Ken and Carol Zwick were so grateful to move into their new Neenah, Wisconsin home, they completely forgot about the giant metal doors in their backyard. And because they didn’t care to discover what was under the green doors, they ignored them for years. But little did the know, but the home came equipped with a bomb shelter. In the event that some terrorist or North Korean dictator bombed Wisconsin, the Zwicks had an 80-square foot area to call home. But because they didn’t think Wisconsin was a high priority target for enemies of the United States, they didn’t bother checking out the shelter. But when news about the future started to worry them, they finally decided to open the green doors and discover just what they had waiting for them in case of an emergency.
When the Zwicks finally gathered the gumption to look into the bomb shelter in their backyard, they were shocked to find the “empty space” loaded with so much more than they could have imagined.
“We assumed it was just this empty space,” Carol said.
Carol couldn’t have been more wrong. And finally Ken had the opportunity to tell his wife “I told you so.” And as they ventured into the bomb shelter, that’s all he was saying.
Although the bunker had gotten flooded over the years – it wasn’t as airtight as it was designed to be – many of the things inside still survived. Because the shelter was built back in 1960 when John F. Kennedy had just been elected president, stepping into the Zwick’s bomb shelter was like stepping into a time capsule.
The shelter was built because America had dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan and now the whole world was terrified that these weapons would be used in every confrontation. And as the Cold War between the United States and Russia evolved into an arm’s race, Americans were living in constant fear. Their only hope was to built a bomb shelter in the event that the country got nuked.
“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.”
The bunker had built by the property’s previous owner Frank Pansch, who was afraid of nuclear war. And he hadn’t just built an empty space, but had put his heart and soul into it. And it was still ready to save lives decades later.
“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.
The Zwick bomb shelter is located about 100 miles from Milwaukee and 200 miles from Chicago. These cities were targets on the Soviet Union’s list.
What do you think about this bomb shelter? Do you think you need one?