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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Annette Heriford’s Interview

Manhattan Project Locations:

Annette Heriford was a resident of Hanford prior to and during the Manhattan Project. In 1943, she, along with other residents of her hometown, were pushed out by the government to make room for the project. She discusses life in and around Hanford, both prior to and during the Manhattan Project. She highlights daily activities and the relationship between men and women at Hanford.

Date of Interview:
September 12, 1986
Location of the Interview:


[At top is the 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.

For the full transcript that matches the audio of the interview, please scroll down.]

Book version:

From the first time I remember, I loved those apple orchards. I remember the orchard adjacent to us, the Jay Smith family. He dearly loved that country. I remember him and my folks talking on our screened porch one evening, and he said of all the places he had ever been he loved that valley more. I always liked him for saying that.

I remember the fruit orchards and the apple blossoms. The orchards were mainly Red Delicious. We also had what we called winter bananas, a yellow transparent apple. We had Jonathans, they were my favorites because they were juicy. We had Winesaps. We had 30 acres at the Hanford place, part of it was in alfalfa. Our fruit was sent overseas, to the East Coast. The fruit was excellent, it was the earliest fruit-producing section in the whole Northwest.

When I was a child economic conditions were fine. But then of course the crash came in ’29. It started to get better just before the government came. I started to college in 1939 and there wasnt any money. I know my father went to work for a dollar an hour, as a guard, up at the substation at Priest Rapids, when the war first broke out. He would write me letters at college while he was there. He still had his orchard, but they weren’t making any money.

In March, 1943, when I was about 22, we received a letter from the gov­ernment saying that we would have to move in 30 days. It was a terrible shock. I can’t describe it. It was unbelievable. The only thing that made it credible to us was because of the war. Our town had been chosen for the war effort. We were so patriotic. Although we could go along with that idea, it was still a terrible blow. Even to think about it now, I can’t even describe it. In spite of our patriotism, I remember one man stood there with a shotgun and said they would have to move him.

They appraised my fathers 30 acres at $1,700, and the final settlement was $3,200 after the fruit loan of $500 or $600 was paid off. We also had 40 acres at the base of Rattlesnake Mountain, which my uncle and father pur­chased as an oil investment. They had a geologist friend who thought this would pay off in future years. For this land we were offered 25 cents an acre. We later received $1 an acre or $40 in all, with no mineral rights.

For the 30 acres, 31/2 miles from Hanford, they offered us $1,700 at first, and the pump and well alone cost $1,900 plus the cost of concrete pipe throughout the 30 acres. The price offered for both acreages was ridiculous.


We loved that Columbia River and the bluffs, that was a unique spot. It was beautiful, its still prettier than Richland.

In 1944, I returned to the ranch and that was a mistake. The grass was high and beginning to dry and I sat and wept like a baby. That was the last time I visited our home site until 1967. By that time, the house had been moved. A wagon wheel, old wood stove, sink and my brother’s wagon, that’s all that remained.

Ive told so many people, when I was going to college at the University of Washington, I would say I was from Hanford and they would say Wheres that? It isnt even on the map, is it? I got so tired of hearing it that I said “Don’t you worry, one day Hanford will be so famous the whole world will know about Hanford.”


Full Transcript:

Annette Heriford: The other day I was telling you that when the project ended in 1945 up there and I moved out February. I came to Hanford and I said I would be the logical candidate for the Youth Center, director of it. And nothing materialized and they did not have the funds. So I went to work in the Hanford House, which was called the Desert Inn then.

Sanger: Oh, was it?

Heriford: It was just transient quarters.

Sanger: Yeah, they have renamed it a lot.

Heriford: And then I just stayed a few months there and went to California because that’s where I was going to finish my college. We did not have a telephone service like they have in regular hotels now. We did not even have a bellhop. But we did have a fellow called Dell, a black fellow, that worked and sort of ran—well, he probably was the desk clerk at night. I do not know. I just worked some nights and did not work all night, but he was probably on call.

General [Leslie] Groves had come in at this time and he left a call for six o’clock in the morning. And I knew that he was an important person and that he had better be called. Dell was real good about calling everybody. But he had a lot of calls to make. At that time, we did have quite a few people coming through, VIPs. So Dell awakened him at five minutes to six and that was the wrong thing to do.

Sanger: Is that right?

Heriford: He came up and he said, “When I say six o’clock, I mean six o’clock, not five minutes before six or five minutes after six!”

Sanger: He told you that?

Heriford: Yes.

Sanger: That is after he got up?

Heriford: Yes.

Sanger: Was that after the war?

Heriford: Well, I was working in the afternoon that day.

Sanger: That was after the war?

Heriford: Yes.

Sanger: What else did you say? Anything?

Heriford: Well, this was all—

Sanger: Did not crack a smile.

Heriford: Well, no, I do not remember because I was young at that time, but I told him, not having a telephone service that we really were not equipped to be as punctual and all that. I felt bad about it because I figured that he was an extremely busy and important person. But, of course, at that time, to me that five minutes did not seem that much.

Sanger: No. How did you actually wake them if there was no phone service?

Heriford: They knocked on their door.

Sanger: Oh. I guess he was something of a difficult person.

Heriford: Well, I had never heard anything else, but just that—

Sanger: That’s interesting.

Heriford: I have known a lot of important people that are like that.

Sanger: Some of the Indian details were—that does not pertain too much to what we are doing, but just reading it was interesting.

Heriford: Oh, it is, it is, because I remember [Chief] Johnny Buck. Now I think he has a son—somebody else is named this—but they called him Puckhyahtoot. He was the spiritual leader of the Wanapums. I interviewed Mr. Rarison, the one you said that you read his history in the storeowner over there in White Bluffs. He had great admiration for Johnny Buck, because if somebody came in and bought something and it wasn’t paid for, Johnny always saw that the bills were paid. A very, very honest person.

Sanger: So if you could maybe just tell me about what Hanford and that area was like while you were growing up there before the government came in? For the fortieth time, of course, you have done this. I mean, just the crops and the way it looked.

Heriford: Well, from the time I can first remember, I loved the apple orchards. It was predominantly apple orchards, and then a lot of soft fruit also. I just remember the orchard adjacent to us, and that was Jay Smith’s family. I said he had been an engineer in Panama. He came up [Hanford] and he dearly loved that country. He was married to a former nurse; I think she liked it, but she was not as crazy about the country as he was because I can remember he and my folks talking on our screen porch one evening.

He said that of all the places he had ever been, he loved that valley more than any place that he had ever known. I always liked him for that because I loved it from the time I was a child. I was the kind that loved my school and my town, my home. I guess maybe I am a rare breed because a lot of people can just pick up and move and never miss their hometown, but I really loved the valley and still would love to go back there and live.

I remember the fruit orchards and the apple blossoms and going down through them. There was an orchard across the street from us. We had a lady called Miss Grant, who had never married. And at the age of sixty-eight, she moved into that valley and helped plant her orchard. Now, mind you, she was sixty-eight when she came in there. I can remember her celebrating her ninety-third birthday. They built a huge cake for her. But she had an orchard, and then there were orchards surrounding it.

Sanger: Was that mostly Red Delicious?

Heriford: That was considered the prime apple, I think, at that time. And we had Winter Bananas.

Sanger: What is that?

Heriford: Well, like your Yellow Transparent [apple], very similar to them. Yellow Transparent. We had Jonathans. They were my favorite apples because they were juicy. I loved them. And then we had Winesaps. I think this is what Dad pulled out toward the end. He kept the ten acres of the Delicious, our best trees.

Sanger: You said he had thirty?

Heriford: To begin with, we had thirty acres there. Part of that was in alfalfa that we kept. The rest was predominantly Delicious and then Winesap, Yellow Transparent or Winter Bananas, and then the Jonathan. The Jonathan was a good eating apple, but it didn’t last like—

Sanger: It did not keep that long.

Heriford: It did not keep as well for shipment. And this little program that I put out, I copied from a newspaper, and they had sent our fruit overseas. They sent a carload to the East and they had a great—well, there was a lot of good report on that, because the fruit was excellent.

Sanger: Well, Hanford, that valley was the earliest, was it not?

Heriford: It was the earliest fruit producing section in the whole Northwest.

Sanger: Yeah. What were the economic conditions like when you were growing up there?

Heriford: Well, when I was a child it was fine, real young. Then, of course, you would not remember, but the crash came in ’29. I was still young, so I was not that affected. Then I started realizing the Depression years because there really wasn’t any money.

Sanger: Did it ever get better before the government came in?

Heriford: Oh, it started to. I started college and there wasn’t any money. I started in 1939. In 1938 I had graduated [high school], in May in ’38. But there wasn’t any money. So I heard about this NYA [National Youth Administration] program. That was part of Roosevelt’s program. And the boys had gone to CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps] Camp. That gave them an opportunity to earn some money in those years. That was another of Roosevelt’s programs, I believe instigated sometime in 1936.

Sanger: Yeah.

Heriford: So that program was to help a lot. I know my father then went to work for a dollar an hour up at the substation. I think they were guards up at the substation at Priest Rapids. This was when the war first broke out, 1941.

Sanger: Now that was before the dam was there, right? The dam was not built until after the war, was it?

Heriford: I do not think so.

Sanger: Yeah.

Heriford: I do not think so. But that was 1941. And he worked up there and he would write me letters at college and he would be jotting me a line while he was working.

Sanger: But he still had his orchard, what was left of it?

Heriford: He still had his orchard.

Sanger: Yeah.

Heriford: And what they were producing right then—I know they were getting loans for it. I still have ledgers what they paid the workers, the water bills, the packing bills, and all this. Mother saved everything like that. So it is interesting to go through that. It gives me a better idea. But I know that for a while he kept the trees going, and then they would not raise a crop when there was not any market.

After they packed one time—and no one would believe that—I am still looking for the check, but I remember it. The fruit had to be processed according to the fruit companies and their standards. And by the time the fruit was sprayed and taken to the warehouse and then they had to go through a washing process and packing and whatever they put on. They didn’t have preservatives; I do not know what they put on the fruit. I can find that out from people that worked in warehouses. And then they had the packers, everything, and the hauling. And they sent it out on trainloads. And my parents received a one-cent check one time.

Sanger: Oh, because the growers had to pay for all that.

Heriford: And why they would send a one-cent check? My mother said, “I’m going to frame this because no one would ever believe it.” But that is the honest-to-God truth.

Sanger: That would have been around the time that the war started?

Heriford: I cannot say. No, that was 1941, the war started. No, it was prior to that, in bad years, the Depression. The Depression was bad and like my mother always said, we had quantity but not quality. We were never starved. In the east, we used to see on the newsreel—if you went to a movie, you saw on the newsreel how there were soup lines. And I imagine it was really a devastated area, economy-wise. But we never suffered like that. There was always food to eat, but you did not have exactly what you wanted.

Sanger: Would you estimate that there were about 1,100 people living in the two towns?

Heriford: In the early days there were, yes, because of all the families, the list of families we have. I have the census here that a lady sent from Seattle. This is when I found out my father came in at 1910 with my uncle. My uncle was older.

Sanger: Yeah.

Heriford: But then he went back east and married my mother in 1919.

Sanger: Yeah, you mentioned that in that history down there about your mother coming out here. Well, then, what is your recollection of getting that letter from the federal government about leaving? Was that in March ’43?

Heriford: Yes, 1943. And a lot of people say ’42—not our people, but outsiders. And they do not have that information correct.

Sanger: Well, they did not actually choose it until—they made the choice like the last day of ’42 or the first day of ’43, Groves and that group.

Heriford: That is correct. Well, we received a letter that we would have to move.

Sanger: In thirty days.

Heriford: In thirty days. Well, it was a terrible shock. I cannot describe it. It was unbelievable. The only thing that made it credible to us was because of the war, and our town was chosen for the war effort. So I think because of that, and as I have stated so many times, we were so patriotic. And although we could go along with that idea, it was still a terrible blow. Even to think about it now, I can’t even describe it.

Sanger: And patriotism is one of the reasons, I suppose, that things went as smoothly as they did, because people did not fight it as much as they might have.

Heriford: No. We had a few people. I know one man just stood there with a shotgun and said they would have to, you know.

Sanger: What happened to him?

Heriford: Well, it was such a shock, that I think we were all—being in a state of shock, you don’t think like you would. And as I said at a later time, somebody came and wanted to take our house, which we were renting at that time—but, nevertheless, it was still our home. Nobody had paid us for it. And they wanted to take our home because we had a nice lawn and shrubs and he had an important job out here.

Sanger: Yeah, you told me that.

Heriford: I did not know if you still had that.

Sanger: Yeah. I heard the DuPont people said that a guy chained himself to his gate. Did that sort of thing happen a lot or not?

Heriford: It could have happened. I will tell you, when this happened, each family—instead of all of us being able to band together and having time to say, “Okay, what are we going to do about this?” we were so busy, knowing you had thirty days. Some of them had less than thirty days; the ones that lived right in town where they had to expedite the move, get them out of there. Like our friends, they made a First Aid Station out of their place. That was terrible. That had a terrible effect on that family—well, just a husband and a wife.

Sanger: Now you recall your father—the offer was what? Did you say $1,700?

Heriford: It was $1,700 the first time.

Sanger: That was the first time?

Heriford: Yes.

Sanger: And that was for what?

Heriford: The whole place.

Sanger: That was for thirty acres?

Heriford: The thirty acres and our ten acres out at Gable Mountain, they offered twenty-five cents an acre.

Sanger: Oh, they did?

Heriford: Twenty-five cents an acre.

Sanger: So that $1,700 included the ten acres at Gable Mountain?

Heriford: No. They offered that separate.

Sanger: Oh, twenty-five cents an acre.

Heriford: Twenty-five cents an acre. Ten dollars for the forty acres, which was outrageous. And that was the only time I said I ever saw my father completely—

Sanger: So he owned thirty near Hanford and then the forty at this other Gable Mountain?

Heriford: Yes.

Sanger: What was that in?

Heriford: We did not have anything. A friend of my uncle was a geologist. And he said, “If I were you, I would buy some land here. I think it is a good oil investment.” So in 1910 or maybe 1916— I will have to get the exact date on that—he bought forty acres. And when my uncle passed away, of course, it went to my father. That was in the family all those years. We always felt that there could be oil out there. And, of course, they have drilled around there. But they found that it was not feasible because of the depth they had to go, I guess.

Sanger: But twenty-five cents an acre?

Heriford: Twenty-five cents an acre. And people said, “Oh, she’s passing propaganda.”

And I said, “Well, you send them to me. I have the papers on that.”

Then we had thirty acres in town. Well, we lived three and a half miles out, had thirty acres there. They offered us $1,700. And I have the papers on the pump, which was $895 to the Buckle Brothers. It cost $1,900 just to get the well in. We had an overhead spray pipe, underground concrete pipe, plus the purchase of the land.

Why, it was ridiculous because no one could go any place. If they had said, “All right, if it is not worth anything, we will move you and we will give you thirty acres and we will put the same kind of well down. And you will have all your friends and your town right here.” If they had wanted to do that and they could have found a place comparable to ours, then great.

We would not have been as happy. We loved that Columbia River and the bluffs by it. That was a unique spot. It was beautiful and it is still prettier than Richland—the site is prettier because of those bluffs. They were beautiful. So that was bad.

Then later, they had all these court cases and they came out with $3,200 after their loan was paid off. They had a loan each year during those lean, lean years.

Sanger: How much was the loan, do you remember?

Heriford: Pardon me?

Sanger: What would that total have been? Do you remember?

Heriford: I do not know. Now if I can find all the papers on this—

Sanger: But would not have been a lot of money.

Heriford: Oh, no, no, not in those days.

Sanger: A few hundred dollars.

Heriford: I mean, even if it was $2,000 or whatever it was, I have no idea. But mother would have that.

Sanger: But that still was not what the property really was worth?

Heriford: Oh, that was not adequate at all. No one could go out and buy. Some people were offered $500 for a place and you can talk to them in Yakima; I will give you an address. Well, if you read the histories. I have the history book in here—offered $500. But they had a well. They had ten acres of land. They had a home on it. And regardless of how elaborate, they could have lived there the rest of their lives. See, many of these people were moved out when they were in their sixties, sixty-five—same age I am. And that is pretty hard to start a whole new life with no money.

Sanger: I think it mentioned in some of the histories that land was increasingly valued then because of the war and sometimes what they got for their place was just a down payment on something else.

Heriford: Yes, that is all my parents got when they moved to Yakima. Well, as I said, I was real insensitive at that time because all I could think about was losing our home and my town and all that. And I just cried. And my mother had worked so hard to fix that house up. But I said, “It still isn’t home, mother,” not realizing how the effort she was making to make a home for us because my brother was just twelve. Let’s see 1943, he was twelve. He was thirteen when we moved to Yakima.

Sanger: And you stayed in their old house for about a year?

Heriford: We rented it and stayed there.

Sanger: From DuPont?

Heriford: Uh-huh. So that was a nice transition for us because by that time, I was working on the plant and I enjoyed my job. There was a lot of excitement; a lot of activity and it was just going on twenty-four hours a day practically.

Sanger: Well, that probably helped in a sense, didn’t it, to ease some of the pain?

Heriford: It did, it did. No, I am grateful for that. Because if I had moved away, I think I would have always felt bitter about that.

Sanger: Why don’t you tell me a little bit about what you did when you worked at the plant? You were in blueprints.

Heriford: I started out in the blueprint department because they wanted somebody to deliver all the blueprints and take the orders for all the different areas. So I traveled to the 100, 200 areas in those days. And I had an assistant and we drove around. And the company was upset that I would drive a van or, in those days, station wagon, and not work in an office.

And I said, “Why, this pays more and it is my town and I want to watch it grow if it is going to grow.” So I thoroughly enjoyed that.

Sanger: You were working for DuPont, right?

Heriford: And I worked for E.I. DuPont, which they were an excellent company to work for—very, very safety conscious.

Sanger: Do you remember a big accident at the separation plant or the tank storage area?

Heriford: No. When I first started to work, all I remember are the wood structured office buildings. And they were quite small at that time. And the fact that they were excavating and putting in whatever they do for concrete reinforcement. And I can just remember that—the big holes in the ground. So I knew they were—

Sanger: At the separation area or at all the areas?

Heriford: Different areas. And so I knew they were going to build a large structure. But I had no idea. In my wildest dream, I never thought of an atomic bomb.

Sanger: Well, then you stayed in the blueprints for what, a few months and then into the youth work?

Heriford: Yes. I have not had time to go through. I saved a lot of my records because I worked in the youth center and I would find that. But I worked quite a while in the blueprint. And then I was asked to go to work in the youth center and to teach swimming. And I taught sports. We had gymnastics or tumbling, we called it, for the young children. And we started out in hutments, real large hutments. And we had a nickelodeon; the kids could dance.

But later then we had a much nicer structure. It was the former police building where they were housed. And then when they moved, we got their building and it was right down in the old town of Hanford. And we had ping-pong tables, pool tables, and the juke box in there. And it was the youth center for all of the children, school-age children from six through eighteen.

Sanger: Of the construction workers?

Heriford: Of the construction workers. And we had the largest trailer camp in the world, as I understand it.

Sanger: That is where most of the kids lived was in a trailer camp.

Heriford: And that is where all the children lived there. The barracks they had were for adults only. And families, they lived in their trailers, up in eighty-six there, or later the families were able to move into a home here in Richland as soon as they got those constructed.

Sanger: Then what was your recollection? You lived in the barracks then for—

Heriford: After my folks left or moved out in ’44.

Sanger: For how long?

Heriford: Oh, gosh, had to be anywhere from nine months to possibly a year.

Sanger: What was that like?

Heriford: Well, you had a bed and a dresser. It was a barracks.

Sanger: You had a roommate?

Heriford:  And I had a roommate.

Sanger: There were two women to a room?

Heriford: Two women to a room. And in recreation, most of the time I would work until at least 10:00 at night, not always. It depended what we had going that day, but usually I would work until nine or ten at night. So I got up late and slept late. So I really never knew my roommate. She was working days.

Sanger: What was she doing?

Heriford: Well, one of them was a secretary. I really never got to talk to her much.

Sanger: Yeah, you never got to know them.

Heriford: No, you didn’t get to know them. And we just went our different ways. I could not even tell you the name of them—real nice person.

Sanger: What was the atmosphere like? Was it busy all the time out in the streets?

Heriford: I said every day was like a Saturday night. And we had dances all the time. You could dance, you know, five, six nights a week if you wanted to. We had name band orchestras come in.

Sanger: That was in the big auditorium?

Heriford: That was in the large auditorium. And then the women’s barracks had a recreation hall. And I remember the fellows could check in there, because when I was in Youth Recreation, I took our group of teenagers up there and we had a ping-pong tournament. So whether they had to be escorted or there was a special gate through there. But I know that they had dances in there and the fellows were allowed in that one area only. And they had a room for a house mother in each of the barracks.

Sanger: Well, I have heard the men would sign in and sign out.

Heriford: Right, and we signed in and signed out.

Sanger: They would go to that recreation room or whatever it was.

Heriford: Yes at night.

Sanger: Yeah, and there was barbed wire around the barracks?

Heriford: There was barbed wire all around, which separated the women’s barracks from the men’s.

Sanger: How high were those fences, do you remember?

Heriford: Oh, my gosh. They looked twenty feet high to me, but I have no idea. They were very high.

Sanger: Was that supposed to keep the men out, or the women in, or what?

Heriford: Keep them both out, I guess [laugh]. I heard some pretty wild stories about the whole thing honestly.

Sanger: Was there much illicit activity like that, do you know?

Heriford: Just from hearsay. I did not see it, but you heard some pretty wild stories. The first theater that was ever built was a big tent and I went to a movie there. And the night that I went to a movie, they said that somebody had been stabbed. Whether that was true or not, I never went back.

Sanger: That is where Sweeney had his services, in that tent.

Heriford: In the tent?

Sanger: On Sundays, yeah. He talked about that. He was a Catholic. I guess the Protestants had a church and then they let him use the tent, which he was quite excited about at the time.

What about crime? Did you hear much? I have talked to patrol people about that.

Heriford: What did they have to say about it?

Sanger: Well, they said there were homicides, robberies, a lot of gambling.

Heriford: I think at the very beginning it was not even safe. I did not feel safe walking down the street in daylight when the project first started because they did not have many women in town. The women that were there were mostly the ones that had been living there.

Sanger: Because of all the men?

Heriford: Yes, and men, you know, would always whistle at young girls going by. They would just drive right down the street at you if you were walking. I went to a dance one night, the first dance that they had, and from the time I left the car—there were probably two or three of us that walked in—I did not feel safe until I got in the building. But that did not last long.

Pretty soon they brought in enough people and they had enough patrol and it all settled down. I was not worried then. Good heavens, we traveled around a lot and I was in recreation. I would not have been any more worried than I am right here now.

Sanger: When did you start living on the project and working out there?

Heriford: Well, in June of 1943 is when I went to work. And, of course, I was living at home, three and a half miles out.

Sanger: And then you moved into—

Heriford: And then I moved into town where the barracks were.

Sanger: That was in ’44 though.

Heriford: That was in ’44. And I stayed there until February of ’45.

Sanger: That is when they closed it.

Heriford: Yes.

Sanger: So when you moved into the barracks, things were fairly orderly by then, I suppose?

Heriford: Oh, yes. Heavens, things had settled down. They had commissaries where we ate. And by that time they had them going all night. We would go down after a dance and lots of times we would be eating at 3:00 in the morning because they had shift workers around the clock. And you could just go in and eat.

Sanger: How was the food?

Heriford: Well, now when I look back and see how they had to prepare for that many people, I guess it was pretty good. But there were times when everybody was taking this pink Pepto Bismol. Scotch, we called it.

Sanger: For indigestion?

Heriford: We called it South American buzzards. It was supposed to be turkey. And they would say, “Oh, they are serving those South American buzzards again.” I do not know, they must have been turkeys, but we would be so sick. And sometimes we would have a whole office full of sick people.

Sanger: Was that food poisoning?

Heriford: I guess, just enough that everybody would be running all day long. There were lots of jokes about that.

Sanger: I guess there was plenty to eat though?

Heriford: Oh, my heavens, yes. I used to be embarrassed by my brother who was only twelve at that time. I think he ate a whole pie one night. But when they had steaks, you know, which was not all the time, but if they had steaks, there was no limit to what you could eat. And you would eat with one hand, hold the empty plate up with the other and they just kept bringing the food. So actually, the whole operation for that many people, it had to have been well done.

Sanger: The outfit from Chicago, Olympic Commissary, I think, ran that food.

Heriford: I know people who worked at the commissary.

Sanger: I know there was a fellow [Harry Petcher] we interviewed in Bellevue who ran the box-lunch operation and he was interesting. He had come from Chicago.

Heriford: That is right. They did have box lunches.

Sanger: Yeah, he said they made 40,000 a day or something.

Heriford: I’m trying to think where I ate. I probably bought some groceries just because I did not eat much breakfast. Then I would eat a big meal. When I was working as a Youth Director, I had a little grill and I would fix something. And this is when I had some children that had been in reform schools. And I know one of them said, “If I brought a steak, if I bought it,” –he would have had a part-time job—he said, “Would you cook it for me?”

And I said, “Why, sure.”

And so he would just stay there and I would cook something at night and he would help clean up by the time I closed at 9:00 or 10:00 o’clock. And during school, of course, we were always closed, I think, at 9:00. But on weekends, if we had a dance, it was 10:00 or 11:00.

Sanger: How many kids were you dealing with usually? How many would come to the Youth Center?

Heriford: Oh, they did not all come at one time. But we would have 200 or so maybe in one activity. So that during the day we would have a hundred and some go through.

Sanger: Do you remember how many might have been living out there in the trailer park—school-age kids?

Heriford: The Department of Energy would have the statistics on that. That little book that I have, it says how many people came and how many lived in the trailer park. I have no idea without reading that.

Sanger: You still have that?

Heriford: I’ll get the book for you and show you that.

Sanger: I have not seen it.

Heriford: But there was lots of recreation for the children.

Sanger: Yeah, I guess for everybody.

Heriford: Wonderful recreation. And recreation for the adults, as I said, they had prize fights come in at times. Since I was in Recreation, even Youth Recreation, we were tied in with the Adult Recreation also—basketball games, entertainment. We had Truth or Consequences and [James Kern] “Kay” Kaiser.

Sanger: You mentioned the other day that women had to be careful about married men, that you had had an experience with that.

Heriford: Oh, I said you never knew who was married in those days. And you would go with somebody for a while and find out through a friend or somebody else that they were married.

Heriford: But when you meet somebody and they are 23 or 24, you just think they are single.

Sanger: I guess that could happen any place.

Heriford: Yes.

Sanger: Did you ever consider that your town, which probably wouldn’t have been famous at all, became famous through this?

Heriford: I have told so many people that when I was going to college, I first entered the University of Washington, and they would say, “Hanford? Where on earth is that?” They said, “It is not even on the map, is it?”

I said, “No.” And so I finally got so tired of hearing it that I said, “Don’t you worry, one day Hanford will be so famous that the whole world will know about Hanford.” I did not know what else to say.

Sanger: It turned out to be true.

Heriford: And it turned out to be true. And now every time I see Hanford in the headlines, I think of that. And I wonder how many of my friends think of what I told them at the time.

Sanger: They probably thought you had seventh sight or second sight or something.

Heriford: But I thought there would be a big oil boom or uranium. I figured something real important would happen.

Copyright 1989 S. L. Sanger. This transcript may not be quoted, reproduced, or redistributed in whole or in part by any means except with the written permission of S. L. Sanger. Exclusive rights granted to Atomic Heritage Foundation.