Curiosity over a new Twitter follower got me to click on Jay Searcy’s website. Before long, I was intrigued by the topic of Jay’s book and I invited him to be a guest on the East Tennessee Report, a weekly public affairs interview show that airs on four stations.
“The Last Reunion” helped me better understand what life was like in the early days of Oak Ridge. I attended the Secret City Festival in 2004, hoping to comprehend the secret but came away knowing nothing new. Either they didn’t have or I didn’t know about the public tours of government facilities that are now part of the festival.
“The Last Reunion” is a great collection of memories from the Oak Ridge High School class of 1952. They arrived in Oak Ridge as children when their parents took jobs on the secret project to enrich uranium for the atom bomb. The federal government built the town as a place to house the workers at factories with code names like Y-12 and K-25. The location was chosen because it had easy access to TVA power and it was far enough inland to avoid submarine spies. To avoid arousing suspicion, the government chose to create a segregated society similar to neighboring towns. During the war, some illiterate employees were chosen to do janitorial work around classified documents and machinery.
Jay and his colleague Stephany Beane have posted some photos and the audio from our recording session on Jay’s website. Stephany was kind enough to send me the HTML so you can listen to the thirty-minute program here and now:
If you do not see a speaker icon above, then right click on this link to download the interview.