Fort Wayne bomb shelter that landed in the Smithsonian remembered

Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 11:27 PM EST
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - An underground shelter that belonged to the Anderson family of Fort Wayne found its way to the Smithsonian, and is preseved now as a cold war relic. A local man got to see it himself back in 1992.

“It was just spooky going down that long tube and I thought I was going to see a lot more when I got to the bottom of it,” Jack Hammer said.

Hammer -- a longtime radio personality -- told ABC21 what it was like broadcasting live from that bomb shelter.

“It was about the size of a barrel when the lid came off, and then I think it was 12 foot straight down. And so, when you get down to that 12 foot and you get into the bomb shelter, it was like the size of a large oil drum. There were two bunk beds, there was a supply of food and some canned water there,” he said.

The Anderson family installed the bomb shelter beneath their front yard in 1955. That’s where it stayed, until 1961 -- when its anchors gave out and it came to the surface during the Cuban Missile Crisis. They rushed to bury it again... Its spartan, cramped quarters ready to ferry them through the apocalypse with just a few comforts from above ground.

“There were comic books laying down there. There was stuff that a family might need after the long threat of the Cold War went away and it just kind of spoke of where we were at that time, fearing a nuclear attack, which other people are fearing now,” Hammer said.

That brings us to today, with Europe and the rest of the world on edge as Russia, a major nuclear power, attacks Ukraine and threatens any country that interferes.

“Nobody wants to see WWIII; nobody wants to see a huge war in Europe. We’ve gone through enough. But I think we probably have somebody in Putin who is a tyrant and really who doesn’t want to listen to people’s hearts or their communities. He wants what he wants when he wants it,” he said.

The bomb shelter isn’t on view at the Smithsonian right now, but you can read about it on the museum’s website.

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