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.
Life in the Secret Cities
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, Atomic Heritage Foundation, and it is October 12, 2017. I’m in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I have with me John Ruminer. I’d like him to say his name and spell it.
John Ruminer: You got it just right. It’s John Ruminer – R-U-M-I-N-E-R.
Kelly: Terrific. John, why don’t you talk about where we are in Santa Fe, and a little bit about the history of this place?
Nate Weisenberg: My name is Nate Weisenberg, and I’m here with the Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is Thursday, October 12, 2017, and I am here with Mr. Al Zeltmann at his home in Los Alamos. My first question for you is if you could please say your name and spell it.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. It’s October 12th, 2017. I’m in Santa Fe, New Mexico. With me is Jennet Conant. My first question for Jennet is to tell me your name and spell it.
Jennet Conant: My name is Jennet Conant, J-E-N-N-E-T C-O-N-A-N-T.
Willie Atencio: The first thing we need to know is, where were you born?
Dick Money: In Chicago.
Atencio: Okay, you were born in Chicago. What part of Chicago?
Money: South Side.
Atencio: South Side. Tell us a little bit about your parents.
Money: My father was a civil engineer. He had a company that built grain elevators. He was educated at Armour Institute, which later became Illinois Tech in Chicago. A wonderful man, of course.
Lauren Attanas: My name is Lauren Attanas, that’s A-T-T-A-N-A-S. I am the granddaughter of John Attanas, who we are interviewing for the Atomic Heritage Foundation today. Can you say your name and spell it for the camera?
John Attanas: John George Attanas.
Lauren: Tell us the story of your origins. Where did your family come to the United States from?
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. I’m in Santa Fe. It’s Monday, February 6, 2017, and I have with me Jenny Kimball. I would like her to first state her full name and spell it.
Jenny Kimball: Okay. It’s Jennifer Lea Kimball, K-I-M-B-A-L-L. My title is actually Chairman of the Board of the hotel.
Kelly: You might want to say the name of the hotel.