|TUNNEL VISIONS: Who doesn't|
dig bomb shelters?
I'm talking the Diefenbunker.
It's a four-storeys deep underground nuclear bomb shelter conceived in the late 1950s (just like me) then operated as an actual military installation until the Department of National Defence decommissioned it in--get this--1994! The thing has been a museum since 1998.
On the fun/educational/weird scale, the Diefenbunker rates 11.5 outta 10. If you're a boomer, you'll be inhaling the forced reminiscence and memories. (Black ashtrays beside every black dial phone do it for me.) Several of the rooms will remind you of the best scenes from Dr. Strangelove like the one where President Mervin Muffley, played by Peter Sellers, says "Gentlemen. You can't fight in here. It's the war room!"
Younger visitors to the Diefenbunker'll come away with even more material to make fun of boomers with.
That's all the details you're going to get here. If you're looking for like, you know, facts, go here.
Meantime, here's how I learned to love the fallout shelter.For some reason, I feel connected to John Diefenbaker. Maybe it's because he was prime minister the year I was born. I know all the words to the old Stringband song Dief will Be The Chief. He's the one who thought this thing up, back at a time when lots of people thought communists would commence bombing any second. The Diefenbunker, Dief figured, would provide shelter for 400 officials and soldiers (including the governor general, thank goodness) for up to 30 days after the big one hit. But whoever turned the place into a tourist attraction went to great trouble to include other people's perspectives. During our tour I noticed one of the wall displays showed lyrics to a 1950s anti-bomb-shelter song that I've reposted in the photo at the end of this blog, so you, too, can sing them yourself, to the tune of Sweet Betsy From Pike.
Barrie'n me emerge
Back to the Diefenbunker. It's situated in a village called Carp, Ontario, a few kilometres from the tiny community of Huntley, where my dad, Tom, grew up. Construction of the Diefenbaker was a massive job maker so I couldn't help wonder if I was looking at any old cousins or uncles in the vintage b&w photos of the bunker under construction. Probably the guys in the pic with the sign that warns "Do Not Urinate Inside Structure! Penalty dismissal."
That sure would have minimized intra-auto-conflict.