Julia Maestas is the granddaughter of Manuel Maestas, a homesteader at Los Alamos, and daughter of Elipio Maestas, who worked as a civil guard for the Corps of Engineers at Los Alamos. In her interview, she discusses her family’s history and what it was like growing up in Los Alamos. She shares childhood memories about friends, skating, and watching movies. She also describes how her tri-cultural background and education at Los Alamos led to her career in speech pathology and educational psychology.
Los Alamos, NM
Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation. It’s February 22, 2017. I have Lionel Ames with me. My first question to him is tell us your full name and spell it, please.
Ames: Lionel Ames, L-I-O-N-E-L, Ames, A-M-E-S.
Kelly: Terrific. First question is to tell us something about yourself: when you were born and where.
Lionel Ames is an Army and Manhattan Project veteran. In this interview, he talks about how his brother Maurice Shapiro, who worked as a scientist at Los Alamos, was able to get him assigned to the top-secret site. Ames recalls his work at Los Alamos in the chemistry lab, and his role as a cantor for the weekly Jewish services. He also discusses daily life at Los Alamos. He concludes by discussing his post-war life as an entertainer.
[Thanks to David Schiferl and Willie Atencio for recording this interview and providing a copy to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]
Willie Atencio: Mr. Salazar, the [Los Alamos National] Laboratory is very interested in getting information of the people that were at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. Can you tell us when you first went to work at Los Alamos? What year?
Ruben Salazar: 1945, I guess. Or late ’44.
Atencio: Okay. What was your first job at Los Alamos?
Ruben Salazar was an employee with Reynolds Electrical and Engineering Company, tasked with doing electrical distribution around Los Alamos. Starting as a laborer on the electrical line from Santa Fe to Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project, he worked his way up to become an electrical lineman and foreman. For years, he was an expert on power in the area. In this interview, Salazar talks about what Los Alamos has meant to him, his family, and his community, and describes his work at Los Alamos from the 1940s through the 1990s.
Kelly: Today is Friday, February 3rd, 2017. I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’m here in an installation called “Atomic Time” with its creator, the sculptor and artist Jim Sanborn. My first question to Sanborn is to please say his name and spell it.
Sanborn: All right. I’m Jim Sanborn, S-A-N-B-O-R-N. I’m the maker of this installation that I began sometime in 1998 and concluded in 2004, although I added pieces over the years, added more stuff over the years.
Jim Sanborn is an American sculptor known for works such as “Kryptos” at the CIA Headquarters in McLean, VA.
In this interview, Sanborn discusses his exhibit “Atomic Time,” which is now on display at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque, NM. The installation recreates the Manhattan Project scientists’ experiments at Los Alamos to determine when plutonium would go “critical” in an atomic bomb. Sanborn explains why he decided to do the project, and how he carefully created each piece of the exhibit.
Cindy Kelly: Okay. I’m Cindy Kelly. It’s Monday, February 6, 2017, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I have James L. Smith. My first question to him is to say his full name and spell it.
Jim Smith: James Lawrence Smith, J-A-M-E-S L-A-W-R-E-N-C-E S-M-I-T-H.
Kelly: Great. Thank you. Why don’t you begin by just telling us a little bit about yourself? What your background is, what you studied and so forth, where you were born, in a nutshell.
James L. Smith is an American physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). In this interview, Smith recalls his more than forty-year career at LANL. He describes some of the history of the Manhattan Project and LANL’s innovative work during the war through today, including work on the human genome, computing, and radiation detection. He emphasizes the importance of having multidisciplinary national laboratories to produce pioneering innovations and scientific discoveries.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is Saturday, February 4, 2017. We are in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and this is Frances Quintana. We are delighted to have her tell us her stories of life in the Manhattan Project. We want to start by asking her to say and then spell her name. Can you tell us your name and spell it?
Frances Quintana: Frances Gomez—I used to be Gomez then, so I use Gomez Quintana.
Kelly: Can you spell those names so we make sure that the record is correct?