Off-Ramp

A weekly look at Southern California life covering news, arts and culture, and more. Hosted by John Rabe

PHOTOS: New Woodland Hills homeowners find fully stocked fallout shelter in their backyard

by John Rabe and Mae Ryan | Off-Ramp

The fallout shelter can sleep four in case of world annihilation. Mae Ryan/KPCC

A few weeks ago, my friend Chris Murray wrote:

Chris and Colleen recently closed on a Charles DuBois Ranch House and the bomb shelter is an absolute time capsule: still stocked with old magazines, bunks, sleeping bags and medications. I told them to keep it in case of imminent Zombie Apocalypse. You're more than welcome to visit...

He didn't need to ask twice. Chris and Colleen Otcasek immediately agreed to let Off-Ramp into their time capsule, or time machine, and didn't flinch when I showed up with shop lights, a 100-foot extension cord, historian Charles Phoenix, and KPCC photographer Mae Ryan. Chris and Colleen even made a relish tray and served Arnold Palmers.

It's really not a bomb shelter; it would never withstand a blast directed at the Valley's aerospace industry. It's a fallout shelter, designed to keep the radiation away for a few weeks, like in this cheery movie, which I'm sure comforted millions of Americans.

And inside we found a Kresge's worth of items: Kleenex, sanitary napkins, canned food, sleeping bags, magazines -- which delighted Med, Charles, Chris, and I ... and pills and a writing tablet hanging on the wall with a 30-year calendar, which made Chris Otcasek, the most somber of the group, ask, "What would you write on this? A suicide note? Anyone who built a shelter in their backyard would have to be pretty optimitistic."

Chris had just coincidentally seen a Twilight Zone episode in which a Cold War backyard fallout shelter doesn't do anything but drive neighbors apart when they think they're under nuclear attack.

Unlike many homeowners, Chris and Colleen don't plan to fill in their shelter. They say they'll leave it as it is, undisturbed for the next owners.

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