Civil Defense, History

My Easter Basket

I received one of the coolest Easter gifts ever last Sunday. We had the whole family up for dinner at our home, and my father-in-law says, “come out to the car and help me with something.” First he hands me a small, glass tabletop and then the big surprise. He pulls out a 1962 Civil Defense water barrel/commode. Wow, what an awesome gift that only a historian could get excited about!


These steel barrels were stocked in public fallout shelters during  the early 1960s. The Office of Civil Defense was preparing supplies in the event of nuclear exchange between the Soviet Union and the United States. The barrels  were lined with a plastic bag, and then 17.5 gallons of water could be placed inside and sealed. When the water was gone, the barrel was re-purposed as a toilet. Could you imagine?! Check out the Civil Defense Museum for more information about this and other fallout shelter supplies.

2 thoughts on “My Easter Basket”

  1. Awesome! I remember all the fallout shelters built in those days, and how we always had tons of canning jars filling the shelves of the basement. Air raid warning signals were as common as fire drills.

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