"That was a very alarming situation. With SAC [the Strategic Air Command headquaters outside Omaha] being 100 miles away, it wouldn't be very far to make an error of a few hundred miles, you know. It was frightening. I thought it was frightening that we could have maybe one person start a war that would eventually probably ruin most of the world. It doesn't take much. One more miscalculation of the other person's attitude could really have caused something. I always felt that in the Cold War we set ourselves in stone and didn't want to move. And no one wanted to blink first. It's too bad. We could have saved a lot of valuable money that could be spent someplace else. Maybe we'd have a cure for cancer by now. And it caused so much hardship on, particularly, people behind the Iron Curtain. It just seemed like there had to be a better way for us to get through that era. But maybe it wasn't. Maybe if we wouldn't have had the Cold War we would have been at war again, or had been at war with the Communist nations…
     "When you think about the missile site, the silo here in York County – which is not very far from here – yeah, at a certain point you finally think, 'Maybe something could happen.' Particularly if you have a family, and you've got these small tykes running around. It does get concerning. It was concerning."
     Question: Did you, or did you know of anybody who built a bomb shelter?
     "We had one in our basement."
     Question: You had one in your basement?
     "Yes, indeed."
     Question: Who built it?
     "I did."
     Question: Tell me about that.
     "Out of concrete. Where, it was – it started out there was a ring of friends, and we were talking about it. And one person built one, and we saw what it was like. And so, we had a basement in our house that was substantial enough. So, they had plans available you could get, you know. In the paper about every day, there was a plan for a fallout shelter. So, I put up two block walls and put up support beams and put blocks over the top of it. And we had it stored with food. The kids thought it was a great playroom. They thought it was neat. And canned food and water and blankets and so on. It was a room probably about 10 foot by 10 foot with about a seven-foot ceiling. That lasted about four years, and I finally just dismantled it. But, yeah, we had one for a while."
     Question: For only four years? What changed?
     "Well, I guess I got to the point where I felt that the shelter is not going to save me. With the increase in the different kind of bombs they were coming up with, I thought, you know, 'That's fine.' When it first came out I thought it was a good idea. But then I felt that, 'No, it's not going to work.'
     "Well, they said, 'Plan for 30 days [in the shelter before radiation passed].' Well, that was impossible. You just couldn't unless you built a whole new facility with, you know, sanitary facilities and so on. I guess it kind of the thing to do at that time."

Don Freeman – Fallout Shelters


Other Excerpts from Don Freeman’s Interview:

Anti-War Protesters
Swanson's TV Dinners
Green Revolution in Mexico
Bigger & Bigger Equipment
The Atomic Behlen Building
Importance of the Farm Economy
Government Programs
John F. Kennedy
Raising Kids for Export Today