by Katie Pocras, Nebraska Home Sales Realtor
My friends just purchased a home built in the 1920’s. It’s oozing with old-world craftsmanship, glorious woodwork, with a curved stairwell and original Art Deco metal banisters, and….a bomb shelter.
This was my first experience with a home bomb shelter. We do not have an MLS field that lists “bomb shelter” as a selection criteria. No question, I was going down in the hole to experience this for myself.
It’s in the backyard, and it’s nothing like the one in the TV show “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”. Hers looked livable. This was nothing of the sort.
The entrance is through a metal hatch in the ground with a vertical ladder leading down a tube. It was constructed around 1960, and according to a previous owner family member, it would not have sustained a nuclear attack. Inside is fascinating. Armed with flashlights and 21st century cell phones, we had to watch our step because the floor was rotting. The shelter is a long tube made of corrugated metal, similar to a drainage culvert, buried about 8 feet. None of the electrical worked, and the fresh air intake had been disassembled. This is the bomb shelter that time forgot. The canned food was a sample of the 1960s with vintage labels, most of which I haven’t seen, well, since the 1960s. On the walls are 5 bunks suspended and decaying. There were two suitcases which were most fascinating. Both were leather, packed and also disintegrating. Plastic water jugs lined one wall and some were full. There was a little hot plate. And plenty of toilet paper, but no toilet. I didn’t take measurements but going from memory, I’d estimate the length to be 20 feet by 6 feet. Like a long, narrow dorm room where everyone is much too close.
My daughter came down the hatch hole with me and saw it. To her, “duck and cover” means a low flying bird, not “get under your desk” because of a potential nuclear strike. It’s hard to imagine the fear that people experienced back then from the Cold War, a fear that would lead them to build a bomb shelter in their backyard. Let’s hope the world has changed in 50 years so we never have to experience that again.