GREENLAWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A family on Long Island recently moved into a home with a relic from a bygone era right under their feet — a fallout shelter from the Cold War that could house a family of six.
When the Smiths bought their home recently, they loved the tranquil views, the sun room and the … bomb shelter?
Accessible through a secret crawl-through tunnel, they are now the proud owners of a survival shelter, circa 1962.
“I was completely amazed, a little freaked out at first, but it’s kind of awesome,” Brian Smith told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
The underground vault is equipped with a working toilet, a large water tank, air filtration and a second room outfitted with six bunks.
“I think this would make the best man cave I possibly could imagine,” Smith said.
But in 1962, this was no joke. The Cuban missile crisis had America on the brink of nuclear war after a decade of Cold War paranoia.
Children were taught to duck and cover under desks, among them Loreen Brandes, whose father, Aldo Scandurra, built the bunker. The military engineer, who fully understood the impact of bombs, followed specific plans.
“In his mind, the one thing that you always could have (was) family and home and he wanted that family safe,” Brandes told CBS2’s Gusoff by phone.
There are actually other bomb shelters built under homes in the Smith’s neighborhood, but Scandurra really went all out, essentially building a two-room subterranean apartment.
There are three entrances, including a trap door.
“It’s a piece of history, a really sad piece of history, but at same time really interesting,” Lena Pennino-Smith said. “I think he was definitely a very loving father.”
“Obviously, he wanted to protect his family, but to get to the point where you’re digging a hole under your house, below your own basement for a safe place to go? It’s unbelievable,” Brian Smith added.
It is now a play space for their kids. The Smiths hope the need for shelter is history.
The Smiths said they are thinking of decorating the bunker with archival memorabilia to make it a place of learning.