I’m not sure whether nuclear weapons were on the curriculum of every New Zealand primary school in 1979, but they were at Lyttelton Main. Someone wanted to blow up the world with an H bomb, and our little township wouldn’t be spared. We all knew the mushroom cloud was the last thing we would see before our eyeballs burst and the remainder of us was minced by a poisonous inferno. All the buildings would be flattened leaving only dust and cockroaches.
My friend Jodie and I thought we’d better dig a bomb shelter. It would be a safe haven for our families; a place to hang out while the rest of Lyttelton fried. We planned a network of interconnecting rooms, accessed by a manhole. Kind of like a hobbit hole but with square walls.
We found the perfect site just behind her dad’s garden shed and met there one day after school.
Dragging the spades out of the shed we set to work.
Jodie and I dug for ages, but the clay soil was harder than we had anticipated. At the end of the afternoon we had not a bomb shelter but a small depression in the ground similar in size and depth to a wok.
We took a short break, planning to come back the next day and work on it some more, but we never did.
These days I walk past Jodie’s old house quite regularly and I like to think that hollow in the clay is still there underneath the weeds. Perhaps home to a family of cockroaches; a remnant of the “cold war” in Lyttelton.
Has anyone had a better (or worse) experience at building a hut?