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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Meta Newson’s Interview

Manhattan Project Locations:

Meta Newson, a homemaker at Hanford during WWII, was married to the late Henry W Newson, a Manhattan Project physicist at Chicago, Oak Ridge, Hanford and Los Alamos, and later a professor at Duke University.

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:

The first two years after we were married, from 1934 until 1936, we were in California with Ernest Lawrence, at the cyclotron at Berkeley. When the Manhattan Project started, my husband was at Stagg Field, at the first chain reaction. When I went to Stagg Field to pick him up in the evenings, I couldn’t go in, he would have to come out. He came out one day with little blocks of graphite. I thought, “That idiot, he is starting to play with blocks.”

We went to Hanford in August, 1944, and stayed until about February, 1945. We had a three-year-old daughter, Meta Mary. My first recollection of Hanford was that people told us to guard our dog because the coyotes would come and either lead the dog into the pack or kill it. The second thing was the mosquitoes. And, the sandstorms. Once, Henry told me he was reading a book during a sandstorm. He must have been six feet from the windows. He had rags and newspapers stuffed around them and he said every time he was ready to turn a page he had to blow the sand off.

The housing in Richland was very nice. We had a house with three bed-rooms, one bath, a large L-shaped living room-dining room, a very adequate kitchen, a full basement and we paid $50 a month, including utilities, stove and refrigerator. Those were the good old days.

A typical day. Well, I was a typical housewife. They didn’t have a nursery school, so I kept my daughter at home. There were very few children to play with because so few people had children. The ones who did were probably Du Ponters. The Du Ponters were in the Establishment there. The Du Ponters were a little snooty. If someone wasnt a Du Ponter, you were the lowest of the low. There was a family across the way, and they were Du Ponters, with five or six children. One next door neighbor was an FBI man. He said the best information he got was by going to the brothels down in Kennewick and Pasco. And his wife would go along, and sit in the car and wait for him and time him. She was a beautiful woman. I don’t know why she was worried.

Shopping was marvelous. You could get everything there you couldn’t get in other parts of the country. When we left, we took 15 cartons of ciga­rettes and I don’t know how many cases of Cokes. Meat was plentiful. It was rationed but you could get anything you wanted. I think they were trying to keep us happy. It sure was out in the sticks. We had loads of mice. When the land was cleared all the mice decided to move indoors. I would catch one, and as soon as the trap was reset, click. I would catch four or five a day. We had lots of black widow spiders. I called the health department and the hospital to ask what to do about my child if she’s bitten. “Well, if she goes into convul­sions, bring her into the hospital.

I had no idea what was going on. My husband always told me I wasnt interested in physics, so why should he try to explain. I wouldn’t have known what an A-bomb was anyway, if they had told me. I think the scientists were pleased the bombs were successful. But, they were so successful I think later they had negative feelings. Too powerful. I was also glad they were successful. The propaganda was that we were going to send so many troops to invade Japan and how many would have been killed then. You know, take your druthers, which would you rather do? Yours or theirs?


Full transcript:

S.L Sanger: Coming up then, is the Meta Newson interview at her home in Chapel Hill on March 15, ’86.

What did it [the Trinity test] look like?

Meta Newson: Well, they had had a storm beforehand, so there was quite a bit of cloud covering. So it was beautiful, because the colors all, you know, the clouds were all these different colors. It really was a beautiful thing. We got the sound, I think it was about 13 ½ minutes later.

Sanger: Oh, well, you were how far away?

Newson: 147 air miles.

Sanger: And that is Los Alamos? That is how far it is?

Newson: Yes.

Sanger: Did you have any idea what it was?

Newson: No. I gathered an idea. I knew it was some kind of a bomb from just listening to talk. Two of the women who worked at the lab wanted to go up and see it, and so they asked me to drive them up, because they were afraid of that little, tiny, narrow dirt road going up there. So we drove up and went to a radio shack that they had up there so that they could monitor everything that was going on down at the site. They told us just exactly where to sit and which direction to look and everything.

Sanger: Oh, they did?

Newson: Yes, and we heard Tokyo Rose first on the radio. Then they monitored the planes that were going around, and Luis Alvarez’s plane was lost. They told him, “Get the hell out of here.” So he got out of there.

Sanger: But, they let you listen to that?

Newson: Yeah.

Sanger: Well, tell me again about that – you were talking about the sandstorms, and your husband was reading that book. That is the kind of thing that – remember, he had to blow the dust off it?

Newson: Mhmm. He must have been about six feet away from the window. He had rags and newspapers and everything stuffed around, which we always did when the storm came up. He said, every time he was ready to turn a page, he had to blow the sand off.

Sanger: Well also, why don’t you just start out just by telling me about how you and your husband got involved originally and where you were when he first started for the project?

Newson: Well, he was working at the University of Chicago. He was teaching at the University of Chicago.

Sanger: And, this was what, ’40?

Newson: ’36 we went there.

Sanger: That is when you started?

Newson: Yeah.

Sanger: Where did he go to school?

Newson: Undergraduate work at the University of Illinois and graduate work at the University of Chicago.

Sanger: Okay, in physics?

Newson: Mhmm.

Sanger: Yeah, okay.

Newson: Well, in chemistry.

Sanger: Oh, chemistry?

Newson: He started in chemistry and then he changed to physics later on. The first two years after we were married, we were in California with Ernest Lawrence and the cyclotron that was being built.

Sanger: At Berkeley?

Newson: Yeah, at Berkeley.

Sanger: When was that?

Newson: ’34 to ’36.

Sanger: Oh, so he had a long history in nuclear physics?

Newson: Mhmm, yeah.

Sanger: All right, well then just go ahead, just give me a little chronology of it.

Newson: Well then, of course, when the project started, he was at Stagg Field and all that sort of stuff, and traveled around the country to see various people who were also involved. Later on, so many of them came to Chicago, but at first, they were various places around the country.

Sanger: Was he a professor at Chicago then?

Newson: He was an instructor when he started out.

Sanger: Which would have been when?

Newson: ’36, 1936.

Sanger: And, then when did he get into the, what were the circumstances of getting into the Manhattan Project?

Newson: Well, I do not know. He was a physicist. He was a physical chemist to start with and then just went into physics. I remember that he came home one day with some little blocks of graphite. I thought, “That idiot, he is starting to play with blocks,” you know. But what he was doing was he was working, I guess, on the shielding or something – seeing how that would work out best.

Sanger: That was after he had got into it, of course?

Newson: Yeah. Then in 1943, we went to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and were there a year. Then we went to Hanford.

Sanger: When did you go to Hanford?

Newson: In ’34, I mean ’44, excuse me.

Sanger: Do you remember the month?

Newson: ’44, no I do not.

Sanger: Would it have been around the mid part of June, July?

Newson: It could have been, I just—

Sanger: Well, I think—

Newson: Yeah, because there were so many mosquitoes there.

Sanger: Oh yeah, it must have been. Because I think that some of the other people who, I think were doing about the same thing your husband was, said they went about June, or like John Marshall. Do you know him?

Newson: Mhmm.

Sanger: I think he said he went in June or July, ’44. Well then, what is your first recollection then of Hanford?

Newson: Well, the first recollection was that people had told us to guard our dog, because the coyotes would come and either leave the dog in the pack or kill it. So that was the first thing. The second thing, of course, was the mosquitoes. The third thing was the sand. We would have those sand storms periodically. The housing was very nice. 

Sanger: Was it?

Newson: Mhmm. We had a house that had three bedrooms, one bath, large L-shaped living room/dining room, a very adequate kitchen, and a full basement. We paid $50 a month, including utilities. Those were good old days.

Sanger: Did you have, you had one child then?

Newson: Yes.

Sanger: What, your daughter?

Newson: Yeah, my oldest daughter.

Sanger: What is her name?

Newson: Metamary, M-E-T-A-M-A-R-Y, Robb, R-O-B-B.

Sanger: And she was what?

Newson: She was three.

Sanger: When you moved there?

Newson: Mhmm.

Sanger: Okay. So she would not remember anything about it?

Newson: No.

Sanger: What was your daily life like?

Newson: Well, a typical housewife. They did not have a nursery school, so I had sent her to nursery school in Oak Ridge, and later on at Los Alamos, but they did not have one at Hanford. So I kept her at home. There were very few children to play with, because so few people had children. The ones who had children were probably the DuPonters, and their children would have been the older ones.

Sanger: Were they, the DuPont people, older, tended to be older, or not?

Newson: Yes, they were in the establishment here, you know, the DuPont. They were professional DuPonters.

Sanger: Did you have much to do with them?

Newson: Very little, really.

Sanger: You tended to what, associate with other physicists, or not?

Newson: Well, DuPonters were a little snooty.

Sanger: Were they?

Newson: Mhmm. If someone was not a DuPonter, why, they were the lowest of low.

Sanger: Is that right, even though you were from an academic backgrounds and so on?

Newson: Yeah.

Sanger: Did they tend to live together in the same areas, or not?

Newson: Well, I suppose housing was just doled out, first come, first served or something.

Sanger: Do you remember your neighbors?

Newson: No, there was a family across the way who were DuPonters, and I think they had five or six children. That was it. That is about all we knew. Yes, and our one next-door neighbor was an FBI man. He said the best information he got was by going to brothels down in Kennewick and Pasco.

Sanger: Oh, yeah?

Newson: His wife would sit the car outside and wait for him and time him. She was a beautiful woman. I do not know why she worried.

Sanger: That is funny. I have never heard that. Did you, where did you do your shopping?

Newson: Oh, the shopping was marvelous. You could get everything that you could not get anyplace else in the country. When we left there, we took fifteen cartons of cigarettes with us and I do not know how many cases of Cokes, because those things you could not buy other places. Meat was plentiful, of course it was rationed, but you could get anything you wanted. It was not like other places where you had to wait for the day things came in and rush to get them.

Sanger: Is that was because they were trying to keep you happy?

Newson: I think so, because it sure was out in the sticks, you know.

Sanger: Yeah. Did you get to do much recreational traveling or not?

Newson: No, because of the gas rationing. But if we saved and borrowed from friends, why, we could get enough. So we did make one trip to Mt. Rainier. 

Sanger: Oh, did you. Was that the only trip you made?

Newson: Yes. And, of course, occasionally, we would go down – well, we had to go down to Pasco or Kennewick, I am not sure which it was, to get our liquor. You had to buy a bottle of rum in order to collect other liquor.

Sanger: Yeah, I have heard that. Why was that?

Newson: I do not know, whether they were trying to unload the rum, I do not know.

Sanger: Somebody else told me that, and they thought maybe the state had bought up some incredible amount of rum that they could not get rid of.

Newson: It was not very good. It was a dark rum and it was not very good. I remember when we moved from Oak Ridge to here, we still had that stuff with us. We gave it to the movers, because they were imbibing in some of our other stuff with the door closed, and we could not see them. So, we finally just them all that old rum.

Sanger: When you came here?

Newson: Yeah, when we came here. We had taken it from, you know, to travel with us every place.

Sanger: So, it was pretty old by then?

Newson: Yeah, it was aged.

Sanger: Oh, well, that is funny. I have heard that.

Newson: We had loads of mice. See, when that land was cleared, all those mice decided to move indoors. I would catch, you know, catch one, and soon as you had the trap set again, why, “click,” it would go off again. I would catch maybe four or five a day.

Sanger: Oh, what, field mice?

Newson: Yeah. Then of course, we had lots of black widow spiders. I called the health department once to ask them, or the hospital, I am not sure which, to ask them what to do about my child. They said, “Well, if she’s bitten, I guess, goes into convulsions, bring her to the hospital.” So, then I called about exterminators. No, they did not exterminate for things like that. If stuff was brought in with your furniture, they would exterminate, but not for—

Sanger: Natural pests.

Newson: Natural livestock, I guess.

Sanger: How about the weather, was it bothersome?

Newson: Yeah, the weather was good because it was so dry.

Sanger: What was the social life like?

Newson: Well, the social life was all in homes. We entertained a lot. Especially the Atchleys and Batchenmetts, we had them over a lot. If we were invited somewhere else, we always had to take the kid and put her to bed there, because there were not babysitters.

Sanger: No babysitters. What were there a number of, I guess, did you know a number of single women who were working at the project?

Newson: Yeah, but I cannot remember their names.

Sanger: What were they doing mostly?

Newson: Well, I suppose most of them were secretarial types still. Also, some of them, some of the married wives, married women, worked in the offices.

Sanger: But, you did not, did you, because you had the daughter?

Newson: No. When I had her, I never worked.

Sanger: Well, you did not miss much, I am sure. Did you have much of an idea what was being done there?

Newson: No, no. No, my husband always told me I was not interested in physics, so why should he try to explain it to me.

Sanger: Did you have any inkling?

Newson: No, not until Los Alamos when I kept my ears flapping and picked up things here and there. So, I knew that it was some kind of a bomb, but I had no idea. I would not have known what an A-bomb was anyhow, if they told me.

Sanger: So when the bomb, Hiroshima bomb was dropped, you were at Los Alamos?

Newson: Well, it so happened I was in Oklahoma visiting my brother. It was his birthday and I had gone there to see him, and when the announcement came over the radio – my husband had told me before I left to be sure to not say anything that was not reported on the radio first or in the newspapers. So, every time my brother would ask me anything, I would say, “I don’t know.”

Sanger: You mean, he told you that anticipating the news.

Newson: Yeah.

Sanger: Well, at that time, in the newspapers or radio reports, was Hanford mentioned then or not? Do you remember?

Newson: I do not remember.

Sanger: Maybe not at that—

Newson: I doubt it. I do not think Oak Ridge was either. I think it was just Los Alamos, mhmm, because that is where it was put together.

Sanger: Yeah, yeah, I supposed that, figure the general public could not understand the difference between U-235 and plutonium and all that. But then, did you know then that is what he had been working on?

Newson: Mhmm. Oh, sure. My brother did right away, too. He said, “Oh, that’s what Henry’s been doing.” My brother was a doctor and so he understood that sort of stuff better than I did.

Sanger: But then so you were at Hanford then how long?

Newson: About a year, maybe a little less than a year.

Sanger: So, you would have left—

Newson: We left probably in February or some time like that, because we were going to go to Los Alamos and we wanted enough gasoline to take the coast route, because we did not want to go straight across the mountains. They would not give us enough gas for that. So, the end result was that they sent us to our point of origin, which was Chicago, and then to Los Alamos and shipped our car down, which cost them a lot more than those few extra gallons of gas would have.

Sanger: Well, I suppose that is when a lot of people left, I think, who were doing what your husband was doing. They left after the reactors were going and they were manufacturing plutonium, so there was not any reason to stay. So they would go on to Los Alamos. Generally, I think that is when [Marvin] Wilkening left, too, about?

Newson: Yeah, I think the Nyers were up there, too – Warren.

Sanger: Yeah, I have spoken with him. Do you remember anybody else, besides yourselves, the Wilkenings, and the Nyers who made all the stops – Chicago, Oak Ridge, Hanford, Los Alamos? Because, I do not know, there must have been a number. I think Warren Nyer told me he thought there were maybe four or five – or four maybe at the most – he could think of.

Newson: Well, that makes three of us. Nyers and the Wilkenings, us, also if there was anybody else, they may be dead.

Sanger: Oh. How old are you?

Newson: I am 71.

Sanger: That is about the same age as [Alvin] Weinberg, right?

Newson: Yeah, he is a year younger than I am.

Sanger: Where did you know him?

Newson: In Oak Ridge.

Sanger: Is that—

Newson: I did not know him in Chicago. My husband probably did, but I did not know him there. But I knew them very well in Oak Ridge.

Sanger: Does that mean before he went to Hanford, or after? That was after?

Newson: Weinberg never went to Hanford.

Sanger: No, I mean, after you went to Hanford, did you know him before you went there? Or did you go to Oak Ridge later?

Newson: We went to Oak Ridge in ’43, and then we went back in ’46.

Sanger: Oh, I see, okay. Is that when you knew him? Does not make much difference I guess.

Newson: I am trying to remember whether we knew them before. I have to visual people in their homes, and I think we must have known them in ’43 already. I am not sure.

Sanger: Well, I take it he worked with your husband then, considerably, at Oak Ridge?

Newson: Yeah. I was a very good friend of his wife, Marge Weinberg, who died some years back of cancer.

Sanger: Oh, the lady he was with yesterday is a subsequent—

Newson: Yes, is his second wife.

Sanger: Subsequent wife. Well, let me go over some of my idiotic questions here.

Newson: I made a few notes here.

Sanger: Yeah, well go ahead, just keep talking, that is all right.

Newson: Well, maybe I have covered everything that I—

Sanger: What about the local people? Did you know anybody?

Newson: Very few, very few. It was really the people with whom my husband worked, and they were the ones who came around. Henrietta Nyer told me once that her in-laws had saved letters that they had written them, and she said her mother-in-law finally asked, “Didn’t you go anyplace except the Newsons?” Every letter, we were at the Newsons for this, that, or we went on some, we went on a picnic with the Newsons, or the Newsons had a party, or something like that. 

Sanger: Where did you go on picnics?

Newson: Just any place we could find just to get out, you know, do something. Grass grew beautifully there. I remember, I think, it was Don Hughes who put his initials – he put fertilizer in the form of his initials, sprayed around. Boy, it came up beautifully.

Sanger: Is that right? It needed water though, I suppose.

Newson: Oh, yeah, we watered.

Sanger: Hughes, he is dead?

Newson: He has been dead a number of years, yeah.

Sanger: I forget who – I guess John Marshall told me about him.

Newson: He came through here just the week before he died. I remember we were at the club for lunch. We had taken him to lunch there, and he asked my husband how you know the symptoms of a heart attack, because my husband had had a couple. A week later he died of a heart attack. So he must have felt something coming on to ask about it the way he did.

Sanger: Do you remember anybody else – besides people you have mentioned – who you knew there?

Newson: Yeah, what was their name, they were from South Carolina, and they are both dead. Bill – oh, their child was a little older than mine. Oh, what was their name? Oh, isn’t that terrible? I am surprised I remember my own sometimes. I cannot remember their name.

Sanger: But say when you would go to these evenings, what would that be, a few drinks, playing cards, or what?

Newson: Most just social, just drinks and snacks.

Sanger: Did the men tend to—

Newson: Get off in a corner, of course. Don’t men always go off in a corner?

Sanger: Would they talk about what they were doing?

Newson: Probably.

Sanger: But, you did not—

Newson: I did not know what it was all about.

Sanger: But, there was not any – I guess, that is normal in the—

Newson: Yeah, I had a dinner party last Sunday, and we were in the bar first. The men were all clustered over there and the women were all here. So, I said, “Now, when we got to the table, we’re dividing them up. There’s got to be a man between every two women.” Because, otherwise, they probably would have all clustered together at the dinner table.

Sanger: I wonder why this is, anyway?

Newson: I do not know.

Sanger: Of course, some men, are, I guess like to talk to women. My dad was like that.

Newson: My husband liked to talk to women. Well, my husband was not a golfer, and so many of these men play golf all the time, so they have talk about every stroke they made. So he did not do that, but he enjoyed talking to women. Some of my friends were very proud of the fact that he would talk to them and not go off with the men.

Sanger: Well, women often are more interesting, because they do not talk about work constantly.

Newson: If they do not talk about their children.

Sanger: Yeah, that is not good, but—

Newson: Yeah, and recipes.

Sanger: When you, let’s see, so then when you left Hanford, then you went to Los Alamos, and then you were there—

Newson: A year.

Sanger: A year, so that would have been, what, early ’46?

Newson: That was ’45 to ’46.

Sanger: Yeah, and then where did you go?

Newson: We were there until ’48, and then we came to Duke.

Sanger: At Oak Ridge, you went back to Oak Ridge?

Newson: We were in Oak Ridge from ’46 to ’48, and then came to Duke. So, that was in ’48.

Sanger: Oh, I see, so then you were—

Newson: In 1948 we came here, and then my husband died in ’78. So, we had been here 30 years, not quite.

Sanger: He was the head of the department?

Newson: He was, well, he was chairman of the physics department for a short term, oh, I do not know, just a couple of years, but he was the director of the Triangle University’s Nuclear Laboratory.

Sanger: Okay. What is the Triangle University?

Newson: It is a combination, they have people working there at Duke in the Tunnel Building from State and Carolina and Duke.

Sanger: Oh, what is Carolina?

Newson: University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and State, that is—

Sanger: North Carolina State.

Newson: North Carolina State in Raleigh, and then Duke. He founded that thing and was director of it until he died.

Sanger: Did he do much with nuclear power reactors later, or was he mostly—

Newson: Yes, he was on the advisory committee in Washington for, oh, I do not know, it must have been six or eight years, to monitor the building that was going to be done of power plants and stuff.

Sanger: Incidentally, when, since you could not talk to him about what he was doing at Hanford or the other places, too, did that cause a problem or not?

Newson: No.

Sanger: Because a lot of men and women, wives, husbands talk a lot about what they do, but you could not do that. Did that—

Newson: Well, I was not interested in physics anyhow, see.

Sanger: So, that was not any difficulty. I wonder if you had been interested in it or had known more about it, would you have guessed maybe what they were doing?

Newson: Probably, I do not know, since I had no knowledge of it. You know, you cannot tell what you would do until the occasion arises.

Sanger: That is right. Because I suppose that he was at the first chain reaction, right. And, of course, was that a secret then, I wonder?

Newson: Oh, yes.

Sanger: I guess it was. Yeah, that is what the war—

Newson: As a matter of fact, if I went to pick him up, I could not even, at Stagg Field, I could not even get in the door.

Sanger: Oh, you could not?

Newson: No.

Sanger: Where would you have to pick him up then?

Newson: Well, just park the car outside—

Sanger: And, he would come out.

Newson: Mhmm.

Sanger: So, he was really in—

Newson: He was in it from the very, very beginning.

Sanger: At the beginning, wasn’t he?

Newson: Mhmm.

Sanger: Did he talk much about it later, after it was no longer a secret?

Newson: He started to write up some stuff, but he was a procrastinator, so he did not get much written up. He did write up something, which Art Snell, I sent it to Art to read. My husband had used some rather strong language, so Art crossed that out and wrote something and quoted from this thing that my husband had written. And, actually, it was written about Hanford.

Sanger: Who is he? Who is Art Snell?

Newson: Art Snell is retired from Oak Ridge and lives in Kingston, I think it is, Tennessee, which is near Oak Ridge.

Sanger: Yeah. What became of it?

Newson: It was published in something. I do not whether I have a copy of it or not. I will go look.

Sanger: The feeling was about the bomb after you knew about it, was it good news, I suppose?

Newson: Well, I think that they were very pleased that is was successful, but it was so successful that I think they also had negative feelings about it, that it was too powerful.

Sanger: You mean the scientists, you are talking, yeah. What about people like yourself who did not work on it, but were involved with it? Do you remember what you thought when you heard about it?

Newson: Well, it was just that I was also glad that it was successful. Nobody was killed doing it.

Sanger: Yeah, and what about the ones in Japan?

Newson: Well, of course the propaganda was that we were going to send so many troops in and how many would have been killed then? So, you know, take your druthers, which would you rather do, yours or theirs?

Sanger: Yeah, yeah. Apparently, I have heard more lately that the second bomb really was not that necessary, probably. In fact, Weinberg talked about that some this morning, that the Nagasaki bomb, which is the one where the plutonium came from Hanford, probably was not necessary. He blamed Groves for it. He said it was his idea. But maybe it is not that important anymore.

Newson: We had half the receipt of the first bomb. My husband and Louis Slotin had worked on that.  When Louis Slotin was killed, I am sure his family did not realize what that was, so it probably got tossed in the trash.

Sanger: Oh, you did? What do you mean the receipt?

Newson: Well, there were two receipts. We had one and Louis had the other one, which my husband gave to the museum at Los Alamos.

Sanger: Oh, did he?

Newson: Nothing was ever done about it. Maybe they threw it away, too, I do not know. But they do not have it on display there.

Sanger: Is that one, when, what, the scientists turned the bomb over to the Army, or what?

Newson: I guess so.

Sanger: Or, whatever. Was that, I mean, that first one, the Hiroshima bomb or the—

Newson: Mhmm.

Sanger: That would be a historical curiosity.

Newson: I had Photostats made of it, but I am not sure where they are, before he sent it off.

Sanger: I wonder what they called it. It would not say “receipt for atomic bomb.” 

Newson: No, it looked any old receipt that you might get from – gosh, I do know, United Parcels or something. You know, just a receipt, but I do not know where – as I say, I had it Photostatted and had several copies made for the kids. I do not know whether I gave them to them or what.

Sanger: Slotin died, what, after the war, wasn’t it shortly afterward?

Newson: Mhmm. He was just supposed to leave for a job, and somebody came in and said that they had not run the test yet or something of that kind, and so Louis, being in a hurry, started piling stuff in I guess, and I do not know exactly what happened. He died just about a week later. My husband was on his way to go out to see him, and—

Sanger: Well, he must have been the first, maybe. Wasn’t there somebody else later, I think? But he must have been the first scientist—

Newson: No, no, someone who worked for him was the first one. Then Louis was the second one. So Louis knew exactly what was going to happen, because he had watched the other fellow die. As a matter of fact, he had taken some count on himself to find out how bad off he was.

Sanger: I guess that is right, I guess I have read about that, yeah.

Newson: [Harry] Daghlian or some, Daghlian or something like that was the first fellow. But actually, there have been so few deaths from that when you think of what, how many people died building a dam.

Sanger: Oh, yeah.

Newson: Or in coal mines, and this is – there have maybe what, five or six altogether is all.

Sanger: Well, just for the first bombs, it must have been just those – well, maybe just one before they were used, except for the people who were killed by them. I mean, in the manufacturing process, it must have been one person, you know, the one you were talking about.

Newson: Yeah, I think was after though.

Sanger: Oh, was that afterward, too?

Newson: I think so.

Sanger: Maybe it was. That is interesting, because they worked in such a hurry, and I know that the chemical separation process at Hanford, they were dealing with really highly radioactive materials. But it was all shielded and everybody was careful. Although, one chemist told me that they did things that you would not do now, but they were lucky.

Newson: They were lucky.

Sanger: That is what he thought. Well, that is about it.

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.