Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Bomb Shelter

Part Two 

Most backhoes are mounted on skip loaders and have modest buckets. In California, we use them mostly for trenching. The larger, truck-mounted backhoes have fearsome buckets and can fill a dump truck with 5 or 6 scoops. Accordingly, mine came accompanied by four dump trucks, all waiting patiently up and down the street as the operator rigged up for digging. I laid out my concerns to him.

"My laborers there are taking out the half of my front-porch slab that will be in the pit. I've shored up the porch roof, and the shores are outside the pit, but you need to be careful. I'll lose the roof, if you knock one out."
"No problem. You taking the pit right to the house? What about the foundation?"
"There's a basement there. I'm told that you can cut a straight bank with this unit."
"Man, I can carve a statue with this baby. You're building an addition to your basement?"

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Bomb Shelter

Part One

In 1961, President Kennedy came from a meeting in Vienna with Chairman Khrushchev of the Soviet Union aware that our two nations faced a potential nuclear war. After his return here, he advised us all that we should consider building fallout shelters. I had doubts that our two nations would engage in mutual destruction so soon after a world war only 15 years past. My father had no interest in building such a shelter, and said that he and my mother doubted that they would want to live in whatever world remained from such a war. However, the newspapers and magazines were full of speculation about the need for these structures and of articles describing how to build them. It was generally agreed that one could not build them strong enough to survive blast destruction; one could only provide protection from radioactive fallout in the ash descending after the blast.

Our American entrepreneurial spirit quickly asserted itself, and firms appeared, advertising and knocking on doors to promote their versions of fallout shelters. Previously, these firms had been selling over-priced