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.
Los Alamos, NM
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?
Frances Quintana grew up in El Rancho, NM, and her family’s farm at Los Alamos was requisitioned when the Manhattan Project took over the site. Frances became one of the many Hispanos who were bussed up to work at Los Alamos. Her first job was baby-sitting for Julie Hawkins, the daughter of David and Frances Hawkins.
Cindy Kelly: I am Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is Saturday, February 4, 2017. I have with me Lydia Martinez. My first question for you is to say your name and spell it.
Lydia Martinez: Lydia L-y-d-i-a G. Martinez M-a-r-t-i-n-e-z.
Kelly: Can you tell us what the G stands for?
Martinez: Gomez. We have the Gomez Ranch also.
Kelly: Tell me about the Gomez family. How far back does it go?
[Thanks to David Schiferl and Willie Atencio for recording this interview and providing a copy to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]
Willie Atencio: This interview is conducted so we can find out about how life was in Los Alamos by people that lived there. Can you tell us how your father was involved with the Los Alamos Ranch School? He has a reputation of being a very good gardener. Can you tell us more about that?
Virginia Montoya Archuleta is the youngest daughter of Adolfo and Elaisa Montoya. Her father Adolfo was the head gardener at the Los Alamos Ranch School. In this interview, she describes her father’s work at the school and her memories of living in Los Alamos. She also shares information about her family’s connection to Santa Cruz de la Cañada. Finally, she discusses her family’s role in a lawsuit seeking compensation for homesteaders displaced by the Manhattan Project.