Jim Eckles worked for decades for the White Sands Missile Range Public Affairs Office, managing open houses and tours of the Trinity site, where the world’s first nuclear test took place. In this interview, Eckles describes the history of Trinity site. He discusses the ranchers who lived on it before the Manhattan Project took over, the buildings used by the scientists, and what it was like to live on the site before and during the war.
Los Alamos, NM
Nancy Bartlit: My name is Nancy R. Bartlit, B-A-R-T-L-I-T.
Cindy Kelly: Thank you. Why don’t we start with you telling us what is your role?
Bartlit: I’m president of the Los Alamos Historical Society, and I formerly was on the County Council. I have been in Los Alamos for more than forty years as a volunteer activist and environmentalist. I also was on the National Lung Association, so I’m kind of interested in many things.
Cindy Kelly: I'm Cindy Kelly in Los Cruces, New Mexico and it’s December 7, 2017. I have with me John Hunner. The first question for John is to say his name and spell it.
Jon Hunner: My name is Jon Hunner. J-O-N, H-U-N-N-E-R.
Kelly: Jon, just to get some station identification, why don’t you tell people who you are and what you've been doing professionally for the last thirty years.
Dr. Jon Hunner is a Professor of History at New Mexico State University, the author of Inventing Los Alamos, and J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Cold War and the Atomic West, and a former director of the New Mexico History Museum. In this interview, Hunner provides an overview of life at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project, including its takeover of the Los Alamos Ranch School and its relationship with Hispanos and Pueblos in the area.
Richard Garwin: I’m Richard Garwin. Everybody calls me Dick. G-a-r-w-i-n, born April 19, 1928.
Cindy Kelly: Great. So, we’re going to talk first about what you did as a student, and how you got to know Enrico Fermi and got involved in the business of nuclear weapons. We’ll just start with describing your work in the lab at the University of Chicago, and what it was like to work with Enrico Fermi. Or, if you’d like to go back, prelude that with where you’re from and how you got interested in—
Richard "Dick" Garwin is an American physicist. He was born in 1928 in Cleveland, Ohio. Garwin has had a long scientific career, focused on invention, conducting research, and advising policymakers and U.S. Presidents. After earning a degree in Physics from Case Western University, Garwin went on to earn his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. There, he met and studied under Enrico Fermi. Fermi described Garwin as a “true genius.” In 1949, after earning his Ph.D., he taught in the Physics Department at UChicago and worked as a consultant at the Los Alamos laboratory.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, and it is October 12, 2017. I’m in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I have with me John Ruminer. I’d like him to say his name and spell it.
John Ruminer: You got it just right. It’s John Ruminer – R-U-M-I-N-E-R.
Kelly: Terrific. John, why don’t you talk about where we are in Santa Fe, and a little bit about the history of this place?
Dr. John Ruminer is a retired engineer, local historian, and a member of the Board of Directors at the Los Alamos Historical Society.
Ruminer has spent the majority of his career as an engineer at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He previously worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. His work in the labs, as well as his life in New Mexico, led to his interests in 109 East Palace and history.
Nate Weisenberg: My name is Nate Weisenberg, and I’m here with the Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is Thursday, October 12, 2017, and I am here with Mr. Al Zeltmann at his home in Los Alamos. My first question for you is if you could please say your name and spell it.
Al Zeltmann grew up in Brooklyn, New York. After being drafted into the Army during World War II, he was assigned to the Special Engineer Detachment and arrived at Los Alamos in 1944. After the war, he stayed at Los Alamos, and worked as a physical chemist at the Los Alamos laboratory for nearly 40 years.