Though not a Manhattan Project location, the island of St. John in the US Virgin Islands played an important role in the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Soon after he was stripped of his security clearance in the infamous Atomic Energy Commission hearing, Oppenheimer and his wife Kitty began spending time on the island. They bought a strip of land in the Hawksnest area from the Gibney family, and built a house there. Robert and Kitty became fixtures of island social life, throwing parties on a regular basis.
J. Robert Oppenheimer
Martin Sherwin: This is an interview with Professor Joseph Rotblat, R-O-T-B-L-A-T, at his office in London. Well it really was quite a production. Seven hours!
Joseph Rotblat: Yes, oh yes, quite a production.
Sherwin: I thought Sam Waterston played a marvelous part.
Sherwin: The person who played [J. Robert] Oppenheimer.
Martin Sherwin: President Goldberger, Marvin Goldberger of California Institute of Technology at Caltech in Pasadena, March 28, 1983. This is Martin Sherwin.
This is something obviously I should have done three years ago back in Princeton when you had more time, etc.
Marvin Goldberger: That’s all right. I have plenty of time.
Sherwin: You first met [J. Robert] Oppenheimer after the war, right?
Martin Sherwin: I think the opportunity to talk to somebody who served with him on the Harvard—
Edward Purcell: Oh, Harvard, that was the thing. No, this episode I was remembering, which must have been the spring of 1953, when Oppie [J. Robert Oppenheimer] was on the Board of Overseers. At that time, we’d had some trouble in the Congressional investigations in our department. Particularly Wendell Furry, my colleague there, was under fire and had testified before the Jenner Committee or something like that.
Martin Sherwin: Today is July 31, 1979. This is an interview with Verna Hobson in New Gloucester, Maine.
I think the best way to proceed is probably to start with when you first met [J. Robert] Oppenheimer and how you got the job.
Verna Hobson: Okay. We were living in Princeton. My husband commuted to New York, and we had two little children. I was beginning to think about when I could go back to work or maybe take some more training. In other words, getting on with my own life.
Sherwin: This was when?
Before the war, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) was a leading university in the fields of particle and nuclear physics. It was especially known for its experimental physicists. Many scientists who had important roles on the Manhattan Project were affiliated with Caltech, including J. Robert Oppenheimer, Richard Tolman, and Robert Bacher. In addition, a group working at Caltech under Charles Lauritsen directly assisted in the bomb-building effort, providing help manufacturing detonators that would be used in the atomic bombs.
Martin Sherwin: Martin Sherwin, I am about to interview Dr. Hempelmann at Strong Memorial Hospital.
You know, simply from all of the Los Alamos records, but who told me you were at Strong? That was, I think, Dorothy McKibbin.
Louis Hempelmann: Oh yeah.
Sherwin: No, she confirmed it. She said you were coming out to Santa Fe.
Martin Sherwin: On June 5th, 1982. Well, now, John, why don’t you start and ask questions about the relationship with Cliff, because I think the [J. Robert] Oppenheimer relationship might be able to go on forever, and we’ll never get to your questions.
John S. Rosenberg: Okay. Well, first, how did you come to meet? What was the nature of your original coming together?
Richard Rhodes: Although again, I was struck in Russia with how different a world that was.
Ted Taylor: Oh, yeah.
Rhodes: How much more closely they were—
Taylor: That is why I am so thankful because in many other places people get shot.
Rhodes: Yeah. We could not even get directions on the street. Nobody wanted to talk to foreigners. Even now, partly, I am sure.
Taylor: Some of that is habit, I think.
Martin Sherwin: I am in Cambridge, Massachusetts on April 26, 1982. Were you married when you were in Los Alamos?
Alice Kimball Smith: Yes. We had been married for twelve years.
Sherwin: I see. So you and your husband, Cyril Smith, went to Los Alamos and you were promptly put to work as a schoolteacher. Is that correct?
Kimball Smith: That is right, yes.