Interview with Ann Roseberry

Dublin Core


Interview with Ann Roseberry


An interview with Ann Roseberry 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

2018-31-1: 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


Victor Vargas: Yeah, we should be good.

Robert Franklin: Ready?

Vargas: Yeah.

Franklin: Okay. My name is Robert Franklin and I am conducting an oral history interview with Ann Roseberry on January 25th, 2017. The interview is being conducted on the campus of Washington State University Tri-Cities. I will be talking with Ann about her experiences growing up in Richland. And for the record can you state and spell your name for us?

Ann Roseberry: Yes. Ann Roseberry. A-N-N R-O-S-E-B-E-R-R-Y.

Franklin: Great. Thank you so much. Tell me how you came to Richland.

Roseberry: Well, I was born here.

Franklin: Okay.

Roseberry: I was conceived here. My folks met after the war. Dad had been active in the Air Force and came here to work for GE. Mom was recruited by General Electric, so she came out from Chicago. When she got here, he was a personnel manager for GE, and he gave her her first day orientation, and promptly asked her out to dinner. So that was 1948.

Franklin: 1948.

Roseberry: Yeah.

Franklin: I was going to say that probably wouldn’t fly with the human resources department nowadays.

Roseberry: I’m fairly certain not. So they married in 1950, and I was born in 1951. And just grew up here, yeah.

Franklin: Okay. And where did you live? Or where did your parents live in Richland?

Roseberry: Okay, they lived at 710 Stanton, which was a precut. Stanton is a little two-block street that runs perpendicular to Lee. So we had a two-block walk to Marcus Whitman Elementary.

Franklin: Mm-hm. Yeah, I live on that street, too, as you know.

Roseberry: Yeah.

Franklin: So what was it—so you, then, would have been about seven when Richland was privatized.

Roseberry: Yes, yeah.

Franklin: So what do you—what can you recall about those—your early childhood or those early years? Maybe from your own experiences or what your parents told you about that early Cold War era, government-owned era of Richland?

Roseberry: Yeah. Well, in regard to the 1958, I remember Mom and Dad talking about showing me a piece of paper that they were buying the house. As a seven-year-old, it wasn’t terrifically meaningful to me, but I understood that it was to them. That same year, my youngest sister was born and we added a room onto our house, the precut. So those actually have more primacy in my recollection than the thing that meant more to Mom and Dad.

Franklin: Sure.

Roseberry: But I do remember that. And I probably, at the time, said—because children do—oh, how much does the house cost? And Mom would have replied, we don’t ask those questions, dear. So just one little example of a culture of secrecy that I’ll—yeah. We—I guess my elementary school years, in some way were both peaceful—the idyllic, small town family life—but punctuated by the air raid drills, where we would get under our desks or go out into the hall and line up against the hall in a sort of a crouching position.  Or now what we would call pose-of-a-child in yoga. But as flat on the ground and as taking up as least space as we could.

Franklin: Mm-hm. Did you ever do the kind of drills with the evacuation routes, where the families would drive out to a spot in the desert?

Roseberry: Yeah. We did once, but the school children were bussed. So as we were—I actually have a fairly strong recollection of that, because it was terrifying. That I was alone on the bus. And I remember counting on my fingers, where’s Mom, where’s Dad, where are my sisters? Trying to sort of get a mental picture of where they were. Because even though we knew it was a drill, we were in a bus by ourselves being driven somewhere. So, we never went out as a family in our car.

Franklin: Okay.

Roseberry: Yeah.

Franklin: What did your mother do for GE?

Roseberry: She came out—her training was as an x-ray technician. So, she came out and—I won’t get all the timing of this right, but at one point, she worked for early Kadlec. And then went out to the Project and she was x-raying samples. What they were samples of, I’m not clear. But samples. But inanimate samples. I remember her talking about her work environment and that the badges, they were also radiation detectors and would indicate when the human body had had enough. But she said that she also had frequent x-rays of her hands. And she said that—the term was hot—hot hands—when she had hot hands, it meant that she had had enough radiation and she had to not do that work for a while. So.

Franklin: Radiation from the handling the samples, or radiation from the x-rays?

Roseberry: I think from the samples. There are a lot of things where—we were raised in a culture of don’t ask questions. So often, if I would have asked a question, she would have said, well, they were samples. And that would have been the end of the discussion. So, rocks, pieces of equipment, I don’t know. But something that for some reason she was x-raying, but they would have been giving radioactivity, yeah.

Franklin: Hmm. Do you know where your mother worked on the Site? Did she talk about the Area? Do you know if she worked at 300, 200?

Roseberry: I don’t know. When Dad was out onsite, he was at 200-West.

Franklin: Oh, because he was still personnel manager at that time, or--?

Roseberry: Well, I don’t think so. When we would ask him what his job was, he would just say a manager. And that’s really all I know. In probably the last maybe 10 or 15 years of his working career, he was transferred into the Federal Building. And what he said then was that he was writing or editing technical reports. And he did have a master’s in English, so that’s credible. But I don’t actually know that that’s what he was doing. In the earlier years, it was just, I’m a manager. So questions like that, that a child would ask, we were given an answer and we just accepted the answer.

Franklin: Sure, sure. Did he have any other technical training, besides a master’s in English? Did he have any training that would fit to be more site-specific? Like, production-specific?

Roseberry: I don’t think so. When he was talking about the later years and technical reports, he made the comment that scientists and engineers, their work often needed editing by someone who had a better understanding of the English language. So—and he was a published author; he was a skilled writer. So all of this is very credible to me, but I just don’t really know that he was doing that from the ‘50s through the ‘80s.

Franklin: What kinds of work did he publish or write?

Roseberry: Fiction, primarily. Fiction. He had a book that came out right before Pearl Harbor, Bobbs-Merrill, and he had just started on the author promotion tour when Pearl Harbor was bombed. So pretty much the next day he went and signed up and served stateside in—it was then the Army Air Corps, because he had had an injury. And almost literally to his dying day, that—he felt embarrassed that he hadn’t gone overseas. He felt that he hadn’t really quite done what he should, because he hadn’t been overseas. But then after retirement, he published a couple more fiction books and wrote some family histories, but mostly it was—he was a fiction writer, yeah.

Franklin: Okay. You mentioned that your mother talked about her work environment. Did she ever talk about the gender makeup of her environment, or her experience of a woman working out onsite?

Roseberry: She talked about a couple of men who she worked with right in her unit. And very warmly. Very—it clearly was a comfortable work environment for her. I’m interpreting from what she said that they were older than she was. She was in her mid-20s and very cute. But a very modest woman. Raised in the Midwest, small town in Iowa. So her comments came across as if they were avuncular or fatherly to her—warm, but not anything uncomfortable for her. Yeah. So that’s about all of her comments. I know she was back and forth between Kadlec and the Site during those years. She would have worked roughly from 1948 to 1951. I was born in March of ’51, and possibly she had to quit work before that because she was working with radiation.

Franklin: Are you the oldest?

Roseberry: I’m the oldest.

Franklin: Okay, so after you were born, she stopped working to be your full-time—

Roseberry: Yeah. There were three of us, so she stayed home until the year I turned 13, I believe. And then she went back to work part-time x-ray at the Richland Clinic, which is no longer a clinic. But—and then she worked through until retirement.

Franklin: Okay.

Roseberry: Yeah, yeah.

Franklin: Can you tell me about growing up in the prefab neighborhood? Because it’s slightly—from what I understand they’re slightly different than the Alphabet House neighborhoods in terms of not only the character of the houses but the income levels of the residents.

Roseberry: Yeah. We were—some of what I will tell you, to give a caveat, is my recollection. And I was a child at the time, so I had my own lens. But in our particular neighborhood, which is to say the one block, every person who lived in that neighborhood had a family member employed at the Project or at the Site. And in those years, it was all the men. The women were home. So across the street was an electrician, next door was Hanford Patrol, next door the other side, was—I don’t know what he did; I know he was a craftsworker. So in our block, all the other families were crafts families, except for ours. That was a very strong distinction, was—you were management or you were the crafts. And what I was told was that in our part of town, there was a conscious desire to mix within a neighborhood so that there would be some management people and some crafts people. In the block up, where you live, we didn’t know as many people. One of the high school teachers lived there at the time. It was close enough that we were allowed to trick-or-treat there. But we—within our own block, we were in and out of houses and borrowing a cup of sugar, and that kind of thing. But it was a very small one-block neighborhood for us.

Franklin: Interesting. How long did your parents live in that house?

Roseberry: Mm. From 1950 until 2013.

Franklin: Oh, wow.

Roseberry: Yeah. My dad died at the end of 2004. And Mom stayed in the house until 2013. She had a series of falls. And after the last one, she said, I think it’s time for me to move. So we got that to happen, but—and she was—she had three other friends from the early days who at that time were still living in their homes. Only one with her husband; the other women had been widowed. But for her, this was not an unusual situation, that you would move into a house and you would live there your whole life. At some point, when I was in late elementary school, I know that Dad got a promotion at work. And this would have been before 1958. And so at that time, he was offered the chance to move to a different neighborhood to what would have been considered a nicer house. I remember our talking about that, and I just spoke right up and said, well, I don’t want to move. I like my school. I like my neighborhood. And so he didn’t accept the move. And I don’t remember now where it was. I just remember that to me it seemed really silly. Well, this was our house. Why would we move? This was home, yeah.

Franklin: Do you know if the—you had mentioned that separation between trades—crafts people and managerial. Do you know if that ever caused any tension with neighbors and things like that?

Roseberry: Yes. Not in our neighborhood, not among—this was a neighborhood where in the summer, Dad would cook hamburgers outside on the fireplace he built, and the neighbors would come over and have hamburgers. Or they’d come over and have watermelon, or they’d come over for the fireworks. So none of that happened there. But in the school environment, very much so. There were times where it would come up within the schoolroom. And fairly laterally, I want to say the early ‘60s—at any rate, there was a significant strike out at the Project and another one threatened. That was the time I remember most clearly that there were enough people out on strike that management were being placed in various locations. So Dad was driving a bus during that time. The buses came right into the neighborhoods, so he had a half-a-block walk to get the bus that took him to work. And I remember very distinctly getting into it a little bit with another girl. So—might have been fifth grade—I don’t remember the year, but there were lines drawn. Because her father was in the crafts and he was also—had some position of responsibility in one of the unions. And we didn’t fight, and we weren’t enemies, but we were just never close again. It wasn’t—this discussion happened and the lines were drawn, and we never quite managed to get back across again. But there were some neighborhoods—there were some neighborhoods in the ranch houses where the mix of people who lived there was such that, yeah, it was an issue in the neighborhood. In one case, a family—the same family where the father had quite position of responsibility, and the neighborhood lived across the street from a family where the father was a high-ranking PR person for the Project. And you felt it. You felt it; it wasn’t fighting, but it was tension, I mean—yeah.

Franklin: Sure. Do you remember what that series of labor movements was about?

Roseberry: I do not.

Franklin: Okay.

Roseberry: I do not. And I wish that—because the memory is so clear, I’ve wished that I’d gone back to research it to find out what it was. I remember Dad saying that his concern or management’s concern was that this would be a disruptive enough situation that we would lose—we would no longer have federal funding. And so the other thing that’s unclear to me now is, the strike would have been against the contractor. But of course, all of the contractor money was federal money. So there was real concern that jobs would be lost. I do remember that.

Franklin: Did you ever—given that up until Richland was privatized, you had to work for Hanford to live in Richland—did you ever lose friends or notice people—had people that you knew that left during that time because they lost their jobs at Hanford?

Roseberry: No. And that is a really interesting question to me. I don’t remember ever losing any friends for that reason. And I don’t remember until high school that families were moving in from some of the other secret cities or Savannah River. I remember a family coming in from Savannah River. It isn’t that it didn’t happen. I don’t remember it, and there was no one in my close circle who left. And I really don’t remember much influx. My high school years would have been ’66 to ’69. And there were several families that I remember then.

Franklin: Did you go to Richland High School?

Roseberry: Mr. Franklin, that would be Col High.

Franklin: Col High. Sorry.

Roseberry: That would be Col High. This is essential for accuracy. Yeah. Marcus Whitman, Carmichael, and then Col High.

Franklin: Col High, right. You’ll have to forgive me.

Roseberry: I do forgive you, but I will correct you, of course, because this is so important.

Franklin: Point taken. Would that be the Col High Bombers?

Roseberry: Yes, that would be the Col High Bombers.

Franklin: Okay.

Roseberry: Yeah, yeah.

Franklin: And how long—then did you leave Richland shortly after graduating?

Roseberry: Mm-hm. I left in the fall of ’69. I went to Cheney for my undergrad degree, and went through in three years because I had two sisters behind me. Then went to Michigan for my library master’s and then came back and my first job was in Yakima. So—

Franklin: I’m wondering if—you may have been too young for this next question, but I’d like to see what—if you remember. You know, Richland, up until the mid-60s or late-60s was primarily, almost exclusively white.

Roseberry: Yes.

Franklin: Due to housing restrictions on African Americans and other minorities, they had to live in East Pasco. And although African Americans were employed by the Hanford Project, they couldn’t live in Richland—

Roseberry: Houses—right, right.

Franklin: --at that time. So I’m wondering if you could speak to that, having observed—or if you observed discrimination or any civil rights attempts to address it.

Roseberry: Yeah. So in elementary school, at my elementary school at Marcus Whitman, there were two African American families who had children in the school. In second grade, I had a birthday party, and I’d invited people from school. And I remember this very clearly. We had added on the living room, so we’d set up card tables in the living room. And I had invited my friend Kathy Baker. And she didn’t come. And I remember going to the front door watching for her, and wondering why she wasn’t coming to the party. The Baker family is African American. Her mother is still here, Mrs. Baker. I remember—and I asked Mom, why didn’t Kathy come to the party? And in some way, Mom would have said, maybe she didn’t feel comfortable because she’s—in those days, we would have said Negro. And that wasn’t disrespectful. Sorry, I remember this really clearly. And it just made me so sad. She was almost my best friend, and she didn’t feel she could come to my birthday party. My folks were very—whatever opinions they might have had to the contrary, we were raised that race was not an issue. It was not a matter of discussion; it wasn’t—it was an irrelevant thing. I look back now—hold on, I’ll get hold of myself. I look back now and I think of family names that we would have heard. But in our family, nobody ever said, this name tells you that their family came from Russia or Ireland or Germany or—that was not a—we didn’t know to make those connections. It just wasn’t discussed. So, the issue of race was, it just, it wasn’t present in the way we were raised. I didn’t really question in grade school that there were only two families. When I got to junior high, as it was then, I remember two Hispanic families being added. That was at Carmichael. And I may be forgetting somebody. By high school, another African American family and a Chinese family. But at one time—and I’m not sure I could do it right now—but I counted that in my growing up years, we had nine families of color in Richland. So we had some African American families, one Chinese family, and I think maybe by high school three Hispanic families. But I didn’t know that was unusual. I just didn’t know that was unusual.

Franklin: Sure. The children—the African American children that you went to elementary school with, they were allowed to live—the family was allowed to live in Richland?

Roseberry: Mm-hmm, yeah. The Bakers lived over—it’s an area of town just on the other side of Duportail. I’m so bad with directions. There was a little market there, Dietrich’s Market, that’s now Minute Mart or something. But they lived in that neighborhood. And I think Mrs. Baker is still in the family house from those days, too.

Franklin: Oh, wow.

Roseberry: Yeah, mm-hmm, yeah.

Franklin: Great. Thank you. Do you remember any later civil—like, any of the later civil rights actions in Kennewick and Pasco, or did you not—have you not connected much with—

Roseberry: I was not—no, I was not connected. We didn’t really have any family friends in Pasco or Kennewick. One exception, a friend of my dad’s in Kennewick on Canal Drive. But the world was very small. You knew people from school, where parents of other children—more strongly in elementary school of course, and then you knew people from your church. And in the people I knew, everybody went to church. Everybody belonged to a church and they went to church. And so we belonged to Central, to CUP. So, that’s how I met children from other parts of town, because I would meet at church. But we didn’t—in the early days, very actively encouraged to stay in Richland. Shop in Richland, go to a doctor in Richland. Not go out to dinner in Richland because there really weren’t many options. But you lived in Richland, you did your business in Richland, and you socialized in Richland. After 1958, I suspect the message wasn’t quite so strong. But still strong.

Franklin: Probably because it had been ingrained.

Roseberry: It had been ingrained, uh-huh. And there was still—even after Richland re-formed as a First Class City, all of that secrecy and deliberate attempt at isolation was still very present. Because we were in a very strong part of the Cold War. So the secrecy did not—and the fear—did not go away once Richland re-formed as a city. But no, I was unaware of those. In high school, a man named Duke Mitchell, who has come back—homecoming king? Anyway, one of those dances where someone is king and queen and there’s an election, and he was. So in some ways, you could say that this community was not—

Franklin: And I’m sorry, who was this?

Roseberry: Duke Mitchell.

Franklin: Is that CJ’s son?

Roseberry: CJ’s oldest, yeah.

Franklin: Okay.

Roseberry: So he had a very strong position of leadership in the high school. Liked and respected. I couldn’t really answer adequately about how it felt or how it was. I can report that, yeah, he was held in acclaim. He was class president, too. I—once I left, I left. I just remember strongly that he was very well-liked and respected. And certainly one of the first things I did when I came back to Richland to be the library manager here was to look him up and say, I need you on the library board. But he could speak to that better than I can.

Franklin: Okay. Did you ever feel—you talked a bit about the duck-and-cover drills that made you kind of feel the fear of being separated. What about later, as you grew up and entered adolescence or early adulthood and knew more about what was being produced at Hanford. Did your feelings toward—what were your feelings toward Hanford? Did they change at all from when you first found out about what was being made there and--?

Roseberry: I never went negative. Partly that is because my dad was—even postwar, he felt that the work that was being done there was patriotic. He still felt that it was protecting the United States. A personal characteristic of his was loyalty. So, he would have valued, in a patriotic way, and defended the Project until the day he died. So that did not occur for me. And I was never afraid in a way that you would be about something that you could do something about it. When we were very young, and maybe into pre-adolescence, I remember that he would try to teach us from the ground what planes were overhead so that we could identify them. Because it was, plane: Russia is going to bomb us. That was our default response. I got as far as being able to distinguish between a small plane, like a Piper Cub, or a B-52, or a jet. I never got—but even those distinctions, if you were—I’m the eldest. I was, I mean, day one, take care of your sisters. So I’m out on the street with my sisters, maybe walking over to the school grounds to play, and a plane goes overhead. And first I look up, try to decide if they’re in danger or not, and then look down, okay, there they are; they’re safe. And it’s not something that woke me up in the middle of the night, or I had emotional problems with. It was just part of where we were. And, again, how did we know that that wasn’t everywhere? So, learn to distinguish. But it was actually pre-adolescent. It was third grade, and we were being taught about the half-life of plutonium. I would say that my strengths have always been on the verbal, not the quantitative side. But even in third grade, I could do the numbers on that and realize that no amount of duck-and-cover was going to save any of us if we were—nuclear bomb fell. But that was, for me, a little bit like, huh. Okay, well, maybe we’ll get bombed, and maybe we won’t. So it wasn’t a fear moment; it was like, hmm, do you guys think we can’t do these numbers and figure it out? But it was really more a moment of clarity than fear. And we just never—living in Richland and reading only the local paper—although Mom and Dad always subscribed to the Spokesman Review, so we did have a paper that wasn’t local. Lots of magazines. But having very limited even television access, news like that just didn’t show up here. And it just—if we weren’t hearing it at home, and we weren’t hearing it at school, we just wouldn’t have heard anything anti. Really, the first time I kind of went, oh, people are upset about this was at Cheney, so that’s late ‘60s, early ‘70s. I took a class called environmental geography. Anyway, one of the field trips was here to Hanford; another was to some of the bunker silver mines in north Idaho where there was, in fact, damage from something that was manmade. And so then I started getting it. But not here. Not here.

Franklin: Thank you. Did the neighborhood or Richland change perceptibly after it became a First Class City to you? Did you notice any changes?

Roseberry: Mm-mm. Not to me.

Franklin: Did the fabric of—or I guess, did the fabric of the neighborhood change while you lived there after it incorporated?

Roseberry: Very little. I think that from 1951 to 1969, on our side of the street, the house at the corner of whatever that is and the house at the corner of Stanton and Lee, those houses had changed out once in 18 years. I don’t think any of the others had by the time I left to go to Cheney. In the mid- to late-‘70s, there were some deaths on the street and some houses changed out. But I think just those two. And those were precuts, the much smaller house. So the one up by Lee, that changed out pretty quickly. They needed a larger house. And the one on the other end, it was retirement or something. But only those two, yeah.

Franklin: When did you come back to Richland?

Roseberry: I came back on May 15th of 2006. That was my—I got here on May 14th. I threw stuff in my car, drove to Mom’s, unloaded the car and started that Monday. And May 16th—I remember it very clearly because May 16th was the day of the bond election for the new library building. And it passed. So those dates are just really clear for me. Yeah.

Franklin: Right. And since that time you’ve been working at the Richland Public Library.

Roseberry: Mm-hm, yeah.

Franklin: Tell me about your involvement in promoting Hanford history and that kind of thing.

Roseberry: Oh! Okay. Well, I really started with meeting Ron Kathren—Dr. Ron Kathren. He has been, for a long time, a library supporter. And I met him on May 16th—the evening of May 16th. The polls had just closed; it had been declared that the bond had passed, and we were walking out to the parking lot together. And I offered him a carrot, my go-to snack, and he accepted. So pretty much it was friendship at first sight. And he started coming into the library and just chatting with me. He’s an excellent teacher among other things. And there was something about his love of Richland and the value he places on the scientific work that had been done here that just—it created or it caught a spark in me. And then I just started thinking about it more and thinking about my parents’ generation having been pioneers of a sort. And this is no disrespect to the people who were here farming at all. But they left the Midwest, the East Coast, and they came out probably on trains and got off to a desert that had no trees. They moved into tents, or if they were lucky, trailers, and then barracks, essentially—dorms. They did work that they had no idea what they were doing. And in the early days, they couldn’t tell their families where they were, what was going on. They just seem extraordinarily brave to me. So the environmental situation that they had to deal with—against—and the work they were doing created this bonding among them that is really phenomenal. They feel that at some level they all care about each other, still. Because they were on this great adventure and venture. Then the more I learned about the science and technology and creativity and innovation that went into that, I just got fascinated. Just got fascinated. And the people who made that choice and stayed, they have a strength that I think is uncommon. And they were—we now look at that and we talk about the effects of an atomic bomb and nuclear waste, which—I’m not stepping away from that. But for them, to have been doing something that they thought was not only very important but maybe vital to the survival of the country. If you can just understand that mindset. I just admire them very much. And they’re a generation that did not complain. Did not complain. You still—no matter how much you probe with my 92- almost 93-year-old mother, she will not complain. She will not say anything bad or—she just won’t. And that’s very, very common among her friends. So I just—I think the combination of the science, but also the creativity that fueled that science, I think that’s what it was. Just started fascinating me. And I also, as a librarian, I understand that the kind of history we have here is singular. We’ll find similarities with Oak Ridge and Los Alamos, but there are three secret cities in this country. Arguably three secret cities in the world. We’re not regular. And I kind of started embracing being weird and finding the ties that we do have with those other secret cities at every possible level: the level of education, the fact that we still expect our garbage to be picked up in certain ways, that we are used to a very sturdy, robust infrastructure—we just have a lot in common. It seemed to me from a history point of view that there was some pretty important history stuff. As the public librarian part of my job—not just my interest, my job—was to collect the stuff, to protect it, to wait for WSU to be ready to have the Hanford History Project, so we could have a real, live, professional archives. And I don’t know, it just—somehow out of respect and admiration, it started being important to me.

Franklin: Great.

Roseberry: Yeah.

Franklin: What would you like—I think you’ve already covered this somewhat, but I’d like to ask it again. What would you like future generations to know about living in Richland during the Cold War and what was done here during the Cold War?

Roseberry: Wow. Respect the science. Respect the creativity. Respect the strength of the people who were here. I might say plan ahead. One of the stories Dad told was—so, context. We were in Portland. My husband and I were living in Portland, and each year in Portland, Nagasaki Day is not celebrated, but noted.

Franklin: And why is that?

Roseberry: The people draw chalk outlines of bodies on the ground in memory of what was left after that bomb, that there would be sort of a—just a charred outline on the ground, because the body had been so thoroughly incinerated, that’s all that was left.

Franklin: Sure, sure. I—sorry, but why Portland? Or why does that happen? Is there a special reason? Is it like a sister city relationship?

Roseberry: I don’t know. I just—from having lived in Portland for 30 years, I would say, that’s just Portland. I don’t have a good—I don’t have a good answer for that.

Franklin: Sure, sure. I was just wondering if there was a deeper connection.

Roseberry: Not that I know of.

Franklin: Okay, sorry.

Roseberry: But at any rate, Mom and Dad were in town, and we were walking, downtown Portland in the city hall area. Dad asked what they were, and unthinkingly, I told him the truth. Never seen him so angry. Never saw him as angry as that. He was saying, we were saving lives, we were saving American lives. Very, very, very angry. When he calmed down a little, I said, you know, people are concerned about the waste, Dad. This aside, there’s a legitimate concern about the nuclear waste. And the reason I laugh, you’ll understand, is he said, well, for Pete’s sakes. They only built those tanks to last 20 years and look how long they’ve lasted! So for future generations, I would say, maybe a 20-year tank for nuclear waste when we already understood the aforementioned half-life—maybe add that element into your future planning, yeah. So, yeah, I mean, 20 years, the life of radioactive material: not a really good match there.

Franklin: Some disconnect, perhaps, between science and then the administrative side of--

Roseberry: Exactly, exactly.

Franklin: --of legacy waste commitment.

Roseberry: And the difference between getting federal funding to, in their hope, finish a war, end a war, and in their hopes, defend the United States, and—oh, huh, yeah, well, now we want to fund something else. We don’t want to fund this. So it’s pretty big picture, but, yeah.

Franklin: Oh, hey, we’re going to need a lot more money for many hundreds of years to come to manage the—

Roseberry: Right, yeah.

Franklin: Yeah, that’s a tough sell.

Roseberry: it’s a tough sell. It’s a tough sell. Garbage cleanup. It’s a tough sell.

Franklin: Yeah, it is. Everybody wants it, but nobody wants to do it.

Roseberry: But nobody wants to do it. So, yeah, I guess, not a question I’ve thought about, but probably that’s what I’d say.

Franklin: Great. Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you wanted to talk about?

Roseberry: I don’t know. I have said—maybe a little bit about the hierarchy in Richland, because from a point of view, it has the worst of a military reservation, an academic community, and a company town, where in those environments, at some level hierarchy is all. So even in the later years—I think this is changing—but the division, if you will, between management and crafts or the trades. I think, I hope, that Richland has grown so much, benefitting from people who weren’t born here, that some of that is being mitigated, but—and feel free to eliminate this if it’s in somebody else’s story. But GESA Federal Credit Union was GE Supervisors’ Association. And my dad was one of the founders of that. I have his passbook; it’s number four. But it was only for supervisors, period. Period. So about a year later, I think—I think GESA was founded in 1954, I think. At any rate, approximately a year later, HAPO was founded. So if you were not a GE manager, you could still join a credit union. And now both of them are very, very strong, very community-minded. But lines like that were drawn. And there were some sort of informal, unspoken rules about what kind of car you could drive, according to your status at the Project. And so my dad, not being a scientist or an engineer, was maybe sort of middle. So we had—growing up we had Dodges, kind of a medium. And then, at one point, I was gone, but he got another promotion and he and Mom bought an Oldsmobile, because that was okay. Whereas when I was in grade school and junior high, that—there were people above him in the hierarchy who drove Oldsmobiles. And so that—there’s some big car stuff in this community that sometimes is at the base of—people who weren’t born here or grew up here, they observe things, but they can’t decode them. And there’s no way in the world they would ever be able to decode them. The other thing where there was a hierarchy—and I don’t know that I really have an opinion about it—but certainly, in second grade, I remember actively and clearly, we were given standardized tests. So starting in second grade, we were tracked, according to what they called ability. So in second grade, we took the Stanford-Binet, which was considered a measurement of IQ. And so the result of that, partly, was that even though when I graduated high school—that would be Col High, yeah—I graduated high school, 676 people in the graduating class, but I only really knew a fraction of them. Because even in grade school, we were ability-tracked. That continued through junior high and certainly at high school, there was advanced this and honors this. The focus on academic ability—very, very strong here. So I think for children who were perceived to fall into that, you could not have had better college prep. You could not have. We—my first formal researched-with-citations research project was in fourth grade. We were writing from very early on. We were being taught research skills from very early on. And when I left and went to Cheney, I found that that was not the norm. So the school system here is very, very focused on that. And I benefited from it; my sisters benefited from it. So, I just—I have this niggling sense that that could have been improved or fine-tuned, but because I benefited from it, I wouldn’t be a very credible voice on that. But the whole concept of hierarchy: just so strong here, yeah.

Franklin: And you think still to this day?

Roseberry: To a certain extent. I think more so in the people who are still here who were here in the very early days. Which now would be the ‘50s, because I think most of the people who would have gotten here early ‘40s to build the Project, they’re gone. And the people who arrived just post-war, like my folks, they’re dwindling, you know. They’re dwindling. But the people who came early-ish, I mean strongly in the Cold War era, like in the ‘50s, a little bit. Because that was the Project environment.

Franklin: Right, and there’s a real difference to authority, too, among those. And kind of a—one thing I’ve noticed is a belief in corporate benevolence, and that you’ll be taken care of with—the hard work and things will be rewarded in a corporate environment. That struck me as more present here, I think, due to the nature of the contractor relationship.

Roseberry: I think so, I think so. That—so for that generation, they had world-shaking events, okay? My folks lived through the Depression. My folks both were of an age to understand what Pearl Harbor meant. But I might suggest that my generation, the Boomer generation, had the first conviction that there was not only not corporate benevolence, there was not government benevolence. The World War II generation, they were patriotic. They were responding to those calls from President Roosevelt. My generation, particularly here, learned very early that, um, duck-and-cover wasn’t going to work. That there remains a question, many questions, about the assassination of President Kennedy. That the Vietnam War was not exactly about protecting democracy. So I agree. There’s more acceptance, respect for an authority figure, yeah.

Franklin: Yeah.

Roseberry: Yeah, I think so.

Franklin: Even—you mentioned some big events and kind of betraying of trust. I’d like to ask you about how you think maybe people’s reactions to the Green Run fall into that. Because that happened pretty early on in ’49. But a purposeful release of dangerous material that seems to be accepted by the community as something that happened and maybe shouldn’t have, but did nonetheless. But to outsiders is shocking.

Roseberry: It’s shocking.

Franklin: And a betrayal of trust, because it’s not a corporate—it’s the government. It’s supposed to be—

Roseberry: Right, yeah. And I did not know about that until after I came back in 2006.

Franklin: Oh, okay.

Roseberry: None—information about the Project, any of the science, any of the politics—not in the Richland school system. Not there. And in our family, not discussed. Ever. Ever, ever. So I did not know that.

Franklin: Sure. I forgot to ask: did you go to see President Kennedy?

Roseberry: Yes.

Franklin: Or did your family go to see President Kennedy? What was your—what do you remember about that day?

Roseberry: Okay. So, it was very hot and windy and dusty. And we were out in the middle of the desert, okay? However, we were just thrilled beyond any belief. He was—and just my family—but he was a beloved president. People did trust him. They followed him. People—I don’t think during his presidency, you would ever have heard him referred to as Kennedy. It always would have been President Kennedy or the President. Always, always. And partly that was then. But he, as a person and a president, people liked him, they cared about him. Here, we were so—we so completely understood that we were isolated, that that was on purpose, that for someone that important to come here was just—it was amazing. It was just amazing. And we were just thrilled. We all had to submit a security clearance paperwork. Mom just handed to me the papers for my youngest sister who was about seven, yeah. So I remember filling this out—no, she wasn’t even seven. She was more like five, she was more like five. So I filled it out, and there was a space called Membership in Subversive Organizations. And, you know, I thought about—I took this really seriously, and—

Franklin: And that was a voluntary thing that you would fill out, or that’s--?

Roseberry: No, we would not be allowed onsite.

Franklin: No, I mean, that was a form given to someone to fill out, so they would trust that you were being honest about your membership in a subversive organization?

Roseberry: Right, right.

Franklin: Okay.

Roseberry: And I put in that, yes, the only organization she was part of was the CUP Sunday school. But she was a member of that organization. But, I mean, what, to express rye amusement at the vagaries of life, but filling out a security clearance form for a little tiny girl, but we did, and we took it seriously. So we went as a family—I think I got off track, but we went as a family, and it was a big deal. But it was windy, and the wind was blowing up the sand. And it was hot. And the helicopter came in and blew up more sand. But, no, we were just thrilled. Just thrilled. The most important, the most famous person we had ever seen. And, oh, it was big. It was big, yeah.

Franklin: Cool. Well, did you have anything else you wanted to add?

Roseberry: I can’t think—you know, Robert, I could go on for a long time, but that’s—you’ll talk to other people and they’ll either confirm or deny, and—

Franklin: [LAUGHTER]

Roseberry: But you know, so much was family-centered. And then your school and then your church. Those were the circles. Oh, I guess just one other note and then you should probably just turn the equipment off, but—I don’t know if you’ve heard this or not, but Richland did not appear on any maps or on any road signs. So that piece of understanding that we were secret and that the government didn’t want people to be able to get here, they didn’t want people to know where we were or what was going on. That was—there was just sort of this combination of you just sort of accepted it, and then you’d say, hmm, I wonder why that isn’t true of Pasco and Kennewick. But even a question like that, the answer would be, well, Richland is different.

Franklin: Yeah.

Roseberry: Yeah.

Franklin: Well, thank you Ann. I really appreciated your talking today.

Roseberry: You’re welcome. Oh, I’m really happy to. I’m sorry the Kathy Baker story got me.

Franklin: No, it’s okay. I appreciate it.

Roseberry: But you know, it’s funny, we were so young, but I just remember I just kept going to the front door, watching, where’s Kathy? Where’s Kathy?



Bit Rate/Frequency

317 kbps

Years in Tri-Cities Area


Names Mentioned

Mrs. Baker
Duke Mitchell
Ron Kathren




Hanford Oral History Project at Washington State University Tri-Cities, “Interview with Ann Roseberry,” Hanford History Project, accessed December 7, 2022,