1. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    Might a 1960s-era fallout shelter contain any of its original supplies?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by JadeX, May 12, 2016.

    In my story, a nuclear war breaks out, somewhere between 2016 and 2020. There is only one public fallout shelter in town that is still functional; it is located inside a former high school. This particular shelter was built in the early 1960s as part of Kennedy's Civil Defense expansion (which is what most Cold War-era shelters came from IIRC).

    As we all know, however, most fallout shelters were closed, abandoned, or removed after the end of the Cold War (hence why this is the only functional one in a city of 50K) - part of the theme in this story is to reflect on our attitudes of nuclear war, and how in the post-CW world we tend to dismiss it as a possibility and not prepare for it - and what better way to evoke that than to have war suddenly happen and have people depending on an under-stocked shelter?

    Now, being that this is *technically* a serviced shelter, it can't be abandoned, obviously, but I'm thinking that the management of the shelter would have been minimal - like keeping a small amount of food and water stocked (but perhaps not enough) and changing it periodically (but perhaps not often enough, ie; may be expired), basic cleaning, changing lightbulbs, just really basic minimal maintenance, as if treated with the attitude "We're obligated to service this thing but we'll never ever need to use it so we'll just do it half-assed".

    So, for the title question, is it possible that anything in the shelter may be original 1960s stock? What might this be - tools, physical supplies, or are there any food items that might last that long? How much of it could be useful, and what might be in there that's just taking up space?

    I think it would be interesting to explore problems arising from preparedness faults, so basically any ideas along those lines are welcome, you're not just limited to the title Q.
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Tools seem reasonable. Dishes and utensils, too. Maybe bar soap and soap powder. The only food supply that I could imagine keeping would be salt, though the packaging might deteriorate--and so might the packaging for the soapy things.

    I'm not basing this on any knowledge of what policy might be, just what might be useful.

    Edited to add: Possibly some electrical equipment--radio, heater, plus their associated user's manuals?
     
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  3. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    I don't think the food or water would last for that long, but I could certainly see Cold War technology still being there. It costs money to remove it.

    You might have ingredients for food. There are some foods that any survivalist knows can last essentially indefinitely: Honey, sugar, rice, vinegar, salt, wine... they just have to be prepared properly (sealed in Nitrogen.)

    You'll likely find things that the military personal would have had there for their own lives. Cigarettes, boots, uniforms, Playboys, tape players... Think of the things that a private might have in Vietnam-era US military that may have just been stashed away rather than properly disposed of. Gear may have been removed, but I'm certain you'd find cigarettes and porn.

    Also, people would have likely gone down there while it's semi-abandoned for other things, so I'd suspect you'd find boxes, roaches (both the bugs and ends of marijuana joints,) beer bottles and cans, used condoms, maybe needles. The teenage population of the town will likely use it as a hangout, or the homeless population would use it as shelter, or both.
     
  4. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    There might be cigarettes, but I wouldn't want to smoke 'em. Week old smokes taste stale. I wouldn't count on old electronics working either. Those old radio's had plenty of parts that corroded easily. Insulation on old wires disintegrates. Any old tools would be rusty, don't count on the government buying top of the line equipment for public shelters.
     
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  5. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    Well, I must clarify: This is not a military shelter, it's a public shelter located in the basement of a former high school - in other words, it was built as part of the school back in the 60's, and classes are now held at a newer building (built probably in the 2000s). While the building is not currently used for educational purposes, it is used by the school board for administrative purposes - so it's not like it's a deserted building that people can just break into whenever with no consequences. I like where you're going here, it's just that it doesn't exactly "fit". Good ideas, though, perhaps I will incorporate them elsewhere...

    Hmmm... spontaneous power outage, perhaps?
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
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  6. Buttered Toast
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    Buttered Toast Active Member

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    From an image point of view I personally would like to think there was still old food in there, like old tins, maybe stating they are out of date and such or some worn they can't see the contents label!
    I really love that thought, it makes it interesting and later it could be the last source of food?
    It also makes me think of the film 'The Road' when they find the secret bunker full of food!
    Yeah it's true some bunkers might have been cleared out, but some might not or might still be in use for a 'what if occasion' maybe the head master didn't clear it out and no one knew
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2016
  7. JoetheLion
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    JoetheLion Member

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    How things deteriorate would depend on the environment inside the bunker. If it's located somewhere dry, then they would be well preserved (there's a whole cottage industry in the drier parts of the US based on digging pairs of original Levi's jeans out from abandoned mines, for instance. Even after 100 years underground in a desert some are still wearable), but somewhere damp, or with a high water table, and they'll rot, corrode, and perish. You also have to consider vermin, rats and mice will even eat things like hard soap and wax candles, so apart from tinned goods, food may be beyond use or completely gone because of that alone.
     
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  8. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Radios might be interesting. If the atmosphere were dry corrosion wouldn't be a problem (I am ham operator going back to the 60s, and used to restore old radios from 20s and 30s) The big thing is they would be tube sets, so if you have power ( generator still works) they would be immune to Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) effects, if your attack includes high altitude bursts that would generate that. The shelters including sealed barrels of water, don't know how the containers would hold up after a half century, but if they didn't rust out the water should be fine. Any old-timers know what was in C-Rations? I think that was a lot of what was stored as food. Probably well past its sell-by date but then....
     

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