Friday, June 14, 2013

Gimme Shelter

By now you probably know that I'm utterly intrigued by oddball bits of history. So it's hardly surprising that I was tickled by this little piece of Cold War memorabilia; a fallout shelter under a California backyard still lingering in the Sixties year it was last visited by its creator.
Apparently there are more of these things lurking down there; the author of this blog post links to one in Alabama, though who the hell would have wanted to nuke Alabama I haven't the faintest; even the stupidest Soviet would probably have suspected that the Red Dawn would break all the sooner for leaving that sump-hole of rural squalor to fester in the lower-lying swamplands of American rednecksylvania.

One cool thing the linked blogger above discusses is something called "Multi Purpose Food" or MPF. This stuff, here:
Now while I'm a child of the Fifties I was a child of the late Fifties and a fairly dim one at that. By the time I was old enough to go to grade school the whole "Duck and Cover" and scare-the-shit-out-of-the-kiddies atom bomb drills fad had pretty much passed (for all that that was only probably a year or two after the Missile Crisis), and I wasn't sharp enough to pick up on it when I was smaller.

I certainly don't remember being particularly frightened of Red missile attacks. Tornadoes? Now those were scary. (we lived in a suburb of Chicago annually smacked by one or two of the things, and my mother would go into a freaking panic every time the radio would broadcast a tornado warning and hustle us down into the cellar to huddle like some Londoners under the Blitz).

So I missed this whole "prepare for the post-apocalyptic world by stockpiling food and ammunition" thing, and so I missed Multi Purpose Meals and MPF. But you gotta love something described as a "...scientifically formulated mix consisted of 68% defatted or low fat soy grits plus dehydrated potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, leeks, parsley, and spices, and was fortified with vitamins and minerals. Ready after only minutes of simmering in water, a 64 gram dry portion provided most of a tasty, nutritious meal for one person at a cost of only 3-5 cents."

Yum!

8 comments:

Leon said...

In a similar boat as you Chief, I was a child of the late, late, sixties (well as late as you can still be in the sixties). We were past the time when a nuclear shelter made any sense (unless you could stock food for the next century) and the fear of Armageddon had receded. I knew it was a risk, but never worried about it or believed it would happen.

FDChief said...

I am in an odd sort of demographic. My parents were kids of the Depression and the Big War - by the time the Bomb and the Reds came along they were old enough to be cynical and too old to be scared. I was just too little and kind of slow on the uptake to pop culture. So when all the old late Forties and Fifties "ohmigodwe'reallgonnadie!" stuff came around again in the Seventies and Eighties as snark it was new to me.

So the shelter reaches me only as a sort of fiction; the kids in "Matinee" getting trapped inside one played for laughs, or the truly bizarre use of the shelter as fictional focus in Heinlein's Farnham's Freehold and the like. The reality of it is as abstract and distant as a display of Civil War artifacts...

Leon said...

We didn't even have shelters up in the great white north as relics of another time. The only one I'd ever heard of (and it was in the 90's) was the Diefenbunker.

FDChief said...

I knew a couple of people who knew of people who had them. They were a real oddity, most of them, built for or by rich paranoids or nuclear cranks like it sounds like this guy in California that built this one was.

Oddly enough, the only real "fallout shelter" reference in my own life was from reading Heinlein's loathsome Farnham's Freehold in college. Ewwww. I would have to remind myself of that book. Yick. Now I'll have to wash my brain out with soap.

Ael said...

In CFB Shilo, the summer reserve artillery school used to use the bunker designated for the Manitoba Premier and his buddies as a barracks. I assume that if the threat of thermonuclear war escalated, the gunners would have been thrown out on their ass. However, it never came to that.

What was most amusing about living in the "hole" was that there was absolutely no clue as to the weather outside. No windows, filtered air kept at a constant temperature, and of course, normal radios don't work either. What that meant was that unless someone had already climbed up the two stories to ground level and poked their head outside and then came back in, a gunner didn't know what to wear for morning PT (rain gear if it was pissing rain, long sweats if it was bitter cold, or shorts if it was a normal day.

You would often see a stash of clothes at the door to the hole as gunners would emerge with all possible combinations of kit, look at the sky, get in the appropriate clothing and dump the rest by the door for retrieval after the run.

Brian said...

@ Ael: same thing, in British Columbia - the bunker to shelter the remnants of the provincial government was about 90 miles north of Victoria (which, because of the naval base nearby, was on a target list but probably pretty far down it). Set into a hillside with big blast doors.

basilbeast said...

I happened to catch Jim Bakker's show late night ( remember him & Tammy Faye? ).

Just in time to catch a long stretch of this info-mercial.

http://jimbakkershow.com/lovegifts/1-packet-of-emergency-survival-food.html

bb

FDChief said...

Closest I've ever come to the sort of things your describing is one of my USAR centers was built over an old Nike missile site north of Philadelphia, PA. The missiles were long gone but the old underground silo and magazine bunkers remained. Weird, and kinda creepy Cold War artifact...