Interview with John McFadden

Dublin Core

Title

Interview with John McFadden

Subject

Hanford (Wash.)
Hanford Site (Wash.)
Du Pont Company
Pasco (Wash.)

Description

John McFadden's father, Charles, was the superintendent of the Hanford (Wash.) school district and later an investigator workig for the Du Pont Company.

Creator

Hanford Oral History Project at Washington State University Tri-Cities

Publisher

Hanford Oral History Project at Washington State University Tri-Cities

Date

9/20/2018

Rights

Those interested in reproducing part or all of this oral history should contact the Hanford History Project, who can provide specific rights information for this item.

Format

video/mp4

Language

English

Provenance

The Hanford Oral History Project operated under a sub-contract from Mission Support Alliance (MSA), who were the primary contractors for the US Department of Energy's curatorial services relating to the Hanford site. This oral history project became a part of the Hanford History Project in 2015, and continues to add to the US Department of Energy collection.

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Robert Franklin

Interviewee

John McFadden

Location

Washington State University Tri-Cities

Transcription

Robert Franklin: All right, my name is Robert Franklin. I am conducting an oral history interview with John McFadden on September 20, 2018. The interview is being conducted on the campus of Washington State University Tri-Cities. I will be talking with John about his father’s experiences and his own experiences living at the towns, the town of Hanford, and then the Manhattan Project and afterward. For the record, can you state and spell your full name for us?

 

John McFadden: Yes, my name is John McFadden. J-O-H-N. M-C-capital-F-A-D-D-E-N.

 

Franklin: So, let’s start talking about your father. Tell me, where and when was he born?

 

McFadden: My dad was born in 1911 in Ellensburg, Washington.

 

Franklin: Oh, so kind of already a local guy?

 

McFadden: Absolutely. He was--his father-in-law was the sheriff of Kittitas County, and original or very original member of Roslyn, back before Washington was a state. And he was--his father-in-law was actually the sheriff and a judge and a mayor, and all kinds of things in Roslyn. Then after it became a state, he got Roslyn involved in statehood as well as--then he ran as the sheriff of Kittitas County. And he became the sheriff of Kittitas County, and his daughter then married my grandfather, and my father was a product of grandfather and my grandmother.

 

Franklin: Right. Do you remember the gentleman’s name who was the sheriff?

 

McFadden: I certainly do. Isaac Brown.

 

Franklin: Okay.

 

McFadden: He came over from England and started as a miner and became a pretty, kind of a big shot in Roslyn, back in the day.

 

Franklin: Yeah, the history of Roslyn is really, really quite an interesting history in Washington State.

 

McFadden: Yes, yes.

 

Franklin: So, your dad was born in Ellensburg.

 

McFadden: Correct.

 

Franklin: And how does he find his way down to the town of Hanford?

 

McFadden: Oh! Well, okay. His father, my grandfather, was a senior engineer on the Northern Pacific Railroad. And so, he was--he went to work for the Northern Pacific in 1901, as I found out, after starting his career in Mexico. History had it that he went there and worked for Pancho Villa. I’ve since proven, no, that’s just another McFadden lore. Anyway, he came to Ellensburg with the Northern Pacific Railway, met and married my grandmother, and then was transferred to Pasco. So, he was a railroader in Pasco from about 1914 or so, till his death in 1942.

 

Franklin: Wow.

 

McFadden: So that’s how Dad got there.

 

Franklin: Down to the Tri-Cities area.

 

McFadden: Yes, yes, to Pasco. And Dad went, then, to Washington State College and graduated in 1936 with a degree in education. Went to work as a high school teacher, history teacher and coach and principal of Hover High School in the old town of Hover.

 

Franklin: Oh! Yeah, kind of south of Finley.

 

McFadden: Hover-Finley, yup.

 

Franklin: We actually, I think a year ago, we interviewed a group of brothers in their 90s who grew up in Hover. Because, you know, you probably know, Hover was covered by the dam, by either McNary or Ice Harbor, it covered--oh, that’s really interesting, neat.

 

McFadden: Yeah, correct.

 

Franklin: Okay, so he’s down in Hover.

 

McFadden: Right. And then in 1940, he had an opportunity to go to Hanford and he became what I have heard; I can’t--who knows?--the youngest superintendent in the state of Washington. I believe it was 26, if I remember correctly. So, he was then superintendent of schools at Hover from 1940 through ‘42 or ‘43. I’m--

 

Franklin: Sorry, Hover or Hanford?

 

McFadden: Oh, Hanford. I’m sorry, yes, Hanford. Yeah, I get all the Hs mixed up.

 

Franklin: No, its no problem. They’re pretty close geographically--

 

McFadden. And historically. None of them are there. So yeah that’s how he got there.

 

Franklin: Did your father ever talk about life at Hanford and what it was like and what kind of town?

 

McFadden: No. Not really. Mom talked every now and then.

 

Franklin: Oh, yeah, sorry, let’s go back. When did your father marry your mother?

 

McFadden: I believe that was 1937.

 

Franklin: Okay.

 

McFadden: She was a graduate of Central--no, that would be--yeah, Central Washington Normal Teachers College.

 

Franklin: Teachers College, yup. And she’s from Ellensburg as well?

 

McFadden: No. She’s from Walla Walla.

 

Franklin: Oh, okay.

 

McFadden: Yeah. And her father was the resident manager of Pacific Power and Light Company in Walla Walla. And Dad courted her on a friend’s motorcycle.

 

Franklin: Oh, wow.

 

McFadden: Which didn’t go over well with the country club head of Pacific Power and Light, you know. When a railroad engineer’s son would call on his daughter on a motorcycle.

 

Franklin: Yeah, I bet not.

 

McFadden: [LAUGHTER] Anyway, so--

 

Franklin: So, she moved, then, with him to Hover and then to Hanford.

 

McFadden: Yes.

 

Franklin: But so she expressed history or--

 

McFadden: Yes.

 

Franklin: Can you kind of relate some of that to us?

 

McFadden: She loved it there. Had lots of friends in the grange. Was not able to continue teaching because it would take away a teaching job from a man. And her job was to stay home and have kids, I guess. But, yeah, she loved the friendship of the community. Everybody was involved. I have--she saved--Dad saved very little--but she saved like programs and so on that they’d put on in the high school or the grange, and this group would sing, and Mrs. So-and-so would bring cookies and they’d--yeah, it was that kind of a community, White Bluffs and Hanford and so on. As I understand from Mom, yes. Yeah.

 

Franklin: And--oh, shoot. I just lost my question. Keep going and hopefully my question will--

 

McFadden: Oh. So, yeah, and there of course was no doctor in Hanford. So, I was born in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, which was exactly two blocks from my father’s home that he grew up in Pasco. And I think the total--well, I still have the total bill. It was like $6.96 for the room and my--all of those things. So, I wasn’t actually technically born in the town of Hanford, but everybody in the town of Hanford thought I was, because there weren’t--

 

Franklin: Well, I mean--yeah.

 

McFadden: Yeah. But they spoke a lot of the camaraderie, and I saw that in later years when I would find, after my dad moved on from that and all of those places, that there would be people who were working for his school district who had been residents in White Bluffs or at Hanford or, in other words, still a community connection, still.

 

Franklin: Where was your parents’ house in the town of Hanford? Do you know? Have you ever bene out to see it, or do you know where it is on the map?

 

McFadden: I have found it on the map, because of the grange insurance always put coordinates on the map. I have all of the grange information that my mother collected. So I actually had the coordinates, so I went into the old declassified maps of Hanford-White Bluffs and that entire reservation area, and was actually able to find my mother and father’s name and where it was. And then using the coordinates, came close. But you know, some of the coordinates are different today than they were at that time.

 

Franklin: Sure. What were your mother and father’s names?

 

McFadden: Oh. My father was Charles B. McFadden. He went by CB. And my mother was Eileen McFadden. Yeah.

 

Franklin: And so then, the big defining event of Hanford, of the whole site, is the eviction.

 

McFadden: Correct.

 

Franklin: Did your parents--what do you know about the eviction on you and your parents?

 

McFadden: Well, my father really never spoke about it. My mother told stories of, they were given like two weeks or three weeks of a notice and had to pack up and leave. That’s my childhood recollection of what she said. Dad--you know, it’s very interesting, he talked a lot about Hover and before. And he talked a lot about Hanford until. And it was like, we don’t talk about that, because--I just don’t know.

 

Franklin: Sure. Do you think that it affected him? You know, emotionally, or--?

 

McFadden: Yes. Yes, I--yes, I do. It was something he loved, being in that community. And he loved his job there. And he was working very hard to get the high school and the Hanford schools accredited. He wrote letters to Pearl Wanamaker, who was the superintendent of public instruction at the time. I have letters going from my father to her and then back from her to my father, saying, there isn’t enough population and student numbers to accredit your schools at this time. But keep trying. By the way, you’ve got a tremendous library and history program there. But it never came to fruition in my dad’s time, and I have a feeling that that bothered him till the end of his days.

 

Franklin: What was so important about getting the schools accredited? Do you know?

 

McFadden: I believe that it had to do with federal monies, that if your school was accredited, then you could get more matching funds from the state to improve programs and to do those. And I believe that was his driving force. Later on, that became an important part of the next phase of his life after that.

 

Franklin: And when were you born?

 

McFadden: I was born in 1942.

 

Franklin; What day and--

 

McFadden: Well, I’m old. Okay, no. April the 11th, 1942. Yeah.

 

Franklin: So you were pretty eleven--sorry, I’m writing the word eleven--the number eleven while I’m trying to talk. So, you were pretty young.

 

McFadden: Yeah, absolutely. I have no personal memories at all of Hanford. I have pictures of where we lived at the time when we came back, and Dad worked for DuPont in the Hanford Project.

 

Franklin: Yes, so let’s talk about that, because I’ve heard of employees--I’ve heard of former residents going back for DuPont, and I just--it’s hard to imagine how different that must’ve been for people that lived out there to watch that transformation, and to play a part in its transformation.

 

McFadden: Yeah, I always had the feeling that Dad did that as his part of the war effort. You know, they were at war and for some medical reasons and also because of his size, he kept being turned down for service.

 

Franklin: Too small? Too tall?

 

McFadden: No, he was six-six and weighed about 240 pounds.

 

Franklin; Oh, wow, that is tall.

 

McFadden: So, they couldn’t fit him into a uniform. They said, oh, wow. Well. And it really bothered him. As a matter of fact, later on, when I went into the service, he pulled me aside and he said, I’m really proud. You’re doing something that I wasn’t able to do, son. So, I took it, that moment, that that bothered him big time. So, he went back to do, I think--I feel--his part for the defense of our country.

 

Franklin: And what was his job at Hanford?

 

McFadden: The best I can--well, I know for a fact, he was an investigator.

 

Franklin: For DuPont.

 

McFadden: For DuPont. He went to work for DuPont in, that would’ve been June of 1943. And he worked for them through September of 1944 when he went to Moses Lake, population 360, to become superintendent of schools there.

 

Franklin: Wow. Yeah, before the Cold War, Moses Lake was a pretty sparsely--

 

McFadden: I do have memories of that.

 

Franklin: Wow. I was just there at a conference last summer, and, yeah, it’s an interesting little spot. What was he investigating? People? Like a police investigator?

 

McFadden: No, from what I’ve been able to ascertain, first off, he never talked about it. Ever. Sworn to secrecy. That’s, oh!

 

Franklin: Right. Classified.

 

McFadden: Oh! You don’t talk about that, son. But he’d tell me something that was really interesting. He said, well, I’ll just put it this way. Spies don’t work a 40-hour week, so neither does your father. [LAUGHTER] Okay? Okay?

 

Franklin: That’s a really great quote.

 

McFadden: Yeah. That’s what I was told. So I take that to mean he was checking on employees, investigating, are you talking on the side, do you---those kind of things.

 

Franklin: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Where did your family live during this time where your father worked for DuPont?

 

McFadden: We lived in Riverview Homes in Pasco. It was commonly known, the housing project.

 

Franklin: Oh! That’s right. Before the camera started, you mentioned that your father was involved in trying to get the Pasco Naval training at the town of Hanford.

 

McFadden: Correct.

 

Franklin: Right? I’d like to hear more about that.

 

McFadden: Oh! Well, I discovered letters--as I mentioned before, my mother never threw anything away. She used mucilage glue and glued everything to pages.

 

Franklin: Well, as an archivist I love the first part of that, and hate the second part of that.

 

McFadden: Yeah, well, you should try to tear some of them out.

 

Franklin: We just don’t--yeah, it’s the worst stuff and it browns stuff.

 

McFadden: Yeah.

 

Franklin: Well, that’s how we learn.

 

McFadden: Yeah, no, that’s true. And gotta love my mother, you know?

 

Franklin: She was here.

 

McFadden; Well, no, that’s true. Yes, he was involved at writing to the naval reserve in Seattle, to try to arrange to set up a pilot training program in and around Hanford and White Bluffs, because of the terrain and the masses of--there was a lot of land and very few population centers and so on. So I have correspondence back and forth between them, and the last one stating that, while there are other things involved--this is the one that I’d mentioned earlier. So he was always concerned about helping his high school students get careers and gainful employment whether during the war years or even till he passed on.

 

Franklin: Right, I mean, that would bring a lot of jobs. Because you would not only have the jobs but also the economy service built around that.

 

McFadden: And there might have been an ulterior motive to get more students into his high schools and schools so that they could get accredited. [LAUGHTER]

 

Franklin: Sadly, the military had bigger designs. But Pasco, though, if memory serves me right, Pasco did become a major naval training center--

 

McFadden: They did.

 

Franklin: --for the Pacific and one of the largest railroad depots in the United States.

 

McFadden: That is correct. I have lots of great childhood memories going down to the roundhouse in Pasco and all those kinds of things with Grandpa and with--yeah, anyway.

 

Franklin: What did your mother do during the war?

 

McFadden: Ah, well, okay. She was a housewife. She also would substitute teach in the schools. She was very involved in the Eastern Star and the grange. Whatever there was to do, my mother had to, apparently, have a finger in it.

 

Franklin: Really?

 

McFadden: Yup.

 

[female off-camera] She watched airplanes constantly.

 

McFadden: Oh, yeah. She did, yes. Okay.

 

Franklin: Oh, okay. Thank you.

 

McFadden: Our little time in Acosta, she would take me down to the beach, and she was a spotter for the government. So she would sit in a spotting shack with me and look at airplanes. And she had--I still have somewhere; I can’t find them--all of the silhouettes of the airplanes that she would have to--

 

Franklin: Right, the Japanese bombers and--

 

McFadden: Correct, correct.

 

Franklin: Wow.

 

McFadden: So, she did that for--yeah.

 

Franklin: Oh, that’s really cool. So, you lived in the Riverview Homes in Pasco until ‘44 when your family moved up to Moses Lake.

 

McFadden: Moses Lake, yes.

 

Franklin: So, what do you--I mean, you were really young, but what do you--what are your memories of wartime Pasco, if any? Because I imagine that must’ve been a bustling, bustling place.

 

McFadden: Well, what I remember is that for the most part, my great-uncle John and my uncle Norm involved all of the little boy cousins at going to the roundhouse and talking to all the people coming in. I do remember trains coming into the Pasco station and going down with Mom in my little buggy. We’d watch, like, workers come in. I don’t know if that had anything to do with my dad’s job. I don’t know that. But they would bring them in by the trainload and then of course, bus them or whatever they did, to--yeah. But other than that, no. My memories really start in Moses Lake.

 

Franklin: Sure, I mean, that makes sense, time-wise.

 

McFadden: Yeah, yeah.

 

Franklin: So how long did your family stay in Moses Lake?

 

McFadden: We moved there in 1944 and we moved out in 1956.

 

Franklin: Oh okay.

 

McFadden: So Dad was superintendent of schools there from 1944 through 1956.

 

Franklin: That, I imagine--was that a major period of change for Moses Lake?

 

McFadden: Yes.

 

Franklin: Because when was--the air base was constructed somewhere--

 

McFadden: Well, yeah, the air base was there, I know for a fact, in 1942. It stayed there--I don’t recall. We were gone when it was finally shut. But it was at first, Moses Lake Army Airfield. I do remember that. And then there was the Ephrata Army Airfield. Yeah, when we moved to Moses Lake, I know there were 360 people. And it had just been changed, the town’s name, from Nepal or Neppel to Moses Lake. And when we moved from Moses Lake in 1956, there were 12,900 people there. And that didn’t include the air base.

 

Franklin: Wow.

 

McFadden: So when we moved there, there was one school for the grade school and high school. When we left, there were all kinds of junior highs and new high schools and all kinds of things.

 

Franklin: Must’ve been pretty exciting for your father to try to just keep things going. Or you know. During that period of growth like that.

 

McFadden: Yes, yes, yes. And that’s also where I learned that the Japanese internment camps, during World War II? Not all Japanese went to internment camps.

 

Franklin: Yeah.

 

McFadden: There were many who came to Moses Lake, Quincy. So, I’m from Bainbridge Island and so forth. And they could work on the farms in the agriculture there. So yeah.

 

Franklin: Yeah, actually, earlier this week, we interviewed the Yamauchi family, who is from Pasco. The Columbia River was the dividing line for Executive Order 9066. Part of the family was interned, but part of the family was allowed to stay in Pasco. Which is really something. Just an amazing history.

 

McFadden: Yeah. I have found some correspondence between Japanese students that my father had in Moses Lake. Where they, after the war was over, they sent greetings to my father and my mother for all of the--for being congenial and friends and so on during that time. And I’m trying to contact those families and make sure they get the actual letters. Because I think that’s important. It’s a fond memory for me, but it’s personal for them. So, I’m in the process of trying to do that.

 

Franklin: Oh, that’s really wonderful. How old were you when you first remember learning about Hanford and what your father had been a part of?

 

McFadden: Well, what my father had been a part of, probably 60 years old. What my father was a part of. My mother’s tales started at early childhood. Yes, yeah. But what my father actually did--he always spoke highly of Hanford, Hanford High School, all of those parts. But he never said anything about DuPont and those times.

 

Franklin: Well, how old were you when you found out about the Hanford Engineering Works and the atomic bomb--that your father was connected with the work to build the bomb?

 

McFadden: Well, I think, by inference, I was probably in my 40s.

 

Franklin: Oh, okay.

 

McFadden: Okay? As far as knowing for real, my research that I’ve done lately. We always knew that Hanford--I mean, I always had the information that that’s what they were doing there, building that bomb, making those things. So I knew that he had to have something to do with it somehow. Because I had a feeling that I know he did work there, but I didn’t know anything about what he did. Never said a word. So, yeah.

 

Franklin: Wow, wow.

 

McFadden: I’m sure he contributed to the airplane.

 

Franklin: Yeah, I would imagine so, because that came in June or July or ‘44.

 

McFadden: Yes, yeah. Day’s Pay.

 

Franklin: Yes. In fact, the son of the pilot of that is coming next week.

 

McFadden: Oh, wow.

 

Franklin: To town to take a tour and stuff like that. Yeah, it’s really quite a busy few weeks around here.

 

McFadden: Well, yeah, yeah, that’s great.

 

Franklin: It just seems always to happen, too, around the--because we’re getting close to the anniversary of the startup of B Reactor, and all of those things.

 

McFadden: Yes, yeah. Yeah.

 

Franklin: Did your father keep--did your family keep in touch with anybody from the old town fo Hanford? From the town itself, not the

 

McFadden: Ah, yes. Yes, they did. And once again, here’s where you learn later in life. I graduated from a school called Connell High School, okay, which is--

 

Franklin: Right.

 

McFadden: Yeah, just down the road.

 

Franklin: miles-ish?

 

McFadden: Yeah, from Pasco. Across from Ringgold and that way.

 

Franklin: Still kind of in the area.

 

McFadden: Yes. And what I learned is that Dad stayed in touch with several families from before those times. But I didn’t really understand that until I started doing research and, wow, this name is familiar. You’re kidding me!

 

Franklin: Do you remember the names?

 

McFadden: Some, yes. One is the Weber family. Another is the Heideman family. And then there was the Purser family, and they lived in Ringgold.

 

Franlkin: Oh, right, across the--

 

McFadden: across the river, mm-hmm, yes. And see if there’s anymore. Well, then there was the Collie family. And I think you have an interview with one of the Collies.

 

Franklin: Do we?

 

McFadden: Mm-hmm, or maybe it’s in another site. But yeah, the Collies were early settlers around here as well. They had properties out in Hanford, they lived out there. Yeah. So.

 

Franklin: Did your father ever go to the Hanford-White Bluffs reunion?

 

McFadden: One.

 

Franklin: One.

 

McFadden: Yeah.

 

Franklin: Which one?

 

McFadden: Well--okay. It was the one, it had to have been held in the ‘70s sometime. AN they were allowed back on the reservation.

 

Franklin: Was that the first time that that ever happened?

 

McFadden: That was the first time they were ever back.

 

Franklin: So I think that was the ‘68 reunion, because we have a lot of pictures from that reunion from Harry Anderson, who helped lead those with Annette Heriford. So, I think that’s ‘68, if I’m--

 

McFadden: No. That could absolutely be true. But I know Mom and Dad talked about that forever.

 

Franklin: Really?

 

McFadden: Oh, yeah. They said they got to go back on the reservation and--

 

Franklin: When we get back to my office, remind me to show you some photos of that, and maybe--

 

McFadden: Okay.

 

Franklin: It’d be really neat, maybe if somehow, you know, your parents were in one of these photos.

 

McFadden: Oh, that’d be great. Yeah.

 

Franklin: Okay.

 

McFadden: That’d be superb.

 

Franklin: And I believe they had that reunion in Richland, and then, yeah, they bussed them out to the site.

 

McFadden: yeah, yeah.

 

Franklin: Great. Oh, that’s really--and so you, after Moses Lake, I’m inferring, but you moved to Connell.

 

McFadden: Well, actually, we spent two years in Tacoma.

 

Franklin: Okay.

 

McFadden: And then we moved back to Connell, yes.

 

Franklin: And then you ended up going to WSU.

 

McFadden: Go Cougs!

 

Franklin: Yeah, yeah. Go Cougs!

 

McFadden: Yeah. Yeah, I did.

 

Franklin: Yeah, it’s a wonderful place.

 

McFadden: Yeah, yeah.

 

Franklin: And then, did you ever come back to the area at all? The Tri-Cities, Hanford area?

 

McFadden: To live, or--?

 

Franklin: Yeah, to live or work.

 

McFadden: Not really, no. No, no, no. I’ve come back many times. I’ve taken all the tours at Hanford and done that. But as a matter of fact, as I mentioned to you earlier, I went on one of the very first pre-Hanford tours. And actually got to stand and look at my father’s high school, the shell that’s left. And I don’t know if I should say this out loud, ubt they let me go ahead of the fence so that I could--you know.

 

Franklin: Well, every now and then for special folks--like we had Dick Groves, the grandson of Leslie Groves here.

 

McFadden: Oh, sure.

 

Franklin: A couple months ago and they took him all over the place. Because he’s--you know. Because--you know. When you’re the grandson of Leslie Groves.

 

McFadden: yeah, hey! When you have a park named after you--[LAUGHTER]

 

Franklin: Right, exactly. That tends to open a few doors, literally. Well, that’s great. Yeah, it’s a wonderful tour. Where did your parents end up settling and staying?

 

McFadden: Oh! Okay. They actually ended up in Brush Prairie, Washington.

 

Franklin: Where is that?

 

McFadden: That’s outside of Vancouver, Washington. Dad finished out his career in a town called Stevenson, Washington, which is up the Columbia Gorge. He retired there. And Mom went back to work as a special education teacher. And so she finished out her 30-year career. Then they retired and motorhomed and did the good life and Dad passed away in ‘82, and Mom passed on in ‘84.

 

Franklin: Oh, wow.

 

McFadden: So, yeah. But they ended up in Brush Prairie.

 

Franklin: Well that’s really cool. So your father, at the Hanford Engineering Works for DuPont, from what you gather, is part of the security apparatus?

 

McFadden: Correct. His official title that I can--is investigator. Yes. He was there on the reservation and we know where his office was.

 

Franklin: Where was that?

 

McFadden: Well, it was on a map.

 

Franklin: Oh, okay.

 

McFadden: So what I’ve done is I’ve taken the Google map that they have and you can still see all the outlines of things on that map.

 

Franklin: yeah, are you talking about the construction camp?

 

McFadden: Yes, mm-hmm, and the headquarters and that. So then I have another map that was done back in--that showed the actual what it was and give the, like the bus stops and number and that. So I’ve imposed the two over each other and it had the investigative offices, so I knew that’s where he must’ve worked out of.

 

Franklin: Did your father ever bring you on Site?

 

McFadden: No.

 

Franklin: Okay.

 

McFadden: Not that I--no. No.

 

Franklin: And let’s see here. I think that’s most of my questions. What would you like--what do you think your parents would want future generations to know about living at Hanford before the project and kind of living through the Manhattan Project and the transformation of this area?

 

McFadden: Well, I--wow, that’s a great question. I think that they would want young people today to know that they were citizens and people of courage who had huge convictions, not always agreeing, but had convictions that America was the best place in the world you could be or live and had given them and their families tremendous opportunities to flourish and to do what they chose to do with their lives. And that the Hanford Project was somewhat unfair to those citizens who had gone to this rock-scrabble land next to a river and made it into a beautiful orchard country and agriculture and built themselves their own irrigation system before that was really a big deal. And then they came in, and they were just told to leave, basically, and paid peanuts for what they had, their hard work, and their camaraderie and community and all that, had built these towns. And it was gone. And with really very little notice. And really very little consequence, except this is what is going to happen. And they’d like to know that it was part of a success and helped end a war. And that it was part of the patriotic duties that we’ve done to keep our country free. I think that’s what they’d like to have people remember, and that it was a hard-working group of people. It was a time when everybody came together. Yeah. So.

 

Franklin: Great. That reminded me, when you talked about when people were removed, did your parents, do you know anything about the compensation that the government paid to your parents?

 

McFadden: I do not

 

Franklin: Okay.

 

McFadden: No.

 

Franklin: Okay.

 

McFadden: Except Mom said it was paltry.

 

Franklin: Yeah, that’s seems to be the prevailing--from what we’ve seen--

 

McFadden: But what “paltry” means, I don’t know.

 

Franklin: What we’ve seen from the financial documents was that it was pretty wide-ranging, but some of the valuations were pretty low.

 

McFadden: Yeah. Well, I got a kick out the history of the Bruggemans: We ain’t going. And so they had to keep sending--you will be gone. But, yeah, yeah. So.

 

Franklin: Yeah, no, so many great stories to tell out there. Well, John, thank you so much.

 

McFadden: Oh! It’s my pleasure and thank you for the opportunity to speak for my folks.

 

Franklin: Mm-hmm. Tom, did you have any questions?

 

Tom Hungate: No.

 

Franklin: Okay, great, well, thanks.

 

McFadden: Thank you!

Duration

37:56

Bit Rate/Frequency

317kbps

Files

McFadden, John.JPG

Citation

Hanford Oral History Project at Washington State University Tri-Cities, “Interview with John McFadden,” Hanford History Project, accessed July 15, 2024, http://hanfordhistory.com/items/show/4952.