A Buried Secret
Both Colleen and Chris Ostcasek would never have guessed that the new home they purchased in Woodland Hills, California, would be harboring a 60-year old secret. In fact, Colleen was just happy that she was finally getting a walk-in closet and a spacious kitchen. However, what they’d be finding in their backyard would prove to be just as valuable…
Cold War Era Bunker
According to the couple, when they purchased the house, the realtor described it as having a slightly unusual feature in the backyard. What was it you ask? Well, the home came with a concrete hole that led down to a Cold War Era fallout shelter. While this may not seem too out-of-the-ordinary, it was what the couple found inside that was most shocking…
The Long Descent
First, Colleen and Chris had to descend 15 feet, down a rusty old later—not used for decades, they both were a little apprehensive that the old relic wouldn’t hold under their weight. Thankfully, they reached the bottom unscathed; this is where they discovered a thick, metal door. What could be behind it after all these years?
A History Lesson
The Cold War was a time after World War II when both the Soviet Union and the United States attempted to gain control of Europe. Although the Allies fought hard, the Soviets were quickly developing nuclear weapons and gaining power. These were the same types of weapons that the United States had used on Hiroshima.
Fallout Shelter Frenzy
The development of these weapons would trigger a decades-long war of propaganda and hot air threats, which continued through most of the 20th century. During this time, countries began requiring fallout shelters to be built for the government and other high-ranking officials.
According to historians, the bunkers were designed to protect the president, his cabinet, and many senior officers if there ever was a nuclear attack. It would also keep them safe during the fallout until it was time to return to the surface and begin to rebuild.
The Civilians Take Matters Into Their Own Hands
As the government continued to build bunkers, American civilians decided to matters into their own hands and build some of their own. Across the country, there are quite a few bunkers left intact just like the one Colleen and Chris found in their backyard.
Prying open the door, Colleen and Chris discovered that their bunker was stocked with items one would need to survive a nuclear attack. The bunker had canned food, water, clothing, medicine, books, and various paper products. After walking the space, they determined that the shelter could fit a family of four comfortably. Even more remarkably, most of the items were still wrapped in their vintage packaging.
Time to Do Inventory
After Colleen and Chris conducted an inventory of the items in the bunker, they determined there was only enough food and supplies to last about three weeks. Intrigued by the whole situation, the couple decided to do some research on the man who built the bunker, the previous homeowner, Alvin Kaufman.
The Builder And The Paranoia
According to their research, Alvin Kaufman had worked as a nuclear engineer for the United States government. This means he would have known the dangers of a nuclear fallout and what would happen if someone survived a nuclear attack. In an effort to stay a step ahead of tragedy, Kaufman had built the backyard bunker to protect his family if the Soviets ever attacked the U.S.
More than Meets the Eye
The Otcaseks were able to track down Alvin’s daughter Debra who stated the bunker was built due to their father’s increasing paranoia. She revealed that the shelter contained several sleeping areas, as well as a water tank and air filter. Realizing there was more to the bunker than initially seen, both Chris and Colleen decided to go back down and take a more detailed inventory of the items inside.
Back down in the bunker, the couple found a sealed Arrow brand Argyle sweater. They also discovered unopened boxes of saran wrap and plastic bags. According to Chris and Colleen, they came to the realization that many of the vintage products would be worth quite a bit of money today.
A Medical Discovery
Continuing their search, the couple discovered a container filled with many different medications (long-expired, of course). They found sleeping pills, ointment, some unmarked tablets, and even medication for nausea. A first aid kit was also discovered that contained foot powder, cotton gauze, and bacitracin ointment. These types of first aid kits were very common during the Cold War Era and usually contained iodine to combat radiation poisoning.
Food Storage for Days
The couple also found several containers of Multi-Purpose Meals, which was a protein powder designed by Clifford E. Clinton in 1946 in an effort to develop a food substitute that would provide proper nutrition at a price that was affordable to most Americans. They also discovered many unmarked and unopened cans of mystery food as well.
Science Fiction Galore
Kauffman also seemed determined to keep his family entertained because they found a dozen issues of Analog Science Fiction magazine. First published in 1930, the magazine was best known for publishing stories from popular writers like Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein.
A Living Piece of History
Colleen and Chris couldn’t be more thankful for the bunker discovery because they have a living piece of history right in their own backyard. While they are thankful that nuclear war never came to be, they are happy to have inherited the bunker and the items inside. Their next step will be to have the items appraised to discover their value. Hopefully, this happy, history-loving couple can retire early!