January 23, 2015

Maternal Ancestors


The woman half-hidden at far left is my maternal grandmother, Mrs. George W. (Louise) Lee, and the next two are her daughters, my aunt Jessica and her sister, my mother Blanche Maxine "Mickey" Lee, (woman with the white fringed dress) all of Westlake, La. The photo is of the secretarial staff and other workers emerging from a day's work at the Manhattan Project site in Oak Ridge, TN, following the end of WW II, after the atom bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Wartime secrecy had been relaxed and visitors were for the first time admitted. Jessica worked for the Chief of Police of Oak Ridge, and my mom was a secretary to the man who armed the atom bomb over Hiroshima, Colonel Parsons. Mickey told me that many women at the plant had cried upon hearing about the bomb, that so many had died. Nobody but the higher-ups had a clue what the uranium-enrichment plant was about.