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“It would tend to make nuclear war seem inevitable to children.” Nevertheless, the experiment went forward. The shelter was filled with cots covered in paper blankets. Verona Budke was placed on the Communications team, staying in radio contact with the outside world, which came in the form of pretend news updates: A number of bombs had fallen in Washington, one told them.

We’d gotten interested in this shelter for a few reasons: 1) Intact ones are rare; they were supposed to be dismantled in the 1970s. He keeps surpassing predictions related to his nuclear arsenal — in September, he tested a weapon with seven times the yield of those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The money wasn’t enough to actually build shelters — it was up to volunteers to see through construction.

Civilians would be defending themselves against nuclear war. In offices, employees signed up as air raid wardens, prepared to slap on armbands and shepherd co-workers to safety. public school spokeswoman says the same thing: Lots of people have been inquiring about the fallout shelter in Oyster-Adams — probably who had read the history-buff blogs we had, which catalogue possible shelter locations.

Seeking old yearbooks or class rosters, we visited the D. public school archives, digging through old newsletters and floor plans. The public-school archives led us to a public-school warehouse, which led us to the District’s city archives. We reached out to the District’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, which is what the Office of Civil Defense transformed into. Someone recommended we try the National Archives in College Park, Md., but we didn’t, because the odds seemed slim. And because it was beginning to feel a little weird, for the two of us to take such fervent responsibility for a bunch of old barrels of water. Biscuits, tongue depressors, latrine covers, thermometers and salt tablets, all meant for a nuclear war that never came.

Nobody knows who they belong to, and nobody has any reason to take them away. Just when we had given up on our mystery, we found somewhere else to poke around. A different time capsule, but with the same kinds of memories. Representative Arnold Olsen, Montana.” There were children of Ethio­pian and Indian diplomats, the son of a Turkish attache.

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