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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

William E. Tewes’ Interview (April 2013)

Manhattan Project Locations:

William E. Tewes worked on the gaseous diffusion process at the Nash Garage Building under Dr. Francis Slack, testing the barrier material. He recalls the Nazi invasion of Poland and how the attack on Pearl Harbor brought the country together.

Date of Interview:
April 3, 2013
Location of the Interview:


Susan Gawarecki: My name is Susan Gawarecki, spelled G-A-W-A-R-E-C-K-I, and today is April 3, 2013. I am at the home of Bill Tewes. And Bill, thank you for taking time to tell us about your life. To get started, would you please say your name and spell it.

William E. Tewes: My name is William Edward Tewes, T as in Tom E-W-E-S.

Gawarecki: And what is your—?

Tewes: I was born on 10-10-1922.

Gawarecki: 10-10-1922. Where you born?

Tewes: In Jersey City, New Jersey.

Gawarecki: And tell me something about your childhood and your education and your family, your grandparents.

Tewes: Well I really want to go back to my grandparents. My maternal grandfather was in World War I. He was a first lieutenant in the New Jersey National Guard and he retained his association with the military after the war to reach the rank of colonel, bird colonel, and was a world-class marksman. I believe it was the ‘28 or ‘32 Olympics, he served on the rifle jury.

Gawarecki: What was his name?

Tewes: William August Tewes. And I am not named for him, I am named for my uncle Ed. Our family went by middle names among the men, and he was William Edward Tewes. 

The one thing I really want to emphasize about World War I was it ended in an armistice, Germany six months or so earlier, maybe a year, had been on the way to take Paris when the US joined in and stopped them. They were not defeated, but they were run out of everything. And the significant thing is, nothing was done to prevent them from rearming and starting another war. 

I think you wanted to know about how I grew up and my parents were in the Depression generation. I can remember things were pretty good for us until around 1930, 1931, and then all of a sudden I noticed none of the fathers were going to work on the street. I asked my mother and she said, “I do not know how to describe it but she said we are in a depression, nobody can get a job.” They decided to farm, so I spent a year on a New Jersey truck farm. We had six acres in tomatoes, Marglobes. You see that brand at some of the farmers markets today. And farming is hard work. 

I was always smart. As far back as I can remember I wanted to be a scientist and I did a lot of reading. I do not know how much I said about it but I lived in New Jersey, northern New Jersey. I lived more in Orange than any other place, and it is a Newark suburb. 

I have always enjoyed going to school. I had a good high school, I was active in things, plays, debates, I was vice-president of the junior class.

But I became aware of wanting to go to college. They used to have special classes for college boards, and I managed to get my hands on some of the books and did studying by myself. And I had an opportunity to go to a couple of well-known schools in New York City with an academic scholarship and a room, but they had a requirement that you could not work and I figured there is no way I could survive. So I went to Uppsala, it was a small liberal arts church-supported school. And it did not have a large faculty, but they were quite good and I felt like I got a pretty good education.

Oh, I was the first in my family to go to college. That does not mean that others in my family did not make it quite well financially. College was not that common for my parents’ generation and certainly it was uncommon for my grandparents’. I had a successful college education; I had over a 3.0 average. I took twenty or twenty-one hours every year.

I had a major in chemistry but I also, by the time I had completed my junior year, I was in a position to get a major in physics or possibly in math too. Had things progressed normally, I would have had a double major in chemistry and physics. 

Let me go back a little bit, a couple years. Don Rubin and I bought a pass to the World’s Fair, and we also bought a Lackawanna monthly ticket from Brick Church, which is just outside Orange, but close to both of us in East Orange. And so I think that cost us ten dollars and it was very cheap to get in for students. Wnd we saw everything in that World’s Fair, that was the Paris Sphere.

Gawarecki: What year was that?

Tewes: 1939. At the end of the evening, when it got dark, they would have a light show in front of the French pavilion, and lights would go this way and that way. And it was keyed to music. And at the end of the light show, there was an announcement that England and France had declared war on Germany and its allies. And they did not play the German national anthem, but they played the English national anthem and the Marseillaise. And if you want to get people charged up and ready to run into gunfire, there is no better song than that, and everyone sang it. 

But in the time after that, before Pearl Harbor, this country was very divided. There was an extremely strong, mainly Republican, who were isolationists, “Do not send out boys to die in Europe.” Then we had extremists like Charles Lindbergh, Father Coughlin, and in north Jersey every Saturday and Sunday the German American Bund would get out and march. 

On December 7th, it was a Saturday, I had gone home, which was Livingston, New Jersey, just over the Orange Mounts. People laugh at the Orange Mounts [Watchung Mountains], but they are just like these Mounts [in Oak Ridge]. And I was driving back, it was maybe around 1:00, 1:30, I turned the radio on and I heard this: “Japanese were bombing Pearl Harbor.” Well I pulled off to the side and listened. And it was apparent that they had a very successful operation, that we had lost all the capital ships essentially, and there was a very significant loss of life. 

After a while, I drove on to college, and everybody was talking. And I went and had some coffee in the student union. You know, it is a personal thing. We realized the draft had been in existence, but we realized that everybody was going to be in the Army or the armed forces. 

I guess the most significant thing was the announcement that President Roosevelt would speak to the nation, I think it was about 11:30 on December 8. And I think most of us remember where we were when he gave “The date that will live in infamy” speech. I thought for quite a while that that speech had been designed to counteract the division that existed in this country. But in reading about it, one of his aides mentioned that when he [President Roosevelt] came into Congress, he said, “There were cheers.” And he said, “In the past there had been cheers, which were coming from the Democratic side.” He said, “This time everybody was cheering.” 

I would be very happy if you would add that speech to this talk, because I think that there are a great many people who never heard it who need to hear it. He pointed out that this was very definitely a sneak attack. That probably it was weeks in advance, that the Japanese flotilla had left and during all that time we had been negotiating with them seeking peaceful arrangements. He pointed out the many targets that are islands beyond Pearl Harbor: Guam, Midway, Japan. 

It is not as publicized as the fact that we lost all of our battleships and cruisers, but we also lost all of our aircraft except for those that were on the three aircraft carriers that just fortunately were on maneuvers. But he pointed out that fact, the extent of the Japanese attack, they knocked out a couple of British battleships too, and they began ground attacks throughout the southeast Asia against the British and particularly Hong Kong, the Dutch Colonies. And he made a point that I think led to the concept of unconditional surrender. He said, “We with the help of God will prevail and we will make sure that we do not have to face a similar problem in the future.” That is so different from the attitude of the last mess of wars we have had.

Gawarecki: Tell us about how this has influenced your decision to join the Army and what happened with your college.

Tewes: That is where I was going. I think everybody and eighty percent of the country heard that speech. I know I was in the student union, I was sitting at a table with two of my best friends, Bill Massinger and Lenny Larson, and I guess with one of my best female friends, Janie Ericson. After that, we spent the rest of the day talking. 

Then they had the Army General Classification Test, this was a kind of intelligence test, and I scored really high on it. And I am sure that that test was the basis for selecting people for the ASTP, and I think that that test was the basis for selecting people for the Special Engineering Detachment. If you were with the Special Engineering Detachments roster, we have a—I think it was 170 different colleges. There were a lot of them just like me, where there was one person from college, from a little college. My feeling was that those people had to have real high scores, because if they were in the middle of the SED grades the management would have selected people who went to a good college. 

But we had this talk and that evening Homer told me, he said, you know, he said, “I do not think I will get an application.” He said, “When I was a freshman I went to two or three communist party meetings, just to see what it was all about, and he said, “And they have been hounding me ever since.” He said, “They are going to check very much, they are going to find out that I’m getting  all this literature.”

But ASTP was a very good experience. We had good teachers. We spent a lot of time—I think we carried something like 24 hours, and there were a lot of lab tests time involved.

Well here I am at Miss Tuttle, who is Dr. [Francis] Slack’s secretary, left me in this room right off the elevator on the fifth floor of Pupin Hall. It was a long narrow room, it served as a library for the group that were working there. She told me where the facilities were, told me to study gaseous diffusion and uranium separation. From time to time other people would come in that room, and we were not to discuss anything personal. We were to use our first names only. And I stayed there  for a long time. I remember one real weird guy that was in there for a few days, and I remember a fellow named Jack, we became friends, we would go to lunch together. He obviously was from some other part of the country and did not know anything about meteorites, I was sort of helpful to him about that. But I guess it was nine days before my clearance came in. 

And Miss Tuttle came down and got me, told me I had been cleared and that Dr. Slack wanted to talk to me and she mentioned his background. I went in and shook hands, and the first question he asked me was, “Bill,” he said, “You set a record.” He said, “We have never had anybody take that long to get their clearance.” He said, “Do you have any idea why?” 

I told him, “Yes, I think I do.” I said, “When I was at the ASTP in Illinois, I remembered the young fellow named Homer,” and told him the story of Homer and the communists. He asked me step outside, he got on the phone. He must have taken about fifteen minutes. And he came and told me, “Come on back in,” and said, “Well, I wanted to call security. And I explained that to them because,” he said, “they probably had some kind of a flag on you.” And he said, “Maybe we can help Homer.”

And then he asked me what I thought they were doing. And I said, “Well you know, this must be a really big project.” I said, “Obviously you are trying to separate U-235 from U-238,” and I said, “And that is a hell of an ambitious thing.” I said, “I got the impression that you are probably concerned with this force media.” And he started asking me a lot of questions, and I told him.

And I told him, “Well you know I have been out there for ten days, and I have had a lot of time to look and think, and that is what I think. And if this group at Columbia is working on that, there are probably other groups working on other separation.” 

He told me, “Well, I would like you to just forget everything you have told me.” He said, “We are working on—” and that was the first time I heard the word “barrier.” He said, “You are going to be working on evaluating barrier. You will be working for Don Tra uger, he is a young grad student. And you will be working in the basement, but if you have any problems where you think I can help you, let Don know and come see me.” 

I think the world of Dr. Slack, he knew everything that was going on. He knew people, he had brought a lot of people with him from Vanderbilt. And I do not know that I had any problems ever that I needed to see him about, but I found that I had a great assignment. They were using helium and CO2 to enhance the distinction between different barriers. They had a very elegant set of techniques. They would have a standard amount of CO2, run it at a high speed to get turbulent flow across a barrier, but half of it go through the barrier. Then we had a Marshak computer that we pounded away on. And we also had a twenty-inch log-log slide rule that there was some number to some odd character that we had to get out and use the slide ruler on. And on each piece we tested, we would do that about three different velocities. The gear was pretty old but it worked. And for several months I worked in the S.A.M. laboratories.

Gawarecki: What did that stand for?

Tewes: Some people say it stood for nothing, others it was Special Alloyed Material, and it was funded by the Columbia University Division of War Research. Then Union Carbide took over. Now Union Carbide—I believe it was in ‘42, I will try to check that date more accurately—had agreed that they would operate the K-25, the gaseous diffusion part. 

Maybe this is a good point to indicate how the Army, the Corps of Engineers functioned. The Corps of Engineers never did anything by themselves; they hired various well-known and established corporations to do their work. In the case of the various work that was done at Oak Ridge using different separation techniques, at K-25 they hired a—Columbia was their prime R&D source, but they were a lot of others scattered around the country. For the design of the plant they had Kellogg, which was a wholly owned subsidiary of—I am bad on my memory, but that is the way I am.

Gawarecki: All right, so were any of these companies involved in New York?

Tewes: In New York there was a lot of other outfits in New York, for instance Kellex was over in New Jersey, and they did a lot of R&D. And Harris served Colonel Nichols sort of as his personal engineer. At Y-12 it was the University of California at Berkeley that did the R&D with an engineering—oh shoot. 

Gawarecki: Well, we will get back to that.

Tewes: Tennessee Eastman has their operating manager. X-10 was a semi-works for the Hanford piles and it was run by the University of Chicago initially. 

Gawarecki: Well I think we have a good idea of who were the contractors in Oak Ridge, but we are really interested in your work for Don Trauger and what you did in New York.

Tewes: I physically was working in—you came in the lobby and you had a badge. It is strange. And you gave a coded number with it, and you went downstairs to the basement. And if you went toward to Hudson River, you had a badge, and that is where the cyclotron guys were. If you were working on the Manhattan Project, you went toward the East River and we had gopher rooms here. For instance we had some SEDs there, we had, oh I cannot think of his name. Warren Newman was not, he was a [inaudible], and I will get you another name later for the SED. But the room I was in was just a maze of old pubs. But I all the time I spent in that location I worked on helium-CO2 separation characterizing barriers. And when I first got there, there were quite a wide variety of them, and then it seemed to settle down to a couple of different ones. And after the war when people wrote books, why I realized that this was the centered nickel-powered barrier, which had been selected by General Groves, and not the barrier that Columbia had been working on. 

And all of the words about barriers are still predominantly classified. I think it is crazy; it is like a trade secret at best. One can state that it is made from nickel powder. The production material during World War II was made at Houdaille-Hershey, they were the operating group for the barrier in, I think it was Peoria, it was definitely in Illinois. There was a security gaffe a number of years ago where some guy tried to sell some of the latest barriers to the French, and we had good relations with the French. And they set up a sting and got him, and I thought rather unnecessarily provided a lot of science information. But for instance there were three barriers in the K-25 plant prior to the improvement program. There was one that had the code DA, a second had the code BDA, a third had the code WB. I wonder if anyone other than me knows what those barriers were and what they were.

Gawarecki: Are you allowed to say?

Tewes: Huh?

Gawarecki: Are you allowed to tell us?

Tewes: No, I cannot tell you anything. I cannot tell anybody anything because I do not have Q clearance and I have been rather unsuccessful in a previous effort to. I thought and I still think and maybe I will take another shot at it, that the DOROH Organization which is concerned with classified oral histories, might well get people like me who are pretty darn old, and have a classified person conduct interviews like this.

Gawarecki: That would be a good idea.

Tewes: I thought I had sold it once before and we did have some interviews, but it was highly structured and I did not even get to answer that question.

Gawarecki: Well, let us go back to the work you did with Don Trauger and the inert gas test.

Tewes: Well I ran into a problem with classification, but essentially what I was doing, I would get these six-inch pieces of barrier tube and we would mount them in a dresser coupling that sort of squeezes down to make a seal. We would send—evacuate, fill the system with helium and CO2.

Gawarecki: All right, so let us go back a little bit, talk about the apparatus, the barrier tubes.

Tewes: We had a basic set of an apparatus for testing. And we would install the barrier tube in it, evacuate it. I guess we tested it each time with the helium leak detector, then we would use four different philosophies. Take a sample out of the gas that went past the barrier and a sample of the gas that went through the barrier, and we would run Orsat [gas analyzer] on them to determine the amount of helium and CO2 in each component. The Orsat systems consisted of essentially a one-meter tube, and we would fill that with gas, then we would emit some material that would absorb the CO2 and measure how much helium was out.

Gawarecki: Okay, so you could judge the separation process.

Tewes: Right, and then we would do it at three different levels. And this magic formula we used would not make them the same, but it would fall at standard pattern, so we were able to average it and then compare one piece of barrier with another. We had minimal information on the barrier. This was the old “need to know” process that Groves insisted on, but we gradually, over a period of time, had pretty good idea of how the barrier was made. 

As time went on we went on two shifts. We always worked ten hours a day minimum, and there were maybe about—well, at various times there were about half a dozen of us that worked on it. Don was always in charge of this operation but he did not have to pay a lot of attention to it. I felt like it probably freed him up to do other things that he was interested in doing. The people that worked on it—Larry O’Rourke and Art Kelman were two of my best friends. I can recall when I met the woman I married, Audrey, when she met them. We had been through this before with her. She mentioned somebody was her best friend, and then she called someone else her best friend, and I raised the question. She said, “Bill, a young lady from Kentucky is expected to have at least three best friends by the time they graduate from high school.” And so  she advised me that I should consider Larry and Art as my best friends, and she emphasized Larry and Art, not Art and Larry. I have to tell Larry that. 

There was Lou Carpenter; Lou is a bit older and married. Bob Vogel, he was married and I do not think he was real happy with it, and Mark Stankey or Stanko, I think it is Stankey. Don Trauger and I had a lot of trouble, I do not think either one of us was completely satisfied when he was writing his book. Hey, let me mention one thing about Don, he was a very effective person, he was honest, open, I was very happy to consider him one of my best friends. He worked for a while down here, he pretty well shut down the Nash Building before he came here.

Don felt that there were other people with more political skill than he had at K-25, so he moved over to the Oak Ridge National Lab and had a very successful career. He was an Associate Director when he retired. And we have always maintained a relationship with Don and his wife because my oldest girls were in Byron’s classes at school and Ellen was in Tom’s class.

Gawarecki: Let us get back to the work at Columbia. In another interview you talked about the DBS Project. 

Tewes: Before the Manhattan Project Dr. Slack had been working since maybe about I think ‘38 or ‘39 on the general subject of uranium and in particular of the bombarding uranium atoms with neutrons. And he was part of the group that was headed by [Herbert L. Anderson] who established that the fission could be produced very much better with U-235 than U-238. In the early days, I think he worked for about a year and then someone else from Vanderbilt worked for about a year, but probably by say ‘41, still prior to the Manhattan Project, there was the DBS organization, Dunning Booth and Slack. 

When the Army became involved, Dr. [Harold] Urey, who was a Nobel Laureate for his work on heavy water, and a man of considerable stature, took over the whole operation. It was he who reported to the military. I think that it is obvious from what I have read that Dunning did not get along with him, but essentially Dunning ran the effort, the separation effort. And while we are talking about Don Trauger, in his book Horsepower to Nuclear Power, he lists an organization chart that [A. A.] Abbatiello developed probably.

Yes, and there is an awful lot that can be learned from it. For instance, Dunning headed—it is called the Physics Division, Physical Division, and the other person that was involved here is—I am going to have trouble finding his name. Anyway he is the head of the Physics Department, and I will find his name and give it to you sometime. But one thing that is not generally known is that [Enrico] Fermi was at Columbia, and while he was there he attempted to build a pile, and I believe they succeeded in getting to .87 percent of criticality. But they mentioned using the football team to push all the graphite pieces around. I do not know where it is located, I have never heard that, and in general the fact that that work had been done at Columbia is probably disappearing.  

But this list of the names to me was very surprising because it mentions Sylvan Cromer, and he is just one of the lower level people here. Sylvan became Union Carbide’s chief engineer, and he and Gene Boothe’s name appears on the Boothe-Cromer gauge, which gives us thousands of them in the various, not just K-25 but all the other diffusion plants, their pressure gauges that would work with UF6. 

Down at a very low position I ran across C. Beck. Well Cliff Beck had a very substantial job, I think he was the technical head of Houdaille-Hershey. I know you probably could get a lot more information from Larry O’Rourke on that, because when Larry left Columbia I thought he had gone down to Oak Ridge, but actually he and some other people built the separation test equipment there before they came to Oak Ridge. But Cliff Beck ended up as one of the two heads of the technical division at K-25. Homer Priest, who is also in here, was the other. It sounds terrible on any management chart. They actually worked very well, because Homer was interested in testing and Cliff was interested in development, and eventually they both left here soon after the war was over. Well maybe a year or two, Dr. Beck went to the University of North Carolina, and Bill wanted the first research reactors, and Homer went into the parent corporation.

Gawarecki: Getting back to Columbia, there was a time when Carbide signed a contract and you had to move. Can you talk about what happened?

Tewes: Right, Carbide took over and I mentioned that group of SEDs, before we moved to the Nash Building, which was 133rd street and Broadway. We had to build an F Tester, that is what we called this gadget where we tested the barrier separation up there, and we still had to be running the one down in the basement of Pupin. So we were probably the last ones to get out of there. And I was not involved particularly in the construction, I was left at Pupin and either I worked or Kelman, we had got to the point where we were running. Well we started at six in the morning and go until midnight with two of us. We had some overlap. And then there was an unusual flapper pump design and we were supposed to add an hour for that, and some nights it was annoying. 

I had still been commuting and I might mention that, back in those days the Lackawanna Railroad in New Jersey had two different commuting lines and they were tremendous. They would during the morning start out where—trains would not stop, but well, from where I was they only stopped two or three stops to get to Hoboken. And we had the Hoboken ferries and that would transport a hell of a lot of people, and in the morning they had a breakfast bar there and some of the best breakfast goodies you could think of. 

Then I would get off at the Cortlandt Street, walk across that really long West Street, go about a quarter of a mile, I would usually jog it, and get to the BMT, take the number four, go one stop and get on the express, go up to 96th street, get on the local, 116th street. And in the early days I would get there just about the time that somewhere—and nobody ever knew where it came from—they would play Reveille and call to the colors. And everybody was in uniform and there were a lot of them there, would stop and salute. We never found a flag but at night when we were working shifts, instead of, if you were around 1:00 you got the First Avenue ferry and at 2:20, 23rd Street ferry. And I guess one of the most interesting days, it was in September of ’44, we had a killer hurricane strike, it was Category Four.

Gawarecki: Wow!

Tewes: I do not know where I was, but I came back to the lab and there was no one around so I asked one of the guards. He said, “Hell, get out of here.” He said, “There is going to be a hurricane!” And I got down to Cortland  Street and there were water piles coming in. And I really think that maybe—Front Street is long and I do not recall going across it. They had this little thing that you could go across, it was elevated and it was flimsy, but I got on the ferry and it was not at the height of the thing.

Yes, and the ferry captain did not have any problem getting across really, but he went way upstream aiming to get in. They had a couple slips and he would back off. But after about a half dozen times he got in, and I think there were half a dozen of us and they were running a train every so often stopping at [inaudible]. And New Jersey has what they call the Jersey Meadows, you could more accurately call it the Jersey Swamp. And we were about halfway across that, and there were all sorts of flashes of light and the wind had just torn the pantographs off the top of the train. After about twenty minutes, another one came out and we got maybe another few miles, and we waited maybe thirty minutes and here came the old reliable steam engines. But when I got off, I had about a quarter of a mile to go, and there was a lot of lightening and every so often a power line hit the ground and there would be a very large flash, and I developed a technique of maybe looking about fifty yards ahead, making sure there were no power lines.

I eventually got home, and go into work maybe around 10:30 or something the next day. But it was an interesting set of contrasts as far as getting things back online. We had an Electrolux refrigerator which ran on gas, it stayed on. Ma Bell [American Bell Telephone Company] took about—it was down for a day, it came on the next day because Ma Bell was a national-wide organization and could pull workers in. The Edison outfit was over a week getting the electricity back on. And I mentioned this being a killer hurricane. Somewhere off North Carolina a destroyer went down and I think they lost about 600 lives total in that hurricane.

Gawarecki: When you moved to the Nash Storage Garage, how did you actually move the equipment?

Tewes: Well, we did not have a good set of moving equipment, and a lot of it we did not move but did move. For a while we had the use of the station wagon and our equipment was not really large. But the delicate part of it, Art Kelman and I went to Wiles, at 125th Street and Broadway, there was a tremendous hardware store and almost everything we used we got there. We each got a—

Gawarecki: Wheelbarrow?

Tewes: Wheelbarrow, and boy I am telling you we learned about the fact that New York is not flat. At 125th Street the subway is out of the ground and it is maybe 100 feet high, it is the longest set of steps I have ever seen in New York. And it comes back underground just before we got to the Nash Building. That was a long walk. We only moved about half of what we had because we had built a new F Tester up there, which worked an awful lot better. 

I guess in 1945 gradually people were leaving and going down to what we called “Dogpatch” [Oak Ridge]. I did not hear the term used too much after I got here, but apparently it was used down here too. But we knew that somewhere around Knoxville was where the plants were. Now all we knew was that there were—that’s where the gaseous diffusion plant was. We did not have any information on the others. 

Well when Dr. Slack left, he had short interviews with everybody and he reminded me that I did not have a very good education. And told me that if I could get some kind of a degree, to contact him at Vanderbilt and he would give me a scholarship so I could get a Master’s. And I always appreciated that very, very much. Now let me talk about people at Columbia.

There is a lot of information about the Manhattan Project, there is an awful lot of misinformation about the Manhattan Project, and I have to go back and dig some of it out as to what the book is. But it was put out by UT and it makes a statement that Dr. Slack never worked on the gaseous diffusion process. It gives him credit for the work on the pile. Well apparently neither the author nor the editors took the trouble to read the references, and this is the reference that they gave of—it is from August 10, 1945, and I cannot find what newspaper. The Nashville library got it from—it is a Nashville paper that describes his work, and there is an awful lot of that. 

For instance, there is statements about S-50, the liquid thermal diffusion process had to be shut down, and it did not work. The fact is that the thermal diffusion process was put online when it was half built, and there were a lot of leaks and they did shut it down for one month to weld the leaks closed. And after that it worked for about a year until the war was over. And at that time Colonel Nichols recommended that we shutdown both S-50 and the Alpha buildings at White Cliff. And Colonel Nichols estimated it shortened the war by nine days, which is one tremendous accomplishment. People going back to Columbia and Nash. Don Trauger, section head was—maybe I had better find that book again.

Gawarecki: There is the book.

Tewes: Was Walter Schneider, he was a Professor of Physics at NYU. Names that I heard who had left just before I got there were Dr. Lagermann and Dr. Sundeen, they were both from Vanderbilt. Jack Hunter I knew for a while, Dixon Callahan, who lived forever in Oak Ridge and was one of Dr. Slacks section heads, Dixon was the person in Oak  Ridge who did all of the tests on nuclear safety. And working for him was Elizabeth Briggs Johnson, when the K-25 layoffs—Libby and Ned Johnson, they were the only group couple I knew who got married at either Columbia or the Nash Building. But Carbide had a practice during layoffs, if there was a husband and wife working, the wife got laid off. And Libby had no trouble getting a job with Dixon. I maintained quite good relations with him because his wife was a professional Girl Scouter and my wife was exceedingly active in Girl Scouts.

Gawarecki: Were there many professional women who worked on the project in New York?

Tewes: Yes, there were two I knew.

Gawarecki: Say it.

Tewes: Let’s see, there were more than that. In Dr. Slack’s Division, there was Libby, and Don Trauger mentions a woman who is a mechanical engineer. And we talked about it and we knew what she looked like, but neither one of us came up with a name or with any question as to where she went to college. There were two that we think were physics majors who were located—there is something about F Testing that required it to be in the basement, and that is where we were located at the Nash Building. 

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.