Monday, May 18, 2009


This is a class picture from a radiation emergency response course that I went to at the Atomic Test Site in Mercury, Nevada. This is where they use to set off the atomic bombs. It was summer and it was hot. The training lasted for 10 days. We spent the first week in a classroom in a hotel in downtown Las Vegas. That was a lot of fun because we could go to the casinos after class. On the weekend, one of the students rented a car and a bunch of us went to see Hoover Dam. The second week we stayed at the atomic test site in Quonset huts. A Quonset hut is a term for a building made out of very large pieces of curved corrugated iron. It is the same as the living quarters for the Marine Corps recruits in basic training in the television series Gomer Pyle, USMC. We got to tour the atomic test site while we were there and actually got to stand at ground zero of where an atomic bomb had gone off. It was neat because to thing that the very spot where I was standing was at one time inside of an atomic fireball. The movie Nightbreaker starring Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, and Lea Thompson was pretty realistic of the test site and the atomic testing. It is a good movie to watch. We all had a good time except for when the instructors had us play a game of baseball with full face masks and air tanks strapped to our back. The purpose of the scenario was to show us how restricted a persons movements are when they have a lot of equipment strapped on them. They also had us jog with the air tanks on our back and the full face breathing masks to get us to use up the air supply quickly so we could hear the alarm go off when the air supply was near exhaustion. We were already hot and all of this activity in the hot sun just made us even hotter.
But the best part was the food. Not the taste but the price. They had a very large cafeteria and the prices were super low. We were told that the prices were artificially low to keep the civilian workers at the site happy. One of the many perks of working and living at the atomic test site. What sticks in my memory most is breakfast. Everything was 10 cents. One fried egg was 10 cents; two eggs would be 20 cents. Toast was ten cents, hash browns was 10 cents, oatmeal, yep, 10 cents. Even corned beef on toast was 10 cents. A glass of orange juice, 10 cents. But the bacon
was special. It was 10 cents a strip unless you got three pieces and then they gave you a price break costing only 25 cents. You saved a nickel. For a single dollar, my tray would be loaded down with all the food I could carry. And the movie theater showing first run movies, 25 cents. A giant bag of popcorn, 10 cents. A jumbo glass of coke, 10 cents. At the test site for housing in the Quonset hut we all had individual rooms which included a single bed, desk, chair and dresser. All very plain and simple as well as Spartan but more than adequate. But it was a nice experience and I enjoyed it. Can you spot Lew in the picture? The answer is below. As Paul Harvey would say, “Have a good day”. Lew

1 comment:

seaside said...

You would never get a ten cent breakfast today, unless they were giving food away. Tonight mom is cooking a Porterhouse steak from Food Lion. She says it has a lot of fat on it, so the steak would have a juicy steak flavor. She also said the steak would have a lot of meat. It still is very wet here at the beach. Lots of rain and water. It sounds like you had an interesting time in radiation training.