Donald Ross: My name is Donald Ross, and I am about to begin my eightieth year on this planet. I was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and I left there with my parents at an early age. We moved to the southern tip of Texas, and had a little farm not too far from Edinburg, Texas, where I grew up.
Life in the Secret Cities
Stephane Groueff: I want to start from the beginning. My book, I intend to start with the year 1942 because otherwise, there is no limit. A few months before the Manhattan District and decision to go—
J. Robert Oppenheimer: The decision was actually made on December 6, to take the thing seriously.
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: 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.
Martin Sherwin: Did you know Robert [Oppenheimer] when he was going out with Jean Tatlock?
Chevalier: Yes, but I don’t think I ever saw them together.
Sherwin: When we first spoke over the phone, you called me from the airport about three or four years ago. I was living in Princeton, New Jersey.
Chevalier: Oh, yes. Yes, that’s right.
Martin Sherwin: This is an interview with John De Wire at Cornell University in his office at Newman Hall 228, Newman. Today is May 5, 1982.
You were with Robert Wilson’s group from Princeton that was recruited by [J. Robert] Oppenheimer in ’43, right? Late ’43, was it?
John De Wire: Early ’43.
Sherwin: Early ’43.
De Wire: I went to Princeton in February ’42.
Gerhart Friedlander: My name is Gerhart Friedlander.
Interviewer: What was your role in the Manhattan Project?
Friedlander: I got into the Manhattan Project very early; in fact, before there was an official Manhattan Project. I was a graduate student at Berkeley at the University of California. My thesis advisor was Glenn Seaborg, who later on got a Nobel Prize and became chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, but at that time he was just a new instructor and I was his first graduate student.
Harry Allen: Mr. Wilson and company set us up a purchase request for a barber chair, because they couldn’t get off work in time to get their hair done.
Robert Van Gemert: There was only one man cutting hair, I think, up there.
Allen: The barber service was extremely limited, and we just happen to know where there was an old barber chair down in the old engineers’ warehouse. So we sent the truck driver down, and we delivered one barber chair down to the cyclotron building.
Martin Sherwin: This morning I am making arrangements to interview Norris Bradbury in Los Alamos, New Mexico. January 10, 1985.
How would you characterize the major problems that Oppenheimer had when he first got the job as the administrator for Los Alamos? Or at least, when you came on?
Cindy Kelly: My name is Cindy Kelly with the Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is January 8, 2016, and I am in New York City with Peter Lax. My first question for him is to say his name and spell it.
Peter Lax: Peter Lax, spelled L-A-X.
Kelly: Great, thank you. So I would love to have you talk, just a little bit anyway, about your childhood and your parents.