The Manhattan Project

Roger Rasmussen's Interview

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Roger Rasmussen's Interview

Roger Rasmussen was an electrical engineer at Los Alamos and a member of the Special Engineer Detachment. During the Trinity test, he was assigned to evacuate local civilians if necessary. After the war, Rasmussen had a long career at Los Alamos National Laboratory. In this interview, he recounts his arrival at Los Alamos and details his memories of the Trinity test. He also discusses his postwar work at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and recalls how Manhattan Project veterans were perceived after the war.
Manhattan Project Location(s): 
Date of Interview: 
October 14, 2015
Location of the Interview: 
Los Alamos
Transcript: 

Roger Rasmussen: Hi, I am Roger Rasmussen. That is R-A-S-M-U-S-S-E-N. I am the son of Rasmus. That is what it means. It is Danish. My dad came from Denmark.

Cindy Kelly: When were you born?

Rasmussen: I was born in Mason City, Iowa on November 13, 1920. I refer to that as the Middle Ages. When I was six years old, my father moved my family to Bloomington, Illinois to work for a production concern. It became something that was lifelong employment. Within the next six months or a year, he moved us out to Chicago, Illinois. I was raised actually from 1927 until 1940 in Chicago, in the suburbs. I went through the grades and high school and a year of employment following my graduation from high school, as was usual then. It followed the Depression and not too many of us were able to start university training.

I worked a year on the Loop in Chicago through spring and summer. It was hot and cold, and the icicles out of one’s nose grew like a yardstick. I didn’t mind it. I had a good education really, but being the era in which it took place, it was a different thing to experience. I can’t say that I hated it, but I certainly would have chosen different from being raised in Chicago. We lived in many locations ending with moving out to the west to Oak Park, Illinois. I attended high school at the Oak Park River Forest Township High School, if that’s familiar. 

I then had a year of work down in the Loop. My dad was called back to the factory in Bloomington, Illinois again. It happened fortunately that Illinois Wesleyan had a campus there. It was a very old campus, very historic. I cried on their shoulder, and they aided me so I could start college down there in spring of 1940. I was there for the loss of Hedding Hall, which dated way back in the 1800s. It caught fire one night. I remember the students standing out in the cold watching it burn. I had many classes in that old structure. It was a beauty. You should see the campus today. It’s huge. It’s tremendous.

But anyway, I started working and going to school. In the process, I had made some friends who found me two jobs, which helped. It was shortly after I started university there that the events of the Hawaiian invasion—

Kelly: Pearl Harbor?

Rasmussen: Yeah, December 7, 1941. It was at that moment my life totally changed, and I enlisted in 1942 having turned the corner. My father died within a month of me joining. He drove me around. They had everybody ready to go as boots on the ground in a war like that. I had to try two places to enlist because I had flat feet, but I learned how to hold my feet up so that the dirt didn’t show and all I had to do was show the bottom of my foot and I got in. So I did enlist. My brother, being older, was off on his own. My mother decided that she would go back to Mason City, Iowa.

So I took up residence on the third floor of my chosen fraternity. All I could afford was a bed there. I couldn’t eat there. I didn’t have the funds for that, but that’s how I did get one of my jobs. One of them was how I got fed. I worked in a YWCA room at noon. In any event, the Army said they didn’t want me right away, right after my enlistment. They sent me back for another year of my college work into my junior year. I had the whole year. In the summer of 1943, they did call me up. I had the usual three months training in basic. They teach you how to kill people, and that was basically it. The government had already been hearing from all of the colleges and universities in the country that they were being stripped of their enrollments, and were not able to stay open if this continued.

So FDR and Secretary of War [Henry] Stimson got together. The government developed a training program. They had intended to call up 200,000 students, which is a drop in the bucket based upon military enrollments by that time. They first planned to make this a training program for OCS, Officer Candidate School. Then they changed their minds and turned it into the Army Specialized Training Program. The Navy had a similar program called the V Program. This was for all of the young men who were graduating college and went right to sea. I had one more year to go because I had been held back that one year that I had worked in Chicago. The Army then said, “Your time is up,” in the summer of ’43. That’s when they started my basic training. I was all ready to depart on the East Coast or West Coast. Everything was in my barracks bag, including my iron helmet and the whole bit. They called me in for an exam, an academic test. I think it covered quite a bit of my training at that time. I hadn’t gotten lost because it was right after my basic training. They pulled me out of my expected overseas departure, and sent me back to a university in Pennsylvania for a term. 

It was during that time that I decided I did not like the East Coast, but I didn’t have to stay there. I did ask to be removed from that particular program because we were treated as though we were not in the Army. They called us cadets at that point. We wore no insignia except a basic uniform. I remember I came back from a weekend in Manhattan where I walked for two days from Broadway down to the Battery, and they had no goodies like shows that I qualified for. They did not allow us any entertainment. I was up for two days just walking the streets of Manhattan. I decided I didn’t like that too much.

When I went back to the university campus across the line into Pennsylvania, I went to my CO, commanding officer, and said, “I would like to be out of this outfit.”

He said, “The Army says go back to what you are doing.” They wouldn’t let me out.

So I finished my term there at Lafayette College in Eastern Pennsylvania. The first of 1944, they transferred me down to the University of West Virginia to an engineering school. This was all part of this training program where they were trying to turn this program into academics. The military needed trained people – engineers, scientists, doctors, interpreters – and this is what the program had turned into. But within six months in the middle of 1944, the Army cancelled the program and there was a grand exodus of students who were shipping overseas.

A friend I made later was also called into that. He wrote a book about it called Scholars in Foxholes. Many of those transferees back in service served their time and were killed in the East and West. He wrote the full history of this program. For some reason, I was not pulled out of school in West Virginia even though the program was cancelled. I stayed under Army enrollment. I finished, would you believe, electrical engineering, all of it. They put me through four years of basic. I had solid engineering, electrical engineering training. I finished at the end of the year, and they closed everybody out at that time. There were only twenty-something of us left at that point. Five of us were assigned to come out to Los Alamos. I had no idea why I was going, but there were very few of us left. It was unbelievable that I survived.

Next thing I knew, I was on a train from West Virginia to Chicago. I remember stopping there. My brother was in training at [Naval Station] Great Lakes. He was called up to serve, and he went to the Navy. By the way, he served in the North Atlantic as a torpedo man in the escort of the troopships heading for Britain, and looking for submarines and so forth. I visited him on the lakeshore. They were all dressed in white in Navy uniforms. 

I walked up to the gate and said, “May I come in and see my brother? I know he is here.”

They said, “Sure thing, come on in.”

I couldn’t believe that. I walked into this sea of white and I got nothing but “Are you lost, soldier?”

That was the last time I saw him before he reported for Navy duty. 

I continued on with my group to New Mexico. It took two days on the train. It was better transportation since the cars were very poor at that time. There wasn’t much you could do. I remember sitting out on the platform of the car I was supposed to be sitting in. The train was called the California. It had a point to it. California Limited. It took me all of that trip to realize why they had called it the California Limited. It stopped at every siding for every other train that passed in both directions. It was called Limited because it was limited to 15 miles an hour. It took days to get out here.

A staff car from Los Alamos met us in Lamy, New Mexico and took the five of us up to Santa Fe. We reported to 109 East Palace Avenue, as everyone does. So I met Dorothy McKibbin officially. She called the project from Santa Fe. They sent another staff car down. We had to go by way of Espanola. There was no road across the pueblos at that time. And besides, we weren’t wanted to cross there. We had to go to Espanola to cross the bridge. There was really no way across the Rio Grande except going in that direction, but the roads were dirt and laid out on the contours of the ground. They had not bothered to level anything.

We went up the hill. We reported through the gate. We were identified and allowed passage, and taken into the projects area where we reported to the military post. The community at that time was still very tiny. It was, if I remember correctly, about 3,500 people. That was a lot because in ’43, they first thought that 300 people was all they needed up here. You have heard that story before. They learned quickly.

Of course, what they had to do was build the facilities for all of the other people who had to be called in so they could open a laboratory inside of this Army post. I had been asked what the town was like. It wasn’t a town. It was a necessary community to furnish housing for the civilian population, and the military there built the barracks, 40-man barracks. I had one way down where the hospital is now. That is as far as the community extended at that time.

The military was taking care of mostly the last quarter mile of that straight, and then there was nothing more to the project except down through the canyon and out the other side, because there were firing sites out on the mesa to the south. Eventually, that is where I worked, but during the Manhattan Project days, I worked in the laboratory right out across the street from the [Ashley] pond, which was a mud hole at that time. I had that confirmed in a recent document that reached my sight. Someone else called it a mud hole, too. It was not there for fun and games. It was just in the way. If you recognize what it is now, they turned it into something to, I guess, take care of entertainment for everybody now.

They asked me what I would like to do. They offered me many duties in the laboratory for which I could have qualified, but I just finished electrical engineering. I said, “I know what I am doing there, so let me start there.” I was assigned to the U Building in the ancient laboratory. Things went along nicely throughout the spring and into the summer. I found out that there were girls up here, too. I discovered Jane. She wouldn’t talk to me. It turned out that one of my buddies, “buddies” in parenthesis and quotation marks, told her I was married. So she wouldn’t have anything to do with me. It took weeks and weeks of persistence on my part. I was a gentleman all the way. I treated her like that. She allowed me into her life.

The planning of this became rather critical. March of 1945 was when the islands in the Pacific were heavily involved in fighting. A gentleman I knew later after the war was in the Second Marine Division. I believe he took part in invading Iwo Jima. I met him up here in 1952 when I had gained a family and qualifications. We were housed by the government. Everything belonged to the government, by the way, but in late June of 1945, the laboratory became very busy.

What was happening was that they were preparing for the Trinity test. I wondered why I was building equipment that went into a military tank, which was parked just outside the window of my lab. I found myself crawling up on my workbench out the window, down the conning tower, and installing electric equipment that was to go into the firing site area after the test. Before that, we were building equipment basically for the laboratory itself. Many of the necessary electronic items were not being built by industry for something so specialized as a laboratory. We were the manufacturing group building electronics. It was that last month that we got busy.

I remember it was the 14th of July, two days before the date that everybody knows was the Trinity test. The Army caught me outside the laboratory and said, “Report to the military vehicle outside the laboratory this evening. Come in your scuffies.” Those were known as work clothes, unmarked. They were green and I was ordered by the Army to do that.

I reported to this six-by-six vehicle. It was meant for a troop carrier. It could be converted for carrying equipment. It was equipped to carry eight soldiers, two in the cab and six in back, where there two wooden benches on either side of the bed. The bed was rather high off the ground because of the size of the tires. It was built for rough duty. I could not see the two up front. I had to look down into the cab. There were six of us in the back, three on either side, on these wooden benches. We took off that evening after dark from here. We went down to the valley, and south of the old highway in Santa Fe. The only thing I could see was out back, but I remember the trip around the plaza, and Santa Fe at that time was such a little city. It was tiny. It didn’t extend very far outside of the road itself. As a matter of fact, Marin’s Hospital, military hospital, is where Sirius Road and St. Francis Drive cross. There was a military hospital there. Nothing back for another mile or two before you began to run into Santa Fe itself. It’s a beautiful little place. I remember driving around the plaza at midnight that night looking out the back and it was all quiet. I really liked it.

They took us south out of town on the old highway. It was paved with two lanes. It was not the interstate that you see now. We got up on top of the mesa south where it goes down into the valley on an old highway. I think it still exists, but nobody ever takes it anymore. It was winding and curvy and long. I think we reached Socorro and went on across Highway 360, the state highway. I don’t know if it went anywhere then. Then we turned in there at San Antonio, New Mexico. No relation to Texas. There was a very small strip mall and old buildings, one of which was a gas station. Another one was a grocery store.

The military vehicle stopped there. There were others in our convoy. I remember every GI on every vehicle piled out of there, and invaded the grocery store and bought everything they had. The GIs will buy anything that they can eat. This was very interesting. There were a few other buildings there. They didn’t look too great. They were frame ramshackle buildings, and that was it. It turned out one of those buildings was Conrad Hilton’s first hotel, in case you want to know. The building was still there. I wondered how in the world he could ever have made enough money to turn his empire into what it is. Unbelievable. 

But we got back in our vehicles, and shortly thereafter entered a gate going into part of the White Sands Monument. The military had taken it over. It became a bombing range for the military at that point. There was nothing there. We drove quite a while. It turns out that ground zero for the test was west of where my vehicle went. We ended up on the slump of the Oscura Mountains to the east. If you look at any of the pictures and the one I showed you, you could see the profile of the mountains where I was standing off to the east. They were really very low in height; nothing like the mountains of the West.

It turns out we stopped overlooking the flattest plain I had ever seen in my life. It was flat, flat, flat: nothing at all there. It turned out that we were overlooking directly towards the test site where the tower was, but we were probably five or six miles away. I gathered that later by the time it took for the sound of the test to reach me, and the ground wave too. We had the greatest view in sight.

This was now the 15th of July, and it was the afternoon of the 15th. I had gotten up at four o’clock on the 14th to go to the lab and work. Then I got called to take this route. All we were told now was to wait and wait and wait. But the view was great. I couldn’t see anything. It was six miles away. The Army didn’t furnish binoculars or anything. They didn’t say or tell us anything. I knew where we were going. So did the rest of the group. I did not know any of the other seven GIs I was down there with, but we knew what we were waiting for. You had to know by then. I had been in the laboratory since the start of 1945. I had wised up. Everybody wised up. The night came and we waited. 

Then it started to rain. What do you do in the rain? Go sit on this wooden bench in the back under the canvas cover, which is typical of World War II vehicles. That got pretty hard after a while. We waited all night until about five in the morning. It had been a lightning thunderstorm. We were on the eastern edge of the storm, I think. Lightning and thunder to the west. The sky was beginning to turn light behind us because it was east. The storm was still out there somewhere to the west. It was still almost pitch black, but it was getting light enough to see the ground in front of us. We received our orders by radio from whoever was in charge of the eight of us. I don’t remember who it was. It didn’t matter. I didn’t know them anyway. They said that they had decided they would still try to fire the test despite the weather. I am not sure who insisted. There were a whole lot of people five miles away who were insisting that they were already under cover several miles south of there, where they had base camp. They were all behind barricades, and everything that went with it. The eight of us were on the side of a mountain out there. I thought of that when I saw it 18 years later. It was the first time I went back. I looked out there and said, “Is that where we were?” Eight little tiny beings sitting on the side of a mountain. 

However, we were told that they were going to do it, test it at 5:30. It was approaching that. It was ten minutes before that by that time. They said when it stopped raining, we could crawl out from under the truck and go lie on the road in the dirt. It was about 30 feet above the level of the plain out in front of us. The foothills of the Oscura range were behind us. So we lay in the mud there. He told us when to duck, laying on the ground in the mud. To face west flat on the ground with our heads down, close our eyes, cover our heads with our arms and wait. Shortly thereafter, the brightest light came that I had ever observed with my eyes closed. That was the detonation, but there was no noise and no sound and nothing to see until our troop master said we could look up. We stood up and looked into this black abyss ahead of us. I think the lightening had passed by then. There was this beautiful color of the bomb, gorgeous. The colors were roving in and out of our visual range of course. The neutrons and gamma rays and all that went by with the first flash while we were down. There we stood gawking at this.

We were assigned there as an evacuation team to go whichever way the cloud would drift. We were told we would probably be called to evacuate farmers, ranchers, or anybody down that way towards the south, but we were never called up. The sun came up. The cloud drifted. Apparently, it went south. I don’t know whether it went anywhere near us. We didn’t have any equipment. We didn’t wear film badges. We didn’t have goggles. We just stood there in the path of this thing. Everybody else was safely behind barricades and lead glass. I don’t know if we were exposed or not. Never found out.

Eventually, we were told we weren’t going to be used. We were there for security reasons, too, I think. So we got back in the truck. I remember we got back to the base, the post up here, late at night. I had been up since four o’clock two days before. Frankly, I don’t remember a lot. There was no conversation amongst us down there. We applauded. We knew it worked. We said, “Oh, boy.” We had the greatest place on site and absolutely nothing in front of us. If they were charging admission to be there to look, it would have cost a fortune if it had been industrialized. We had the best seats in the whole place. 

We got on the truck and returned. I know the next day I went back to the laboratory and back to work as usual. Nobody discussed it. We were all sworn to keep our mouths shut. In particular, I had no business lighting my mouth off, so I didn’t talk about it either. The only time we eventually talked about it was when the Japanese surrendered. Boy, did we celebrate on a dirt road out west. We knew that it had worked, but we had no information up here either. The other four guys with whom I came here to the project had chosen back in the spring to take their duty out at the island of Tinian, so they were all out there on the laboratory group preparing to load the weapon. They got to see that end of it out there. I never did because we were here. And I guess that’s my story. That’s why I happened to be down there for the test to see it.

As I said, this summer has been pretty busy. I was the only one they could find that was down there. I’m still here. Yes, it’s been quite an experience, but nobody mentioned it for years other than [saying] the project was abused, and all the second-guessers, people who came later, criticized: should it have been used? Should the President have used it? All of us who were involved in the Manhattan Project during that time began to experience abuse, too, verbal abuse. It wasn’t like that all those years afterwards. We were the black sheep of the occasion. I remember many people looked at me and said, “Shame on you.”

We weren’t popular for all those years, but it didn’t matter as long as we were inside the laboratory. We had great employment after that. After I came back, I changed my duties. I got into weapons directly, and this is how I finished my enlistment and my time up there, and I stayed until the present. The only unique part is that I got called down there for the test, that’s all.

Kelly: So after the war, you stayed here.

Rasmussen: I stayed. I stayed six months. I had to stay because we were all involved. I think the Army wrote in my enlistment order that I was here for the duration plus six months. As I recall, they kept me almost to the day. But when I was discharged out in Fort Bliss, I turned around and took the airplane back to Santa Fe,  and reported back up here because they had given me all the necessary paperwork. The only thing was I didn’t have a place to stay. I came back. But thank goodness, I married Janie.

Kelly: So when did you marry her?

Rasmussen: I married her on November 3rd of ’45, recognizing that this happened in July. She lived in her wife dorm. We lived in a 40-man barracks, and I have been here ever since.

Kelly: So it was lucky you married because as a married couple, you were able to get a place to live? How did that work?

Rasmussen: I joined her in the dorm room. She was released from the Army early and went to work for the DOA [Department of Agriculture], so she had housing and I lived in a dorm room with her until we had a family. We were assigned housing until the Manhattan Project was disbanded on December 31 of ’46. Then we all worked for the Laboratory, University of California, as employees. I gained housing during that time, as most of us did, but we all had to rent from the government. Because I think it was in 1948 that the government decided to turn this into a town. They started building like crazy and did, indeed, turn it into a town. Jane and I lived in many places. To start with, the dorm room, a McKee [Company] house, a Sundt [Company] apartment, Group 11 out in North Community, and back to the center of town to Group 18, where I have been since. I moved 58 years ago into the house I am in now, and I am still there. I had left the laboratory officially in 1982, but I came back later on. I was invited back to work. What I did was form my own company. I was a one man consultant, and they hired me for five years. I got to do marvelous things. The laboratory was a great place to this gentleman. That’s my story. I have been here ever since. 

Kelly: Looking back, were the years right after the war kind of rough for the laboratory, because the war was over and the mission wasn’t there?

Rasmussen: I went right back to work. There was still the Manhattan Project after the test. It was turned over to contract to the University of California when the Army was called away, obviously. It was the retirement of the project. Then it became a laboratory under government control with contract under the university, and we went on from there. But the town grew all that time, and it was nothing like the early days. We all recognized that it was here. It strictly had to be built up so people had a place to survive during that momentary time where it was decided that the lab would continue. 

Kelly: One thing that has come up is that there will be a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. There will be generations of people who will be trying to figure out what this Manhattan Project was about, and what kind of lessons we should think about for the future or how they should think about the past. What would you tell them?

Rasmussen: There is still a DOE [Department of Energy] conflict with the town of Los Alamos and how they can meet the hopeful future of presenting to tourists what’s outside the gates of the laboratory. That is up to the DOE and how the town commemorates its present and future state. That’s up to the Park Service and the cooperation of the DOE, which is still behind the gates.

Yes, well, the county of Los Alamos can make of it what they will under the circumstances, but people will see within the town that what continues to exist is very minimal. The biggest thing, of course, is Bathtub Row, and a couple of buildings that were used for other purposes back then. What kind of cooperation they get from the DOE to be able to see, I suppose, the exciting part, if they ever do – I have no way of knowing. I don’t belong to them anymore.

Kelly: You were interviewed by many Japanese television stations.

Rasmussen: Yes, just this year.

Kelly: Right, what did you tell them?

Rasmussen: Good luck. No, they were curious. It’s a different generation. They weren’t there, and the world situation being what it is, nobody knows what’s going on. They are as curious as anyone else I gather. People in the U.S. are also curious. They continue to call and ask what it was like back then. Everybody in the world was involved with what happened then. It affected everybody from there on. 

I won’t fight any wars that way. Only people who don’t have any business having a weapon like that. We have to behave. We hope that everyone can’t get their hands on anything so they can terrorize the rest of the world, but everybody is involved whether you were living then or not. Those generations that are to come yet are as affected as anybody else. It’s changing the world. It happened awfully quickly. My mother was a young girl before the turn of the century. She passed away in the eighties, but she must have thought it was a real ride through history. We talked about that, too. Everybody talks about how it affected everybody after it happened. I guess we are all in it together.

Kelly: I think there is something about people in this century who look back at World War II, and don’t understand what the context was and what it was like to live during that time.

Rasmussen: Only with what’s written. Fortunately, there have been quite a few books written, and from what I see, there aren’t too many fictitious stories. It should be as exciting for the future, as what they know is what was written and what they have been told. I was born right at the end of World War I, so during my upbringing, everything was about World War I. I knew a whole lot about that. Then the comic books came and stories sort of ended. The way history has taken us, nobody looks back anymore to that. That was before now. Now is whatever future generations make it. That is about all I can give on the viewpoint.

Kelly: Can you just tell us about working for Al Graves and his experience with the [Louis] Slotin accident?

Rasmussen: Well, yeah, that’s getting into the meat of the subject. I went to work for a group that was in hydrodynamics. I had been trained for that, but I was still a GI at the time. I was a free employee as far as the lab was concerned, because I was still in the military. I did that within two weeks of the test. I decided that I knew where I wanted to go, and that’s exactly where I went. I got into an experimental group testing the program that the lab was assigned to do. Hydrodynamics was an experimentation range of weapons. I stayed in that until I retired. It was time to go. They don’t need people like us anymore. They have a world class computer system. 

Kelly: You told me about Al Graves. Can you talk about how he was probably the one most-?

Rasmussen: Yes, he was involved in one of the radiation accidents up here. He was standing close by, and he was highly radiated. He lost all his hair. His attitude in the office changed dramatically, as nobody was allowed near him.

Would you believe that he and I never discussed Trinity? It wasn’t something that even afterwards we went around talking about. You talked here with people in the laboratory, but unless you worked with those groups, you didn’t discuss anything outside of work. You only talked to people who were cleared for the work that you were doing in their groups. It was not a point of interest between the two of us. We were in two places down there at the same time.

When I joined his group, he knew what I wanted to do. He was aware of my background. He put me right to work doing experimental work, and that is how things went on. But you don’t talk about things like that anymore. The laboratory is still out of bounds for loose talk. I guess most of us don’t bother with that. It’s more social than anything. That’s life. You go on with your life. I don’t know how many people bothered to go home from work anywhere in the country and tell the family about what they do. They probably grumble about a bad day just like Bumstead Dagwood [misspoke: Dagwood Bumstead]. 

Kelly: One other thing I wanted to touch on was your friend Mitch, the one who was a photographer that you had been together with at the University of West Virginia.

Rasmussen: Yeah, that was John Michnovicz. Everybody called him Mike. During the summer of ’45, he took a lot of pictures. He joined that part of the laboratory and became a photographer for the laboratory. He took a lot of pictures. I had known him before that, before he came here in my academic years. So we socialized together. He was free and unmarried at the time and I was, too. We had great times together running around, including taking a motorcycle trip where my job was — a borrowed motorcycle, by the way. It didn’t have a rear seat on it. I think I sat on the back fender on something like a chrome carrier. It was pretty hard. I was carrying his equipment, which was a four by five plate film camera mounted on an old style wooden, very ornate tripod. It was about as tall as I was, and my job was to hold onto this and hold onto the bike with my toenails. 

We went places in the valley. That’s the time that we took the historic photo of the sanctuary at Chimayo, which was deserted at the time. It had two beautiful cottonwood trees on either side of the entrance, maybe one. I am not sure because there wasn’t anything there. There was nobody there. There was a community around there, but as far as the church was concerned, it wasn’t used. I swear it had a dirt floor in it at the time, but that’s a long time back to try to remember details. I know that Mike took a very historic picture of it at the time. That’s why his daughter has that photo right now. Mike made a large copy for me, which I have two and a quarter framed. I eventually gave it to my son until Mike’s daughter – Mike is deceased now – learned that I had this and had given it to my son. They made a deal between them. The second was done by her father, and it was a historic photo before it became a photo exhibit all around. 

Anybody who goes to Chimayo now enters this revived building and it was just totally different from what we saw. It was an absolutely dilapidated, uninhabited, ramshackle, doors hanging off the hinges, picture. It’s a gem, that’s what it is, but it’s back in the family. The daughter of Mike has it. He took many of them. He took lots of me and my family during those years, which I have quite a record of.

The site was right after the Army took it over. It was totally different, but nice to remember. It was nice to have a nice house to live in for 58 years, but that was after the government sold the property and the whole town. It was buy it or leave it. And I was glad to buy it. That’s my history since then. I did work five years later as a consultant and was assigned work that I never got to do while I was an employee. They treated consultants differently, and I was offered many opportunities to work on into the later things. I felt fortunate for that. It has been a wonderful life.