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Shigeko Uppuluri’s Interview

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Shigeko Uppuluri was born in Kyoto, Japan and lived in Shanghai, China during World War II. She came to the United States for graduate school, where she met her husband, mathematician Ram Uppuluri. The couple moved to Oak Ridge, TN in 1963. In this interview, Uppuluri tells the story of the Oak Ridge International Friendship Bell, a symbol of peace and reconciliation between Japan and the United States. She describes how she and her husband launched the effort to build the Bell, the opposition they faced, and the new Peace Pavilion for the Bell in Oak Ridge’s Bissell Park.

Date of Interview:
April 26, 2018
Location of the Interview:


Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. It is Thursday, April 26, 2018. I have with me in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Shigeko Uppuluri. And my first question for her is to say her name and spell it.

Shigeko Uppuluri: Okay. My name is Shigeko Uppuluri, and I was born in Kyoto in Japan.

Kelly: Don’t forget to spell your name.

Uppuluri: Oh, S-h-i-g-e-k-o, and Uppuluri is an interesting name. U-p-p-u-l-u-r-i.

Kelly: Wonderful. All right. So now continue. Tell us where you were born and when.

Uppuluri: Okay. I was born in 1931, before the war, in Kyoto. All my ancestors are from Hyogo, the other prefecture, but they settled down in Kyoto. That’s where big temples are. My grandfather was a very pious Buddhist. That’s the reason, yes. Then I grew up—I think it was first grade time—my father had a business in Shanghai, so we moved to Shanghai. During that time until when I was in junior high, the war broke in Shanghai, so all the Japanese had to go back to Japan, after the war. Then I went to high school in Kyoto. I went to college, and then I came over here.

Kelly: After college?

Uppuluri: Yeah, after college.

Kelly: So what year was that?

Uppuluri: I worked in Kyoto about two years or so. My father had a friend, who was running—I think it was an import/export business. They needed someone who could speak a little bit of English, so they hired me. Then, I applied for a scholarship to come here. Then, I got the Women’s College Scholarship. That’s how I came here in 1958, I believe, and then I went to Indiana University to graduate school. Then, while there, I met my husband, future husband [Ram]. He was in the mathematics division. I was helping my professor of anthropology—I was studying anthropology. He asked me to come and help him in the evening, so when I was walking through, the math building was there and then the anthropology building. I looked up and saw all of the lights on. I was curious who was there, and that’s how I met my husband. We got to know each other, and then we married.

Kelly: So you were studying anthropology. Interesting. And he was a mathematician. Did he pursue an academic career? Was he a professor of mathematics?

Uppuluri: Yeah, he finished his PhD, and then he came here. He applied here. He wanted to work here, so immediately his degree was received, and we moved here in 1963.

Kelly: Who did he work for here?

Uppuluri: Dr. [Alston S.] Householder, the head of the math division. So he worked with him here, yeah, Dr. Householder, he was a mathematics professor here.

Kelly: I see.

Uppuluri: At ORNL [Oak Ridge National Laboratory].  

Kelly: Okay. So he worked for him. And what did you do?

Uppuluri: I wasn’t doing anything because I had a two-and-a-half-year-old boy, Ram—you know Ram. I was just getting used to how to know this community, and meanwhile, I was helping at elementary school here and there, and things like that. Then by the time he grew up to be in junior high and high school, one day I got a telephone call from ORNL asking me, “Do you speak any Japanese?”

I said, “That’s the only one I speak.” Then immediately, they asked me to come to ORNL. What happened was in 1970, at that time, computers could convert from any language to English. That’s what happened. They were getting a lot of academic journals from Japanese universities, all in Japanese or most—some were in English, too. So they wanted me to read it and extract all the important information. That’s why I was hired.

Uppuluri: They formed the Information Division in ORNL. That  meant all the languages. We were about twenty-three, just women. Some were chemistry. And we could deal with almost all of the languages within 23 girls.

Kelly: Oh, my goodness.

Shigeko: That was fun.

Kelly: That’s impressive.

Uppuluri: Very good, yeah.

Kelly: And this was for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory?

Uppuluri: Yeah, yeah. When I was working at the X-10.

Kelly: Oh, wow. The graphite reactor.

Uppuluri: Yeah, yeah, we can walk around any place.

Kelly: Right, yes.

Uppuluri: We did that, yeah.

Kelly: Yeah, right, exactly. That’s great. So what got you interested in this Friendship Bell? Can you talk about that?

Uppuluri: Well, then we had a good time. We got to know many people—many people from all over the world. And by the end of ’80, my husband used to go to Japan, and many other places, too. One day he went to Tokai-mura, the Japan Atomic Energy Institute there, right? You know that. Before that, at Tokai, Japanese Atomic Energy Institute, there was a man who came from there. He was a librarian. He came to the ORNL X-10 library to just study. Then we got to know each other because he was Japanese, and when we went to Tokai—my sister was here before and came here alone as a bachelor, and there was another Japanese man bachelor. So they got to know each other, and then he finished his assignment for three years here—1964,’65, ’66, something like that. He and my sister got married in Kyoto. He was from Kyoto University.

Then, he was working at that time at this place, Atomic Energy Agency in Japan. They were living in the same area. We used to visit my sister. Meanwhile, my husband was doing research at the institute. And one day, this librarian said, “I’ll take you around this area.” And we went. The Atomic Energy Agency is right on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. On a hill there’s a temple, and there was a big bell hanging there.

He showed us this large bell. We were just so curious—my husband was so curious—and he was looking around. He told me, “I want to take this to Oak Ridge.” I thought he was just joking. It was much bigger than what we have here. Anyway, so that’s what happened; it triggered him.

I asked him, “Why?”

He said, “Well, look. This bell will last for a thousand years. You don’t have to clean it. You don’t have to keep it in an air-conditioned room.” I thought he was just joking.

But then, when we came back, he started talking about it to all his friends – I have a lot of American friend – and told them. I said, “How do you think?”

Everybody agreed. “Hey, that’s a good idea.” One thing he had in his mind was that this would be a good thing. Lots of people would come for sightseeing; this is an attraction. I didn’t think about that monument being a peace monument.

Well, then in 1990, we had an exchange program for Ibaraki prefecture, which is where this Atomic Agency is. This city called Naka, N-a-k-a, had a Fusion Energy Institute move there, and they have a building there now. Our scientists I was working with at X-10 – and teaching some of the scientists who were going to Japan basic Japanese language so that they could talk to their secretary when they went to Japan. Then, there were lots of exchanges going on with fusion energy here and fusion energy in Naka.

Dr. Lawrence Dresner said that he would talk to the Japanese head of the Fusion Energy in Naka City and ask, “Hey, how about we exchange some students?” That’s how it started.

In 1990, our mayor, the city manager, and I all went to Naka and, with the Naka mayor, we all signed an agreement. That’s in 1990. Then, we had just started an exchange program in 1991, and that time, not only students, but the mayor and the city manager and then city council people—about 30 people—came from Japan to Oak Ridge. We had a big ceremony. 

In 1992, Oak Ridge celebrated the 50th anniversary of the war because this town started in 1942, right? Then, there was a big parade and everything, so the Naka folks all came, and we were on this ride on the parade, so they brought a big drum, and then they had some local culture, like dancing and things like that. It was a big celebration. That’s in 1992.

Then, by that time, we thought we should do something about the bell. We made a contact with a bell maker in Kyoto. We didn’t know who to ask to make this bell. Among all the Japanese scientists, there was one scientist from Kyoto, Kyoto Municipal Medical School. He was a health physics scientist. We talked to Dr. Kamata – his name is Dr. Kamata. By this time, we are all like a big family; we all know each other very much. So we asked, “We are looking for someone who can make this big bell.”

Mrs. Kamata said, “My sister lives in the neighborhood of this big bell maker, [Sotetsu] Iwasawa.” And that’s how we got to know Mr. Iwasawa.

So by that time [inaudible] teaching at the university, we contacted Mr. Iwasawa, and he was so honored and thrilled to have a bell brought to Oak Ridge. He knew about this town—and he was very, very impressed—he said, “I’ll make it.” He came over, and he looked around. That’s where the old bell house was built. It’s not there anymore.

In 1992, the 50th anniversary. In 1993, we all went, 14 of us: Dr. Herman Postma and Dr. Pat Postma and my husband. We all went to Kyoto because, by that time, Mr. Iwasawa said, “We will have a bell made for you. When you come here to Kyoto, you will see it.”

That’s how we went to Kyoto. I remember it was 1993, July 14. There was a big festival going on in Kyoto. Then Iwasawa’s foundry had a big factory, and we saw it, all of us were invited. He invited us to lunch and everything. It was a mixture of copper and tin. A professor from Kyoto University asked, “How deep a tone would you like? What kind of tone when you ring the bell?” That’s how you know he’s a scientist. He made the proportion that was missing. And then it was a beautiful sound. We saw the bell made and cast.

Have you seen the bell? There are a lot of designs, right? Those designs are made by Suzanna Harris. She was a good friend, and her husband was a fission energy scientist, too. Suzanna said, “I can make that.”

One panel was Tennessee with the Smoky Mountains and the mockingbird and the iris and all that, and the dogwood flower. The other panel was Japan and Fuji mountain and the cranes and the cherry blossoms and things. That’s what she made it.

Iwasawa – we saw that, right. All the molds came here, and they poured the molten metal. The next day, he said, “Come back tomorrow morning. We will take out the cast.” We went the next morning, and it was beautiful. I have a big picture of that bell at home. Dr. Herman Postma was taking all the time a video. I have the video, too. That’s how it happened in 1993.

So the 50th anniversary we did, we had an exchange program established. Now the bell was there. It was a full 8,000 pounds. A big bell. Now we have to say, “How do we transport this bell to Oak Ridge?”

My husband said, “Well, let’s ask some Navy people to carry it on a boat.” My brother—I have a younger brother. It’s my older brother, me, and a younger sister and a younger brother.

He was a reporter, just like Mr. [Daisuke] Kawakami, of the Mainichi newspaper. He told me, “Oh, there’s Honda.” We call it Giken Honda. It’s a basic technology research institute,or something like that. “They want to take your bell to Oak Ridge.”

I couldn’t believe it. “Really, they said that?”

“Yes, there are two people of Honda, and one person was an insurance man. He said, ‘Oh, the insurance to carry the bell to Oak Ridge, and we’re all covered. You don’t have to pay anything.’”

Even a penny, we didn’t pay. Honda said, “We take a lot of cars to the United States. We can take one car out and put your bell here.” That’s how it came to Savannah, Georgia.

The bell was cast in July, so by the time the bell came, it was in the fall, I think, and we were all waiting. It came to Savannah. Then how do we go get that heavy bell to Oak Ridge?

Well, Dr. Herman Postma says, “We are doing a lot of research, and we have some nuclear waste materials that we can take on a truck to Savannah, Georgia and put it on the Russian boat.” That’s what he told me. “Coming back with an empty truck, we can just put your bell here.”

That’s how it came. We were just counting the time when it would arrive here, and yes, it came right in front of the—where did it come? We were all waiting when the truck came. It was a big wooden crate, a huge wooden crate. We removed the crate. I was just watching. And here came the big bell. Dr. Herman Postma and Dr. [Alvin] Weinberg were there. We were all waiting.

When they took the bell outside and checked the inside of the bell—oh, I should have brought a miniature bell like this. It’s exactly a replica of the big bell. 400 bells came out from this big bell. We didn’t expect that. We were, “Wow!”, you know?  

Iwasawa told us – I remember Dr. Herman Postma was sitting here next to us – and he said, “Okay, I’ll make 500 small bells, exactly a replica of your big bell. We will keep 100 because it cost something like $60 to make that little bell. I will save that 100 in Japan so that I can get back all the money back. You take 400 and sell that to make your bell pavilion for that.”

That’s how it happened. 400 bells came, and then we had a pavilion finished. Then we had a big celebration in 1996, and Senator Howard Baker came because he’s a good friend of Dr. Weinberg. And we had a big celebration. We tried to sell the little replicas for $250, which was all for the bell construction funding. That’s how it came out.

I forgot to mention the 50th Committee in 1992. When we celebrated the 50th anniversary, there were 50th Committee people. The motto then was, “Born in war, living for peace, and progress with science.” Those three were the 50th Committee’s motto of that time. So it just fit that right. Born in war? Yes. Living in peace? Yes. And progress with science. That’s how we did it.

By that time the bell became a peace bell and friendship bell, too. Each year we have an exchange program going on. It’s going to be 27 years now this year. We have two junior high schools. Five students from each school and two teachers, one from each school. 12 people all ready to go to Japan in July. The students will go to Naka City, where the Fusion Energy Institute is. Not only students, but here the scientists and Naka scientists already collaborate, and some people go there and come here, too. Just with the 50th Committees, the three things: born in war, living for peace, and progress with science. That is what exactly this town is about, right?

Before they go to Japan, we have to teach them manners and how to eat, know the rules and things like that. We have orientation class for four weeks. Every week. Wednesday afternoon, we all come to one school. Yesterday, we had ten students and two teachers. Yesterday was the last of four classes. I teach the language. About twenty or thirty vocabulary [words], like “Good morning,” “How are you?”, “My name is such-and-such.”

They all learn that, and by the time they go to Japan, they can introduce themselves. They are going to homestays. They have to say, “Good morning, good afternoon,” things like that to their home mother, right? Four hours we study Japanese language, and the other three hours, some other Japanese guy will come and teach how to eat, how to behave, how to bow, how to remove their shoes, things like that. Yesterday was the last class, and some Japanese girls cooked some Japanese food, so we had a food-tasting class yesterday. That was the end of that. 

But like I said, when you come—by the way, Naka City, ever since, they have an organization. It’s called SCSO, Sister City Support Organization. I’m one of them. They have also a support organization in Naka, and every time we have Japanese kids come here and my grandkids go there, we always take care of them. In Japan, these kids go there, and then they have a home stay. Not only that, but these support organizations teach them how to wear a kimono, how to do a tea ceremony, all those things they teach our kids. And when they come here, they home stay here, and here they take them to the lake and boat ride and tubing. You know, the things which they cannot do it in Japan. Every year, both of them enjoy it so much.

The Japanese consulate general moved from New Orleans to Nashville. Now their offices are in Nashville. And Mr. [Masami] Kinefuchi was Senior Consul General. He just went back to Japan. Now we have a new consular general. It has been more than 25 years. Not many cities, although they start sister city organizations, not many last that long. He was very impressed, so he gave us an award, the Foreign Ministry Award, some years ago. That was very happy for us.

Now peace is the one thing that we have to concentrate on, and this bell. The old bell house, which looked like a Japanese bell house, got decayed because the rainwater came in. The city moved it four years ago, so then Pat [Postma] said, “We have to rebuild it.” That’s how we formed a Peace Bell Rebuilding Committee. That’s what we are working on now. Yesterday I also had a meeting. Pat is the chair, and Alan [Tatum] is a physicist working for the engineering part. And John Hetrick is Oak Ridge Parks and Recreation Department head. By the way, John Hetrick and those guys are going to Japan this year. We all got together, and we have to rebuilt this new pavilion for peace.

And then Ram found an architect in the neighborhood. His name is Ziad [Demian]. He came over because Ram told him lots of stories about our place. So he came here, and he designed it. He showed me. That’s what I was going to show you. This is a totally new 21st century architect. Some people said, “Oh, we’d like to have a Japanese style.”

But, no. He said it’s going to last for a hundred years. You never know how long the bell will be there. Maybe they have to change it now. But this one will stay there for a long time, though. So Ziad designed a new one, and it’s now going on in Bissell Park now, yeah. Sometime in August, when the Japanese students come here, we’d like to have a dedication for the bell. That’s how it happened.

Kelly: What a nice story. My goodness, you accomplished a lot. Let’s see, you started in—

Uppuluri: ’80.

Kelly: Yeah, 1980, wow.

Uppuluri: Yeah. It’s a good thing to have a lot of friends here, supportive people here.

Kelly: Yeah. Well, that’s dedication that you’ve brought on. Was there much resistance at first?

Uppuluri: Well, we were talking about it. Of course, the newspaper published our thing. I would say about five people – I can remember some of them. I have a newspaper cutting, saying that, “This is a Christian country. Why do we need that Buddhist – our bell used to be a gong for the temple, right? Why do we need a Japanese bell here?” That was a big argument.

I was teaching at UT [University of Tennessee], and a UT Department of Religion, Miriam [Levering] what is her name, Miriam, anyway, a professor said, “Look, Japan, yes. All the temples all have the bell, but since we didn’t have things 2000 years ago, if a town got a fire, how do you let the people know about what’s going on? At that time, they used to gong the bell to let people know if there was a fire, if there was a tsunami, these things. So it’s not just a bell for the temple, but it’s useful for many other reasons.”

She went to court, and she presented paper. The judge said, “All right. That’s fine. This argument about religious symbol is out.” So that one thing cleared.

But some of the old soldiers, who were at Pearl Harbor, and that’s how I really felt so deeply. He said, “My very good friend died at Pearl Harbor. How do you do that?” The reason we started the war was because Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. That was a big argument. It’s about the history, yes, and then consequences. Not all the time we are approaching to make peace. It’s always revenge, war, or these things happening. But I don’t know how to say this to those people who were at Pearl Harbor and lost their really good friends. That was a big argument. That one also, it was a Buddhist symbol and this is a Christian country, and we do not need that. You cannot argue, you know? This is very hard.

Then there were a lot of newspapers back and forth. I have all the newspaper cuttings; I showed it to him. But one day, one high school boy wrote an article. “Look, all these other people are talking. Let’s get on to peace.” That’s what he wrote; that was it. So we don’t have any more newspaper back and forth argument. But I have a newspaper cutting of that. It was some time ago. I don’t know who it was, but that was really God’s blessing that one high school student said that. That was the end of it.

We talked to lots of friends, to both American and Japanese. Everybody. My husband talked to so many people. He said, “This is a good thing to do.” That’s how it came.

Kelly: And that did it. This voice of the children rising up and saying peace.

Uppuluri: I know.

Kelly: And the adults went along.

Uppuluri: Yeah, yeah. And, then, Dr. Postma and Weinberg was wonderful to support him. He said, “I will take over, and I have a lot of scientist friends all over the world.” He asked for a lot of donations; that’s how a lot of money came in.

He showed me—the American Physical Society gave him a gold medal. He said, “Hey, this medal is worth about $10,000. I can sell this and donate to you.” That’s what he did! So money came in, and I think we raised about $750,000 or so. Now it’s enough to build the main part. We have to wait for the garden thing, but I think it’s going to be okay.

Meanwhile, Naka, the sister city, also donated some money from Japan—I’m talking about the Japanese side. And, Mr. [Tomio] Kawata, who was a nuclear fuel complex head who was here with a few other of his colleagues and stayed here for a year or so at X-10. I met him when I was teaching. He came to my classroom, and he said, “I can help you.” He wrote an article in a physics journal.

He published it saying, “This is what happened in Oak Ridge.” Many Japanese scientists used to come to Oak Ridge, right?

He called all these people. They said, “What’s happening? We need to finish this peace bell.” He asked everybody to donate this much amount. Then, he also raised lots of money from our sister city.

Then in 1997, in Osaka, there was a World Expo at that time. It was a big success. One festival, 1997, says [inaudible] holiday. Anyway, they raised lots of money that time, and then they wanted to use this to support activities between United States and Japan. Anything small, like a teacher going here and there, or if somebody needed a textbook or anything, they would give it to them. There were about ten different, what you call, grants. The last one was, “If you are going to build something, we will give you this much amount.”

That’s how I saw it. So I called, and then they sent us an article, and then you read it, filled it up and send it back. That’s what they did. It’s called Kansai Osaka 21st> Century Association. They got the application, and they said they approved it. “And you are the last category. $50,000.” $50,000? Yes. That’s how we are going to get there.

Every year I go to Japan to visit my brother, sister. Every time I go there, I visit this office and just keep contact. Then this man in charge of this, our thing, says, “Okay, but one condition. You have to finish this building. Then we will grant the money.” So that’s why we have to finish first. Some money will come later, and we can perhaps make some gardens and things like that, and plants.

So things are happening one after the other. From the beginning to this end, you know, every time some miracle happens. All the time. I say this is for the peace. People like Pat and Alan, they’re also dedicated people. I don’t want to think about Oak Ridge as just creating a nuclear bomb. This is the peace.

 Anyway, July 6th our kids are going to Japan. That is wonderful.

Kelly: Yes.

Uppuluri: They will come back and talk to me so much  about Japan. You know, I ate this and we went this. It’s been so fun to listen to them.

Kelly: That’s wonderful.

Uppuluri: And then the city people are very supportive. We have a Sister City Support Organization, and Jeri Luckmann is the head of that. And she is so dedicated. So is Pat, and so many people are so supportive. That is wonderful, you know.

 Then in August, 10 Japanese and two teachers are coming here—sometime in the middle of August. They have summer vacation time. Here we don’t. They come when our school is on. Our school begins sometime at the end of July this year. They come in August, and then students meet. They go there to home stay, and their kids come here to home stay here. Pat said they’d have a dedication ceremony of the bell sometime in August. So we can have Japanese kids and maybe the mayor will come. So now we have to finish the bell.

Patricia Postma: Shigeko, you might mention the combination of technology and tradition in the carbon fiber being used.

Uppuluri: Yeah, yeah. Ziad says, “This is a new 21st century technology, okay? Oak Ridge is an advanced technology institute, so why not?” You know? Alan, being a physicist, he said, “Usually, this cantilever thing is an L-shape.” Then they cast cement, but this cement is now a carbon fiber—that’s what Alan said. Carbon fiber looks like cement, but it’s a much stronger, lighter object, so it can go like this. Then we hang the bell and begin this sort of roof, going like this. In between, there’s—it’s not glass, but something transparent so the sunlight comes through. And then it’s much bigger, and we can do some music performances and kids birthday parties. Whatever we can do. Sometimes a wedding going on. Last time, we did that! So that’s how we plan, and everything is high-tech now. No more old Japanese style peace bell—I mean bell house. That’s how we are doing that part. Pat and Alan are working on that.

So whenever Japanese kids come, they all go to the bell, and we talk about the short history and why this bell is here. Because Naka did a little support for us, and the kids are very happy to hear that.

Nathaniel Weisenberg: One question that I have is just about what do you hope, for people who visit the bell in the future, future generations. What do you want them to take away?

Uppuluri: Well, last time one Girl Scout girl, she said, “You need some explanation. When people come here, to really understand.” She did it, but we may have to do it like that so people come and–

Postma: The National Park Service is going to have interpretive signs inside there.

Uppuluri: Yeah. That’s how we’ll show a short history of the bell and why this is, the 50th anniversary and the three mottos, and things like that. All written here last time. That’s why the Girl Scout did it. So this time also I think we need that.

I think National Park people are very supportive. Every month, they send us an online program; what National Park Service is doing, and, always, the bell is mentioned. So I think this town has to be ready for [Manhattan Project] National [Historical] Park, so that means you have lots of displays of what happened. I think National Park is going to do that. We can work with them, too, about what has to be written on the board. I think we’ll have it on a – Pat can tell you more about this area. Also lots of people from the ORNL beginning, many donations. We received many, many donations. So each name engraved on the round post or stone post around that area, and some of the major donors’ names are all written. There will be lots of explanation, and people will know how this bell came to exist. That’s what we are going to do.

Kelly: Do you still go to the schools and tell children how they should behave when they get to Japan?

Uppuluri: Yeah, yeah! In fact, I just got mail from Julie Kinder, who went to Japan last year. “Please come and talk about the new bell.” I’m going there in May. I have a Japanese friend called Kumi [Alderman]. She is doing lots. She’s the organizer of the Asian Festival. She got around all the Asian countries, and we have a big Asian Festival in August in downtown Knoxville. Vendors all bring their own food, cook there, and dance, and music—a whole-day event. It’s August twenty—I’ll ask Kumi, but she’s the organizer. We have lots of connections. Then Kumi said we will have one more tent for us, so [Oak Ridge City Manager] Mark Watson knows us and asked to come and present the bell. Then we can bring pictures and brochures, and things like that.

Kelly: Are there many Japanese in the area?

Uppuluri: Yeah, yeah. Oak Ridge. Here, mostly scientists or war brides. Quite a few Japanese women, who are married to a soldier who was then in the Vietnam or Korean wars. They told me they could get one week of vacation, and they always go to Japan. From Korea or Vietnam, the nearest place is Kyushu, the southern island. So the girls are from Kyushu area, and they marry. You know, it’s wonderful. Soldiers come there for a one-week vacation, and they find a girl and get married. Then, they’re over here. I have those friends here, too. Some of them don’t speak good English yet, but imagine how after almost thirty or forty years, they are married, and they have kids and grandkids, and it’s wonderful. All their families, you know. They had hardships when they came, the Japanese girls. One of the girls came to Tennessee at that time. Some of the rural areas of Tennessee didn’t have electricity, running water, toilet. So she said, “Why did I come here?” She almost cried, but then now she’s very happy. She has five grandkids. I know many people like that.

Postma: Do you remember that when the people were objecting to the bell that you described, that they found all kinds of reasons not to like it. Do you remember that the city council had to pass a resolution that the bell could not be rung, except between 6:00 and 6:15 in the evening, and you had to sign up for it in advance? Because they thought it would wake everybody up or you could hear it for twenty miles or something. That was part of the objections of the people.

 I know there was a high school person that appealed to city council finally, to say, “This is ridiculous.” So then they changed the rule. But, I didn’t know about–

Uppuluri: Jim Campbell’s daughter did it. We have Jim Campbell here, and their three daughters, one older daughter and twin daughters, they all went to Japan through this exchange program. And Jim Campbell’s oldest daughter said, “Why do we have to lock the bell? You have to ring the bell.” The city locked it, and if you wanted to ring it, you had to come to get the key from the city, and they would give it to you. The ringing time was only this time to this time. That’s what it was for quite some time.

Then, Elise Campbell said, “This is ridiculous. We have to open it and can ring it every time.” That’s how the city unlocked the bell. So any time then we could ring the bell. But, until then, we could not because of the anti-bell thing was going on. The city was very considerate, too. Then once the bell is open, five or so people now. Miriam [Levering] went to court and many things happened.

Postma: You might want to comment on the role the bell has played in Oak Ridge. That it’s a place where families go. There have been weddings at the bell.

Uppuluri: Yeah.

Postma: We took our grandchildren when they were christened to celebrate at the bell. And it’s become a very important part of the city.

Uppuluri: That’s right. So the bell would just hang before, but gradually people go there. The kids’ birthday party, and then sometimes they did a wedding under that bell. And every end of the year—I was there one time—we rang the bell to send off the old year and welcome the new year. Another thing was some of the peace groups here read, during the wartime, every soldier’s name who lost their lives, and every time when they read one name, they rang the bell. That’s why they did it. I think Marese Nephew was doing it. So the bell was gradually accepted with the Oak Ridge people. Not just Oak Ridge people, but people who came to know about this. That’s how the bell became a part of the city now.

Kelly: So now there are no rules or restrictions about—

Uppuluri: No. Any time, you can go there, and ring—

Kelly: And ring the bell.

Uppuluri: Yes.

Kelly: And it doesn;t wake up people 20 miles away?

Uppuluri: Nearby in the art center—used to be art center—in the art center, people can complain. The recording for the blind—Dr. Weinberg’s wife’s name. They built a small building to read books for blind people, called the recording for the blind. These people complained. They are not to ring the bell during working time. We don’t want to wake the citizens up.

Postma: Well, it will be again when it’s hung, an absolutely beautiful, resonant sound. Nobody could possibly object.

Uppuluri: That’s right, that—

Postma: It just makes you feel good when you hear it.

Uppuluri: A whole four minutes. It goes on like that.

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