[Interviewed by S. L. Sanger, from Working on the Bomb: An Oral History of WWII Hanford, Portland State University, 1995]
We went down to dinner the first night at the Transient Quarters and the salad dressing was so wonderful. We pigged out on the salad, and we had diarrhea for days. They were making the salad dressing with pure mineral oil, you couldn't get regular salad oil. Everybody got a good case of diarrhea when they came to Richland.
I went right to work as a secretary at the 300 area, for C.O. Malley, an electrical engineer. You can believe this or not, I don't think you will. When I was typing, one of the Army engineers might come in. They were insufferable. They thought they knew it all, they had a high disregard for civilians. One man, he was a pompous ass, he would come in and say something like I don't care what you are doing, this has to get out.
So I would have to take something else out of my typewriter, and this is the part hard to believe. The paper I took out of my typewriter I would have to put in a flat box and lock it. I would put the flat box in an inner tray and lock that. You locked the file drawer, then you locked your typewriter, and when I left, I locked the door to my office. That was five keys. You also had to do all that to go to the bathroom. I didn't go to the bathroom very often.
We were young, most of us, and used to doing what we wanted to do. We were a stratified group. Most of us were from the same social background. We had been to college. Most of us were from the East. Few of us had cars. We used public transportation, we walked everywhere. There was one movie for 15,000 people, which ran every day, three times a day. There were lines all the way down to the TQ.
I had been in the 300 Area for three weeks and all of a sudden Mr. Malley came in and said you have to go into Richland. They sent a special car for me and I went to the hospital. No explanation. Something had registered on my pencil (radiation detector) that they didn't like. To be hauled in like that, here were these grim-faced people, nobody would answer a question. The second time it happened, I had walked down a hallway to the main building in the 300 Area, a long hall lined with tiles, like bathroom tiles. I stumbled as I was walking along the narrow hallway. I hit the wall. I went on and delivered whatever it was. After I got back to the office, they called me into Richland again. I had set something off when I hit the wall. I could hear a buzzing sound but I didn't ask any questions. I don't know if there was something built into that wall that was a monitor or what. At Richland, they did a blood test. I never had a report. It's made me angry so many times. I know they were trying to protect us from radiation but not to be told anything was upsetting.
We were sort of like social directors. Somebody would call and say so-and-so is in town and needs to take a break. Sometimes they wouldn't stay more than an hour. They would talk about anything but what they were doing. We would talk about the newest shows in New York, and sometimes about the shows in London. We talked about the newest books. I remember Alexander Woollcott was really big then. We read both Seattle papers, always. We got The New York Times for a while. You could buy it at the drug store, it was a week old by the time it got there. The book review columns were always the first thing everybody fought over, and all the theater news.
Seattle was like a dream. We would get a gang together, find anybody who had an automobile. We would all save all our points, to get the gas. I'll never forget. We saw "Voice of the Turtle." A wonderful time. We would come on Friday evening, and everybody would try to get off early, and that wasn't easy. I remember we got out at Snoqualmie Pass and threw snowballs at each other. Not far from Seattle, we came around a hill on one trip and it seemed like everything was covered with deep blue flowers and I'll never for-get how wonderful it looked, and we saw boats on the water with their sails and I thought I had never seen anything so beautiful, and I never have since.
General Leslie Groves, I can't remember anything good to say about that man. He was at my home one night, for a cocktail party. I don't believe he used an alias. But he was strictly Army. He had little regard for civilians. Enrico Fermi brought a young woman scientist with him, an Italian. She was a physicist, a brain. She was extremely shy and so unhappy. They wanted to keep her, so they asked me to talk to her, and try to break through. I knew a little Spanish and a lot of Latin. Little by little I was able to communicate with her. One thing that was difficult. They were all there under assumed names, and I would forget. And they would ask me to please try to remember. Fermi was called Mr. Farmer.
I remember so plainly, we all knew and all suspected what we were doing, but we didn't call it the atom bomb. We called it degeneration. These people were very intelligent, and most of them were engineers. I think they put 2 and 2 together. I remember I was hanging up some clothes one day and I was talking with a neighbor. Her husband was a mechanic of some kind. She asked me, "What does your husband do?" I said, "I'm sorry, I don't know." She said, "You don't know what your husband does?" She talked to her other neighbor, and she said something she shouldn't have, and she disappeared overnight. Believe me, when we got together we didn't talk about what we were doing. You had this constant "somebody is listening" business. It was an exciting time. It also was a boring time.
We had a crowd of people, all with children that needed babysitting. There was no domestic help to clean your house. Most of us were used to having at least once a month, having somebody come in to do that kind of thing. A lot of people were used to nursemaids. It was tough, but of course we didn't go out very much. There were some teenagers. They were looking for some-thing to do. We formed a babysitting group, with rules and regulations, and those kids earned money hand over fist.
I remember the reaction when we heard about the first bomb. My husband and I talked long into the night about it. I think we had a party that night, an awful lot of people in my house. We felt relief that we could talk about it. But I remember my greatest feeling was shame. I couldn't believe they had dropped the second bomb, I thought why did they have to do it again? I didn't stay at the ceremony, later on, when they awarded us the pins. That's another thing I remember about Groves. He made this long speech and I remember it was hot. I didn't stay. Everybody was more or less expected to go, to receive their pin. It was a big outdoor meeting, on the ball field. I felt real ashamed, because of the loss of life, and I wished I had had nothing to do with it. Maybe I am too much of a pacifist. I feel very sure that if the bomb hadn't been dropped, we would have had a lot more casualties.
I think really I tried to put it out of my mind. It was such an awful, AWFUL, thing for all of us. I remember a big argument about the bombs over drinks one night at a cocktail party, at the Engineers Club. Our friend, Bill, he was very tight that night. Such a dear guy. And he made the statement, it was either them or us. And I got really angry about it. I wasn't doing any drinking. I got very upset and left the table and went down into a room off the ladies' lounge and stayed there the rest of the evening until everybody was ready to go home. I thought there has to be some other answer.
S.L. Sanger: This is Betsy, Julie Smith’s mother, July 5, 1986, Kirkland, Washington. Your first name is Betsy, right?
Betsy Stuart: My name is Betty, but everybody calls me Betsy, because my father did.
Sanger: What do you prefer?
Sanger: B-E-T-S-Y, right? And Stuart is what?
We were married in 1940 and my husband was called, at that time, “personnel.” But he was the ghost writer for all the administration, all the manuals and everything. He had the HyperNews, which is still going, and he wrote a lot for the DuPont Magazine, which was published in Wilmington. Here is an atlas, that’s a good idea.
Sanger: Which plant was he working at?
Stuart: We were at Bell, which is the ammonia division of DuPont, and Bell is about twelve miles outside of Charleston.
Sanger: What did he actually do there?
Stuart: He was Personnel Supervisor. He was in charge of recruiting new people. In those days, they would send out new college recruiting, and invite all these guys in and started living in Charleston. His nickname was Stud, by the way.
Sanger: What was his first name?
Stuart: Charles F.
Sanger: Stud, huh? S-T-U-D?
Stuart: Uh huh. They called him Stud because he had a cousin, Johnny “Esso” Stuart, who—
Sanger: Esso? Is that like the gas?
Stuart: Esso, yes, because he owned a lot of the Esso stations, but later. When he was in college, he went to Notre Dame, and he was an All-American, and Stud was so proud of him. When my husband was in high school, Stud was so proud of him, it is all he could talk about. So the newspapers had nicknamed him “Stud,” because he was a great big guy. My husband was not a great big guy. When we got out here to Richland, of course the Van Wyck’s—Stud had known them all of his life.
Sanger: They worked at the Bell plant, or he did?
Stuart: They had come from the Bell plant. I am trying to think if there were some others that came from the Bell plant. On our first trek they sent Stud to Bridgeport, Connecticut to help coordinate moving all of these families from the east coast all over the United States.
We went from Bridgeport, Connecticut. Stud had a grand ability to get along with people. Also race relations, at that time were not like they are today. He had gone to school at Washington and Lee in Virginia and was able to deal with blacks. For some reason they thought, and I don’t know what it was, but they thought he would have a better attitude, and he did. When we left Bridgeport, Connecticut, we were there coordinating and had to move furniture.
Sanger: When was that?
Stuart: We were married in 1940 and it was ’41, I guess that we left. Stud went on ahead to Bridgeport, Connecticut and I’d go back and forth and we’d meet in New York. We were theater nuts and we spent every dime we could spend on theater. I’d meet him in New York and then I’d go home. I was still working so I quit my job and went to join him. We were there about four months, I think, before we went on to Kansas City to Remington Arms.
Sanger: In Kansas City?
Stuart: In Kansas City.
Sanger: Doing the same sort of work?
Stuart: Yes. They put Stud in charge. He was in administration and they put him in charge of—they had a real problem, because they needed help in the plants, somebody to do the jobs on the assembly line, and they had a lot of women. They decided that they needed a Negro supervisor who could field all these problems that they were having with blacks, who were working with whites for the first time, you know, side by side. They had some really big problems.
Sanger: Where did you hear about Hanford, then?
Stuart: Then DuPont wanted Stud to—he went back and forth to Denver, where they had another plant, Remington Arms did. Then they wanted him to come out here. So he was out here in Richland for almost six months before I got there.
Sanger: That would have been when?
Stuart: I’m trying to get my dates coordinated. We were married in ’40. We left still in 1941, I think, maybe into ’42 by that time. We had to wait until our house was built. We lived in the—I didn’t think I’d ever forget the name of it—it was a big center there. It’s the hotel.
Sanger: The Transient Quarters?
Stuart: The Transient Quarters.
Sanger: That’s where you lived?
Stuart: For almost six weeks.
Sanger: Oh, you did? Both of you?
Stuart: Well you see, I didn’t get to go. Because I was a secretary and could take dictation, they asked me to come. They tried to get me up here first before. I was ready to go, but they didn’t have any place for us to stay. Mother was living with us at the time and we needed a place. Everybody said, “Don’t come until you have a home.” Well, we did come and we stayed, I think, it was about three weeks. I said six weeks—
Sanger: In the hotel? In the TQ [Transient Quarters]? You and your husband?
Stuart: Yes, and mother was there too.
Sanger: All three of you? Not in the same room, I hope?
Stuart: No, we were not in the same room.
That was the interesting thing, because when we got here, we went down to dinner the first night. I must tell you, if Diana hasn’t already, the salad dressing was so wonderful. [Laughter]
Sanger: At the hotel? At the Transient Quarters?
Stuart: It was just wonderful, and it was during the war and you couldn’t get oil in a bottle. Everything was rationed. So all of us just pigged out on the salad dressing, and we had diarrhea for days. It turned out they were making it out of pure mineral oil, medical mineral oil. [Laughter] You couldn’t buy salad oil, you see. We couldn’t understand why in the world we were—everybody got a good case of diarrhea when they came to Richland.
Sanger: [Laughter] And that’s the reason?
Stuart: They finally traced it back. Stud was the one that was responsible for finding it out. He was that kind of a guy, a problem solver, and he just went back in the kitchen and looked to see what they were making it out of.
Sanger: Well, probably by then it was what? Early ’43? Hanford really didn’t get going until, well, it may have been later than early ’43.
Stuart: We went on the first wave.
Sanger: That would have been probably early ’43.
Stuart: None of us were assigned to Hanford, you see what I mean? Stud was the Administration Office in Richland downtown. They wanted me to work there, and I went right to work when I came.
Sanger: You did? As what?
Stuart: I was a secretary, but I went to work in the 300 Division, which was highly classified. I had to wear a pencil—
Sanger: A pencil dose radiation monitor?
Stuart: Uh huh. Nobody explained anything to you, and you didn’t ask questions.
Sanger: Nobody knew what that was for.
Stuart: Security was very tight. The funny thing is, after about three or four months, an aunt of mine who lives still in Weston, West Virginia. I corresponded with her at Christmastime and she wrote back and said, “Bet, what on earth were they interested in?”
You wouldn’t believe the security that they go through to get me. I was cleared to handle everything as a secretary up to secret information. They wanted to check me out all the way back. They actually contacted my aunt in Weston to get the address of a shoe—I had worked for about five days when I was a senior in high school. I was fourteen years old at the time. I had graduated early, and I was a senior in high school. They actually traced that man to Baltimore where he then was, all the way back to pre-1932—
Sanger: When you worked for him?
Stuart: I had worked for him for five days at Christmastime.
Sanger: Doing what?
Stuart: Just selling shoes at Christmas.
Sanger: Where was the store?
Stuart: It was on the little main street in our little town of Weston. He was a friend of my father’s, and you know how kids like to work at Christmastime. He gave me a job. I wasn’t a very good shoe salesman. They actually carried my employment record back that far until they could contact that man, and I couldn’t go to work until I had this clearance.
Sanger: How old were you when you worked for him?
Sanger: You couldn’t have been a communist then or a Nazi, could you?
Stuart: No, but this is just how tight security was.
Sanger: So you were in the 300 Area, huh?
Stuart: I worked in the 300 Area.
Sanger: Who did you work for?
Stuart: I worked for a C. O. Malley, who was an electrical engineer. My shorthand didn’t do me a bit of good because everything I wrote—it turned out to be that I just copied things, you know, because I didn’t know the symbols.
I had a typewriter that used—it was the first one I had ever seen. It had the scientific symbols. When I worked, Steve, you can believe this or not, I don’t think you will, but Mr. Malley handed me one day, he said, “Betsy, you’re going to have to be handling a piece of equipment every once in a while.”
He showed me. I had all the materials to wrap it. They would bring a little piece out of the electric furnace from over in the 300 building. We were in a barracks type of office, you know.
Sanger: But you were out there in the area?
Stuart: I was in the area, which was highly classified. Even my husband couldn’t get in that area.
Sanger: That’s where they made the fuel elements for the reactors.
Stuart: I don’t really know why.
Sanger: Well, you certainly didn’t know it then.
Stuart: And you didn’t talk about it. That was the important thing. You were just there to do your job and not ask questions. Actually, I finally said to him one day, “Mr. Malley, I can’t do this dictation this way, because I’m a real bum when it comes to scientific stuff.” But I had had medical dictation and I was really pretty fast, so I learned my own shorthand while I was there.
When I was typing something, the Army engineers were in the same barracks office with us and they were down the hall. I was on call to do their work. There were three women in the building who were assigned as well as to their own departments to the Army, whenever the Army wanted, and they were insufferable. They thought they knew it all. They had a high disregard for civilians.
I’ll never forget this one man. I can’t remember his name now, but he was a pompous ass. He would ring and say, “Whatever you’re doing, this has to get out.” So I’d have to take it out of the typewriter. But that was a real problem because when you took something out of your typewriter, I put it in one file, which was a flat box like this, a flat file box. I’d pick it up, take it off my desk and put it in there if I had to go to the bathroom, which was just down the hall and across the hall.
Sanger: So nobody could look at it?
Stuart: It was that tight. I’d put it in that box, lock the inner tray that went back over. Then you locked the file drawer, then you locked your typewriter, which had a special lock on it, and then when I went out I locked the door. Five keys.
Sanger: So every time you had to go to the bathroom, you had to—
Stuart: You didn’t go to the bathroom very often. It was just too much of a headache.
Sanger: Do you remember the sort of things you were typing?
Stuart: Yes, it was on graph paper most all the time. It was on graph paper and you had to get in the spaces. There was something wrong with the damned typewriter so you couldn’t roll it to get your paper in, and you had to have it in there. They would bring these figures. I have no idea what they were but they were scientific symbols, electrical ohms and amps and energy.
Sanger: So it was all Greek to you.
Stuart: It was all Greek to me. I wouldn’t have been a security risk because I didn’t have any idea. We had some free time, we’d get some. All of us, Diane, Van and I and several people—there was a young man who was an engineer and he was real interested in amateur theater. We were trying to get the theater off the ground. My husband had been given carte blanche. This was the type of thing he did. He tried to arrange church, activities for people because they knew they weren’t going to keep these people, out of college, and we were sort of a stratified group.
Most of us were from the same social background. Everybody had been to college in that particular group. So DuPont or Remington Arms said, “Do what you can do, and we will underwrite it, anything you can do, to get these people some recreation around here.” Because you were told to leave your car at home, none of us had our cars. In fact, it was during the war and you couldn’t get gasoline. We used public transportation, we walked everywhere, and there was one movie for 15,000 people, which ran every day, three times a day.
Sanger: That’s the one that is still in Richland?
Stuart: Where the players are now.
Sanger: Was that new then?
Stuart: Yeah, brand new.
Sanger: There must have been lines for that.
Stuart: All the way down to the TQ. I’m not lying to you. Two grocery stores, which were—I suppose you could call supermarkets.
Stuart: I think they were, I can’t remember. You stood in line and, of course you had your meat rationing points, and everybody traded. We didn’t use much sugar so we would trade our sugar points for—
Sanger: Mineral oil [laughter]?
Stuart: Now, Dot didn’t get in on the mineral oil because she was also living here at the time. They already had their house and they had two kids, and we didn’t have any kids. That helped. People that had children just had to have a home.
Sanger: You didn’t have any children during that period?
Stuart: She is an atom bomb baby.
Sanger: She’s the first?
Stuart: She and Buzz are twins.
Sanger: I see so they were born in—?
Stuart: In ’46.
Sanger: Just before you left?
Stuart: Yes, we left when Julie was six months old.
Sanger: Has she ever been tested for anything?
Stuart: No, and this is something that has bothered me, all of us. What was the thing I tried to find out if I had when I was pregnant?
Stuart: I couldn’t find the records. I had to go through—
Sanger: I think that, from my understanding, any radiation problems occurred much later, in ’49. That was the first significant detection.
Stuart: That’s good to know.
Sanger: That was iodine and that probably wouldn’t have effected anybody anyway. Everybody I talked to said it isn’t serious. For one thing, the reactors weren’t running that long before you left anyway.
Stuart: There is one thing that has always made me angry now that my consciousness was raised about this kind of thing. The term for women’s lib, I’m not using it that way. But nowadays you have a right not know when something is wrong with you.
When I went to work in the 300 Area, I had been there about two weeks. All of a sudden there was a notice, and you didn’t quibble. Mr. Malley came in and said, “Betsy, get your papers off, you have to go.” They sent a special car for me. They sent me into Richland to the hospital without any explanation and to this day, I don’t know why except that something had registered on my pencil that they didn’t like. To be hauled in—and I had worked for doctors, and I was a good medical secretary and had a good relationship with the medical people. But here were these grim-faced people and I’ll never forget. Nobody would answer a question. Why was I there?
Sanger: What was wrong?
Stuart: I never found out.
Sanger: It must have been a malfunction of the meter, probably.
Stuart: Well, I was hauled in there, and it could have been something that simple.
Sanger: But they couldn’t have told you, you see, because it was a secret.
Stuart: That’s right. But the second time it happened, which was just before I left because I was pregnant, Mr. Malley asked me to go over to—I was cleared, as I told you, to handle classified, everything up to secret information. In that capacity, he could hand me something and I could walk over to the main building in the 300 Area and take it to somebody else.
Sometimes it was a little part which had to be wrapped a certain way. I realize they were trying to guard everybody and keep them from getting radiation. I was walking along and there were those tiles like in an institution. I’ve thought of that so many times, when you see those long shots of a hall in a psychiatric hospital and they are tiles that can be washed down.
Sanger: Ceramic tiles?
Stuart: Ceramic tiles. They were almost to the ceiling, and I stumbled as I was walking along the hallway. It was a narrow hallway. For the life of me, I wasn’t near a door or opening in the wall but I stumbled and hit the wall and just brushed against it. I didn’t hurt myself. Then I went on and delivered the paper or whatever it was that I was delivering. I went back and two minutes after I got back to the office, they hauled me into Richland again.
Sanger: For the same thing?
Julie: For bumping against the wall?
Stuart: I set something off. I could hear it.
Sanger: Oh, you did?
Stuart: I could hear a buzzing sound, but I didn’t ask any questions.
Sanger: I’ll be darned. When you brushed the wall?
Stuart: I don’t know if there was something built into that wall that was a monitor of some sort. It’s possible. You can imagine all sorts of things when—
Sanger: They probably didn’t tell you anything?
Stuart: Just asked me to please get ready and go to Richland again.
Sanger: What did they do to you when you got to Richland?
Stuart: Just did a blood test. You didn’t get any report about it.
Sanger: And you were pregnant then?
Stuart: I was not quite pregnant then but—
Sanger: So that would have been on towards the end of the war, then.
Stuart: Julie and Buzz were born in February 1946, and my anniversary is March. Those two big things came together.
I really can’t tell you what it was, but it would be interesting. It may have been a coincidence. He questioned me. I told him I bumped my shoulder.
Sanger: Which building were you going to when you did that?
Stuart: It was the main building in the 300 Area, where the furnaces were.
Sanger: It wasn’t where the reactor was?
Stuart: I don’t know.
Sanger: The small lower power they used to test things was in that building. It was in that building that looked kind of like a big barn with two ventilators on the end.
Stuart: That’s the one I was in.
Sanger: Oh it was? That’s where the reactor was.
Julie: Are you sure you were?
Stuart: Yes, because it was the main building in the area. I’ve thought about this and I may be making a mystery out of something that didn’t happen, but it has made me angry so many times when I thought about it. Even though they were trying to protect us from radiation, I’m sure, not to be told anything about it—
Sanger: You never had any ill effects?
Stuart: No, I didn’t, except—I’m not going to make any except.
To get back to my husband, and these people that would come. Do you remember Enrico Fermi?
Stuart: He would come. My husband knew—you have a picture of one man who is so familiar to me. When they would come to Richland, they were—Monte Evans was my husband’s long college friend.
Sanger: Oh, was he?
Stuart: And I can’t remember his title.
Sanger: He was back in Wilmington most of the time, right?
Stuart: That’s right.
Sanger: He was the head of manufacturing for the atomic project.
Stuart: He and my husband were old buddies.
Sanger: He is alive, I understand, but not well.
Stuart: I don’t know.
Sanger: I tried to talk to him and he was ill, apparently.
Stuart: He used to come to Charleston before we had left. There was an awful lot of drinking going on.
Sanger: Where? In Charleston?
Stuart: Everywhere. They were all drinking friends.
Sanger: During the war?
Stuart: We drank too much.
Stuart: In Charleston. Everywhere you went in Bridgeport, Connecticut, that was the way—
Sanger: What did they drink in Richland?
Stuart: In Richland? Bourbon. We drank bourbon.
Sanger: Didn’t you have to take a bottle of awful rum to get the bourbon?
Stuart: Yes, I remember that. Yes, we did. You couldn’t stand the rum. It was cheap stuff and you had to have points to get it, but Monte Evans was an old drinking buddy of my husband’s at home from college.
Sanger: Oh, those are the people that you knew from home?
Stuart: Yes, and Monte had something to do with Walt Simon, it seemed.
Sanger: Simon was the Operations Manager, the first one.
Stuart: Stud knew all these people.
Sanger: Simon was an old-time DuPont person.
Stuart: My husband was old-time DuPont. He had gone to work when DuPont was brand new in Charleston, or almost.
Sanger: That would have been when?
Stuart: 1923, I think. My husband was a good bit older than me, Steve. He was twelve years older than me.
Sanger: How old were you when you went to Hanford?
Stuart: When I went to Hanford I was about thirty. Stud was twelve years older and he had known all these people—
Sanger: Almost my age?
Stuart: No, Stud would be eighty if he were living today.
Sanger: I mean, at the time he went to Hanford.
Stuart: Yeah, he was—
Sanger: I’m exaggerating.
Stuart: He was, let’s see, we were married in ’40 and Julie was born in ’46. Stud was almost forty-six years old when his children were born, you see.
Sanger: I’d hate to face that.
Stuart: I mean, forty-one years old. He had a tough time of little babies, but he was a good dad when they got so they could talk to them, so he could communicate with them. Walt Simon and also General Leslie Groves was—I just can’t remember anything good to say about that man. He was in my house many a time.
Sanger: Was he?
Stuart: Yeah, and after we finally got a home, we turned out to be sort of social directors. These people would all come to town under assumed names, and Fermi brought a young woman scientist with him.
The one thing that was difficult entertaining these people is they were all under assumed names and I’d forget and call Monte “Dr. Evans” or “Monte.” They were new people to me. Stud had known these DuPonters for ages, but I didn’t meet them until we came out here. So I had learned that he was Monte, and he and Stud would go into old college stories. You know how people are when they get together, this football game or that football game, and I’d forget and call him Monte. They asked me, “Please to try to remember Fermi’s name was Farmer.” What was his first name? It wasn’t Enrico.
Sanger: It may have been just Mr. Farmer. I don’t know.
Stuart: Everybody had a first name.
Sanger: Oh, they did? That would be hard to remember.
Stuart: I had a hard time getting used to that. I remember Diane Van came one night with another young man that had come from Cornell University [Hans Bethe], I believe. It was our job—maybe we assumed it was our job— but, it was just an open ticket for Stud to zero in on these new people, because a lot of them would get very disillusioned when they got here.
Fermi was a very close-mouthed—he didn’t have much to say. I think they were all so busy and tired because, believe me, there was no such thing as day and night for that crowd. My husband had to be on his toes, but he would manage the time that he would work; twelve and fourteen hours a day and come home at midnight.
Sanger: What was he doing mainly besides being the—?
Stuart: A social director? That’s really what he was. He was called “Welfare Supervisor.” They would get a trouble spot. For instance, they got into a real jam down at Hanford when it first opened up, because men were getting out of bed and the next guy was coming in and getting in the same bed. Some of those guys were used to having clean sheets, most of them. And they’d get into problems with things like that, or with the food or something. He had to go and try to talk them out of their grievances. He handled the grievances.
Sanger: Was he fairly successful at it?
Stuart: Yes, he was. Don’t ask me why, but my husband was just good at that kind of stuff.
Sanger: So he was probably responsible for keeping people there to work?
Stuart: Yes, and he also started an awful lot of the softball leagues.
Julie: Wasn’t Van responsible?
Stuart: Well, Dad was not responsible, but Dad saw to it, Julie, that—he’d go and see the boss, [Walt] Simon. He would say, “Look, we’ve got a little trouble here.”
I remember about the churches. That was one thing that was very difficult. People didn’t have a church to go to. Dad worked real hard on that. They turned the school on Sunday, but the Catholics weren’t real happy about that. There wasn’t a building big enough for them to have a church service in but the school. The Catholics really sort of won out, and there was a little tension. They insisted that they had to have a service once a week at least and they would do it after hours, and then the other Protestant services would take their turns.
I remember Stud had a real touchy situation with the Catholic group because they insisted that a building needed to be built for them. Some of the fundamentalist Protestants, there weren’t many of those in those days that I met, but I don’t think Stud had a problem with that. He did have a problem because when the kids were born I wanted to have them christened, and we found out the Presbyterian service would not be for something like a couple of months.
Sanger: Oh, is that right? Because there are so many Protestant groups?
Stuart: Yeah, there were so many Protestant groups, but I think the Catholics were—
Sanger: Did you know Sweeney? Father [William] Sweeney? The chief Catholic? He was the Pastor there.
Stuart: My husband did, I’m sure. He was a nice guy that Stud worked with. He was in our home once, and then we happened to be the only people who—we were newly married. Most of the other people had been married a little bit longer than us and at least had children.
Sanger: One thing before I forget this: what was [General Leslie] Groves like? Did he come to your place in connection with the social directing or what?
Stuart: He was there one night.
Sanger: He stayed overnight?
Stuart: No, at my home.
Sanger: For dinner or something?
Stuart: No, it was just a cocktail party. It was a pre-dinner thing. He only came the one time. Stud had worked with him.
Stuart: Here in Richland. They all came from Chicago, when they’d come. I don’t believe he used an alias.
Sanger: Maybe not. I don’t think he did.
Stuart: I can’t remember. He was strictly Army. He had little regard for civilians—that they couldn’t do anything right, which was the general attitude. Stud had run into that in Kansas City. They assigned an Army communications guy to him. My husband put out the newspaper.
Sanger: Oh, he did?
Stuart: Yes, he did the, what was the name of that? I never thought I’d—
Sanger: The Sage Sentinel?
Stuart: Oh no, it was the company paper.
Julie: Here in Richland.
Sanger: What was that called?
Stuart: The Lake City Tracer. I’ve got tons of issues of it at home.
Sanger: There was something called the Sage Sentinel that went out to the Hanford camp.
Stuart: Wasn’t it the Villager?
Sanger: The Villager. That was it.
Stuart: That was the commercial newspaper. My husband did one that included Hanford and it was a company, I can’t think of the name of it.
Sanger: How often did it come out?
Stuart: It was popular, it really was. Stud got a column started with—Julie, can you remember the name of that? It was a baseball figure with lots of cute little cartoons. This guy that worked with me worked getting a logo for the players and drew it, if I’m not mistaken. I’ll have to ask Van.
It was a very popular column in which they traded off back and forth. Jim would write an answer, and they would publish it. It was typical West Virginia hillbilly language. That was the name of the column, The Hillbilly, I believe. I have the newspaper at home.
Sanger: It was probably popular.
Stuart: It was. People would write into the column but it was a company organ.
Stud was responsible, and he had to go down to Hanford all the time, but he never went to the 300 Area past the gate. He wasn’t cleared to.
Sanger: He wasn’t allowed to?
Stuart: He wasn’t allowed to come in that area. There was sort of a compound before you got in where they had a guard house and where the buses stopped. I didn’t talk to my husband about what I did. I never mentioned it until afterwards.