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Interview with Curtis Rufus Amie Sr., January 21, 2005


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Narrator affiliation: Miner, Reynolds Electrical and Engineering Company (REECo)

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Amie, Curtis Rufus, Sr. Interview, 2005 January 21. MS-00818. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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Nevada Test Site Oral History Project University of Nevada, Las Vegas Interview with Curtis Amie January 21, 2005 Las Vegas, Nevada Interview Conducted By Mary Palevsky © 2007 by UNLV Libraries Oral history is a method of collecting historical information through recorded interviews conducted by an interviewer/ researcher with an interviewee/ narrator who possesses firsthand knowledge of historically significant events. The goal is to create an archive which adds relevant material to the existing historical record. Oral history recordings and transcripts are primary source material and do not represent the final, verified, or complete narrative of the events under discussion. Rather, oral history is a spoken remembrance or dialogue, reflecting the interviewee’s memories, points of view and personal opinions about events in response to the interviewer’s specific questions. Oral history interviews document each interviewee’s personal engagement with the history in question. They are unique records, reflecting the particular meaning the interviewee draws from her/ his individual life experience. Produced by: The Nevada Test Site Oral History Project Departments of History and Sociology University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 89154- 5020 Director and Editor Mary Palevsky Principal Investigators Robert Futrell, Dept. of Sociology Andrew Kirk, Dept. of History The material in the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project archive is based upon work supported by the U. S. Dept. of Energy under award number DEFG52- 03NV99203 and the U. S. Dept. of Education under award number P116Z040093. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these recordings and transcripts are those of project participants— oral history interviewees and/ or oral history interviewers— and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U. S. Department of Energy or the U. S. Department of Education. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 1 Interview with Curtis Amie January 21, 2005 Conducted by Mary Palevsky Table of Contents Mr. Amie was hired by Reynolds Electrical and Engineering Company [ REECo] in 1959 as a laborer at the Nevada Test Site. He became one of the first African- American workers to be allowed to operate drilling equipment. 1 Most African- Americans at the Nevada Test Site were not afforded opportunities to rise above menial labor positions. 7 A recent Department of Energy history of mining at the Nevada Test Site failed to highlight the contributions of African- American workers. Mr. Amie criticized the work and expressed his concern to test site officials. 8 Mr. Amie recalls experiencing discrimination in the Las Vegas community as well as at the Nevada Test Site. 10 All employees at the test site had to obtain a Q- clearance to work with classified material. Mr. Amie describes the background investigation process and the ways in which secrecy affected work at the test site. ` 12 The discriminatory work environment at the Nevada Test Site eventually prompted Mr. Amie to retire from REECo in 1978. 15 After leaving the test site, Mr. Amie purchased and managed his own Dairy Queen franchise in downtown Las Vegas. 17 Despite achieving success in the private sector, Mr. Amie still faced resentment and prejudice from his former test site coworkers. 24 Mr. Amie discusses his role as an African- American business owner in a predominantly black community. 25 Mr. Amie has experienced medical problems that he believes are related to his exposure to hazardous materials at the Nevada Test Site. 30 While the federal government has begun to offer compensation for test site employees who have suffered health problems, Mr. Amie believes that African- American workers have not received the same benefits as white workers. 35 Mr. Amie describes the process of re- entry mining and the potential hazards involved in such work. 38 Mr. Amie recalls his experiences as an infantryman in the U. S. Army in the late 1940s. He served in Okinawa and the Philippines before returning to the United States. In retrospect, Mr. Amie believes that his work at the Nevada Test Site contributed to national security and the winning of the Cold War. 40 While several members of Mr. Amie’s family have become quite successful, he believes that discrimination still limits their potential for social mobility. 45 UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 1 Interview with Curtis Amie January 21, 2005 in Las Vegas, NV Conducted by Mary Palevsky [ 00: 00: 00] Begin Track 2, Disc 1. Recording begins after Mr. Amie provided some background Mary Palevsky: You can say you started there [ Nevada Test Site] in 1959. Curtis Amie: Nineteen fifty- nine. I worked as a laborer. Then I went into the tunneling part as a bull gang. I did that work for— started in 1966, and I retired in 1978, around September. During that time, we laid track, dug ditches, and did menial work, like. At one time, they upgraded and I took a cut in pay for six months, then I went to the mine as a trainee, which I graduated from the trainee school. OK. So here’s a picture of you—? That’s a picture of me graduating in my class. Right there, that’s me over there. Right. Right. Yes, there you are. OK. Before then, you will see that’s me here. Oh, great! And we were inside of the tunnel. I’m going to get something to label those pictures. So this is number 1, is your graduation from the class. And these are the guys that trained you up here? Yes. I recognize [ William] Flangas. And these are the three guys that did the training. This is miners’ training? Yes. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 2 And then this is you in the tunnel. This is picture number 2. OK, great. Sorry I interrupted you. Go ahead. OK. Then after I graduated, I was still doing what I call just degrading work, digging ditches, laying the track, and all that. So I really wanted to— since I had completed my training to be a miner— I wanted to be the drilling and do all the aspects of mining which my cohorts, see, Caucasian people, were doing. And I protested and I threatened to quit because of that. Finally, I was allowed to drill on this big machine they call a jumbo. Four people can drill on that. You drill through so many holes you’d have to drill, the formation was really hard, but you drilled and you set up the dynamite and you blast and that whole thing. But I wasn’t allowed to do that, so I finally— one morning I decided I wasn’t going to— I went through all the channels and they said, OK, we’re in a hurry. Right now we got to get the shot off and we’ll let you drill later on. I said, Well, I think I’m qualified. I went through the training. I want to drill. And they said, No, we can’t do it. I went from my shift boss up to the supervisors, the walkers, and even to the project manager, which was Bill Flangas. On that particular morning, I didn’t catch the bus and I went over to the rec hall and he came through, said, Curtis, why are you in here? I said, I decide I’m going to give it up, Bill. He said, What’s the problem? I said, Nobody will let me drill and I was trained for drilling and I want to drill. And he said, Can you drill? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 3 I said, Yes. He said, Well, hold on. I’ll see about that. He said, Stay here. I�����ll go make a call and I’ll come back. So finally he came back and said, OK, I have called— I think it was E Tunnel— and [ 00: 05: 00] they’ve set up. When we get there around ten or eleven o’clock, we’re going to let you drill. He said, Can you drill? I said, Yes. He said, OK. If you can’t drill, if you’re lying to me, if you can’t cut it, I’m going to run your a-- down the road. I said, That’s fine. I’ll accept that. So OK, eventually we went up there. Now I didn’t know offhand but I had— there was a Caucasian guy that trained me, that helped me drill. He said, Curtis, they’re stacking the deck on you. They went over to another tunnel and brought in two of their topnotch drillers from over there and they said, I want you— old Curtis, he’s trying to make trouble here, can he drill? He said, Yes, I think he can. They said, OK, I want you to make him look bad. That was exactly what— his name was Naff [ sp] told me. He’s passed away now. Naff? Naff. He said, OK, Curtis, you take the top. On the jumbo there were two machines on top, two on the bottom. He said, You take the left top. I’ve changed you a new bit so it’ll go fast. He said, I know you know what to do. He said, Don’t force it, but just—. And also we had a spray can. Think we were drilling eight feet deep. He said, I marked it on the rod what— the drilling deal. That’s it. When you see the blue mark, then you bring back. You know you’re eight feet deep. And he said, Also, UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 4 you start, go across, and drop down— because if four people’s drilling, that jumbo, the big arm, the main arm that brings it up and down, it’s a hydraulic- like deal. He said, All of them, they could jam you and you won’t be able to come back up. He said, Really, start over. When you get to your line, then either you just push the button, it will drop down. Then you just swing it on across. I think we were drilling about two feet apart, one, two, three, it was probably about six lines that we drill, each part. So OK. So when I got in there, they said, OK, it’s all set. Get up there, Curtis, and start drilling. I started drilling. There was the motorman that brought the train in. So he said, Curtis, he said— Bob William was a religious guy. He was black. And he said, Curtis, you think you going to make it? I said, Yes, no problem. So I start drilling. So believe it or not— oh, about fifteen minutes through the drilling, I was really, you know, bringing it down. I was about halfway through. So finally I completed my drilling. I wrapped the jumbo up, the drill deal, and they had those big hoses. It was run by air and water. So I wrapped it up, came down off the jumbo, which it was a tall deal, and Bob William, he was the motorman, he was pushing the jumbo in, going to bring it back out. And he said, Curtis, he said, you just can’t cut it, huh? He said, Go back [ 00: 10: 00] up there. Don’t give up. I said, Bob, I’m through. He said, Praise God, you can’t be. I said, I’m through. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 5 So finally Mr. Flangas and the walkers and the shifters and all that, they were up the drift a ways. They saw that I had got through and I was standing on the back of the motor, the train, talking to Bob William. So they came down there. They said, Hey, shut it down. They said, What’s the problem? You can’t cut it? And I said, I don’t know, I said, but I’m waiting on the damn dynamite. So he got up and he said, Give me a tape. Bill Flangas himself went up on that jumbo, got his tape, he borrowed a tape, he went in several holes to see was it eight feet. So it was eight feet right on the nose. He came down and then he— I’m searching for the words, that he kind of rebuked them or something like that, the rest of them. He said, I want you guys to— what’s the problem here? You let this trainee beat you out? He said, Get to getting! So once we drilled out, then it came to putting up the charge, putting the dynamite in the hole, putting the blasting caps and the whole works. Now each one of those other people had a helper to carry the dynamite, the boxes were quite heavy, to lift up there. So Bob William, he wasn’t supposed to do that because he was a motorman, he wasn’t a miner, he was a motorman. He said, Curtis, how much dynamite you need? The powder? He said, Just get up there and I’ll lift it up to you. I said, OK, Bob, that’s fine. So I finally went up there and I had to pack and load all of my holes by myself, but the others had help. Finally when we got through, we blasted, you know, the hole, we’d tile it in and blast it. So my workers and the project manager and all that, they said, Well, we will see after the blasting, because you’re supposed to be a smooth deal, what you call doglegging and all that, like chuckholes like on the roadway, you wasn’t supposed to be— supposed to be a smooth deal. Oh, so it’s not supposed to have any potholes or anything like that? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 6 Right. Up into the cavity. So after that, they went back up on the big rock pile and they looked. Mine was perfect. After they mucked out and the whole business, then Mr. Flangas told them, Listen. I want Curtis on this jumbo. Each time it come in, put him on there and let him drill. So after that, I didn’t have any problem drilling. That’s amazing. Let me ask you a technical question about the jumbo. All four of you are drilling at the same time? At the same time. Two on the bottom, two up top. It’s a four- man jumbo. Big machinery. I’ve seen pictures of it, but I don’t think I’ve seen pictures with people on it. And then the motorman, Bob Williams is driving it in as you—? He pulls it in, brings it back out, because it’s huge. Yes. When you say that you were set up, was this by the other miners, you think, to make you fail? No, it was probably through the walkers and the upper echelon. OK. In the tunnels. In the tunnel. [ 00: 15: 00] OK. And were there any other African- American men working in that kind of job at that time? No. There were several more miners but they were doing menial work like me. Now when it come to the jackleg, which is something— it’s expanded like a jackhammer. Now this jackleg, it’s on a tripod and you could drill vertical- like. Jackleg. Jackleg. That’s a heavy piece of machinery. Now I was allowed to do that because it was— you had to have on the rain suits and all that. It was kind of strenuous. So they let me do that. And the mucking and all that. Laying the track. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 7 But not doing the machine like the jumbo. Not that machinery because once you drill out, it was probably thirty minutes or maybe an hour to drill out and set up and blast. So while the people’s mucking the muck out and getting ready to lay the track and another round of shots, then the four drillers, they had privileges. We could go to the lunchroom and— which I didn’t drink coffee, but we could go there and we would take a break, which was probably thirty minutes or more. So our primary job was drilling. It wasn’t all that laying the track and that mucking. I wanted to be a part of that. So about what year was this? This was in the sixties? I started in ’ 66, but this was probably ’ 76 through the time I retired in ’ 78. So this was really at the end of your career that you finally did this. Yes. Wow. And did you keep doing that work on the jumbo, then? Well, they phased that out and they went into another type of machinery called the Alpine [ Miner ™ ], but at that time I think that was the later stages of using the jumbo, blasting, so they went into the Alpine thing that it drilled more smoothly and didn’t have to use all that blasting, the dynamite. So after that, then I worked with Bob William on the motorman, what they call a break- in, it’s just like throw the switch, you go out and haul things, and all that. But when we started, right before I turned it on, you said something about this book [ James Carothers and Robert Knipes ( 2003). Building the Cage. Las Vegas, NV, NNSA, DTRA: OMB No. 0704- 0188], that you had some thought about the book or—? Yes. At that meeting, Mr. Bill Flangas was there. I confronted him about— after I read the book and I saw in there where there was no mention of not one black person, African- American UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 8 person, on the whole [ Nevada] test site, the drilling or the laying the track. This was book was really offensive and I asked him about that. I said, Why you didn’t include not one black person? I said, You could’ve included me because I was your number one miner. I proved that out. I beat them all out. I said, You could’ve proved that. And he said, Well, maybe I could’ve said that you got bit by a snake in the tunnel. I said, I don’t find that funny, Mr. Flangas. So anyway, out of all those people that worked up there, I was wondering when those people, you know, report who worked up there and who got hurt and all that, were there any black people that worked up there? According to this book, Building the Cage, there was no black [ 00: 20: 00] people worked there, when we did the frame work, the heavy work, digging and laying the track, and all that. But there was no mention, not one black person in this book. I found that very offensive. Yes. That’s why I’m happy you agreed to talk to me. Yes. I have no axe to grind with nobody, but I know we’re still living in the day and age that people of my color and my race, that the playing field is still not level. Just recently had the Martin Luther King deal, came by, there was a weatherman, the newsman, he made this derogatory statement about Martin Luther Coon Day. We are referred to [ as] coon, black people, because of the black and white color of a coon. Martin Luther Coon Day. This weatherman was eventually fired, and I think he should’ve been, for using that derogatory statement. This was here in Las Vegas? Yes, during the— just recently. Just now. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 9 Yes. Wow. I missed that. Hm. Maybe we could talk about how you as a black person got to the test site and some of your memories of the early days of what all you guys were doing. Because that helps us correct the record. You know it’s important to have these things in the record. And of course I want to talk to other of your cohort that were out there that aren’t appearing in these other places. Yes. And when you come to supervision, there was no black person that was upgraded to be a, what they call a boss, a shift steward or a walker or of that capacity. Yes. Now— what was I going to say? You’re an employee of REECo [ Reynolds Electrical and Engineering Company] at this point? Yes. You are. OK. I was hired at REECo and when I did my last stint up there, which was around September of ’ 78, I was a REECo employee. OK. Now when you came in 1959, where did you come from? What had brought you to the test site? I came here to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1952. Oh wow. From— you said Texas? From Texas. I recently had spent a stint in the Army from 1946 until 1949. I was honorably discharged. After that, I worked in Texas for a while, then I found out that— I heard about there was— they were doing a lot of construction work building the hotels and things in Nevada. So I migrated here. I joined the labor union as a laborer. That was basically digging the ditches and shoveling and sometimes carpenter helpers or plumber helper or something like that. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 10 Yes. Now you were— let’s see, you said you were seventy- seven, so just so we get it on the record, you were born where? I was born in Marshall, Texas in April 27, 1927. OK, great. So you were a young man. In 1952, you would’ve been, what, maybe twenty- five years old. I’m doing it in my head. Not quite. [ 00: 25: 00] Yes. So when you got here. So you were— so— I interrupted you. So you were doing that work. And what was that like in those days in Las Vegas? Did you experience— what kind of discrimination did you experience? Quite a bit during ’ 52, ’ 53, up until the sixties, we weren’t allowed to eat in the cafeteria. I wasn’t a drinker anyway, but wasn’t allowed to drink beer or that type of thing in a bar. I experienced in 19— probably about ’ 56, I was working with a Caucasian fellow. He and I were pretty good. He was a truck driver. I was going to help load the truck and unload. I was more or less like a swamper for him, you know, guiding him and helping him back it in. So we were coming down, oh, I think it was Paradise Road, something like that, and he drinked a bit, and he pulled in there and he said, Curtis, let’s swing in here and get a beer. Well, I knew they weren’t going to serve me in the first place. So we went in this joint. It was called Maxine. This lady was— she was kind of like a tough lady type or whatever, Maxine. So we went in her joint and he proceeded to the bar. He ordered two beers. They brought one. He said, I ordered two. He said, Well— The bartender, which was a lady, said, He can’t drink here and he knows that. You know you can’t drink here. I said, Well, I’m just sitting here with him. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 11 He said, Why not? This is my friend Curtis. Give him a drink. They said, If you got to come up with that attitude, we prefer you not stop here anymore. We can’t serve him and you know that. So we came out. That was my first major experience with that. I knew they’ve set the bar where things that you could do and you couldn’t do, so I tolerated that. Coming from Texas, I wasn’t allowed to do that. I would’ve had to go to the back to eat and things like that. So it was a problem with me, but it wasn’t no big deal because I could tolerate it. So how did you get over to the test site? How did you know about it? So I joined the labor union and I went out on several jobs. Finally at that time, they would call people out maybe fifty a day, a whole lot of people, because at one time they were doing a lot of hiring and a lot of firing. Because they would work maybe four or five months, and once they got a test off, then they would do some laying off. So I started in ’ 59. I think I worked maybe four or five months. I was laid off. Then eventually I went back probably 1960 and I stayed there continuously until 1963 or ’ 64. I was laid off again because of what they call reduction in force, which I had no problem with that. So eventually I went back in 1966. I started working at Tunnel 16 as what they call a bull gang. And what is a bull gang? I’ve heard that expression, but what does that mean? Well, it’s exactly what it means. Bull. You worked like a bull, like an animal. You dig the ditches, [ 00: 30: 00] lay the track, and those ties weigh about eighty or ninety pounds. You dig holes to lay the track and the railroad, that steel was heavy, the rails, so we packed them and laid down. And when the miners would do that. Eventually I, you know, suggested that why couldn’t they train us as actual [ miners]—? Finally they did. They went into this trainee program. So I took that up. Had to take a cut in pay. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 12 Yes. Let me ask you about something else. What percentage of people working that real hard labor, would you say, were black or were other minorities? Or were there white people working that, too, or—? Everybody? I would say the bull gang people were about 98 percent black. Maybe one or two Caucasian people, a few of the Mexican people, but other than that, it was entirely black. OK. And I had another question. When they’re hiring and laying you off, are you being hired then by REECo? I was hired through the Laborers’ Union 872, which REECo would call in and they would, say, request needing maybe fifty miners, and we would go through the medical tests and the background of what they did, the criminal and all that. Right. So once you had that clearance, then you could be hired off and on. Did they have to do it every time, to check your background, or just that first time? Well, mostly they would run a background test on you for about three weeks. But while I was there, they did an extensive background test on me— it started out from my high school— to get what they call a Q- clearance. That’s qualified to work in the sensitive areas and things and that. You had this green badge which you call a Q- badge. Now my mom— or the people that— I think they spent high as three thousand dollars to classify, to Q, one person. It wasn’t, you know, about the color issue, but they wanted to know were they Communist or whatever. So when they went and contacted my mom, she was reluctant to tell me anything because she finally called me and said, Curtis, there were three people. They were in suits and they were asking questions about you. What have you done? Are you in trouble, baby? I said, No, Mom, I said, it was just about the job. I said, If they come back, tell them anything they want to know. I said, It’s about I can a badge which will entitle UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 13 me to get a better job and stay on longer. So eventually I cleared the— got the Q- badge, the green badge. After that particular time, we were working in a place called Jackass Flat, which was that they was working on a thing called the Kiwi. You know the kiwi bird, he doesn’t fly, he’s like an ostrich. So they were working on that project over there. So I worked there for up until, I think, ’ 63. And what were you doing there? At that time, I was helping the users, which are LASL [ Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory], Westinghouse, and all that. They would set up the instruments and we were helping— we were general diggers, doing a little bit of ditch digging, but basically we were helping them place their instruments and did some sandbagging, but it wasn’t like the bull gang work. It wasn’t too bad. I was a carpenter helper and things like that, which wasn’t bad. But once I got the Q- clearance, the other people that didn’t have the Q, they had the red badge, and elevated to a green badge, the people with the red badge, they couldn’t even go in the restricted [ 00: 35: 00] areas and use the toilets there because they would have to have a man like me with a Q- badge to escort them in there, bring them back out. So that wasn’t too bad. So there were very few at that time had the Q- badge. It started in Jackass Flats. Very few— Oh, oh, either white or black had Q- badges at that time, you know, just the workers. Oh, I see what you’re saying. Very few of the workers had Q- badges. Yes. Got it. Well, that’s interesting. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 14 So eventually, oh, I think, what was that? Some outfit out of Florida took over and that was the end of Area 400. So then I went back to Mercury, Nevada, where that was the main beginning of the test site. So I worked there as carpenter helper or laborer and we did— several of us, but it wasn’t too strenuous. This was actually building buildings in Mercury? Building buildings, setting up the trailers, and that type of thing. Got it. Got it. So as a REECo employee, you’re sent as needed to these different areas of the test site? Yes. And we’d have to have a foreman. Most of the foremen were Caucasian. Right. Now were you generally working with a certain group of guys? Did you get to know certain guys really well, or did they move you around so you were always working with different people, or how did that go? Yes. Mostly I think I worked from 1963 up until probably ’ 64 in the area in Mercury, right around the area, because we were probably put on like a maintenance crew when they would help the build the roads and the signs. When they’d bring the wide trailers on, if they knock them down, knock the signs down, we would have to put them back up, and that type thing. So I worked there a while. Then eventually— the bull gang work paid more money, much more per hour, than the laborer. Once you went underground, you got the underground pay, and it was quite a bit extra. So that was the incentive for me to go into the tunnel work, the bull gang business. Right. Right. Just some personal things. Were you married at the time? Yes. And did your family live here? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 15 Yes. OK, so would you commute back and forth, then, to the test site? It was ninety- five miles from here to the test site. We drove and mostly carpooled. You had to have a fairly new car. Every two years you had to get another car or put another motor in it because you were putting lots of miles on that car. And they called that the Widowmaker, that highway. Just a two- line highway, and people were driving crazy and there was no speed limit. If your car could do 120, sometimes you let it out. So that was a problem up there. Lots of people— wasn’t too many got killed but there was lots of them got maimed with wrecks and things like that. But I was married at the time, had five kids, and can happily say that I put three of my kids through college. I have one daughter now is assistant principal at a high school. [ 00: 40: 00] That’s great. Had you met your wife here or did she come with you? No, we were more or less a family thing from Texas. I see. And her name is? Ruby. Her name was Ruby. So she had the same forethought that I did. She didn’t like maid work because she finished high school and she just didn’t like that, and so she worked at a hotel a while and they let her polish the silverware and things like that. So she finally upgraded herself to work for Sears, Roebuck. She started out there as a salesperson, but she encountered a bit of discrimination there. Because it was funny, she related to me one time that she worked in the, you know, at that time Sears, Roebuck, it was a credit thing like Montgomery Ward, you had the card and things like that. So she said some lady from Texas or Florida someplace, she was getting her kids school things, and my wife was working in the kids’ department, you know, the garment. So she was there and so she said, Girl, could you help me pick out things UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 16 for my kids? And so she got a whole arm— well, she helped her out, brought it up to the counter, and she laid all this on there, and so my wife Ruby said she went around there to, you know, to ring it up. And then she said, Oh, she said, I’m sort of in a hurry. [ She] said, Would you get somebody to ring me up? She said, Oh, by the way, [ she] says, that’s my job. That’s what I do. So she encountered that. But luckily we came a long ways and now I am seventy- seven [ years old], so think I did pretty well. Yes. Now when you left the test site in 1978, why did you do that then? Was that a choice? Was it based on some of these issues that you’ve talked about? It was really, I’d say, 90 percent based on the issues that I— I wasn’t upgraded and I was relegated to just menial jobs and things that I wasn’t doing any strenuous work, so I said OK, it’s time for me to go. So I requested a— I had enough credits in at the union, so I could retire. At that time, if you had twenty- five credits in the union, you could retire. So I checked out and I found out that I had thirty credits. It was time to go. And I requested through my project manager, I want to retire. He said, You can’t do that. We are not laying off. We’re hiring. I said, Can’t I get a reduction in force? [ And he said], Not now. So I eventually talked to the right person and he said, OK. Just check out. Come downtown at the main office there and check yourself out, and that’s it. But once I retired, I wasn’t depending on the test site work anyway because in 1973, I had acquired a Dairy Queen, which was a national franchise. I went through the Small Business Claim, filled things, got a loan, and I had this Dairy Queen business. So I knew I had something to back up on. [ 00: 45: 00] Right. Right. And so you kept that business for a while afterwards or—? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 17 I kept it, I ran it, I had employed probably about sixteen people at one time, mostly teenagers, high school or school kids, to work there. In I think about 1980, I was approached by an Italian fellow, because I was doing good business. I had a brother that had cancer and I took off and went there and spent about three months with him at the cancer institute in Little Rock, Arkansas. So those people, they were real good at the gizzards of the chicken, they had a special deal that they could take those gizzards and they were quite good, and so I learned how to do that. So my specialty when I came back to the Dairy Queen, I got those gizzards going. I had a special sauce that I put into that, and I had the recipes just like Colonel Sand