Howard calls a family meeting to announce they will be installing a bomb shelter in the backyard. He reasons that at the height of the ‘Cold War’ tensions could boil over any time. The rest of the family is not so sure.
Word spreads quickly amongst Richie’s friends of the bomb shelter. It is believed the site will make a great ‘make-out’ spot. A girl named Carol who has never shown interest in Richie suddenly wants to go out with him because he now has a bomb shelter.
Howard conducts his first practice drill in the backyard in the area roped off for the installation. Assorted people and their dates turns up, including Fonzie on his motorcycle. Howard orders them all to leave and go home. This causes friction with other members of the family.
The next day at Arnolds, everyone ignores Richie. Marion also suffers some backlash. Another meeting is called at home, in which contrary opinions are aired –
RICHIE: Dad, the way I figure it is if they drop the bomb, then I won’t have any friends. And if they DON’T drop the bomb, the way things are, I won’t have any friends. So what good is the bomb shelter?
MARION: That’s an interesting question Howard. What’s your answer?
HOWARD: I’ll tell you what good it is… If you sit in it you have peace of mind.
RICHIE: While all your friends are pounding at the door?
HOWARD: Oh look, the discussion is over. We’re gonna take a vote.
The family vote against having the shelter being installed but, as ‘head of the house‘, Howard overrides the decision. Slowly, however, he begins to question whether all the negative reaction is worth it, eventually siding with the rest of the family in choosing not to install a bomb shelter in their backyard.
HOWARD: Richard, what do you think about a man who got so carried away by his own fears he forgot about people?
RICHIE: I’d say he’s human.
The actress who played the girl who would only go out with Richie because she thought he had a bomb shelter was Christina Hart (born 1949). She would go on to become a successful playwright, and direct over 50 plays. Amongst many film and television appearances, she played a member of the Manson gang in the 1976 movie HELTER SKELTER.