William Ginell is a physical chemist who worked on the Manhattan Project. In this interview he describes how he became interested in chemistry and his experiences working at Columbia University and Oak Ridge, TN on the gaseous diffusion process. He reflects on the Army, living conditions, and the intense secrecy and security during the project. He also discusses his life after the war, especially his work at Brookhaven, Atomics International, and Douglas Aircraft.
Kelly: Today is Friday, February 3rd, 2017. I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’m here in an installation called “Atomic Time” with its creator, the sculptor and artist Jim Sanborn. My first question to Sanborn is to please say his name and spell it.
Sanborn: All right. I’m Jim Sanborn, S-A-N-B-O-R-N. I’m the maker of this installation that I began sometime in 1998 and concluded in 2004, although I added pieces over the years, added more stuff over the years.
Jim Sanborn is an American sculptor known for works such as “Kryptos” at the CIA Headquarters in McLean, VA.
In this interview, Sanborn discusses his exhibit “Atomic Time,” which is now on display at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque, NM. The installation recreates the Manhattan Project scientists’ experiments at Los Alamos to determine when plutonium would go “critical” in an atomic bomb. Sanborn explains why he decided to do the project, and how he carefully created each piece of the exhibit.
Cindy Kelly: I am Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is Saturday, February 4, 2017. I have with me Lydia Martinez. My first question for you is to say your name and spell it.
Lydia Martinez: Lydia L-y-d-i-a G. Martinez M-a-r-t-i-n-e-z.
Kelly: Can you tell us what the G stands for?
Martinez: Gomez. We have the Gomez Ranch also.
Kelly: Tell me about the Gomez family. How far back does it go?
[Thanks to David Schiferl and Willie Atencio for recording this interview and providing a copy to the Atomic Heritage Foundation. Please note that approximately the first three minutes of the interview are audio only.]
Willie Atencio: Your name?
Esequiel Salazar: Esequiel Salazar.
Atencio: Born where?
Salazar: In Pojoaque.
Atencio: Pojoaque. What was your first experience with the Manhattan Project?
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. This is January 30th, 2017. We’re in Washington, D.C., and I’m with John Coster-Mullen. I want to start by asking him to say his name and spell it, please.
John Coster-Mullen: John Coster-Mullen, J-O-H-N C-O-S-T-E-R-M-U-L-L-E-N.
Kelly: Great. Some have called you “Atomic John.”
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. I’m in Santa Fe. This is Monday, February 6, 2017, and I’m with Floy Agnes Lee, better known as “Aggie.” I’d like to start by asking Aggie to say her full name and spell it.
Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation, here in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is Saturday, February 4, 2017. I have with me Jay Shelton. My first question is to please say your name, full name, and spell it.
Shelton: Jay Shelton, J-A-Y S-H-E-L-T-O-N.
Kelly: Perfect. Now, Jay, why don’t you just tell a little bit about yourself and what you have been doing for the last umpteen years?
[Thanks to David Schiferl and Willie Atencio for recording this interview and providing a copy to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]
Willie Atencio: All right. Mr. Nick Salazar, we want to interview you because we know you remember a lot of things about Los Alamos. Can you first tell us the first time you went to Los Alamos?
Nick Salazar: As an employee?
Cindy Kelly: Okay. I’m Cindy Kelly, I’m in Alexandria, Virginia. It is January 9th, 2017. I have with me Milton Levenson. My first question to him is to please say his name and then spell it.
Levenson: My name is Milton Levenson. No middle name. M-i-l-t-o-n, and Levenson is L-e-v-e-n-s-o-n.
Kelly: Terrific. At any rate, let’s begin with the beginning. Tell us, if you would, when you were born and where, and something about your childhood.