Mary Whittlesey Kennedy moved to Oak Ridge as a teenager in 1943 when her mother took a job there. In this interview, Mary discusses her years at Oak Ridge including her high school, school dances, and her involvement in clubs such as “the Penguin Club.” She fondly recalls her time in Oak Ridge. She also remembers her mixed reaction to the news of the atomic bomb and how her opinion has changed over the years.
Kelly: This is Tuesday, February 6, 2018 and I’m in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida. I have with me Mary Whittlesey Kennedy. My first question to her is to tell us your name and spell it.
Kennedy: My present name is Mary Kennedy, K-E-N-N-E-D-Y, but my maiden name was Whittlesey, W-H-I-T-T-L-E-S-E-Y, when I went to Oak Ridge.
Kelly: Great. Talk about who your mother was, and how you found yourself in Oak Ridge, and what year that was that you found yourself there.
Cindy Kelly: Tell us about your work and what you’ve learned about the African Americans who worked here in Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project.
Valeria Steele Roberson: I became interested in this project when I was a little girl. My grandmother used to tell us stories about the ‘40s, how they came here and left their children back in Alabama with their grandmother. She would always talk about giving one day to the bomb, and about the rats, and the plank sidewalks, and all those kinds of 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.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. This is Atomic Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. and it is Wednesday, November 15, 2017. I have with me Suzanne Langsdorf. My first question is for her to tell us her full name and spell it.
Suzanne Langsdorf: My name is Suzanne Martyl Langsdorf. That is spelled S-U-Z-A-N-N-E, Martyl is M-A-R-T-Y-L, and Langsdorf is L-A-N-G-S-D-O-R-F.
Kelly: Very good.
Langsdorf: I have to spell it a lot in real life.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. It is October 27, 2017, in Washington, D.C., and I have with me Charles B. Yulish. I’m just going to start by asking him to say his name and spell it.
Charles Yulish: Okay. Charles. B. Yulish, Y as in yes, Y-U-L-I-S-H.
Cindy Kelly: I'm Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, and it is October 27, 2017 in Washington, D.C. I have with me Margaret Lawrence Norman, and if you could say your name and spell it.
Margaret Norman: Okay. It’s Margaret, but I go as Margie. M-A-R-G-I-E, but officially my father always called me Margaret. M-A-R-G-A-R-E-T, Lawrence, L-A-W-R-E-N-C-E Norman, N-O-R-M-A-N.
Kelly: Can you tell us when you were born and where, and begin describing what your parents were like and what you remember from your early years?
[Thanks to David Schiferl and Willie Atencio for recording this interview and providing a copy to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]
Willie Atencio: Okay, first of all, tell us about your grandparents. Were they homesteaders?
Julia Maestas: Yes.
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.