker in Buffalo for the past six years.
His name is Clarence Rounds. He's 47-years-old. His home is literally down to earth.
2 On Your Side's Stefan Mychajliw: "Why this lifestyle?"
Rounds: "I just wanted something simple, and basic, down to earth."
Mychajliw: "What is it about this lifestyle that suits you?"
Rounds: "I pretty much, am on my own. And I'm my own boss here. I do what I want to do."
The Buffalo man said he was living on Squaw Island and had to leave once the area was cleaned up and turned into a park.
He was walking in the section of the City where he lives now, found a fairly wooded area, and decided to build a bunker as his home.
It took him about two years to dig the roughly 16-by-20 foot underground home. It's close to six-and-a-half feet deep.
Mychajliw: "How did you do it?"
Rounds: "With a bucket and a shovel, day by day. I'd go to the soup kitchen, and then I'd just start digging the hole. The bunker is more energy efficient and loses less heat. I wouldn't be exposed to the wind. And I wouldn't need to build any walls. I'd just use the dirt for the walls. So I'd only need a roof. So it was more economics that I did it for."
Clarence went to the Buffalo Public Library and read engineering books to learn how to make the bunker as structurally sound as possible. The initial fear was that heavy winter snow would cause it to collapse.
"I got books on roof framing, post framing, and things like that, so that I would have the formulas available to calculate the loads properly so the roof wouldn't collapse on me while I was sleeping," added Rounds.
A car battery serves as the main source of power for a small light and clock just above his bed.
That car battery is also connected to a spliced extension cord that powers a radio with speakers inside and outside of the bunker.
There's a fireplace with a vent that serves as a heat source and stove.
And then there's the issue of a bathroom.
Mychajliw: "This is somewhat of an embarrassing question, it's the first thing I thought of: what about a bathroom?"
Rounds: "The bathroom? I use the porta-john that I got from one of the elderly people in the neighborhood. They donated it to me, because they knew I needed that."
It isn't exactly a porta-john.
It's a walker that has a toilet seat positioned over a bucket.
Some canned goods like peanut butter and pork and beans are on a small shelf, as well as a number of books, including a Bible and a paperback copy of "The Black Marble," by Joseph Wambaugh.
Mychajliw: "Do you ever get lonely?"
Rounds: "I don't get lonely. I try to keep myself busy. I've got my drafting. I love to read books. And I always try to learn stuff."
According to Rounds, he didn't know his father and his mother passed away at the age of 29. He grew up in an orphanage, spent time studying at Seneca Vocational High School, and served two years in the Army "during the Carter Administration."
He is Native American, states his family is from the Arapaho tribe.
Mychajliw: "Do you feel as though growing up in an orphanage either led to this or this type of lifestyle?"
Rounds: "It changes you for sure, especially at a young age. I grew up in an institution. I didn't have much family around me. So I didn't have a support network there to help me out with that."
Money for food is earned through a number of odd jobs like landscaping, construction and roofing.
That's how he learned how to put together his bunker.
Mychajliw: "What about the property itself? Anyone ever give you a hard time about being here?"
Rounds: "Nobody has given me a hard time. I've never bothered my neighbors. I support my neighbors. I keep people away from their fence line."
There's a fire pit outside of the bunker and some touches of home, including a Sabres flag and a "Welcome Friends" mat near the ladder to the bunker.
Mychajliw: "I think a lot of people would think, Clarence, why doesn't the guy just get a house, get an apartment?"
Rounds: "A lot of people have asked me that question. I like it here. I like nature. I like to be in the woods. I grew up as a child; I always wanted a cabin in the woods. Like Michael Landon in Little House On The Prairie."
Mychajliw: "People could think, this guy is nuts?"
Rounds: "I'm not nuts. I'm a clever person. I use clever ideas. I use the materials that are given to me in life and God's talents that are given to me, to make this a possibility. It's not easy hanging here; it's a lot of work."
Mychajliw: "Why not just get an apartment?"
Rounds: "I know. It just seems to me this is a worthwhile thing to do. It's down to earth, and it makes me happy."
Mychajliw: "How happy are you?"
Rounds: "I'm happy. I'm a happy, go lucky guy. Life in general is pretty good. I don't think of my life as being bad. Life is just a continuation of yesterday."
Black Blade: When things look bleak and hopeless, you sometimes come across stories like this showing that people can survive anything. Actually this looks more like an adventure and a test of survival skills.