I just came across this article in the New York Times and had to share: True Fish Tale: Angler, 70, Still Casts With the BestI interviewed Mr. Eaker as part of my Masters thesis research back in February 2008. Not only is he a master bass fisherman and first-rate host and gentleman, but he is also was at one time a fallout shelter owner. Below is the text from pages 110-111 of my MA thesis with Mr. Eaker's story.
It is a small world indeed, enjoy!
In nearby Cherryville, Guy Eaker, Sr. and his family may have been the only residents with a fallout shelter. Eaker’s father decided to build the shelter after events in early 1961 convinced him that “something was going to happen.” Built over the course of a few weeks in April 1961 at a cost of $2,000, the Eakers built the shelter for twelve people to live comfortably. Measuring thirty by forty feet, built with cinder blocks reinforced with steel rebar and poured concrete, the entire shelter was buried inside a hill. Two vents, one with a handcrank, provided ventilation. The shelter featured a hand-dug well for a constant water supply and had a commode that emptied into a nearby creek. Oil lamps provided illumination.
Cherryville, situated near several large cities, could have received substantial fallout if North Carolina was attacked. When hearing of the missile crisis, Eaker recalled “it was scary…I sort of really had my doubts about it [building the shelter] when Dad was doing this and talking about it. But when all this happened, and they had the missiles and everything down there I said ‘this can be it any time.’ That really scared me.” Despite the initial fear, Eaker felt reassured his family had a shelter ready to use, and since living in a small town meant that fallout, not a direct attack, was the main threat. The family got together to give everyone a share of the equipment and food to bring to the shelter. “We had plenty of food, mostly canned food, plenty of water, had our own well, so I think we could have stayed down there a whole month if we had to,” recollected Eaker. Eaker think that his family shelter was the only fallout shelter in Cherryville during the missile crisis, and as a substantial rural shelter it stands as an exception to the rule.
Why other families in Cherryville, or elsewhere in North Carolina, did not band together to build fallout shelters is commonly attributed to apathy or disillusionment with civil defense. In Eaker’s opinion, the local news media did not inform or educate people properly about fallout and the aftermath of a nuclear explosion. If people had known the risks of fallout, “this would have made more people build bomb shelters if they [civil defense] had told them how serious it was,” stated Eaker. Money was tight for Eaker (having been married only a year) but pooling his money with his relatives made the shelter investment more financially feasible. Granted, Eaker kept his shelter secret. How many other people did the same will never be known.