California Couple Inherits 50-Year-Old Bunker Beneath Their New Home

When they bought the house, the Otcaseks were only told that the property had “an unusual feature”: a large, concrete-lined hole in the backyard. They were told that the hole once housed a fallout shelter from the Cold War Era, but they weren’t told what could be down there after all these years.



There’s a rusty 15-foot ladder leading below and it looked as though it hadn’t been used for decades.

At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union and the United States were vying for control of Europe. Despite the remaining Allies’ best efforts, the Soviets were gaining power and developing their own nuclear weapons, much like the ones the U.S. had used to decimate Nagasaki and Hiroshima and win the war. The mere presence of these weapons of mass destruction started a war of posturing and propaganda that lasted throughout most of the 20th Century.

During that time, many countries started building fallout shelters or underground bunkers for high-ranking government officials. In the event of a nuclear attack, the president, his family, and his cabinet, along with many senior army and navy officers would be ushered into these bunkers to keep them safe to rebuild in the aftermath. Many American civilians got the same idea and built their own shelters…

The Otcaseks’ new bunker contained water, canned food, clothing, and medicine, as well as paper products and books. It was full of nearly all the items that someone would need to survive in the event of a nuclear attack. What was even more remarkable, was that all the items were still wrapped in their, mostly untouched, vintage packaging.

Alvin Kaufman, the original owner of the bunker, was a nuclear engineer working for the U.S. Government. He decided early on that he wanted to protect his family from the ever-looming threat of nuclear war and thus built a safe refuge for them.
Side profile of a worker talking on a walkie-talkie at a power plant
The fallout shleter he built has enough room for a family of four. According to Alvin’s daughter Debra, her father offered to build one giant fallout shelter for all of his neighbors to share but was turned down: even amidst the growing fears of an imminent nuclear attack.

Debra also said the shelter contained several sleeping areas, a water tank, and an air filter that could be cranked by hand.

The Otcaseks, began to take inventory…The first item they found was an old Arrow brand Argyle sweater. Argyle, has been used to decorate everything from socks and sweaters, to robes and kilts. Arrow brand clothing still makes shirts today, though the styles have been slightly updated.

The Kaufmans made sure to keep a number cooking and preservative products handy as well. This stack of Saran Wrap, Reynolds Wrap, and plastic baggies were all perfectly designed to store food. These vintage packaging would be worth a fairly decent amount of money in this day and age, even if the products they contain have greatly improved over the years.

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