When I found out that my next door neighbor had a bomb shelter in there front yard, I was intrigued, I knew that one day I would have the opportunity to venture underneath. That opportunity happened recently and co-incided with a request to write an article for my neghborhood gazette, the Westade Orgainizer (no web address for this little guy).
Here is the article:
I live next door to a bomb shelter.
When I moved into my our neighborhood of Westdale, a semi hidden jewel on the endless
sprawl of the westside of Los angeles, I was immediately taken with the incredible
homey-ness of the area, a friend of mine who happens to live across the street calls it
Needless to say there are many families that have lived here for decades. When we moved in
we were welcomed with open arms, our neighbors even threw a welcome to the neighborhood
brunch for us and another newcomer to the area.
As time went on a casual conversation with our neighbors Marge and Bob one day led to the
disclosure that they had a bomb shelter in there front yard. I stored this info in my head
hoping one day to find out more.
Today was that day. In all its glory I explored the 550 cubic foot tank under their
Access was through a trap door under the kitchen table, when I asked if they had ever
thought of just flooring over it, the answer was “who knows”, as if why not hold onto a
bomb shelter just in case. But the tank was not put in by the current owners, it had been
installed sometime in the mid 1960’s presumably as a reaction to the fear of bombs and
Interestingly enough, a cursory look at the internet yields plenty of bomb shelter
manufacturers currently offering there wears, so it really is not something from our past
From the Wikipedia:
Different kinds of bomb shelters are configured to protect against different kinds of
attack and strengths of hostile explosives. For example, an Air-raid shelter is a
structure built to protect against bomber planes dropping bombs over a large area. These
were commonly seen during World War II. A fallout shelter is a shelter designed
specifically for a nuclear war, with thick walls made from materials intended to block the
radiation from fallout resulting from a nuclear explosion. Many such shelters were
constructed as civil defense measures during the Cold War. A blast shelter protects
against more conventional bomb blasts. Its main purpose is to protect from shock waves and
overpressure. While these forms of bomb shelters are equally amenable to civilian and
military use, a bunker is more commonly associated with military use. A bunker may be
hastily assembled as part of an ongoing military advance, or to hold a line.
This shelter seems to be a water tank, and I guess would be designated as a fall out
shelter rather than a bomb shelter. The only placard I could find read NATAMO NAtional
Tank & Manufacturing Incorporate Los Angeles, Date 9-61. I could not find anything online
about NATAMO, but certainly water tanks were a common enough structure to use as a
“prefab” bomb shelter.
Could I have imagined spending a few weeks, months inside Marge and Bob’s water tank bomb
shelter, absolutely not, I not sure I could imagine spending one night in that thing, and
at least for the foreseeable future it should not be an issue I need to consider very
Are there more bomb shelters in Westdale? Marjorie thinks there might be and I would love
to know. Please write and tells us if you have one and we will send, I mean I will come
over and take a peek. Of course if you approve.
Here is the article as it appeared in the Westdale newsletter along with my miss spelled name.
Recently there was also a blog post on the LAist about a house with such a shelter.