Carol Roberts moved to Hanford with her family in 1944 after her father was hired by DuPont to work as an electrician on the B Reactor. In this interview, she vividly describes life in Richland during the Manhattan Project. Roberts mentions local segregation, dust storms, the housing, social opportunities, and the challenges women faced in raising a family. Roberts champions the role of women in local history, including Leona Marshall Libby’s work on the B Reactor.
Cindy Kelly: It is September 11, 2018. I’m in Richland, Washington, Cindy Kelly. I have with me Michele Gerber, and what I’d like to ask her to do is to tell us her full name and spell it.
Michele Gerber: Michele Stenehjem Gerber. M-i-c-h-e-l-e. S-t-e-n-e-h-j-e-m. Gerber, G-e-r-b-e-r.
Kelly: Tell us a little more about your background. What did you study and how did you become interested in the history of Hanford?
CJ Mitchell: It’s CJ Mitchell, Junior. That’s just CJ. No periods or anything. It doesn't stand for anything. And Mitchell – M-I-T-C-H-E-L-L.
Kelly: Great. I would have made that mistake. Just like Harry Truman. It’s Harry S Truman, no period.
Mitchell: Yeah, my dad was a CJ as well.
Kelly: Was he?
Kelly: You’re a junior. We started chatting, but why don’t you tell us for the camera, where you're from and how you came to Richland.
CJ Mitchell grew up in northeastern Texas. In this interview, he describes moving to Hanford after graduating from high school in 1947. Only sixteen years old, Mitchell took a job working on the trailer park in North Richland, and worked on other construction projects. At first, he lived in a tent with his relatives in East Pasco.
Alexandra Levy: I’m Alexandra Levy with the Atomic Heritage Foundation. I’m here in Florida on December 28, 2017, with Roger Stover. My first question is for you to please say your name and spell it.
Roger Stover: My name is Roger Stover, R-o-g-e-r, last name S-t-o-v-e-r.
Levy: Can you tell us about when and where you born, and a little bit about your family growing up?
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?
[To see an edited version of the interview published by S. L. Sanger in Working on the Bomb: An Oral History of WWII Hanford, Portland State University, 1995, click here.]
Clare Whitehead: I got raised to Tech Sergeant, so he immediately got raised to Tech Sergeant. He said, “Well, we figured it was too bad we did not get married earlier. We would have been generals by the time we retired.” [Laughter]
[Many thanks to Claude Lyneis for donating this footage to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]
Narrator: About seventy-five miles northwest of Walla Walla, Washington, in an isolated expanse of open desert, civilization entered into a new age, an age from which it would never emerge the same. Here, in the home of the Wanapum Indians, the terrain is mostly scrubland, laced here and there by cheatgrass, greasewood, and Russian thistle.
Stephane Groueff: Dr. Raymond Grills, DuPont, Wilmington.
Nancy Greenewalt Frederick: My father, Crawford Greenewalt, was the only child of Dr. Frank Lindsay Greenewalt and Mary Hallock Greenewalt. Dr. Greenewalt was a physician at Gerard College in Philadelphia, and my father grew up there most of his young life. He went to a German school, what we would call a preschool, run by German monks when he was a child. He says he spoke German before he spoke English. But when he was grown up he could do some German, but he couldn’t speak it.