Nuclear Museum Logo
Nuclear Museum Logo

National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Herb Depke’s Interview

Manhattan Project Locations:

Herb Depke arrived in Hanford in 1943 after his father was transferred by the DuPont Company to work as an expediter during the Manhattan Project. Depke recalls some of his childhood memories of Hanford, including getting lost in the uniform, prefabricated housing development on his way home from the school bus stop. Depke also discusses how he believes the atomic bomb saved his father’s life, as he was being trained as a Port Director for the impending invasion of Japan.

Date of Interview:
May 2, 2013
Location of the Interview:


Cindy Kelly: Okay. I am Cindy Kelly from the Atomic Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC. It is May 2, 2013 in Raleigh, North Carolina. I have with me Herb Depke. Could we start with you saying your full name, Herb, and spelling it? 

Depke: My full name? 

Kelly: Full name. 

Depke: Herbert Walfred Depke, H-E-R-B-E-R-T, W-A-L-F-R-E-D, D-E-P-K-E.

Kelly: Thank you very much. That was excellent. Now we are just going to start with a simple question. Can you tell us what your birthday is if you do not mind disclosing that, and a little bit about the circumstance, where you were? Then you can roll into your story. 

Depke: I was born February 23, 1935, in Danville, Illinois. That is the home place of my father and my mother. Are we talking about them? 

Kelly: You can tell us what their names were and what they did. 

Depke: Okay. My father’s name was Herbert Frederick Depke. I am not a junior, so they called me Herbie. My mother’s name was Margaret Louise Nygren Depke. Prior to World War II, my dad built his own home. He finished it in about 1940. We lived in the home he built in 1940, 1941 and 1942. When the war effort came along, he was a little bit too old to go into the service. He had some teeth problems. He graduated from the University of Illinois. He was able to apply to become an officer in the military. He applied for the Navy, but the Navy would not take him. He, like many other men in his position at that time, felt that they had to do something for the war effort. 

He left his business with his father and took a job about 35 miles southeast of Danville, at a plant operated by the DuPont Company. They made RDX explosives. That was about 1941. In late 1942, he was asked to transfer to Hanford, Washington. I do not think it was Hanford at the time. They did not have a name for it. It was Washington State with the DuPont Company. 

He accepted. In doing that, he sold the home. He put mother and me with her oldest brother. In the early spring of 1943, Dad drove from Danville, Illinois to Pasco, Washington. Another man from Danville went with him, or more. There were at least five men from Danville who worked for DuPont in Indiana who also went to Washington. Of course, when he got to Washington there were no places for families to live. 

Kelly: Your dad left first with the company fellows. Were all five in the car together? 

Depke: No. I do not know how many. In the early spring of 1943, Dad drove to his new job in southeastern Washington, probably to Pasco. I do not know that for a fact, but I am sure that is where his immediate destination was. At least one other Danville man went with him. There were five Danville men who eventually went to Pasco, Hanford and Richland. I do not know which ones might have gone with him. That is just my memory; someone went with him. 

When he got there, his first concern was to find housing for mother and me so we could come live with him. There was not any housing. Sometime between the time he got there and the summer of 1943, he could not find housing of his own. A coworker of his and his wife invited him to have mother and I come live with them, which we did. Their names were Ruthie and Reggie Doss. Dad was in the expediting department and Reggie Doss was also in the expediting department. We moved in with them in late June of 1943.

Mother and I took the train from Chicago to Spokane, Washington. Dad and the Dosses drove to Spokane and picked us up. They took us back to Richland. It was probably noontime or in the afternoon. We got to Richland and immediately encountered a dust storm. That is my first memory of Richland, a tremendous dust storm. You could not even see your hand in front of your face. We stopped at the grocery store on the way to our new home. I got out the car and walked to the grocery store. I went right straight into a fence and gave myself a bloody nose. 

Kelly: Was this because you could not see? 

Depke: I could not see. I absolutely could not see. It was a 2×6 on rebar that they had as a fence in front of the grocery store. I walked right into it. It was just exactly the height of my nose. That is my first memory of Richland. From there we went home. We could not have been more than a half-hour or less by the time we got to the house. The storm was gone. I remember it being clear. That is my first memory of Richland. 

Kelly: Great. 

Depke: Of course, this is summertime. My next memory is getting a haircut in Richland. I checked it on a map. Our home was about two and two-tenth miles from what I am calling downtown Richland. Downtown Richland would be where the theater eventually was. There was no theater in 1943. That was in 1944. 

At any rate, I walked from home to what I am calling downtown Richland by myself. I am about eight years old. It was a very straight route. I did not get lost or anything like that. I got to the barbershop and I wanted a short haircut. I did not know what to call it or what to tell them. They cut my hair exactly the way I have my hair now, very short. I never had short hair. I said it was in the summer and very hot. In walking back home I got a sunburn on the top of my head and mosquito bites. That is my second memory of Richland. 

Of course, I remember the house very well. It was called as I know now, a B home. That was a one-story duplex. We faced it on the right side. I remember the layout of the house very well. I remember the basement. For some reason I have a particularly good memory of the basement. There was an area there to store kindling wood to start fires. It was a coal-fired furnace. When we were first there it was summer. Winter did finally get there. I remember the kindling. I do not remember where the coal was. I do not remember ever doing anything with the coal-fired furnace, like bringing the clinkers out. That had to be done daily. Whether we spread them in the backyard or what we did, I do not know. There was absolutely no grass anywhere, none whatsoever anywhere. You could not see grass. This is right out in the desert and all brand new. 

The next thing I remember is starting the third grade in Richland. There was a choice of going in the morning or the afternoon. I do not know whether it was a choice or they just gave you the deal. Mine was in the morning. I had to get up very early. It was dark. I do not know whether it was five o’clock or six o’clock. You got on a bus and went to school. 

The building we went to school in was not a schoolhouse type of thing. There was a big room with long folding tables, 3×6 or whatever. We just sat around those tables. My memory is just one snapshot of that. I had to have gone there from the fall of 1943 through the spring of 1944. I do not remember anything other than the first time the bus took me home and I got off the bus. The bus was about two blocks from my home. That is the best I can remember. When I got off the bus I looked around and all of the houses were identical. I had no idea which one was mine. I guess I found my mama, because here I am. That was scary. That is probably one of the biggest memories I have of Richland. I was scared getting off the school bus. 

There was no other public transportation in 1943. My dad had his car, but he had to drive from Richland to Hanford and back every day. Mother did not have a car. You walked if you wanted to go somewhere. I have no idea what Mother did all day. I always wondered what in the world she could have done. 

In the fall of 1943, school started. I began the third grade in Richland, Washington. The plan was to have some children go in the morning and some go in the afternoon. I was assigned the morning classes. I do not know how early it was, but it was dark when I got up and dark when I got on the school bus. I suppose it may be 7:00[am] to noon, something like that. I cannot remember. The school bus took us to a building. The building was not like a school building. It was probably temporary. I do not know. The room we were in at school was almost industrial. There were a series of folding tables, two and a half or three feet wide by six feet long. We just sat around the table. I do not recall any class material. 

In fact, I have a memory snippet of what I have just said. I do not remember ever going back again. The first day when I returned home on the school bus I got out of the school bus. They dropped me off and apparently knew where to stop for me. I got off the school bus and all of the houses were the same. I had no idea which one was mine. It scared me to death. Apparently I found my way home. I do not know how. That is the story. 

The house itself was called in the Richland vernacular a B house. That was a one-story duplex. I can remember that when you went into the front door of the house straight ahead was the dining room. To the right was the living room. To the right of that were two bedrooms. It was a two-bedroom house with one bath. There was a small kitchen. From the back door you could go straight into the basement. 

The basement was for some reason interesting to me. I can still see that basement. It had a concrete floor. There was a place where they piled kindling wood to start the fire in the coal-fired furnace. Of course being a coal fired furnace there had to be coal somewhere. I do not remember it. That is not part of my memory. When winter came, having experienced coal-fired furnaces in homes, I know that the clinkers had to be removed from the furnace and taken out. I do not remember what we did with that. 

There was no grass anywhere, no trees and no grass. I do not believe in 1943 there were even street signs. I do not think street signs had been put up yet. The streets were quite straight, north, south, east and west like I was used to in the Midwest. It was not that difficult to get around. 

I do not remember any friends at all at any time until 1944 when Dad got a unit for us. We lived over near the river. There was a little boy a couple of years younger than I was across the street. That is the only other child I remember. I have no idea what I did with myself all day. There is nothing in my memory bank that tells me what in the world I would have done. 

Kelly: Was your mother at home then? 

Depke: Yes she was. She was a housecleaning slave. When the dust storms came the windows were closed. The dust came into the house, even with closed windows. I can remember, especially in the windowsills, there was like a quarter inch of this extraordinarily fine dust. Of course, it was all over the house, on all surfaces. That kept her busy. I do not know how often there were dust storms. I remember quite a few. I do not remember ever being out in a dust storm, except for the first day we went into Richland. 

Kelly: The fateful day. 

Depke: The fateful day, yes. I splattered my nose all over my face. 

Kelly: Did your mother talk about Richland later? 

Depke: No. My mother did not talk about Richland. The people we lived with, the Ruthie Doss, got pregnant in the fall of 1943. That word was never used then. That was a dirty word then. People did not use words like that, pregnant. I am only eight years old. I am not sure I know what is going on anyway. At any rate, the reason I bring it up is that at that point they were not going to have room for us to stay with them. We were going to have to do something else. 

Mother and I as best I can remember, went back to Danville for Christmas of 1943. I do not know. Maybe she was lonesome for home. I cannot think of any other reason. We came back to Richland. I know we came back to Richland. We lived in that house in the spring of 1944, because Dad took a long weekend and we drove to Moscow, Idaho, which is really not very far from Hanford. 

We drove from Richland through the Hanford grounds. I can remember they stopped us. I cannot remember the word. 

Kelly: The reservation or secured area? 

Depke: The security to get into Hanford. What I remember is the main thing they wanted to discover was whether we had a camera. Cameras were an absolute no-no. As best I can remember we did not have one. They did search the car before we went through Hanford. We drove through Hanford, out the north end of Hanford, across the Columbia River on an old iron bridge. I can remember it quite well. Then we drove northeast to Idaho. My dad had a fraternity brother who was in charge of the music department at the University of Idaho. We spent Easter weekend there. That is how I know exactly when it was.

Sometime shortly after that Mother and I went back to Danville because the Dosses needed the space for the ensuing baby. Mother and I remained in Danville until I finished school, the third grade in Danville. We came back to Richland in the summer of 1944. 

I remember by then there were public transportation buses. I think it was five cents to ride the bus to town, if I remember correctly. There was no postal service. You had to go downtown. You had a post office box. You went down there and picked up the mail. 

One day Mother and I took the bus “downtown” to pick up the mail and on the way back home on the bus Mother was looking at the mail. One of the pieces of mail was from the Navy Department. She opened it and Dad got his Navy commission. I can remember that she cried. Dad was going to war. 

Almost immediately after that we left Richland. Dad went into naval officer’s training. It happened to be in Tucson, Arizona. The important thing for me to recognize is that Dad went into the Navy and trained for the invasion of Japan. He had been working in the Manhattan Project. The invasion of Japan had transpired. My dad trained as a port director. A port director is a fancy name for the guy who goes on the beach and directs the invasion. He would not have lasted long in that war. The atomic bomb saved his life. That is the irony of the story. 

Kelly: That is great. How far along did he get in the training? Was he on board a ship? Was he awaiting assignments? Do you remember? 

Depke: He left for overseas about a week after V-J Day. He wound up in Okinawa as occupation force. He was there for less than a year. He came home in 1945. 

Kelly: V-J Day was September 14th, so he came home in the end of December? 

Depke: No.

Kelly: He was in occupation. He came home in 1946. 

Depke: I am sorry. That is correct, 1946. He was in Okinawa through early 1946. I think he came home in January of 1946. 

The first thing I have to admit is that as a child the war presented no real fear and death had no real meaning. We kids just had fun with the thing. We had played guns and played war, all these things. It was just a wonderful thing to go to the movies and see the newsreels. There are the tanks and the planes. People are getting shot and dying. That was just a lot of fun. It had no meaning in the real world to us. As far as toys and so forth, we had only what was available to us before the war. During the war toys were not made. Everything went into the war effort. What little we had was wood and cardboard. There was no plastic in those days. We did not know plastic. 

Many times we made our own toys. We took an old broomstick and made a gun out of it. That is the kind of thing we did. Kick the can was a game. We still had cans. There were not any toys made whatsoever. When Christmas came what toys we got were either wood or cardboard. It did not bother us any. We had fun. We were running around outdoors and playing catch with a ball or whatever kids did then. I suppose they still do that now, but I am not sure. 

When it comes to my memory of what I did in Richland, I just do not really have much of a memory of playing. It is almost all snapshots of memory. I do not have much. In 1944 when we lived near the Columbia River, I can remember the Columbia River was less than a block from our house, maybe a half-block. We would walk over to the river’s edge. I remember that well. 

Kelly: Did you go swimming in the river? 

Depke: No, we did not. I do remember that in 1944 I believe they built a swimming pool in what I call downtown. I do not remember whether I ever swam in it or not. I do remember the movie theater in what I am calling downtown Richland. I can remember going to the movies. I can remember a specific movie. It was a war movie about a spy in Germany. The movie theater had an upstairs balcony in the back that had a glass enclosure so that ladies could take little children and babies up there. It would not be noisy. That I remember. I do not know what I did with my time.

In the summer of 1944, just prior to Dad getting his Navy commission, I went to a YMCA camp outside of Spokane. It is still active. You can find it on the Internet. I do remember that camp. It was quite dramatic, the scenery. It was on a big lake. I do remember swimming in that lake. That is about everything I remember about what I did as a kid in Richland. 

Kelly: You talked about the trip to Moscow, Idaho, with your dad and mom. Do you remember any other trips? 

Depke: No, that was the only one. You do remind that in the war years many things were rationed. One of them was liquor. They could get one bottle of liquor per month. I can remember we drove to Kennewick, Washington, monthly so they could buy their bottle of liquor and several people would go. They would also stop at a tavern and go have a beer or whatever they did. It was illegal for a minor to go in, so I had to sit in the car. There is a little memory. 

As a child time is so much longer than an adult’s time. So is space. I can remember the drive from Richland to Kennewick seeming very long to me. It was a very long drive. That I can remember. We went to Pasco once or twice, but I do not know why, maybe just for a drive. I do not know. Kennewick was a long way away. 

Kelly: Good. Can you tell us about the car that your family had? That was unusual, wasn’t it, to have a car? 

Depke: Of course my dad drove the family car out there. That was the car. It happened to be a four-door Chrysler. It was a big car. I remember it well. I have a picture of it. I do not know at this point that I could mention the license plate on that car. In 1945 my dad, mother and I were in Danville, Illinois, our home city, and there is a photograph of my dad in his Navy uniform with my mother. The back of that car is in the photo. The license plate is Washington 1942. That confused me for years and years. 

I said, “Dad must have been there in 1942. What is wrong with this story?” 

When I finally was able to read Groves’ book Now It Can Be Told, I discovered that things did not start there until 1943. I wondered what the 1942 thing was. I finally remember fairly recently that during the war years they did not make license plates after about 1941 or 1942. The 1942 license plate was the only plate available to him. That is why it was a 1942 license plate. Metal was not used to make license plates because of the war. 

Dad was sworn into the Navy in Spokane, Washington. I have the news article from the Spokane paper. For some strange reason and I cannot imagine why, the Spokane paper put an article in there that Herbert F. Depke of Richland, Washington, was sworn into the United States Navy. 

Very soon after that Dad was assigned to go to Tucson, Arizona, to go to officer’s training school. That is nienty days. In World War II they called them the ninety-day wonders. That is why. In ninety days they turned a man into an officer. That is the story. 

We were in Tucson for ninety days. I started the fourth grade in Tucson. From there we went to Port Wanini in California. He was there for a couple of months. I went to grade school in Carpinteria, California, which is about twelve miles south of Santa Barbara. We were there through early 1945. Dad took training in several other places, but finally wound up in Long Beach, New York. 

I was deposited with my grandparents in Danville. I went to school in Danville, Illinois. Mother went on to Long Beach with Dad. After he was done there he went to Seattle, Washington, and shipped overseas a week after V-J Day. He went to Okinawa as part of the occupation forces and was there about one year, a little less than a year. He came home in 1946.

So Dad trained for the invasion of Japan. Fortunately that invasion did not happen. Dad trained as a port director. That sounds like a really fancy job, but what it was really was a man who went onshore and directed the invasion. Obviously he would not have lasted long. Therefore, I must point out that the atomic bomb really saved his life. Here is a man who worked in the Manhattan Project and wound up having the atomic bomb save his life. 

This is a photo of the Dosses’, who we lived with in 1943 and early 1944 in Richland. Reginald Doss and Ruthie Doss. Ruth became pregnant in late 1943, which caused Mother and I to have to go back home to Danville, Illinois. This picture was taken in 1952, when Mother, Dad and my future wife and I visited them. My father, Herb Depke, my mother, Margaret, and my future wife, Pat, and I visited the Dosses in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1952. The little girl who was the baby to be born was there. She is in the photograph. 

Kelly: Do you have any other members of your extended family were involved in World War II, that might have been affected by this atomic bomb? 

Depke: Not directly. My mother’s two brothers were in the Navy. One was in the South Pacific. The other one was stationed in the United States the whole time. Nothing really involved the Manhattan Project. 

The Manhattan Project or our life in Richland, Washington, was never discussed to my knowledge later in life back home in Danville. I do not remember it ever being talked about. 

Kelly: When you were alone with your parents, did you ever ask if they could tell you what they were doing? 

Depke: No, I did not. I do not think it was particularly unique to my family. There was not a lot of family talk, certainly not in my family and not in a lot of families of that time that I knew. That kind of conversation just did not happen. 

I do not know when I realized that Dad had anything to do with the atomic bomb or even the Manhattan Project until much later in life. When I was an adult and reading about these things, then I would say, “Oh, I was there. What a big deal.” Dad never talked about it. He really never talked about his Navy experiences. There was never really any discussion. 

I remember when we were driving to Moscow, Idaho, which would have been in the spring of 1944. I remember stopping for lunch and we were in a little restaurant in some little town. I can remember Dad saying something that had to do with the atom. He whispered it because you were not supposed to say anything aloud that the enemy might hear. That is the only time. I do not even know that I knew what an atom was. I remember that very distinctly. Here it is in the spring of 1944. That is what I am talking about. He has an inkling that whatever is going on has something to do with atoms. 

I just remembered. He also said the output at Hanford was a little trickle of something like water. I never understood that, because that is not what the output really was in Hanford as I understand the process. I do not know. He might have seen something or heard something that indicated to him that it was some kind of a liquid or fluid that was the end result of the process. Obviously that was not the case. 

Kelly: It might have been, because the plutonium was extruded. Then they had to put it in a metallic form. 

Depke: Yes. 

Kelly: The idea of a trickle, a tiny bit of product for all of the things that went into Hanford, maybe that was it. 

Depke: It is possible. I just remembered him saying that. Of course, that makes me think the secrecy was supposed to be so extreme. It was all extremely guarded. Here is a man saying he thinks he knows a little bit. That is surprising. I cannot imagine that secrecy was as good as they tried to make it. Of course, we know that the Russians knew all along, from the spies. I just chuckle when I think about all the extraordinary effort that was made in secrecy. I just wonder how secret things were. I am not sure. 

Kelly: Yes. You have to think about 130,000 people. Maybe there were three-dozen spies. That is a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands of people. 

Depke: Of course but the Russians knew what they had to do. It is the old story. If you want to keep a secret, just do not tell anybody. One person is one too many. When they talk about Harry Truman not knowing this was going on until he became president, I find that hard to believe. It is rather incredulous. I do not know. 

Kelly: That is great. Did your mother and father socialize at all? 

Depke: I do not believe they did. One weekend they went somewhere and left me with another family from Danville who was in Richland. I have a photograph that they gave me of myself on their back porch. I have often wondered where they went for that weekend. In thinking about the region and the wartime, I cannot imagine where they went that weekend. I never asked. I will not know. That is the only time I know of that they “went out and did something.” I do not know. I do not remember. 

I have often why it is that my memory is so limited. As I have said, it seems to be snippets or still photographs of certain things that I remember. Then there are long periods that I have no idea. This is rather strange to me. I do not remember ever eating a meal in Richland, Washington. Going to a table and having breakfast, dinner or supper is not part of memory. 

Kelly: Did your dad not come home for dinner? 

Depke: I do not remember that either. I believe that he came home every night from Hanford. I do not think he had a place there to stay. I believe all of the men who worked in Hanford and had homes in Richland drove to Hanford and came home every night. That is rather interesting. Gasoline was rationed. We are talking about a fifty mile round trip. I cannot remember exactly. It was something like that, maybe twenty-five miles or so from Richland to Hanford. That is approximately a fifty mile round trip five times a week. That is a lot of gasoline. It is interesting. I do not know what it means. 

Kelly: You said your dad was an expeditor. Do you know any more about what that job entailed? 

Depke: Expeditors followed up on the purchase of goods. The only specific thing I can remember is that Dad told me, and this is a number of years later so I am sorry to say I had forgotten he talked about it later, that he remembered they lost either a railroad car or an entire train of stainless steel fittings. They just drove themselves nuts trying to find that car or train. Eventually they discovered it was right there in Hanford all the time. 

Kelly: Interesting. 

Depke: To my memory that is the only thing I directly know about expediting. 

Kelly: I have forgotten the number, but I think they had something like 500 miles of track on the site itself. 

Depke: They lost either a car or a train. I do not remember which it was. It was right there, right under their noses.

Kelly: Looking back on your family, because you were too young to say you were involved, but your father’s involvement in the atomic bomb and creating that, I wonder how that makes you feel after all these years. 

Depke: I think Tom Brokaw’s book The Greatest Generation made me stop and think about that question specifically. I do not mean to make a hero out of my father at all. He was typical of the men of that time. He could not go directly into service. Therefore, he sought what they call war work. They went to factories where they were doing war effort work. When he was asked to transfer from the DuPont Indiana plant to Washington, he sold his home that he had just built himself, by his own labor. He left that home. He went to Washington to work as he was asked to do. I look at that as a pretty big choice to make. It is a pretty big sacrifice. They did those things. He was not alone. That is what people did. They were patriotic. This was the norm for people then. They were patriotic. They just did what they thought needed to be done. There was no thought. They had no personal thought. They just did what they thought had to be done. From that point of view, that is how I view what he and others in Danville, Illinois, did. They just did what they were asked to do. 

Kelly: When you go back to your high school reunion, your 60th high school reunion coming up, will your classmates have similar stories of their parents’ involvement in the war effort? Have you ever talked to them about this? 

Depke: I have not. That is a good question. I do not know. 

Kelly: Do you think that before Tom Brokaw wrote his book The Greatest Generation that there was much appreciation about how remarkable, from today’s perspective, it seems that generation was? 

Depke: I do not think so. Maybe privately here and there. I just remember that it was that book that made me look back on it. I knew that Dad had literally built that house himself and we had only lived there two years. He sold it and left for unknown. That really gives me pause. I am not sure that I understand that kind of thinking. There was not any thinking. He just did it. 

Kelly: If you were confronted with that choice today? 

Depke: Probably the same thing, because I was a part of that generation where duty and honor came naturally. That was the way it was. Probably so, I would not hesitate, no. 

Kelly: Did you get wrapped up in any war yourself? 

Depke: I was in the Navy Reserve for eight years. That was from 1952 to 1962. That was because the laws of the time said that was what you had to do. You had to do so much time in the military in that time frame. 1952 was near the end of the Korean War. There was a Naval Reserve center in Danville, Illinois. I joined as a junior in high school. Our unit was almost called up for the Korean War. I almost decided I had made a bad choice. It did not happen. 

Kelly: You just missed the Vietnam War. You were out before that was on. 

Depke: I was too old for that. I missed them all. As a little kid I could look at it and say what fun it was, tanks and airplanes. Then later I missed all the opportunities to actually be in the tanks and airplanes. That is the way it goes. I am not sorry for that. 

The train trips from Chicago to Spokane will always be some of my best memories. That was a four-day train trip. It was just marvelous. The clickety-clack of the trains, today you cannot even get a clickety-clack on the tracks because they are continuous rails. Back then you had the clickety-clack of the rails. The service for breakfast, dinner and supper, everything was very formal. It was a wonderful experience. I had that four times, going back and forth from Washington to Illinois. That is a really strong memory. 

Kelly: Did you have a sleeper berth? 

Depke: We did. There were different kinds. We had every kind there was. There was what was called a roomette. I can remember there was a sleeper and a berth. There was something else. We experienced all of them over the various times.

Kelly: That was great. Is there anything else you would like to talk about? Have you been back to Richland? 

Depke: Yes. My wife and I eventually went into the craft instruction book publishing. This was in the mid-1970s, when macramé was so big. We did a bimonthly newsletter called “Enjoy Macramé.” There was a retired schoolteacher in Richland, Washington, who became a pen pal with Pat, my wife. On our 20th anniversary we flew to the West Coast. We rented a car and drove to Richland. We visited this lady. She lived in one of the B houses. It was very similar. The change was that there was grass every place. That is the biggest difference. This was in 1975. 

Kelly: What was the same about it? 

Depke: Those houses were still there. It was much bigger. I think it was 15,000 when we were there. I do not know what the number was, 100,000 or 200,000, whatever it was in 1975. It was a big city. That was different. There were paved roads. That causes me to remember that all the roads were gravel in 1943 and most of them in 1944 were gravel. We did visit Richland again. That was fun. 

Kelly: Did you find your old house? 

Depke: No, because I did not know where it was. I did not work that out until recent times. I only know it approximately. 

Kelly: Today you only know it approximately? 

Depke: Within a block or two. 

Kelly: If we dropped you off on a school bus? 

Depke: I would have the same fear. 

Kelly: Oh dear. That is your lifetime nightmare. 

Depke: Yes, my lifetime nightmare would come back [Chuckle].

Copyright 2013 The Atomic Heritage Foundation. This transcript may not be quoted, reproduced, or redistributed in whole or in part by any means except with the written permission of the Atomic Heritage Foundation.