Dimas Chavez was a young child when he moved to Los Alamos with his family in August 1943. Chavez’s father, Trinidad, joined the Zia Company at Los Alamos, where he helped construct and maintain the laboratories and facilities there.
Chavez’s family lived in a small house next to Bathtub Row near the home of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Dimas attended Los Alamos Central School, but he struggled to learn the English language and soon fell behind in classes. Dimas’ mother, Juanita, secretely arranged private tutoring for her son by agreeing to share her cooking recipes with some of the scientists’ wives who would walk by their home and smell the aroma of her Mexican dishes. One of Dimas’ tutors was Mrs. Lois Bradbury, whose husband Norris later became director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
In order to make money, Dimas began selling the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper T1-A to scientists leaving the technical area on their way home from work. One of the scientists who always bought a newspaper, Dimas soon discovered, was Dr. Oppenheimer.