Sunday, February 23, 2014

Yucca Flat – 1955

Every so often I come across interesting tidbits of information while transcribing my great-grandmother’s diaries. For the most part she jots down her daily routine of house cleaning, after baking several pies and a couple loaves of bread!  Then she is off to the hairdresser or grocery shopping, and then home to work on the church history or some other project, while welcoming visits from family and friends. In late April 1955 there was a more serious matter to record.  

On 25 April 1955 Jessie notes, “Dave Garroway at Las Vegas but the experiment postponed, bad weather.”  I wondered, what experiment?  I kept reading.

27 April 1955 – “Las Vegas atom experiment put off bad weather.”

28 April 1955 – “Dave Garroway and John Cameron Sweazy both at Las Vegas, postponed again.

And then on 5 May 1955 Jessie noted, “ The atom bomb test was given this morning a little after 8 a.m. – 8:10.”

On 6 May 1955 she writes:  – “Pictures from the atom bomb given this morning. Also pictures of the test on the survival of concrete house, also brick, also frame houses (Today). Cameras put in these houses and will record the damage done to houses. 5500 feet house nearly wrecked. (Survival City) test houses – yellow frame house, brick house, concrete house dummies in houses wrecked, frame house completely down. 2 Story brick house badly damaged, concrete house suffered least damage, but badly hurt. “

As the Cold War escalated during this time, I suspect it was frightening to have the photos of the destruction coming right into their rural Jacksonville, New York home via the television set. They had just lived through the Second World War – was this type of warfare in the near future?

The story with photos of the Yucca Flat atom bomb test can be found online.

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