Ross Simpson: All right, here’s the promo for Part One of the Nuclear War Series. I’m Ross Simpson on a bus, heading into Cheyenne Mountain, outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado. This is the home of NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command. This is also where my five part series on the nightmare of nuclear war begins this morning.
Interviewer 1: Why did your family come to Oak Ridge? When did that happen?
Rowan: Well, we actually came to Oak Ridge in 1945. We left Nashville in early 1945. Because there was no housing available onsite in Oak Ridge, we had to stay in South Harriman, which is about twenty miles away. In the summertime of 1945, we moved into—
Iacovino: No, no, that was ’44. It was ’44. Because we went through the winter, because then the war was over.
Rowan: We should have gotten our story together. [Laughter.]
After her brother was drafted, Jo-Ellen Iacovino and her family moved to Happy Valley, Tennessee to support the war effort.
After her brother was drafted, Sheila Rowan's family moved to Happy Valley, Tennessee to support the war effort. Although Rowan and her sister, Jo-Ellen Iacovino, were too young to participate in the construction of the K-25 gaseous diffusion plant, their older sister, Colleen Black, and their parents worked to support the Manhattan Project. When the war ended, Rowan left Happy Valley.
Robert Serber: Ernest [Lawrence] got overexcited about the Russian bomb. I imagine that [Edward] Teller called him and got him worked up. I warned him about Edward’s Super, that it wasn't a practical idea at the moment. I told him if he wanted to really find out he should talk to [Hans] Bethe, but he never did. He was all gung ho for the Super and he immediately went with more or less the action before he thought of what he could do, and the thing to do was to build these reactors to make tritium.
Alexandra Levy: All right. We are here on April 23, 2015 with Mr. Rex Edward Keller. So first, can you please say your name and spell it.
Rex Keller: Oh, Rex Edward Keller, R-E-X E-D-W-A-R-D, Keller, K-E-L-L-E-R.
Levy: Can you tell me where and when you were born?
Keller: I was born in Saxton, Missouri, October 10, 1923.
Levy: And you grew up in Missouri?
Keller: Yes, yes, in Dexter, Missouri.
Wendy Steinle: Good morning, Ralph. I’m Wendy Steinle, as you know, and I am really pleased to be your friend and to have the opportunity to interview you this morning. Just for the record, will you start by stating and spelling your name, and then tell us the date?
Ralph Gates: Well, thanks, Wendy. My name is Ralph Gates, but I am—it’s Ralph Pillsbury Gates and I am a junior. It’s R-a-l-p-h, Pillsbury is P-i-l-l-s-b-u-r-y, and Gates is G-a-t-e-s.
Steinle: What is today’s date?
Ralph Gates is a chemical and electrical engineer who worked on the Manhattan Project as a part of the Special Engineer Detachment. His primary job was casting shape charges for the plutonium bombs.
Mench: I am John Mench and sixty years ago I was a young man with a wife and a baby girl, a good job in industrial deferment, a brand new home and a mortgage. Inside of a week or two, I had in my hand a ticket to a camp, an Army camp, an industrial deferment that was cancelled. I still had a wife and a baby daughter but they were now living with my wife’s sister, and my home was rented. The only thing that hadn’t changed was the mortgage.
Richard Groves: I’m Richard Hulbert Groves, G-R-O-V-E-S.
Paul Williams: What memories do you have of family life, at least when you were at home?