Interview with Daniel Barnett

Dublin Core


Interview with Daniel Barnett


An interview with Daniel Barnett conducted as part of the Hanford Oral History Project. The Hanford Oral History Project was sponsored by the Mission Support Alliance and the United States Department of Energy.


Hanford Oral History Project at Washington State University Tri-Cities




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



Date Modified

2017-08-11: Metadata v1 created – [A.H.]


The Hanford Oral History Project operates under a sub-contract from Mission Support Alliance (MSA), who are 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 this US Department of Energy collection.

Oral History Item Type Metadata


Robert Franklin


Daniel Barnett


Washington State University - Tri Cities


Robert Franklin: My name is Robert Franklin and I’m conducting an oral history interview with Daniel Barnett on July 13th, 2016. The interview is being conducted on the campus of Washington State University Tri-Cities. I will be talking with Daniel Barnett about his experiences growing up in Richland and working at the Hanford site. So the best place to start, I think, is the beginning. So why don’t you tell me where you were born and what year.

Daniel Barnett: I was born in Aberdeen, Washington in 1938—August 13th.

Franklin: Okay.

Barnett: And when the war started, my dad was working for the Harbor Patrol in Seattle as a patrolman. He heard that they were hiring over here, so he came over here and they hired him almost instantly because he already had the security clearance and everything.

Franklin: Ah.

Barnett: So he called my mom and told her that he had a job over here and to get herself packed, because he was gonna get her. But when she moved here, she couldn’t move to Richland. It wasn’t even on the map at that time. They took it off the map and everything. She had to move to Prosser.

Franklin: Okay.

Barnett: And later on when they finally got a prefab built, we moved into a prefab at 1011 Sanford.

Franklin: Where was your father from? Was he from Washington?

Barnett: He was from Oregon. All my family is from Oregon except for me. My dad said he couldn’t get across the border fast enough.

Franklin: So being from—what drew him to Hanford? Was it the pay?

Barnett: I think so. Well, he was originally—he worked at a plywood plant, then he went to work for Harbor Patrol. He had asthma, which the wet climate apparently irritated. So he had a chance to get over here, so he moved over here.

Franklin: Okay. So the climate played a—

Barnett: Yeah.

Franklin: --big factor and wanted the dry and the sunshine.

Barnett: Well, probably the pay, too, because the pay was good for those times.

Franklin: Right. And how long did your family live in Prosser before you moved?

Barnett: We were there about a year, I think. I don’t remember truthfully—I was only about five when we moved there. And I was there probably about a year. I just vaguely remember moving to Prosser.

Franklin: Right. Okay. And you moved—so you came over in 1944—

Barnett: Yeah.

Franklin: --right? And so you would have moved to Richland in 1944? About there?

Barnett: Oh—I think we actually—Dad came over, I think in ’43. A year later, in ’44 we moved over.

Franklin: Oh, okay.

Barnett: Because I remember ’45 when they announced the war—dropping the bomb on Japan, and Mom told Dad when he come home, I know what you’ve been guarding! [LAUGHTER] Because he didn’t even know what he was guarding at the time.

Franklin: Right. Wow. Did your dad talk about his work much? Or maybe [INAUDIBLE]

Barnett: He worked as a patrolman until they sold the town and then he became a painter.

Franklin: A painter?

Barnett: Yeah, he was an artist so then he became a painter and painted the houses and the buildings in Richland. Because when the government owned Richland, if you had a paint job needed done on the house, you called them and they come in and painted it. You didn’t hire somebody from a company to paint it. The government did it.

Franklin: And was he a patrolman onsite the entire time until they sold the town?

Barnett: Yeah, yeah.

Franklin: Okay. Was he assigned to a specific area, or--?

Barnett: No, just general patrol. He talked about patrolling the fences, taking their Jeeps and going down the length of the fences and checking them out, and all that sort of stuff. But just a general patrolman, not any special area.

Franklin: Okay. And you said that your—what did your mother do when she first got here?

Barnett: Oh, she was just a housewife. She eventually went to work as a waitress. And then finally she got on to work at Hanford. She worked with Battelle for about 29 years as a lab tech.

Franklin: Oh, wow. Do you know which lab she worked in?

Barnett: Well, she did—where they did testing on the animals. Though at that time they were testing marijuana on chimpanzees and different types of animals. She did the test work on the meat from the animals.

Franklin: Oh, wow.

Barnett: So I don’t know exactly—it was—again, probably wasn’t supposed to be told, so she didn’t say much about it.

Franklin: Did she have any schooling beyond—

Barnett: Just high school.

Franklin: Just high school. And what about your father, did he--?

Barnett: He was just high school.

Franklin: Just high school as well. Where did your mother waitress at?

Barnett: Well, the first place she had was O’Malley’s Drug Store which now is a—what do you call it? A Tojo Gym? Where they teach different martial arts?

Franklin: Oh, okay.

Barnett: It’s down on Williams, right off of Williams. That’s what it is now.

Franklin: Okay.

Barnett: O’Malley’s Drug Store eventually closed, moved up to Kadlec. And a lady bought it from him, and now she’s down there on George Washington Way.

Franklin: Okay.

Barnett: And right by O’Malley’s Drug Store used to be a Mayfair market. So I sold newspapers out at the lunch halls at Hanford. Sold—well, I don’t remember—but I think it was the Columbia Basin News to start out, because that was the first newspaper of the Tri-Cities, was the Columbia Basin News. Then they bought them out and became the Tri-City Herald. But I remember selling—give you an idea, you can figure out how much time, because I remember one of the headlines was—one of the union leaders had been arrested by the government. And I don’t even remember who it was, it’s been so long ago. But I remember that was one of the headlines of one of the newspapers.

Franklin: What about—do you remember the Richland Villager at all? That was a local paper.

Barnett: Yeah, but it wasn’t very much. It was very small.

Franklin: Okay.

Barnett: I delivered the Seattle P-I.

Franklin: Seattle P-I?

Barnett: Yeah.

Franklin: Okay. And you said your mother started waitressing at Malley? At O’Malley’s or Malley’s?

Barnett: At O’Malley’s.

Franklin: O’Malley’s. And then did she waitress anywhere else in Richland?

Barnett: Not that I know of. From there she went out to Hanford.

Franklin: And that was when pharmacies or drug stores as we know them now, they used to have lunch counters.

Barnett: Yeah, yeah.

Franklin: Right. And so they would go there and they were more of like a café-slash-pharmacy.

Barnett: Yeah. The one up on Thayer, I think it was Densow’s at that time. That had a heyday lunch counter in it, coffee shop. It closed up and now I think it’s just pharmacy.

Franklin: Mm-hmm.

Barnett: But where the south end—what do you call it? You know when you get down here, you sit and try to remember things and you get kind of jumbled up—Salvation Army building is now on Thayer was originally the Mayfair Market.

Franklin: Okay. And what did they sell there?

Barnett: Well, that was the grocery store.

Franklin: Grocery store, okay. Do you remember—so you said you moved into—what was the address on Sanford?

Barnett: 1011 Sanford.

Franklin: And do you remember what kind of prefabricated house it was?

Barnett: It was three-bedroom.

Franklin: Three-bedroom prefab, okay.

Barnett: No, I think it was two-bedroom, because my sister was just a little baby then.

Franklin: Okay. And did you share a room with your sister?

Barnett: Probably with my brother.

Franklin: Oh, so how many siblings—

Barnett: Had three kids. I had an older brother. We were about five years apart.

Franklin: Oh, okay. So an older brother, you, and then a younger sister.

Barnett: Yeah.

Franklin: And then how long did you live at 1011 Sanford?

Barnett: I don’t really remember, but it must have been three or four years, because as soon as they got the A houses built, we had a chance to move into one. And we moved immediately to one. Because we had three kids, and a prefab’s kind of tight for three kids.

Franklin: Yeah, yeah. I live in a two-bedroom prefab. And it’s—with just my wife, and it’s pretty—

Barnett: Well you know why they’re called prefabs.

Franklin: Tell me.

Barnett: They were built by a company, brought in in two sections and then put together. They were prefabricated.

Franklin: Yeah, the prefabricated engineering company out of Portland.

Barnett: And nobody could figure out why they put that little square door in the back other than to throw the garbage out it. I don’t know—have you ever heard of Dupus Boomer?

Franklin: Yes.

Barnett: He made some cartoons about that backdoor.

Franklin: Right, and that the rooves had a tendency to fly away.

Barnett: Yeah.

Franklin: And they had to put—

Barnett: Well, in 1955, they did. They had two of them blow off.

Franklin: Yeah, those are great cartoons.

Barnett: Like “Pa wants a bathtub.” [LAUGHTER]

Franklin: So tell me a little more about growing up in Richland. Which schools did you go to?

Barnett: Well, the first school I went was Carmichael. And that was probably a mile-and-a-half away. We walked to school. Nobody thought anything about it. There wasn’t any buses. There was a bus system in Richland, but it was run by the government. It was a little old bus that you could pick up in two places in Richland to go downtown and go to a movie and come back. But no buses hauled you to school. There was high school buses that hauled people. They picked them up in the Horse Heaven Hills on farms and brought them to Hanford—I mean to Col High—it’s Hanford now. But, no, I walked to school real regular, didn’t think about it, nobody had any panic about walking to school. Everybody did it because it’s normal.

Franklin: And do you remember—so you would have been going to—was it Carmichael—growing up right in the early Cold War. What do you remember about civil defense? Duck-and-cover, air raids.

Barnett: I don’t remember doing that.

Franklin: Really?

Barnett: I don’t know whether we did or not, but I don’t remember doing that.

Franklin: Do you remember knowing what was being made at Hanford? Did you ever have any fear—how real did the Cold War seem to you?

Barnett: Well, the Cold War affected me quite a bit because I was in eight years during the Cold War—in the Air Force.

Franklin: Right.

Barnett: The security was a lot tighter. I mean, there was—you couldn’t go out to Hanford without having your security badge checked. Now you can drive clear to the Area and before you go in the Area have your badge checked.

Franklin: Right.

Barnett: But then, there was a badge check when you got on the buses, the badge check, when you got out to your area, and then again they checked your badges when you left the area.

Franklin: Right.

Barnett: So it was—the security was real tight.

Franklin: Mm-hmm. But what about when you were growing up, when you were a kid in school? Did you ever have any special fear or pride in what was being made at Hanford?

Barnett: Nope. It was—like I said, nobody knew what they were doing out there until they dropped the bomb. Then they found out they’d been protecting part of the atomic bomb.

Franklin: Right.

Barnett: But I had no fears about it. I went down the irrigation ditch—there used to be an irrigation ditch that ran through town that started—it had two, three ponds on Wellsian Way that were the settling ponds for Richland’s water system. And we used to go there and swim in them. One of the ponds they eventually made a juvenile fishing pond. And the irrigation ditch runs from there, clear down to where the hospital is, down in front of the hospital, several ponds down through the hospital and then under—well, through the Uptown district, one of them went through the Uptown district, and one went to the Columbia River. And wasn’t until ’48 that they finally put a pump in there, because in ’48 when they built the dam—they built the dike, rather—the irrigation ditches plugged up. So they had to put up a pump station in so they could pump the water irrigation ditch up into the river. We used to fish in that. We used to go down there and slide down—slide over where the pump was, because it was all slick and slimy. We’d put on an old pair of jeans and go down there and slide into the water. I mean, that’s things kids then. Nowadays they wouldn’t even think about it. My mother told me when I could swim 25 feet, I could go in the river by myself. Mainly because you didn’t go to the river too often in the winter; you went in the summer. And there’s not a place in the Yakima, if you can swim 25 feet, you can’t get back to the shore. So I spent all my—most weekends and spare time at the Yakima River playing around.

Franklin: Wow. What about—maybe you could talk a little bit about the growth of Richland and kind of the building of some of the major hallmarks, like the Uptown and the—

Barnett: Well, the Uptown was built—the rest of it closed up, but originally the Uptown—as you come into Uptown off to the left—that was a big theater. And we used to have a big matinee. The Spudnut’s shop has always been there. I can remember going to the movie on a Saturday and the lineup for the movie—I think it was 20 cents for a movie then. But it was clear past the Spudnut shop. We used to watch the owner there making the Spudnuts while we were waiting to get into the movies.

Franklin: Has that been in its same location--

Barnett: Yeah.

Franklin: --in the mall?

Barnett: Spudnut’s has been there ever since it started. They originally were out there in Kennewick. If you go in there and pick up their menu, they have a little story about where they started. They started out there in the Wye.

Franklin: That’s great. And what else about it? Because Richland kind of developed out towards--

Barnett: Well, Newberry’s was on the other end of the Uptown district. That was kind of a department store type. I think the only one I saw was about 15 years ago, and that was in the Dalles, Oregon. I don’t even know if they exist anymore. The downtown district, every year we had different contests for the kids. They had marble shooting contests and bubblegum blowing contests—all kind of contests to keep the kids’ interest.

Franklin: Right.

Barnett: At that time, the—what is it? The Allied Arts, or was that in the Atomic Frontier Days?

Franklin: Can you talk maybe a little bit about the Atomic Frontier—do you remember going to the parades?

Barnett: Yeah. They had a lot of the old western movie stars come to the Atomic Frontier Days.

Franklin: Like—do you remember any names in particular?

Barnett: No, I don’t. Like I say, a kid doesn’t retain names like that. He hears them and doesn’t retain them. But my dad, apparently, knew a couple of them, so he visited with them. It started out as just a celebration of Hanford and stuff. And then it worked into the Allied Arts show.

Franklin: Okay. And do you remember any particulars of those celebrations, like the parade—the floats, or—

Barnett: Well, there wasn’t any parade. There wasn’t any parade, and where Howard Amon Park is, there used to be a swimming pool. You know where it makes a turnaround? Well, there off to the right there used to be a swimming pool. And right now, they still got the old children’s swimming pool there, but then there was a regular swimming pool in the water. And in 1948 when the big flood came, it filled up full of water and they ended up breaking it up and burying it and building the Howard Prout pool. But we used to go down there and swim just about every day. And we’d go to the other end of the park and pick peaches, because it used to be a peach orchard. Because there were orchards all over town. Where Jason Lee was—the old Jason Lee—that was a cherry orchard. Where Densow is, that was a cherry orchard. Carmichael had an orchard. There was orchards all over town. Because this was an agriculture district at the time the government bought it and moved in.

Franklin: Were you in any clubs or—

Barnett: I was a boy scouts.

Franklin: --organizations? Boy Scouts?

Barnett: Yeah. We had—one that sticks in my mind the most was we had one of our young scouts drowned at the Uptown. That’s the one I mentioned. He went on an inner tube, fell in the water and drowned. That was in ’48. And actually, the water where the hospital was, the irrigation ditch you got there, that was 15-foot deep at that time.

Franklin: Wow.

Barnett: That backed up so much, they—that’s when they built what they called the America Mile, the dike. They called all the earthmovers from Hanford out to Richland to build that dike. Because when they started, the water was lapping over the edge to go into the houses. And they poured that thing in about 24 hours.

Franklin: Wow, that’s amazing.

Barnett: Now, the George Washington Way was closed to all civilian traffic, and these great big earthmovers were just going down the road, 30, 40 miles an hour.

Franklin: Wow. What other kinds of activities did you do in Boy Scouts?

Barnett: Oh, built models. Car models. You whittle them out, put the wheels on them, all that, have races with them. Went on trips. Just normal Boy Scout stuff. Got a little more sophisticated, but just the normal Boy Scout stuff then.

Franklin: Right. And so after you went to Carmichael, did you then go to Richland High?

Barnett: Col High.

Franklin: Col High?

Barnett: [LAUGHTER] It was Col High then.

Franklin: Oh.

Barnett: They changed the name because there was a Col High downstream on the Columbia that had had the name before Richland High was called Col High. So they changed it to Richland High instead of Col High.

Franklin: Oh. But was the mascot always still the—

Barnett: All the bomber.

Franklin: --bombers? Okay. So the Col High Bombers?

Barnett: Yup.

Franklin: Okay. And when did you graduate high school?

Barnett: 1957.

Franklin: And then what did you do?

Barnett: I went in the Air Force. I think about two months after I got out and I went in the Air Force. I already spent 27 months in the National Guards. I got in the National Guards when I was 16, and when I went to sign up for the Air Force, the squadron commander of the National Guards was—he got shook up because he enlisted me when I was 16. [LAUGHTER] So they changed the date on my discharge papers from the National Guards. So according to my discharge papers from the National Guards, I’m 78 right now.

Franklin: Oh.

Barnett: Those days, they did things like that, nobody thought anything about it.

Franklin: Wow, yeah.

Barnett: Because if you were warm they took you into the military then.

Franklin: Right. [LAUGHTER] And what did you—describe your time in the Air Force.

Barnett: Well, of course there was basic training. The first place I went was Westover, Massachusetts—that’s Springfield, Massachusetts. And that was a total culture shock for me, because I grew up in a comparatively small city. And Springfield then had over 100,000 people in it.

Franklin: Right, and I guess, too, at this point you would have completely grown up when Richland was a government—

Barnett: Yup.

Franklin: --still was all government space.

Barnett: Yup, they sold it while I was in the Air Force.

Franklin: Can—actually I guess maybe we can back up a little bit. What strikes you, maybe looking back on that, or—

Barnett: I watched them build the Alphabet Houses. And there wasn’t one or two people on the houses; there was five or six building these houses. And they seemed to go up overnight. One of the things that I don’t know is fact or not, but knowing the government it probably was—is they were supposed to build half basements for a coal fire furnace, a coal bin, and two tubs, and place for a washing machine. The contractors screwed up on some of them and built a full basement. And the government found out about it and made them go back in and seal half the basement with dirt. [LAUGHTER] Typical government.

Franklin: Were your—granted you were a kid at this point, but was your sense—were people happy—

Barnett: Oh yeah!

Franklin: living in a government-controlled and -owned town?

Barnett: Nobody thought anything about it. There was very little crime. Because at that time, there was only about two, three ways to get out of Richland. So there was nobody causing any big deal. And if you got in a whole bunch of trouble—you didn’t live in Richland unless you worked at Hanford. And if your kids got into too much trouble, they told the parents, you calm them down or go find another job. So it was stopped.

Franklin: Right. Did you—was Richland mostly a white community at that time? Right? Were there any other—

Barnett: Yeah, there was—one, I think there was only one black community in Richland—Norris Brown. And I think they lived in Putnam.

Franklin: Okay.

Barnett: I remember we had a basketball game in Sunnyside. And Sunnyside wasn’t gonna let them play on their court. And we told them, fine, we’ll just get up and leave. So we all started to get up and leave and they finally broke it and gave in and let them play on the basketball court.

Franklin: How did you know this family? Did you go to school together?

Barnett: Yeah, I went to school with them.

Franklin: Oh okay, and did you play basketball?

Barnett: No! I’m not a sports—I had my first surgery on my knee when I was about 13, so—

Franklin: Oh, wow.

Barnett: I’ve never played any sports. My sporting then was hunting and fishing.

Franklin: But you kind of heard about this story?

Barnett: Oh, yeah. We all know them. Went to basketball games. Then there was sock hops and at noon they taught dancing in the lunchrooms for kids that wanted to learn how to dance.

Franklin: So do you know what the patriarch of that family would have done at Hanford to be able to earn a place at Hanford? Because mostly from what I’ve heard, mostly African Americans had to live in Pasco.

Barnett: Yeah, because they wouldn’t let them live in Richland—I mean Kennewick.

Franklin: Yeah, in Kennewick. So how did—do you know any particulars as to how that family was able to live in Richland?

Barnett: I think it’s just that the government—that they had to be equal on them, and they just hired them and they went to work out there. I don’t know any particulars on it, but that’s basic what it was.

Franklin: Oh, okay.

Barnett: They were in a government town, and there was no way that anybody could refuse—and there was nobody that complained about it.

Franklin: Right.

Barnett: Again, the government controlled it. They said, if you don’t like it, goodbye.

Franklin: Right. And they would—they called the government for pretty much anything you needed on the house, right? For coal?

Barnett: Right. Lightbulbs, chains, coal. But coal was delivered once a—I don’t know whether it was once a month or once a week. But coal was automatically delivered. And like I say, if there was anything major done, you called the housing department. They came in and fixed it.

Franklin: I think sometimes for outsiders looking in, it’s kind of striking to hear about the government completely owning this town and controlling the lives of the people and having that much control on people’s freedoms and responsibility. But from the people I’ve talked to who grow up in Richland, they have very fond memories of it.

Barnett: Yeah, there was no restrictions on the normal freedoms. There was restriction on if your kids got into trouble, because, like I said, the patrol would go up to the person that had the kids that were causing the problem and said you either straighten your kids out or you go and find another job. Which, to me, made common sense. And so it was actually pretty decent.

Franklin: Did you ever get any sense from your parents that they felt, maybe, restricted, not being able to own their own home or do any of their own repairs, or did they just—

Barnett: No, not then. I think—that was just after the Depression—I think they were just happy to be able to get a home.

Franklin: Right. Interesting. Because, you know, for some people looking outside, you could look at that level of government control—because we have these big debates about the role of the government in society today, and it’s kind of interesting to hear about it.

Barnett: Well, there was no control where the government come in and said, you do this and you do that and you do this. As long as you didn’t get into trouble and you did your job, and were a normal person, there was nobody ever complained about it. I remember I was back behind where the Racquet Club is. I was hunting ground squirrels with a .22 one day. And at that time, nobody had any problems with it. And one of the Richland patrol people came and picked me up and brought me back to the patrol station. And he called my dad. My dad come in and he says, what’s wrong? He says, we caught your boy shooting .22s at such-and-such area. He said, well, is he aiming at the road? Said, no. Said, did he shoot it at anybody? Said, no. Then what the hell are you bothering me about? I mean, that’s just how it was in those times. It wasn’t any of this, oh my god, he’s got a gun. It just was normal. Because I had my first rifle when I was about—I must have been about eight years old. And we used to go out and go rabbit hunting.

Franklin: Did you ever spend much time in Kennewick or Pasco—in either of those--?

Barnett: Not really. My wife was born in Pasco.

Franklin: Okay.

Barnett: I never spent much time in it because I had no reason to. I mean, it wasn’t the case of I was afraid to or wary about it—just I had no reason to. All, everything I needed was in Richland or around the Richland area.

Franklin: Why did you first have to get surgery on your knee at 13?

Barnett: Well, my knee locked. I didn’t find out until about 25 years later that the doctor had actually not fixed it. Because what they found out was there was a meniscus cartilage—you know in your knee? And mine was oblong and it had broke in half. And it had slipped between the joint and it had locked my knee so I couldn’t straighten it out. So I’d have to pick it up, lay it across the other leg, and pull it and pop it back out. But that was the first—I was accident prone. I had a radical mastoid when I was about 15. By the time I got out of high school, I probably had 100 stitches in me. I mean, if it happened, I did it and got it happened to me. I was playing baseball, jumped over a fence, and landed on a guard rake with the thongs up—four thongs in one of my foot.

Franklin: Ouch.

Barnett: Weird things like that are always happening to me. One time, when I was in school, I reached up to open a door and a kid slammed it and put my hand through the window, sliced across this way. And I looked at it, bleeding, and I closed it up and went to the nurse’s office. The nurse got all panicky. She called my mom, and I could hear my mom say over the phone real loud, again?! And the nurse must’ve thought she was the hard-heartest old lady there ever was, but my mother was just used to it.

Franklin: Yeah, right.

Barnett: And I didn’t do things out of the way to have it happen, just—if it’s gonna be an odd thing, it happened.

Franklin: Right.

Barnett: So I kind of, like I say, with all this mess I got with my knee now, I call it Young Stupid Male Syndrome, a lot of it. I don’t—I get frustrated with it, because I love to garden and I can’t garden anymore. But I don’t get worried or depressed about it, because it’s there and nothing I can do about it, so just live with it.

Franklin: Right. So jump back ahead now. So you said you moved to Springfield in the Air Force for basic training, and that was—

Barnett: No, I was—San Antonio for basic training, and then to Springfield.

Franklin: And that was a big culture shock.

Barnett: Oh, yeah. I mean, I drove a vehicle and drove into town to haul officers into town. And here is a town with 100,000 people and I’d never been in anything bigger than Richland, Washington. So you can imagine the shock it was, being in that kind of traffic.

Franklin: Right. And then where did you go after that?

Barnett: Well, I was there for about a year-and-a-half, two years. Then I went to Thule, Greenland.

Franklin: Interesting.

Barnett: Top of the world.

Franklin: Yeah. And what were you—was that for the—weren’t there bombers stationed—

Barnett: No, they had the fueling planes there. Yes, they had SAC planes all over the world at that time. But at Thule they had the KC-135s and the KC-97s that were fueling planes.

Franklin: Right.

Barnett: So we were there to support them.

Franklin: And those were there to refuel the—

Barnett: The B-52s.

Franklin: --the B-52s that were carrying weapons in case of--

Barnett: Yup, because there was one from every base in the world in the air 24 hours a day.

Franklin: Right. And can you talk—what was that like, to be in—and was the base separated from any other communities in Greenland, or did you--

Barnett: It was a base of its own. There were no other communities besides Thule, that’s it.

Franklin: And how long were you there?

Barnett: Year.

Franklin: And what was that like?

Barnett: Well, it’s an interesting place to visit, but you don’t want to live there permanently. [LAUGHTER] Let’s put it that way. They have permafrost which is—oh, I guess about two foot down. So in the spring there are all these little beautiful tundra flowers—yellows and whites and all that. And then when they’re gone it’s just green grass and that’s it. And when they went to put a pole in the ground, they put a can—a barrel of oil in the ground, and light the oil, and then dig around that barrel. Because that’s the only way to get down past the permafrost. Because permafrost is almost like concrete.

Franklin: Yes, yeah. I’m from Alaska originally, and so I’m very familiar with permafrost. So after Greenland, where did you go?

Barnett: Went to Mountain Home Air Force Base.


Franklin: And where is that?


Barnett: Idaho, Washington.


Franklin: Oh, okay. So kind of close to--


Barnett: Yeah, out in Mountain Home. They had B-47s then at Mountain Home.


Franklin: Okay.


Barnett: I figured out that they actually phased out B-47s because they were built before the B-52s and they figured the B-47s weren't worth keeping around.


Franklin: And what did you do in the Air Force?


Barnett: I drove. I drove every kind of vehicle you can think of.


Franklin: Oh, really?


Barnett: Yeah. When I moved to Fairchild from Mountain Home, I was trained to tow B-52s in the back, in the hangars.


Franklin: Oh, okay.


Barnett: With a five-ton Yuke. Four-wheel drive, five ton, and you had wing walkers on the outside that would guide you, and you would back this thing up, this big B-52 into a hangar. 


Franklin: Wow.


Barnett: They would pull it down to a fueling station or whatever. 


Franklin: Cool. And then when did you come back to Richland?


Barnett: 1965. I got out to Richland and we moved to--I can't remember the address, but it was on Marshall. We moved to a house on Marshall.


Franklin: Was it an Alphabet House, or was it a--


Barnett: Yeah, it was an Alphabet House. I remember it most because the neighbors had a monkey. And the monkey kept stealing my daughter's candy from her. [LAUGHTER] 


Franklin: So you said--wait, so by this point you had a family?


Barnett: Yeah, I had--I adopted my oldest boy and I had two children.


Franklin: Oh, okay.


Barnett: They were all born at Fairchild.


Franklin: Okay. And a wife, I presume?


Barnett: Yeah.


Franklin: And what did your wife do in Richland?


Barnett: She was just a mother. But we divorced in about '70. And then I remarried.


Franklin: Okay. And what did you do when you came back to Richland?


Barnett: Anything I could. I worked at O'Malley's Drug Store for a while. I worked at his house--O'Malley's house, leveled his backyard. I worked at Walter's Grape Juice, I worked at Bell Furniture, I worked at—at that time, it was originally called the Mart, at that big building right next to the Federal Building. At one time, that was a big--what would you call it? They had a cafeteria and a grocery store and all the other—kind of like Walmart.


Franklin: Right.


Barnett: It was called the Mart at that time. And I worked there in the clippers that they washed the dishes with. And then I went to work for the bowling alley, Atomic Lanes, which was right there where the Jacks and Sons Tavern is. That was a community center and a bowling alley there. And I worked there for about a month, and then they went automatic. So, about that time, I was just about ready to get out—finish high school. And I don't think I had any other job after that, and I went in the Air Force.


Franklin: Oh, so--I'm sorry. When you came back to Richland, what did you do? So in 1965.


Barnett: Oh, I did everything then. You name it, I took a job. Before—I'm sorry, I got it backwards. Before I went in the Air Force, there wasn't many jobs for people in the—who were kids in Richland. And I worked the bowling alley and I worked down at a dry cleaning outfit. But when I come back to Richland, that's when I had all these other jobs. I worked all these other jobs to keep supplied for the family.


Franklin: How had Richland changed in the eight years since you had been gone?


Barnett: Well, the Uptown district had--the Newberry's had left. And there was a Safeway store right next to the theater. Right now I think it's a—I don't know, some kind of a multi shop deal. And both of the stores that were there originally are gone. They're now all antique stores.


Franklin: Right.


Barnett: So it was—when it was built, it was the first big complex for going shopping in Tri-Cities.


Franklin: Right.


Barnett: And after they built that, they built Highlands. And that was another big complex for shopping. So I worked everything I could, and 19--oh, what was it? [SIGH] About '67 or '68, I went to work at Hanford. I finally got on with them. Because I'd been applying at Hanford for three years. And I finally got to work with them. I won't mention how I got to work for them, because to me, it's kind of a ridiculous deal, and I don't know whether it was prejudice or not. Well, I'll go ahead. 


Franklin: I was gonna say, now you've got my interest.


Barnett: I was--how I'd shop for a job, I'd go out and fill out an employment application, and I'd just distribute--go out all over town and fill out employment applications. And every week, I'd go back and check them. Well, one time, I was filling out an appointment application, and one of the guys I knew, I met him, and he said, hey, there's a new employment office over there at the new Whitaker School. And you might check it out. So I went over there and checked it out and signed up. And three days later, Hanford called me for a job. And I found out that that originally was a minority employment office.


Franklin: Oh.


Barnett: So I've always had the feeling that somebody didn't look at the records right. They didn't see the C. [LAUGHTER] Because I didn't get hired until I went to there and did an application. Because the government was required to hire a certain number of minority--


Franklin: Right. Well, but you did get hired.


Barnett: Yeah.


Franklin: So what did you do at Hanford?


Barnett: Well, I can say as little as possible, like everybody else. [LAUGHTER] That's a common joke. Of course, it took me about--I couldn't understand it. It took me about three months to get a security clearance. When I was in SAC, I had a Secret clearance. Both my folks worked at Hanford, they had Secret clearance. But it still took me about three months to get a security clearance. And all the time, since I've been on the Air Force, I've lived in Richland, I never could understand the government—why they wasted so much money on a security clearance for me. But when I got out there, I started as a process operator. And started at B Plant. And there was no training at that time. I mean, when you went into a radiation zone, one of the guys that was experienced took you with him. And you dressed like he did, hoping he knew what he was doing, because that's how you dressed. And that's how you learned to dress right. So I started out going into the canyon--I don't know if you knew what the canyons were—okay? We went into the canyons and I helped mixed chemicals in the chemical gallery. And that's where I think I really screwed up my knees, because I can remember—remember, I call it Young Stupid Male Syndrome--I remember throwing a hundred-pound sack of chemicals on my shoulder and going up three flights of stairs with them, rather than wait for the elevator. Young and dumb, indestructible. [LAUGHTER]


Franklin: Actually, maybe for those who might be watching this who might not be as familiar with some of this stuff as I am, can you describe the canyon?


Barnett: Well, the canyon was—well, like I say, the building was about 150-foot wide and about 800-foot long. And it was four stories deep and there was just one--the reason they call it canyon was because it was a gigantic canyon. It went the full length of the building, and they had huge cranes that moved different stuff so they could process the atomic waste. Because in B Plant, they process the nuclear waste. They ship it down to B Plant and we go through chemical stuff to separate the strontium and cesium from it. And that would be sent to the encapsulation plant. That was built about—oh, six years after I went to work at B Plant. They closed up after I'd been there for ten years, and I went to work for Encapsulation Building. But the canyon is an immensely big, empty storage building, really what it is. And I don't know how—or what they're gonna do with them now, because there is some radiation there that you wouldn't believe how hot it was. We took samples of radiation behind lead shields, and then they were so hot that they ended up having the crane pick up the samples and dispose of them, because we couldn't move them.


Franklin: Wow. Did you—and so when you came back, your father was no longer working at Hanford, right?


Barnett: Yeah, he was still working at Hanford.


Franklin: Oh, was he still working—so you guys worked at Hanford at the same time.


Barnett: Yeah.


Franklin: Oh, wow, that's really interesting. So can you tell me a little bit more about what a—describe in a little more detail the job of a process operator?


Barnett: Well, real basically, we were what you might call nuclear janitors.


Franklin: Okay.


Barnett: We clean up the messes that pipe fitters or millwrights or electricians made. We process all the chemical--mixed all the chemicals and processed—did all the processing of separating the strontium and cesium from the nuclear waste and ship them to tank farms. And that was basically what our main job was. We had a few major accidents. Now it'd be all over the world, about how bad it was and all that. But we just went about our business cleaning it up and went on our job. None of us got an overdose of radiation. We relied on our radiation monitors and they were good radiation monitors. If we were getting too much, they yanked us out of there real quick. So we didn't even think about it. It wasn't the case of being scared of it or anything else. It's like your hazardous wastes that they got, like coming from the hospital, where they work in an x-ray lab, they throw all the gloves and stuff and that. That's called mixed hazardous waste. Well, you could take a bath in that and not get any radiation on you. But according to what the public knew, those things are really highly radioactive boxes. And I think the biggest problem the government had is they didn't tell the people enough about what was really going on after the war was over. 


Franklin: Oh. Really?


Barnett: Yeah, because there would have been less worry about things that were going on then, if they would have known. Because if you don't know anything about radiation, and you hear somebody mentions something is irradiated, you get all panicky about it. The expression for radiation out there was, you get a crap up. You get a crap up, you scrub it off and go about your business. Now, they panic and take you to town and do all that sort of stuff. There, we just scrubbed it off and went about our business.


Franklin: Right.


Barnett: And I never worried about it.


Franklin: Okay. So you said you were a process separator at B Plant. And then you went to the Canyon, and what did you do--


Barnett: Well, I didn't go to the Canyon, I went to 225-B, the Encapsulation Building.


Franklin; 225-B, the Encapsulation Building.


Barnett: That's where they encapsulated the strontium and cesium. 


Franklin: Okay. 


Barnett: We all did a multitude of jobs. We worked on the cells, processing the strontium and cesium. And we worked behind the cells in mixing chemicals and we worked from when they loaded the chemicals for shipment for a long period of time when they were shipping cesium to the radiation plant for irradiating medical waste. And that ended when the guy was what they called recycling the cesium capsules too much. They get real hot. I mean, temperature-wise. And he was setting it in the water for a period of time and taking it out of water and cooling them off and stashing them back in the water. Well, one of them leaked.


Franklin: Ooh.


Barnett: And so they ended up, the whole place had to have all those capsules moved back. So that was a big fiasco. And again, it wasn't our fault. It was the guy doing the work was stupid enough to not check and see what he was doing.


Franklin: Right.


Barnett: And that's usually what happens with most—any of the radiation. And if you work with radiation, it's not the guy doing the work, it's somebody that's stupid and doesn't check what he's doing, doesn't follow regulations that causes the problem. 


Franklin: So did you have any other jobs at Hanford? Or what--


Barnett: I don't know, you ever heard of McCluskey?


Franklin: Yeah.


Barnett: Well, I was over there when we cleaned—for five weeks cleaning up that building.


Franklin: Really?


Barnett: Yeah. 


Franklin: Were you there at the time of the accident--


Barnett: No, no.


Franklin: --or part of the cleanup for that?


Barnett: Afterwards. They were trying to clean up the rooms so they could go in there and get things squared away. And we spent five weeks there. And to tell you how screwball the government can be, the last week-and-a-half we were there, we finally told our supervisor, look, all of worked on this radiation for 15, 20 years. We know how to clean it up. Quit telling us what to do. Let us go in there and clean it up and we'll get it cleaned up for you in no time at all. So they took a chance. And what they did is we ragged all along the bottom of the building, and we took water fire extinguishers. Because it's americium, and americium is a powder substance, it floats real easy. But it's water soluble--it'll run down with water. So we went in there and sprayed the walls with it real heavy. Then wiped everything down, moved everything that was movable, bagged it up in plastic bags and moved it out. And inside of a week, we had it down to mask only. Before then, we were wearing three pairs of plastic and cooling air and fresh air.


Franklin: Wow.


Barnett: And we cleaned it up in a week-and-a-half because they didn't want the people that knew what they were doing doing it. And that's the biggest problem with the government: they've always got the bureaucracy up here that knows what's going on, but they never ask the poor guy that’s doing all the work what's going on. I think you've seen that numerous times. [LAUGHTER]


Franklin: I think so. [LAUGHTER] Wow, that's really fascinating. So how long total did you work at Hanford?


Barnett: 30 years.


Franklin: 30 years.


Barnett: I had to take a medical retirement in '98.


Franklin: '98. So then you were there, then, kind of from the shift from production to cleanup. Right? The production and shutdown.


Barnett: No, when I left they were just getting ready to start cleaning things up.


Franklin: Okay, so can you maybe talk about the shift from production to shutdown? How did that affect your job?


Barnett: Well, I really didn't get in on any of the cleanup, because I left before they did. But I talked to a number of the guys out there that I worked with that were in the cleanup. The biggest problem they had is they put such a limit on chemicals they could use to do cleanup that they had to use things that they claim were not environmentally safe. They had to void all that--like Tide. They wouldn't even let us use Tide to wash the walls down. Now, you use Tide in washing machines. [LAUGHTER] Come on, give me a break. That's a hazardous chemical? And I guess it took them quite a while to get the thing cleaned up. Because, like I say, they didn't start cleaning it up until after I left.


Franklin: Right. So what did you do in the shutdown era? Like after '87, from '87 to '98? What was your job primarily?


Barnett: They didn't shut down--they shut B Plant down, but they didn't shut 2-and-a-quarter down. 2-and-a-quarter was still processing strontium and cesium.


Franklin: Oh, okay, so then you kept in the waste encapsulation.


Barnett: Yeah.


Franklin: Can you describe a little bit more the process of waste encapsulation?


Barnett: Well, strontium is not soluble--not water soluble. And strontium is. And what they had--they had a special process--I don't know exactly the process. I just know what we did. You would take a mixed chemicals with the cesium and you would dissolve it and then you would heat it up to--I think--800 degrees into a liquid. And then you had a machine we called a tilt-pour which would pour seven capsules at a time full of cesium. And then you'd take these capsules and you'd put a sensoring disc in them to make them airtight. And then you'd weld a cap onto that. That'd be welded by a machine. And most then it was computerized. Then that was decontaminated until it was clean. And then it was put into another capsule, and that capsule was also—put a lid on it, but it was soldered on—welded on. And that was moved into the pool cells. Pool cells are 13-foot deep. What you had is a special hole built into the wall with water that you would shove that capsule through. And then the guy on the other side in the pool cell would grab the capsule and pull it out. And he would go to the pool cell that he's designated to go to, and he would shove it through a hole in the wall. And somebody on the other side would grab it and pull it and then you'd put it into its spot. So it was quite a process. And the fear was--you couldn't get that capsule within five feet of the top. Because if you did, you'd get a high radiation alarm. They’d read millions of rads on those capsules. They were hot, no two ways about it. And one thing I've always wondered is why does cesium glow blue when you turn the lights out?


Franklin: Wow.


Barnett: You turn the lights out in the pool cell, and all these cesium capsules will glow blue. And I've never--I've had somebody say it's something about the speed of light and all that. But I'd like to know the real reason it does that.


Franklin: That sounds kind of strangely beautiful.


Barnett: It was. It's a blue glow all along the bottom. The strontium doesn't. Strontium is not water soluble and it doesn't glow at all. In fact, I got some strontium in me one time when I had a tape when one of the manipulators--I don't know if I didn't mention--all the work was done from the outside with the manipulators. You know what manipulators are.


Franklin: Right, yeah.


Barnett: Okay, and all the capsulation, all of the work was done with manipulators from the outside. And it was amazing what some of those guys could do. They could take a little bottle about so big with a little bitty top and they could pick up that bottle, hold it here, and took up the other--the cap with the lid and put it on it.


Franklin: Wow.


Barnett: I was never that good with it, but there some guys out there who got real expertise with that. It just takes a lot of work to learn to use those things. 


Franklin: I bet.


Barnett: That's one reason my hand's tore up--my hand just didn't take it so much.


Franklin: And you said you got strontium on your hand?


Barnett: Yeah, I got--I couldn't handle manipulators good because my hand was falling apart on me. So I took all the decontamination of the manipulator. Because that's--a manipulator has to be pulled after so many--I think it's so many weeks, the Mylar coating on it starts deteriorating. So it has to be pulled, decontaminated, and new Mylar sheath put on it. And I was in there decontaminating one of the manipulators, and one of the—well, they were trying new bands that controlled the grips. And one of them broke and sliced my hand. And I got some strontium in my finger. It was about 700 counts. I wasn't too worried about it. But they took me to town and went on all government roads, documented and everything and brought me back. I couldn't work with radiation for about three months until that thing finally deteriorated--worked out of the body.


Franklin: Wow.


Barnett: But I didn't worry about it. It wasn't enough to do any harm.


Franklin: Wow, that's really--


Barnett: See, that's the difference between working with the stuff and knowing what it does, and not working with the stuff.


Franklin: Right. Right, I've heard a lot of similar things about--


Barnett: It's like chemicals. I'd rather work at a radiation plant than at a chemical plant. Because if you have good radiation monitors, you're not gonna get an overdose of radiation. But with a chemical plant, look what they have out there now. A guy gets a whiff of chemicals, they all go panic about it.


Franklin: Yeah, I see where you're--I see your point. So you said--earlier when you said you would put the cesium in the pools—cesium cans, you couldn't get them too close to something, because they'd get too hot. Sorry--can you--


Barnett: No, it wasn't too close--they're in--oh, it probably was a--well, what would you call it? It was like a cabinet with holes in it. You would drop these in there. And they're spaced out. You couldn't pull them too high. 


Franklin: Oh, okay.


Barnett: If you pulled them sometimes when you're getting ready to transfer them to the pool cell, they would hydroplane and come up. And if you pulled them too fast, they would come up and you'd get a high radiation alarm. You’d just drop it back down and it'd go off.


Franklin: Oh, okay.


Barnett: That's what it was.


Franklin: I got--okay. I gotcha. So--


Barnett: It only takes one time, you remember not to do that anymore. [LAUGHTER]


Franklin: [LAUGHTER] I bet. So even though your area—your work didn't change much when most of the plans ordered to shut down. You still probably worked with a lot of people whose jobs might have changed--


Barnett: Yeah.


Franklin: --during shutdown. Can you talk about that transition between process--?


Barnett: Well, I talked with some of the guys and they were talking about how much work it took to get things cleaned up. Like the area behind the pool cells, that had to be completely decontaminated. And we finally got it down to where it was just one pair and no masks. That took a lot of work. Decontaminating just takes a lot of hand-scrubbing. I mean, it's not a case of, you can put something there and pick it up and get rid of it. You got a scrub a lot of places until it's gone. It takes a lot of work. And I talked to one fella, and he said that they had all the cells that were down to clean—and what they consider clean is no radiation in them. And it is hard for me to believe, because some of those cells were really hot. But I never got a chance on the cleanup.


Franklin: How was--so when Hanford was shifting over, how was this change explained by management, or some of the--how was it conveyed, or how did the community take it?


Barnett: Management never explained anything to anybody. [LAUGHTER] I don't remember hearing the community complaining about anything, because most of the guys worked out there, and they knew what was going on. So there was no big panic about it. It wasn't the case where some guys didn't work here, they were told this was going on and got all excited because they didn’t know what was going on. Most people knew what was going on. So there was no big panic that I remember.


Franklin: Okay.


Barnett: We didn't panic with radiation, because we had good radiation monitors.


Franklin: Right.


Barnett: And that makes a big difference when you're working around radiation.


Franklin: So being in waste encapsulation, how did other events--other nuclear accidents around the country or around the world, like Three Mile Island or Chernobyl, kind of affect how your job or how--


Barnett: It made us see how ridiculous--because Three Mile Island actually worked. It was [UNKNOWN] what it was built for. And the moderation they got--radiation they got was not as much as you get flying from here to Denver City. Because you get more radiation from the sun than you do from—what the people at Three Mile Island got. But they blew it up so big, because so many years the government kept radiation such a secret. And that's the reason there's so much panic whenever they say radiation. Of course, there's been some real bad accidents. That one in Japan—that was a horrible thing. But as far as Hanford goes, most of the people that worked at Hanford don't—I guess they're not working around radiation anymore; it's all chemicals. Because they're getting—they get the chemicals and to me, that's the management's problem. Because they're doing something wrong in taking care of the people. The people are doing what they're told to do. If management is telling them, hey, you got to wear this, and they're not wearing it, then that's their problem—that’s the worker's problem. But when the management doesn't do anything about it, that's their problem—that’s management's problem. And I think from what I've heard and read, most of this is a managerial problem. It's not a case that the worker is going out of his way to ignore any safety concerns.


Franklin: Right. What about the accident in Chernobyl? How did that--did that affect your job, or--


Barnett: Yeah, it affected it because they shut down N Reactor. And N Reactor, up until then, was as safe as any reactor in the country. It had so many safety pieces on it that you could darn near slam a door and make it shut down. But they shut it down because it was something like Chernobyl. And that's where the big effect was. 


Franklin: How did--oh, how did security policies change over time? Did they change with the different contractors or in response to different events?


Barnett: No, the security’s main thing was basically the same. You had the security guards at like 200 East—well, they left the security guards that you couldn’t get out to Hanford without a security clearance. But that quit because they had the buses, and that stopped. And they had the security guards checking the buses and stuff as you went through. And then typical government, they started screaming about, oh, we're burning too much gas. We can't afford gas! So we'll shut the buses down. [LAUGHTER] So everybody had to drive out. But the guards at the gate checked your badges, checked your cars. If there was anything in it--you couldn’t take cameras or anything like that out there. If the guard knew you, he checked you out whether he knew you or not, because he had to make sure your wife didn't leave a camera sitting in your backseat you didn't know about.


Franklin: Right.


Barnett: Which happened on occasion.


Franklin: Right, I bet. How did your job change with the different contractors coming in? Did it change much, or did you--


Barnett: Well, every contractor that came in, the engineers thought they were gonna remake the world. They would come up with some plan that they saw on a schematic and say, this is the way we want to do it. And we'd tell them point blank, it won't work. We've tried it that way. And they say, oh yes, it will! So we'd spend $50,000 in parts and stuff to put this together, and then it didn't work. And then they went around, well, why didn't it work? Well. The only one I ever saw that was a decent engineer is when he'd draw up a plan to do something, he would go to the millwrights, he would go to the operators, he'd go to the instrument techs and ask them to look at it and see if there's anything that needs done on it. And he had never had any problems. But these that come straight out of school and thought they could reinvent the world were a pain in the butt to us because they cost money and time.


Franklin: Do you remember who that good engineer was?


Barnett: He left. I don't remember who he was. But he left and went to work for a big company some place.


Franklin: Oh, okay. Do you remember President Nixon's visit in--I think it was 1970 or 1971?


Barnett: I might have. I didn't see him. I don't worry about politics.


Franklin: [LAUGHTER]


Barnett: He didn't do our place any good or any bad. Just a big political statement.


Franklin: How did the Tri-Cities change from when you came back in 1968 until today? What kind of strikes you as major changes?


Barnett: Well, there seem to be more, you might say, petty crimes. There wasn't as much as there was before--there was more than there was before, I should say. But the city maintained its equilibrium about the same, because the people have been here for 20 years, and then they sold the city to the town. There was no big change in the government. The police stayed the same. The biggest change was you had to call a painter if you wanted your house painted. And they sold the houses to the people, and that was the biggest change.


Franklin: How about, though, since—from when you came back in 1968 until today? Has there been any--has the community changed at all?


Barnett: Well, a lot of the businesses have left Richland. They moved out Columbia Center area, or up there in that area. We don't have--you got to go to Columbia Center to find a business. There's a few still there. There's Home Depot and stuff like that down there, Big Lots. But there's not as many as there used to be. And mostly antique shops or stereo shops.


Franklin: Right.


Barnett: But there's always the Spudnut. It's always been there.


Franklin: There is always the Spudnuts, yeah. They're good too. Is there anything else that I haven't asked you about that you'd like to talk about?


Barnett: Well, us kids had different ways of playing that nowadays they would just panic about it. We used to have BB gun fights. We’d put on leather jackets and extra pair of Levi's and a hat and go into these orchards like where Densow's was and we'd have BB gun fights. And you haven't really lived until you've had your butt shot by a BB. [LAUGHTER] But nowadays there'd be some big panic about it that you're gonna shoot an eye out. Well, nobody ever shot an eye out because we made sure that we didn't shoot towards the head. [LAUGHTER] When they were building the houses, that's what was amazing, how fast they put these houses up. It wasn't a week or so to get a house started--it was almost a week and they had the thing almost done. And we used to go to different houses and have clod fights. Things like that that you don't dare do nowadays.


Franklin: When you had what kind of fights?


Barnett: Clod fights. Clodded earth. We'd get behind stuff and throw clods at each other. And the snow then was two, three foot deep. Because I remember building snow forts in my yard three foot high and never have to go to the yard to get snow. So there has been a big change in the weather. And the shelterbelt, that made a big difference, because I remember when we had sandstorms--not dust storms, sandstorms. And my dad would pull his car up in front of the house to keep the sand from blasting the side of the car off--the paint. So there's been big changes. The shelterbelt was one thing the government put in that actually worked. It’s kind of surprising. [LAUGHTER]


Franklin: That's great. Is there anything else? Anything else you'd like to talk about?


Barnett: Well, not really. Just that the area behind--you know, in West Richland at that time used to be Heminger City and Enterprise. They were two cities then.


Franklin: Okay, tell me, were those cities that predated the Hanford Project?


Barnett: Yeah.


Franklin: Okay, and how big were there?


Barnett: Oh, they were just little communities. It was just one run into the other. There was one called Enterprise, one was called--what did I just say?


Franklin: Something city.


Barnett: Heminger City.


Franklin: Heminger City.


Barnett: One of the elections went out for voting, they had one of the places that you went to was called Enterprise.


Franklin: And how long did those communities last after Hanford came?


Barnett: Not very long. I can remember Dad going out to the first town—first little town was Heminger City. And that was right where Cline's computer shop is, it was automobile shop there. And those were all owned by one group--one person. I think it was--Herricks was the name. And she had a little taco stand in one of the places. And OK Tire Shop had part of the one building that they sold tires and did car repair out of. So it was a slow change in West Richland. We had a feed store for a while. But Hanford went on strike and our feed store went down the tubes. They used to have what they called parking lot critter sells. People would bring all their animals, little animals that they wanted to sell in cages. And we would sell them for them and get 10% of the interest. It was a pretty good deal, because a lot of people had pet rabbits and stuff like that and they wanted to get rid of them. Usually had them at the un-boat races. You heard of the un-boat races?


Franklin: Why don't you tell me?


Barnett: The un-boat races? You ever heard of them?


Franklin: Why don't you tell me?


Barnett: Well, the un-boat race was you went up to the Horn Rapids Dam, and you put something in. It could not be a boat. It could be a bath tub, it could be inner tubes--it could be anything that you could see above that would float and it could not be called--it was called un-boat race. And there was a prize that they got down towards the bridge that crosses the Yakima there on George Washington Way. Got down about that far, there was a prize who got there first. But they ended up cutting that out because people left too much stuff—garbage alongside the road. They wouldn’t pick it up and take it with them when they were done with it. But that was a lot of fun. We used to stand up on the ridge. Always started about May. And we'd stand there and watch people come down the river on these un-boats. [LAUGHTER]


Franklin: That sounds really fun. Anyone else have anything? Okay, well, Dan, thank you so much for talking to us today. I learned a lot of great stuff about Richland and waste encapsulation. I really appreciate it.


Barnett: Okay.





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Hanford Sites

200 East Area
B Plant
N Reactor
225-B Encapsulation Building

Years in Tri-Cities Area


Years on Hanford Site


Names Mentioned





Hanford Oral History Project at Washington State University Tri-Cities, “Interview with Daniel Barnett,” Hanford History Project, accessed May 26, 2024,