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Interview with Larry Neese, July 1, 2004


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

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Neese, Larry. Interview, 2004 July 01. 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 Larry Neese July 1, 2004 Las Vegas, Nevada Interview Conducted By Joan Leavitt © 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 Larry Neese July 1, 2004 Conducted by Joan Leavitt Table of Contents Introduction: family background, childhood on farm in Kansas and in Colorado, education, childhood memories, early work, marriage and children 1 Work with Longyear Drilling in New Mexico ( 1953) and at NTS ( 1957) 3 Memories of life in the 1940s and 1950s: attitudes toward the USSR and Communism, feelings towards the U. S. government 4 REECo takes over NTS contract from Longyear ( 1959), work in tunnels ( Rainier, 1958) 6 Move to big- hole drilling on Pahute and Rainier Mesas ( 1960) and increase in size of drilling department 7 Photograph identification: big- hole drilling ( 1960) [ L. Neese1- 3] and explanation of basic drilling technology 8 Explanation of straight- hole drilling [ L. Neese4- 7) 10 Description of various types of drill bits and cutters [ L. Neese8- 12] 11 Drilling in USSR ( high water table) 13 Photographs of fellow workers [ L. Neese13- 16] and drillers’ lives at the NTS 14 Drilling on Pahute Mesa [ L. Neese17] and post- shot work 16 Working with the Soviets in the USSR on Shagan ( JVE, 1988- 89) 18 Impressions of Semipalatinsk, living and working at there 21 Photograph of Failing 2500 and crew [ L. Neese18] 27 Continues with life in Semipalatinsk, USSR 28 Trip with Fred Huckabee to Moscow, USSR 29 Social life in Semipalatinsk, USSR 32 Security in the USSR and communication with U. S. during project 33 Work on Kearsarge ( JVE, 1988- 89) 35 Safety at the NTS 36 Positive influences in life: wife Donna Neese and former department manager Leonard Palmer 38 Need for public understanding of work done at NTS and emphasis on safety 39 Opinions on Yucca Mountain Project, and government spending at NTS and other facilities and on cleanup 41 Photograph and document identification of big- hole [ L. Neese19- 22] 45 Photograph identification: moving derrick off of big rig [ L. Neese23], rig for Climax Mine ( 1958- 59) [ L. Neese24], underground at Climax Mine [ L. Neese25], rig on Pahute Mesa ( 1985- 86) [ L. Neese26- 27?], casing a hole [ L. Neese28], drill bit [ L. Neese29] 47 The test site as an all- male world 49 General hard work and some recreation during test site period 50 UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 1 Interview with Larry Neese July 1, 2004 in Las Vegas, NV Conducted by Joan Leavitt [ 00: 00: 00] Begin Track 2, Disk 1. Joan Leavitt: Why don’t you start with telling me a little bit about your mother and her background. Larry Neese: My mother was born in 1901 in Greensburg Kansas. And she went to school, I think, in Greensburg. I’m not for sure where she graduated high school, or whether she did or not. Her dad was a farmer and a carpenter, and they lived on a farm in western Kansas. My dad was born in 1899 in Buxton, Kansas, eastern Kansas. And then they came— he and his folks were farmers— to western Kansas in, I’m not for sure what date. But anyway, he and Mom got together in the early 20s, early 1920s, and were married in February 4 in 1922 in Kansas. And how many brothers and sisters did you have? I have three brothers, besides myself. My brother Harold is still alive and lives in Canyon City, Colorado. My younger brother Marvin worked at the test site and passed away in 1976 with a massive heart attack. And then I had one brother who died in infancy. No sisters. Did you grow up on a farm like your parents did? Yes. In 1935, in the midst of the Dust Bowl in Kansas, when I was about sixteen months, I fell down a flight of stairs in a walker and I lost the sight in my left eye. And I was pretty nervous, and of course— Sixteen months old, that happened?. So I never knew what it was to have two eyes. Anyway, it was in the midst of the Dust Bowl in the early 30s, and the doctors told the folks [ if] they wanted to keep me, they ought to move out UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 2 of western Kansas. My dad had homesteaded in Colorado in 1921, so we loaded up in 1935 and moved to Colorado to the homestead. We got there and the homestead, the house, the barn, and everything was gone. It had been torn down. Anyway, why, we moved in there and then rented a house not too far from there in ‘ 35. And I started school in Moffat, Colorado, in the second grade, and I went to school about six months there. Then my folks leased a place over in a community called Merridge, right about eighteen miles east of the homestead. We moved and lived there until I went to grade school at Merridge through the eighth grade. I went to high school at Moffat through high school. Then I started college in Colorado A& M [ Agricultural and Mechanical] in 1947. I graduated high school in 1947. That’s a long time ago. [ 00: 05: 00] It is. Well, it sounds like you just missed the war, World War II. Oh, yes, my older brother, had to go to the war in World War II, but I was the wrong age, so I never did get to go. They probably wouldn’t have taken me on account of my eyes anyway. Now, were you the second son? I was the second. Do you have any memories, particular stories, of that growing- up time? [ Laughter] I was in trouble all the time, I think, according to what— she [ referring to wife, Donna Neese, sitting in on interview] talked to my mother before she passed away. She said my younger brother and I were always in trouble. We would get our chores done and we would like to wrestle around with each other. We never lived too far from fishing or hunting, so we would do that. Well, did they have any kind of sports or that you then got involved with in school? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 3 Oh, yes. In high school we both were involved in basketball, football, track, and lettered in all that. In fact, I think I still have my high school sweater. Did you start the day early in order to do the farm and go to school too? Yes, you would get up early and do the chores and go to school. Did you have cows to milk? Had cows to milk. Dad, at one time, had two hundred and fifty head of hogs. Had to feed them. So we were kept busy, plus farming. We raised grain and hay and whatever else was on the farm. Helped take care of that. All three of us boys worked on the farm the whole time. Did you say you went to college? I went one semester. I hadn’t prepared myself well enough in high school. I shouldn’t have been in college. So I quit at that and went to work. Came home, went to work for Swatch County running a CAT [ Caterpillar], plowing snow for mine roads up in the mountains up above Bonanza, Colorado. And then I later transferred from that into running a blade, grading roads and stuff. So I’ve been pretty much in farming, construction, had my own truck, done a lot of that. I got married the first time in 1950, and did some trucking and worked for other farmers in the valley. And then in 1953 work wasn’t very plentiful in Colorado and my two brothers were working in New Mexico for a drilling outfit. In fact, one of them was Longyear. So I went to New Mexico and went to work for a housing building contractor in Gallup, New Mexico. My older brother was working for Longyear and he had a chance to get me on the drilling in 1953, so that’s when I went to work in drilling. I moved my family down there and then— Did you have a couple of kids when you moved? I had two kids when we moved. Now, was that down to Arizona or New Mexico? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 4 New Mexico. Yes, to Gallup, New Mexico. And then I later moved to the little town of Cubero, New Mexico, which is about sixty miles west of Albuquerque. We worked for Longyear, core- drilling for uranium for Anaconda Mining Company. They had a big open pit mine there just out of Cubero, at Jackpile Mine. In 1957, Longyear got a contract out here at the [ Nevada] test site, and they asked me to bring a rig up here for them and do a six- weeks’ job. [ 00: 10: 00] What kind of a rig was that? It was a small exploratory- type rig that I’d been running down there. They had this contract out here at the test site so I brought that rig up here. So how did you bring it up? Did you ship it? Drove it. How big was it? Oh, it was a single- axle drilling rig, a big International, and then we had another load of drill pipes. I had another guy bring that truck and I drove the drill up here. Did that take quite a while to drive that? No. I left Albuquerque one morning and stayed in Boulder – City— the first night I was ever in Nevada. That was July 7, 1957 that I came up here. Going back home, I had never seen anything that hot in my life. Yes. Las Vegas is. Well, before we go a little bit further on to the test site, let me see if you have any memories of what life was like during the 1940s and 1950s, especially attitudes towards the Soviet Union.. Because through your lifetime, there was has been such a dramatic change. Well, yes. It’s always been thought among a lot of people that Russia was our enemy to start with, even back in the 1940s and 1950s. Was that kind of how your orientation was, then? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 5 Yes, and then when war broke out in Japan, why, the Japanese were definitely our enemies, so a lot of people never got over fighting the Japanese. But in time, why, it was finally done. Well, do you remember any changing attitude towards Communism? No, I never really understood it or was that interested in it. We went to school and I played on basketball teams, town teams, for five years after I got out of high school. We were traveling around all over the valley and in and out of the valley in Colorado, and never really had any hard evidence that Communism was a big thing. You know, we went through, in the late 1930s and the 1940s, the rationing and all that on the farm, the gas, sugar, flour, and that kind of stuff. My mom was always worried we weren’t going to have enough to eat. But with Dad having two hundred and fifty head of hogs, we wasn’t much troubled— You did have food, just not cash. Ate a lot of pork. Yes. Well, that’s pretty good stuff. Well, how did you feel towards the government? The United States? I’ve never had any big problem against the government. I think at times, you know, the taxes seem like they get too high and government bureaucracy is, I think, way too strong, but if you work with the government as long as I did, why, you get used to it. You just know that they make— it seems to me they’ve made a lot of mistakes, overrun on money and never watched money real close, as far as I was concerned. But at the same time, when I came out to the site and went to Russia, it wasn’t an idea of how much money they were going to spend as that we had a job to do and we needed to do it, and that’s how we felt about going over there and doing that job. It’s a job to do and somebody needs to do it, let’s go do it. So that’s what we did. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 6 Yes, just get it done. OK, so now we’ve got you in the 1950s and we have got you at the test site. Do you have any particular memories through the working years that you’d like to talk about? [ 00: 15: 00] Well, in January of 1959, Longyear lost their contract and REECo [ Reynolds Electrical and Engineering Company] took over the drilling department for DOE [ Department of Energy] or AEC [ Atomic Energy Commission]. They have changed names so many times, I can’t keep up with that. I worked in the tunnels, in B Tunnel when they done the first Rainier shot in B Tunnel in 1958. We went back in there after that shot and did the post- shot on that. They set us up a place right back in the alcove and put in a big cement block wall, put in a steel door and glass windows, or whatever it was they put in there so they wouldn’t break. Lead windows, I guess. And we went in there and did that. Had no idea of what radiation was going to do us or nothing. We had lab people from LLL [ Lawrence Livermore Laboratory] come out and explain to us pretty much what we was going to get into, what maybe they was going to see down hole. But we had done all the drilling behind that door. We moved all the controls with the rig outside that cement and steel door. And I drilled that hole looking through these lead windows from behind that steel door and where I could see the rig. And that’s how we did that post- shot. And, you know, there were a lot of mistakes made. We had no blowout equipment. If it was blowed out, why, it would been all over with because— but we never thought about that, or I didn’t. When we were drilling, we just went in there and did the drilling and got it over with. Well, I understand there were a lot of drill rigs at one time that drilling was something that took long, hours and lots of drills. Well, in 1958, we had a couple of drills in B Tunnel, and then the one we did the post- shot with. We had had several rigs in there to do some line- of- sight work, but no big hole rigs or anything UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 7 like that. Then in September of 1960, they decided to do some big hole drilling in the test site in the flats, and on Pahute and Rainier Mesa. So we had no rigs. We had— the government had six small rigs, but there were only six personnel in the drilling department. There were only six of you? Yes, there were only six of us, and two of them were managers. [ laughter] Then in September they said, Go ahead with the big hole drilling. We need rigs. And so in September we started procuring rigs— Now, was this during the moratorium? No, it was before the moratorium. So we started moving rigs in here from all over the country. We wound up with— the government had forty- six rigs out there, and we went from them six people to over nine hundred people in the drilling department alone. That’s tremendous growth. From September till probably the first of November— Now, what caused that growth? They needed personnel to run these rigs, and they wanted to go around the clock, seven days a week, and that’s how we got started with the big hole drilling. Now, did you live at the test site, or did you live somewhere else at that time? At that time, I lived in Las Vegas. So you got on the bus and—? No, we went in a carpool. There were no buses, other than just to Mercury for the office personnel. Then we got all these rigs in. LASL [ Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory] took half of them and LLL took half of them. They made me project manager for LLL on the rig end of it, or UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 8 [ 00: 20: 00] the drilling end of it, so that’s how we got started. We started with some inferior equipment and bits and everything else. Not knowing how to drill big holes, we kind of just had to experiment and fill it in. I’ve got some pictures of what we started with and— Would you like to show some of those pictures? It’s really good to have you explaining what they are. [ L. Neese1] Well, there’s a setup of how we opened up and got up to a sixty- four- inch hole. It was from drilling a twenty- six and then putting these hole openers behind it to—[ sound of papers rustling]. Those are huge, aren’t they? Those rigs. [ L. Neese2] That was when we built a down hole rig to put bombs down hole, especially for the government, and that was me operating it on a down hole. Are you in the hole? Yes, the sub- base is right ahead of me. I can see right down through here where the sub- base is at and I can watch the people under there, and sub- base was the same level as I was here. Now, are you drilling? No, I’m just lowering the bomb in the hole. Did that scare you? No, it didn’t bother me. No, you just said, That’s the job and that’s just what we do. That’s part of the job. I knew what— So part of your job— you got pretty close, then, didn’t you? Oh, yes, [ laughter] I had my arms around bombs. It doesn’t make any difference. That’s never bothered me. I did get, a few times when I was in the tunnels working in a different area, got UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 9 exposed to some radiation and they had to take me out of the tunnels for a while, but it never really was a factor of how I did my work or anything. That was part of it. [ L. Neese3] This is a picture of some big holes they started over in Area 410 in the early part of 1960. This was before we ever moved anything to the flats. This was all done in Area 410. It only lasted a couple of months over there. But they weren’t drilling near as big of holes as we were. But anyway, that’s how we got started. We would drill, depending on the labs’ criteria, we’d drill a hole fifteen to eighteen hundred foot deep. If they wanted a forty- eight or a sixty- four- inch hole, we would drill them with mud. We would be anywhere from thirty to forty- five days drilling a hole that deep. Then over the years, we established some better criteria for drilling with flat bottom bits and bigger bits. Most of our holes wound up being ninety- six or a hundred and twenty- inch holes, and we drilled them in one pass - a fifteen or eighteen hundred foot hole in the flats. After we got this method to work of using a big drill pipe and the inner string sucking from the inside out, why— we was sucking from the outside in and drilling the same hole fifteen, eighteen hundred feet deep in less than seven days. Well, I was really impressed that the American technology with drilling was so much more superior than the Soviet Union. Yes. Because they had a lot of oil wells and a lot of oil exports. That’s right. But you must’ve been really able to see the technology develop. Were you able to give feedback and give suggestions on how these bits could get better? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 10 Yes, but they didn’t want to pay a whole lot of attention to you. They’d just say, No problem. [ laughter] [ 00: 25: 00] Well, somebody must’ve listened because we ended up with the best drilling technology in the world. Yes, for sure. And describe to me the problem of trying to drill a straight hole, because that seems to be what was remarkable. Yes. Well, [ L. Neese4] this was an auger rig here that we started the holes with and cased them down to a hundred and twenty feet, then we would move the big rig in and set it down, and then you’d pick up your bits and mandrills and drill pipe, and we loaded them mandrills with weights. That is such huge equipment. Does that make you feel powerful, to run that? Or do you just, you know, get used to it? It’s just a job. Yes. Just a job you did. [ L. Neese5] That was a thirteen and three- eighths drill pipe there, with the stack assembly there. Later we changed all this and went to flat bottom bits. Oh, that’s so fascinating. I wonder if they have any film of any of this drilling. I know they have film of the explosions themselves, but the drilling is— There was one film made in Area 4 by Smith Tool Company. I’m not sure where that film is at. I can ask the archives, because that would be really helpful. That was made by Smith, and it showed the sequence of moving it— of drilling a hole in Area 4. And that was— I don’t remember. [ L. Neese6] Here’s some of the tools and fishing tools that we used. That’s just a flat bottom bit there, and then these weights here go on this mandrill, which is a mandrill right there and right there [ L. Neese7] that you can put this flat bottom bit on, and then you stack these weights on here— well, you can see where they wore on it— till this bottom UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 11 section weighs between three and four hundred thousand pounds. How you maintain a straight hole, is that you only use about maybe fifty or seventy- five thousand pounds of this weight on bottom to drill with, and the rest of it is like a pendulum effect. It keeps the hole straight. As it drills down, why— You know, that much weight is mind- boggling. Three hundred, four hundred thousand pounds. Well, when we ran some casing in some of our two thousand foot holes, some of these bits and drill pipe weighed nearly six hundred and fifty, seven hundred thousand pounds that we were handling when you were on bottom, so you never got in a big rush to pull a bit or handle weight because you knew you were handling that much weight to start with. We were very safety- conscious about— Now, is this a safety bit? Is this a drill bit right here? [ L. Neese8] That’s a drill bit. I think that’s a ninety— no, that’s a seventy- two- inch. Oh, you even have it labeled. Well, some of them are and some of them haven’t. But Smith, Hughes, and Reed made most of our bits. Now, these bits, once you bought the body, you could pull these pins here and change cutters. So they were interchangeable. We had the sub- dock down there. They’d take these bits in after we ran them, and I ran them a hundred hours up in my area, and that generally nubbed them off pretty good but left it so you could re- tip them. We had a re- tipping service, so they would re- tip these. So was that another contractor who did that, then? [ 00: 30: 00] Yes, another contractor who did that. We would re- tip these. Some of these cutters, if you were careful with them, you would get seven, eight runs out of a bit. What are the cutters made out of? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 12 Tungsten steel. And then you can put tungsten carbide on the teeth. And then the other— well, you can see this one right here [ L. Neese9]. It’s got what we call a button bit, and that’s all buttons. I’ve got some—[ sound of papers rattling]. There’s one [ L. Neese10]. There’s a fifty- two- inch dressed with button bits. Oh, wow. Let’s see. [ Reading] “ Hughes, fifty- two- inch, four gauge, two inner, one standard of seven jets.” Now, is this where the jets are? [ Pointing on photograph] Yes. Now, what comes out of that? Is that air or water or what? Air and fluid. [ Demonstrating on photograph] It comes there, goes back up through here where there’s a pickup tube, and pulls all of the material that you cut, pulls it back into the center and goes back up the thirteen- and- three- eighths with a seven- inch inner string there. OK, so all of that debris and stuff, it gets pulled up to the top. OK. [ L. Neese11] Here’s an eighty- six- inch with cutters on it. Yes. [ Reading] “ Four gauge, ten inners, two center cutters, eight jets.” Ten inners. One, two, three— what’s an inner? [ Examining photograph] Must’ve missed one. [ laughter] OK, they’re the ones that are— because I couldn’t quite tell the difference between— Yes, your outer cutters is— OK. All right, there’s four of those outer cutters and there’s ten of the— OK. Yes. Now, this is a button bit [ L. Neese12]. That’s either a ninety- six or a hundred and— Now, there was a picture where one of the Russian scientists was in front of one of these huge, huge ones. [ Sound of papers rattling] I wonder, were they kind of impressed with your large—? Oh, yes. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 13 Had they ever seen anything quite like that before? No, and they didn’t have anything like that. After we got over there and saw what they had, it was— Now, they had a higher water table, I understand? Oh, yes, their water table stood way high, where we don’t have out here at the site, you don’t have a water table out here till you get down sixteen, eighteen hundred feet. Can you describe how that affects drilling, having a low water table? Well, you’ve got to have some way to get the fluid and the debris back out of the hole, so we started “ reverse circulation” with the bits and the seven- inch inner string inside of the thirteen and three- eighths, and these jet subs in the bottom. We kept about three to four hundred foot of fluid on top of the bit. That makes enough pressure to hold the pressure and hold the walls out so they don’t cave in on you as you drill down. Now, Nick Aquilina told me that— and he related it to the high water table, he said that when Shagan [ Joint Verification Test in USSR] exploded, he heard a cracking, and I didn’t know what that cracking was. Well, you know, the thing— it may’ve been— I thought he said it had something to do with drilling, with the way the hole was drilled. No, because they drilled that with water, the one over there. They drilled it with water. We drilled this one over here reverse [ circulation], that they used over here. I don’t know what the cracking would’ve been. OK, because that was puzzling to me. That Nick. I didn’t ask him the question when he said it. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 14 [ 00: 35: 00] Nick worked for me as a timekeeper in Area 9 in the early 1960s. Oh, did he? So I knew Nick Aquilina for a long time. [ laughter] Oh, have you? Yes. Well, I think you’ve been at the— you were at the test site for how long before you retired? I was there from 1957 to 1967— That’s ten years. — and then from 1969 to 1993. OK, 1969 to 1993. Twenty- four years? So you add them both together and you get thirty- four years. Yes, thirty- four years. That’s a long time. He wasn’t one of the mechanical people, though, was he? No. But Nick was a good hand. Of course, they sent him to Idaho and to a few other places. Yes, they did. [ L. Neese13] This is one of our big bits we had laid out. [ L. Neese14] This was one of the lab hands that worked for the lab at that time. His name was Tiny Carroll [ sp]. And that was me. I wasn’t that fat. Not as fat as I am now. Well, you don’t have much time to eat and get fat out there, do you? [ Laughter] No, not a lot. [ L. Neese15] This is some of our— this was one of my hands, Jay Sinclair [ L. Neese16]. That’s Tiny Carroll. This guy’s name was Mutt Dennis [ sp]. He was a gruff old man. We got him out of California. These were some of your fellow workers, then. Yes. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 15 [ Pointing on photograph] Oh, is this you? That me there [ pointing on photograph]. That one’s you. Well, did any of your driller co- workers stay as long as you did or—? Oh, yes, there’s still some out there. Well, you know, the one I think is still working, and he’s working as a consultant, is Tom Curry [ sp]. He went to work, oh, I don’t know, 1956 or 1957 in the cafeterias out there, and then he quit and went to work over in California at the borax mines, and then he came back and we got him on the rigs out there in the early 1960s when we started bringing all the rigs in. Were there some people who stayed and could adjust to the life out there and some people who chose to do other things? Oh, I had many, many drillers that lived in California. And after we started getting some time off and working six- and- two or nine- and- three, why, they would go home on their days off. So that’s six days on and two days off? Two days off. So they would go to California on their days off and they’d come back. Never moved their families up here. Most of them stayed at the dorms at the test site. But a lot of us had our families here, so we moved into— I originally moved a trailer from New Mexico, from Albuquerque, I moved it to Indian Springs. I moved it into a trailer park in Indian Springs in 1957, in September of 1957 after I came up here in July. And what was it like? Well, there was a hundred and fifty trailers behind the Oasis Bar in Indian Springs. Well, that was quite a large community of trailers. So all of those people worked at the test site? All them people worked at the test site. I have been out there when the test site count was as high as eight, ten, twelve thousand people who worked at the test site. One of the reasons they had to UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 16 make a wide road out there, is because [ we] had the Widowmaker out here, killed off a few of them. For some of them, it was probably more tough a life than they wanted. You probably saw a lot of people come and go, didn’t you? Lots of people come and go, and lots of divorces. Really? Was it hard on marriages? Hard on marriages. [ 00: 40: 00] Why do you think that was? Just the hours we spent. When we went to work in 1960 in the big hole drilling, I stayed at the test site and wasn’t home but three times in twenty- one months. I just stayed at the test site. There was a lot of times, if I came home I’d get a call needing me back out there, so I’d turn around and go back out there. So you didn’t have much family life, did you? Not a whole lot. Of course, that cost me my first family, but that’s all right. Wasn’t getting along that well anyway. But it was hard on the families, there was no doubt about that. So that’s kind of how we got started. And then of course we moved from there to up on Pahute Mesa and Rainier Mesa, and of course once you go to Pahute Mesa, that’s a lot harder digging up there. Those holes were still taking thirty to forty- five days to drill a hundred- and- twenty- inch hole, which is a lot of earth coming out of there. But over the years, and we were able to keep it— and we had a couple of holes on Pahute Mesa that from top to bottom at twenty- one hundred feet, the bottom from the top was off six inches. That’s how straight they were trying to get holes. Not all holes got that straight, but for the most part, they were within half the distance of what side we were drilling. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 17 They were off four feet or so, which still lets you get your canister and stuff in for down hole work. Then we had a couple of rigs designed to do some slant hole drilling for post- shot. Now, when you say post- shot, that’s after the explosion. After the explosion. So you didn’t just simply get to watch these atmospheric tests and then just go home and think that was wonderful. You had a lot of work afterwards. Well for the atmospheric shots, yes, they sent us home, but I saw seven or eight of them before they had the moratorium on it to go underground. So what does a driller post- shot work consist of? It sounds like your work just begins. Yes. We go in. In the early 1960s, if it collapsed, if they said they wanted to go in and do post- shot or get samples, we went in with equipment and CATs, and they started from the top, made a road down to the bottom, and a pad in the bottom of this crater, and then we put a rig down ther