Old fallout shelters signs of bygone Cold War era

first_imgGLENDALE – The fallout shelter sign is still up in a hallway at the Glendale courthouse, but call it a sign of the times that the basement shelter now stores files instead of food rations and emergency supplies. A reminder of a period in the Cold War when air raid sirens could any minute announce an incoming nuclear attack, the sign is a historical relic – since the shelter itself has been all but forgotten. “Knowing today what I know about atom bombs and all that, no one would have survived down there,” said Administrative Assistant Mary Rhoads, an overseer of the Glendale courthouse. Dating from when the building at 600 E. Broadway was built in 1958, the shelter has been used for storage since well before Rhoads got to the courthouse seven years ago. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 The former shelter looks much like any basement would, with exposed pipes, boxes stacked on top of each other and shelves lining the walls. A court employee one day stuck a paper sign on the door to a maintenance crawl space, mistakenly identifying that as the nuclear shelter, not knowing that the basement itself was the shelter. “I was raised in the 1950s here in Los Angeles, so I was definitely very aware of the Cold War and I remember going to grammar school with someone who had one of those fallout shelters in their backyard,” Rhoads said. Fallout shelters became especially popular after the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when President John F. Kennedy ordered the Soviet Union to remove nuclear missiles it had secretly installed in Cuba, said Arlene Vidor, president of the Glendale Historical Society. Vidor remembers air raid sirens that were regularly tested when she was growing up in Chicago, and the fear such exercises caused. “Scared to death, looking up at the sky all the time, waiting for the big one,” she said. Another former nuclear shelter was just blocks away at the Carlos J. Moorhead Post Office, at 313 E. Broadway. “Since I live up in Foothill, I said, boy, that’s a long way to run in a nuclear war,” said handyman Paul Wilson, 49, who toured the post office shelter in the 1970s with schoolmates. The post office dates from 1934, but the basement shelter was built in the late 1940s, said postmaster Lisa Ball. Food and items such as toilet paper were stored in the shelter, but the last time it was stocked appears to have been 1963 because that was the date on supply boxes found there. The post office was renovated after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, and in 1998 some boxed crackers were found. A supervisor who has since retired gave the crackers a taste. “Pretty stale, but they weren’t that bad,” Ball said. Some parts of the post office basement have windows open to the outside, while other parts have thick walls and no windows. Equipment is stored in the basement and part of it is used for a training room. “I don’t know if something happened today if we would be able to use it,” Ball said. Officials said the shelter at the Glendale courthouse is definitely out of service. But the fallout shelter sign in the hallway will stay. “That sign’s been there and I’m not going to take it down, because I think it’s a little bit of history,” Rhoads said. Alex Dobuzinskis, (818) 546-3304 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img