When Ken and Carol Zwick moved into their home in Neenah, WI, they knew there were those two giant, green metal doors in the backyard.
The family honestly just didn’t care much to open them. The home came equipped with an 80-square-foot bomb shelter, a luxury the family never thought they would need. Ken and Carol thought the doors would only lead to a big empty space, so why even bother opening them? It took them a decade to finally open the metal hatch.
“We assumed it was just this empty space,” Carol said. Boy, was she wrong. While much of the bunker had been flooded over the years, there were still a few things that had survived.
For the family, it was like traveling back in time. The year was 1960, John F. Kennedy had just been elected president, and the Cold War had permeated the minds of Americans who now lived in fear of the atomic bomb.
This is what was in the bunker, preserved by time…
Ken and Carol Zwick knew their home came with a bomb shelter when they purchased it 10 years before. The giant metal doors had always been in the backyard. The family assumed it was just a big empty space. For a decade, they didn’t even bother to open the doors.
Finally, the curious couple decided to see what was down there. The results are amazing. The door opens and inside is a ladder that leads to an 8′ by 10′ chamber.
The bunker was built by its previous owner Frank Pansch in 1960. During this pivotal era in history, both the U.S. and Russia lived in constant fear of nuclear war. Frank built the bomb shelter as a safe haven. However, it wasn’t just an empty space. There was plenty in it!
In it were enough provisions to last a family for about two weeks.
“It was all of what you would expect to find in a 1960s fallout shelter,” Zwick told the Daily News. “It was food, clothing, medical supplies, tools, flashlights, batteries, items that you would want to have in a shelter if you planned to live there for two weeks.”
There were even classic candies that you couldn’t find anywhere today if you’d dreamed. The Zwick family donated all of the vintage goods to the Neenah Historical Society.
“It will really give people a sense of what it was like to live in 1960, to feel like they’re in their living room, and suddenly they need to go to their fallout shelter,” said Jane Lang, executive director of the Neenah Historical Society.
While it’s certainly a good thing that the bomb shelter never had to be used for its intended purpose, the fact that it was created over 50 years ago gives us a little bit more insight into a time that many of us could never experience or understand.
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