Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.
Tom, the retired USAF colonel who occupied the office next to me in the bomb shelter of the old National Guard HQ in Santa Fe, NM, should have known a lot about radioactivity. He spent the entire Cuban Missile Crisis camped under the wing of his B-47 bomber. Had all kinds of tales about the flight maneuvers a pilot had to perform to drop a hydrogen bomb and come away in one piece.
The New Mexico Emergency Planning and Management Bureau [EMPAC] was all housed in that bomb shelter. Most of the section chiefs were retired colonels, except my humble self, and Louis, head of Radiation Control. When nothing was going on there’d always be a few of us gathered in one office or another telling and listening to interesting experiences in our varied pasts.
So when Tom found his travel schedule was going to coincide with the one-day-per-year the Trinity Site where the first atomic bomb was detonated allowed visitors, we all envied him. He was gone a week travelling all over the State, and a few days after he returned several of us gathered in his office to hear all about it.
Naturally there’d been a nice dog and pony show at an old ranch house from the time a mile or so away, now converted to oversight center. Then, off to ground zero.
Tom described how it was all bare sand and soil, how they’d scraped away all the green glass that used to cover the spot. How visitors were warned not to pick up any of that green glass if they should find a piece.
So when his glance downward showed him a piece of that green glass peeking out of the sand near his foot, of course he had to tie his shoe. Slipped it into his pocket. Gave us all a sly smile when he pulled it out and held it in his palm.
Wow! A piece of green glass from the first nuclear detonation on earth! We all wanted to hold it. Passed it around, all except Louis. Our Rad Control section head. He stepped back a pace when his turn came to hold it.
“I’d like to put an instrument on that.” Louis had access to plenty of instruments, had more than a thousand of them spotted all over New Mexico. Part of the mission of his section was going around changing the batteries on those Geiger Counters regularly.
He was out the door and back while the rest of us waited in mild curiosity. The glass was back on Tom’s desk and Louis clicked the power switch. Didn’t actually have to get too near with the probe to peg the needle. Didn’t have to put on the headset to hear the buzz. We all heard it.
Louis had a straight shot at the doorway and he was first out. Followed closely by everyone but Tom. He just sat staring at that piece of green glass. Probably wondering what the hell to do with it.
I’ve always wanted to visit the Trinity Site, but I never got around to it. Even when I was living several years just up the road from it.