New homeowner opens shelter sealed since 1961
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Thread: New homeowner opens shelter sealed since 1961

  1. #1
    Gunco Maniac Black Blade's Avatar
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    Default New homeowner opens shelter sealed since 1961

    New homeowner opens shelter sealed since 1961


    WEST LAKE HILLS — With effort, Craig Denham heaves open the heavy metal door.

    He heads down the steep, thick concrete steps that are set in solid limestone. He takes a sharp left into the darkness, then another, before revealing an astounding time capsule preserved from the height of the Atomic Age.

    In the backyard of the creative director's mid-century modern home in West Lake Hills is a 1961 fallout shelter in near-mint condition.

    Two retractable cots hang from one wall in a cramped room that is illuminated by a single light bulb. Nearby is a crank for the air shaft; across the way are spigots for water stored in tanks.

    In one corner is a low, odd-looking toilet sheltered behind a plastic shower curtain.

    Lined on shelves of the shelter — built by a retired Air Force colonel who was also something of an inventor — are supplies and equipment for surviving a week or two underground. That was the length of time civil defense officials estimated — at least for public consumption — necessary for radioactive fallout from a nuclear bomb to clear away.

    Among the most chilling artifacts: a Texas highway map posted on the wall. The shelter owner had carefully drawn cross hairs over San Antonio — where U.S. military forces were concentrated — along with what appear to be trajectories for fallout drift. (Oddly, the lines fan out to the southeast, defying the prevailing Texas winds.)

    "He was privy to information the public wasn't," Denham says of Col. E.V. Robnett Jr., who died in 1984. "And even he built one in his backyard. There must have been real concern with people's safety."

    Among the vintage gear neatly laid out in the shelter: A Geiger counter to test ambient radiation levels, a short-wave radio to monitor war news and a pen-like dosimeter to test radiation on one's person. Stacked nearby are crisp civil defense manuals, gas masks, heavy tools and first aid supplies.

    The air crank next to the cots comes with an automatic alarm so shelterers didn't sleep through the periodic oxygen refreshment process.

    Whimsical products — such as paper plates decorated with images of the cartoon character Dennis the Menace and a can of Florient Spice Hair Deodorant — contrast with the pitiless cans of MPF Multi-Purpose Food and a tin of 434 Survival Crackers.

    Decaffinated Sanka, Coffeemate, Lipton Instant Tea and Instant Maxwell House Coffee sit side by side with Sterno, matches, candles and batteries.

    Some of the products, such as Metrecal diet food, Bondware wax paper dishes and Lifebuoy Coral bar soap, are blasts from the retail past for anyone over a certain age.

    To keep the family's mind off the nuclear waste above them, the owners also stashed a set of large, red dominoes.

    There's nothing campy or fun, however, about the guns that Col. Robnett also had kept down there, or the bullets that the current owner removed.


    Black Blade: That's a selling point for me - I would be more likely to buy the house that has a bomb shelter.
    When you're born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America , you get a front row seat. - George Carlin

  2. #2
    Administrator sniper69's Avatar
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    I wonder what kinds of guns and ammo were down there. That would have been quite a find.
    "To show you how radical I am, I want carjackers dead. I want rapists dead. I want burglars dead. I want child molesters dead. I want the bad guys dead. No court case. No parole. No early release. I want 'em dead. Get a gun and when they attack you, shoot 'em."
    Ted Nugent - speaking at the NRA convention April 17, 2005

  3. #3
    Gunco Maniac twa2471's Avatar
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    That radio is an old Philco short wave if I'm not mistaken,Pa had one like that eions ago and it's still around and working great. Tubes and all,,,it even has a spare of each inside the cabinet and a removable antenna(the gray thing inside the cover) that has 100' of wire spooled on the back for remote placement of the antenna. I used to listen to stations from all over the world on it thing when I was a kid.

    I'd like to end up with a treasure trove like that, hell some of those old 50-60's containers in pristine condition are worth pretty good bucks to some collectors of that period stuff. I'd almost be willing to bet the gun in there was either a 30 carbine or a M1 Garrand,what do ya bet? That would be my guess.

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  5. #4
    White Cracker 4thIDvet's Avatar
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    What a find, that is great.. Bet the Smithsonian bids on the contents to re-create for its museum.
    I remember those days in grammar school.. Siren goes off, get under your school desk and "Duck and Cover."
    WTF I followed their rules.. Dammed if all us kids did not grow up thinking our school desks were atomic bomb proof..
    I wanted to bring my school desk home and hide under it if a nuke went off..
    "Why you walking around with a school desk on your head?" Atomic bomb proof..
    "Man needs but two things to survive alone in the woods. A blow up female doll and his trusty old AK-47" - Thomas Jefferson 1781

  6. #5
    Cranky Curmudgeon zoom6zoom's Avatar
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    the owners also stashed a set of large, red dominoes.
    I thought this was somewhat ironic, since we used to talk about the Reds and Domino Theory of spreading Communism.
    Certified AR-15/M-16 Armorer / SIG Pistol Armorer

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