The Manhattan Project

Kathleen Hitchock's Interview

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White Bluffs, Washington, located a few miles upriver from Hanford and considered one of the prettiest towns on the Columbia River, was yet another casualty of the 1943 government invasion. Kathleen Hitchcock was the daughter of Tom and Jane O'Larey, owners the local newspaper, "The White Bluffs Spokesman."
Manhattan Project Location(s): 
Date of Interview: 
1986
Location of the Interview: 
Richland
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Transcript: 

[Interviewed by Robert W. Mull, from S.L. Sanger's Working on the Bomb: An Oral History of WWII Hanford, Portland State University, 1995]

We came from the Waterville area. My parents moved down to White Bluffs to develop a fruit orchard. They bought a 10-acre place that had been planted to apples. They really pioneered. This had to have been 1910.

When we first went out there, it was pretty difficult. There was a man who had the newspaper by the name of Angus Hay. My father bought the paper from him, knowing nothing about the business. The post office went with it. That was the way we grew up, helping in the post office and the print shop. The paper had a circulation of three or four hundred, mainly because it went upriver to Priest Rapids, Wahluke and all the little towns, then downriver to Hanford, some to Richland. It was delivered by mail. My father and mother would write the articles. They enjoyed the newspaper. Sometimes Rufus Woods from Wenatchee and Colonel Robertson from Yakima (newspaper editors) would come by and stop and it would be a big day.

Our first house was just kind of a tent, then we added to it as we could. We were going to build a nicer house, my father had started the basement, when we bought the newspaper. We moved from the ranch house into a house close to the river. That was fairly nice. We kept the ranch and always har­vested the fruit.

My dad did the paper for a while, then of course, the war started. My mother took the evacuation very hard, they had always expected to live there the rest of their lives. And it was pretty hard when the Army engineers came in and told them to, you know, get out. Gave them maybe a week to get out, maybe they had their farm and animals and no money. No cash! Nobody had cash in those days.

It was a pretty hard thing. Some of them ended up at Medical Lake (a state mental hospital), you know, couldn't quite face it. My mother never really adjusted to it. The fact that the government could come in and take your home away. We were in the war and they felt like they were donating as many young men as any other place to the war effort. It was really sad. They didn't know what for, they only knew it was for the war effort.

All of a sudden this little town would have the Army come in and stop a car and see who you are and what you're doing. They resented the whole thing, even knowing that it was for the war effort, whatever it was. They felt it was too great a sacrifice.