Description: 1945 August Frank Senftle near Lake Athabaska NWT Canada

Frank Edward Senftle
(1921-2013)

The blond bespectacled boy had almost drained all the sulfur dioxide from the early model refrigerator of the 1930's.  The boy needed the potent chemical for an experiment and luckily his dad had replaced the family refrigerator which had been left in the garage.  The boy excitedly drained the last of the chemical in an open pan and left it on the garage floor.  Later, after his father had parked the car in the garage, the boy saw his father stumble out of the garage, gasping for air, with eyes burning, shouting "Frank what have you done"!  

                  The boy was Frank Edward Senftle who was born in Buffalo, New York in 1921.  At the age of four, Frank's mother died in the influenza outbreak of the 1920's.  He was raised by his father and grandparents.  For us who knew Frank, the fact that he was raised without direct maternal supervision comes as no surprise. 

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I.

The Young Scientist

                  By the age of 14, Frank's experiments from household appliance parts were in full swing.  The Van de Graaff generator was relatively new and caught Frank's attention.  Like a Frankenstein movie, the generator caused electric charges to arc and spark up the side of the generator.  To make a generator, Frank needed an electric motor, belts, and a pulley system --all available from the family washing machine.  Having disassembled the washer, Frank proudly demonstrated his new generator to the family with sparks shooting about the living room.  After the show, his grandmother went to do laundry and yell, "what have you done" as her washer laid in pieces.

                  Bombs were also an early fascination for Frank.  One Fourth of July Frank had some of his friends over to his basement lab to manufacture Seven Salutes (roughly two M-80's in modern pyrotechnic terms).  The boys formed an assembly line.  One boy would grind the charcoal, another would mix the sulfur, and another would add the salt peter.  During the operations, a spark occurred igniting a chain reaction.  The work bench became emblazed with flames licking the wood floor joists above.  As the boys frantically work to control the blaze, Frank's Dad yelled down the stairs, "Frank what is going on down there"?   Frank responded, "Oh nothing" as one of the boys panicked and jumped out the window. 

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II.

I Wanted to be a Radio Repairman

                  Frank's parish was Annunciation Church on the west side of Buffalo.  Frank regularly served Mass and was well known by the pastor Monsignor Richard O'Brien.

                  In Frank's senior year, Monsignor O'Brien cornered Frank after Mass and asked, "what do you want to do next year?"   As money was tight, and college was not an option, Frank quipped, "I want to be a radio repairman."   "You what . . .," groaned Monsignor O'Brien, "come with me".  Monsignor O'Brien sat Frank down at the rectory dining table and told him that he had a parish college scholarship which he was awarding to Frank.  Frank headed to the University of Toronto the next fall. 

                  At the University of Toronto (St Michael's College), Frank majored in physics.  He continued at the University of Toronto for his master's degree where he wrote his master thesis entitled The Geophysics of Thorium, Uranium, and Lead.  The uranium part of the title would soon open doors for Frank.

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Frank Senftle--St MichaelÕs College

III.

Frank Goes Radioactive

                  In 1944 Frank was finishing his masters program and was feverishly studying for final exams.  As Frank was struggling with the class of "Mathematical Operations of Physics", and worried that he could fail his exam, Professor E.F. Burton , Chairman of the Physics Department, summoned Frank to his office.  (The Burton Tower at the University of Toronto is named after Professor Burton.)   Like a boy on the way to the principal's office, Frank headed off to Professor Burton's office.

                  When Frank walked into the office, Professor Burton went right to the point, "Frank this is war time--and the government is interested in your thesis about uranium.  We are trying to develop an atomic bomb and need you to go downtown to see Gilbert LaBine who is leading the effort to find uranium for the bomb--it is part of the new Manhattan Project."   Frank was thrilled.

                  In a nondescript Toronto office building, Frank met with Mr. LaBine.  LaBine was an early miner of radium and uranium whose mining operations, the El Dorado Gold Mining Company, had become a Manhattan Project operations center at Great Bear Lake, near the Arctic Circle, for the search for uranium.  LaBine told Frank that he had been in Burton's office and had seen Frank's thesis and particularly the word "uranium" in the title.  He told Frank that he was in charge of hiring graduate students to locate uranium and that he was interested in Frank's knowledge of Geiger counters (still in a primitive stage) and geophysics.

                  Frank quickly accepted LaBine's job offer, but realized that his draft deferment would soon expire.  LaBine dismissed the problem and ushered Frank to another office to see Carl French (later charged with allegedly spying for Germany).  French was soon on the phone to the head of Selective Service who immediately extended Frank's deferment.  Burton also resolved Frank's concerns about his final exams by quickly waiving the exams.  The mathematical operations of physics would have to wait and Frank was on his way to the Arctic Circle. 

                  LaBine told Frank that he would soon have to travel to Edmonton, British Columbia to meet with Frank Broderick at the Northern Transportation Company (another front for the Manhattan Project) who would provide him with supplies and instructions for the next leg of the trip.  LaBine, however, had one catch.  He had promised his teenage daughter a visit to Great Bear Lake and asked Frank to escort her and a girlfriend on the trip. The young man, who was more interested in liquid nitrogen, than young women, was well over his head. 

A.

Yellow Knife

                  The train for Edmonton left early from Toronto's Union Station for the three day journey.  Frank spent the trip with great fascination admiring the geology of northern Canada as the LaBine daughter and friend preoccupied themselves playing bridge.  On the third day, the train arrived at Edmonton and Frank caught a cab to the Northern Transportation Company.  "I am Frank Senftle and I am here to see Frank Broderick," Frank told the front secretary.  The secretary ushered Frank back to Broderick who told Frank to follow him.  Broderick led Frank to the basement of the building which was outfitted with racks of sleeping bags, camping equipment and other gear for northern expeditions.  Broderick issued Frank his gear and helped him obtain a room at the Royal George Hotel.

                  Ultimately, after some delays, Frank was told to wait in front of the Northern Transportation Company for a black car to transport him to his plane for the next leg of his journey.  On an early July morning, Frank and his female companions waited for the black car.  The car arrived and transported the group to a lake about twenty miles out of town to a waiting pontoon plane.  When Frank exited the car, he noticed that the pilot was in the process of mounting the motor back onto the single engine plane.  As providence had gotten him this far, and as it was war time, Frank muster the courage to board the plane.  With a few violent strikes against the waves, the plane was soon airborne and Frank's adventure continued.

                  The buildings began to disappear as Frank headed north toward Port Radium at the Arctic Circle. Soon there was only woods.  By the end of the day the weather worsened and the pilot decided to land at Yellow Knife in the Northwest Territories. 

                  The pilot landed on Great Slave Lake and taxied up to the only dock at Yellow Knife.  Frank walked a block from the dock to the only hotel in town and inquired about a room. The town was filled with miners and prospectors and there were limited rooms.  The pilot and co-pilot obtained a room and Ms. LaBine and her friend obtained the only other remaining room.  The hotel clerk walked Frank down the hall looking for another room.  She opened a room with a single and double bed and said, "someone else has this room but stay here."  Frank hesitated but agreed as he at least had a room for the night. 

                  In Yellow Knife there were only two places to eat: the Squeeze Inn and the Wild Cat Cafe.  Frank chose the Squeeze Inn which was aptly named because there was less than a foot between the stalls and the counter.  After dinner, Frank went with the men to the "men's drinking room" and the women retreated to the "women's drinking room".  As the night progressed, and the miners consumed more beer, chairs began to fly and Frank decided it was time for him to escape to his room.

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                  Frank opened the door to his room and saw one miner sleeping in the double bed and assumed he had the single bed.  Frank jumped into the bed, put his wallet under the pillow, and went to sleep.  As though wrestling with an intruder in a dream, Frank suddenly woke with a burly miner shaking him yelling, "get out of my bed"!  Frank quickly complied, grabbed his wallet, and headed for the front desk.

                  "Someone has just thrown me out of my bed," Frank complained to the clerk.  The clerk asked for the room number and inquired as to which bed Frank had been sleeping.  Frank told the clerk that a miner was in the double bed so he slept in the single bed.  "Why did you do that--just get into the double bed," the clerk retorted with a puzzled look.  Frank had crossed into the world of the northern prospector. 

                  Frank spent the next two summers searching for the yellow vein of uranium in the Arctic region.  In doing so, he was able to interact with early forerunners of the nascent nuclear age which would provide invaluable experience and spark his developing interest in radioactivity and the unfathomable atom.  As there are too many stories to tell, he fortunately kept a diary of his day-to-day activities, providing a window into his adventures and capturing the war-time atmosphere of America's search for uranium. 

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1945 MacIntosh Bay

Frank Senftle

B.

Another Call From the Dean and Another Black Car

                  In 1947 Frank received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto.  His first job was with the Canadian Department of Mines where he was assigned to establish a nuclear geological laboratory for the Canadian government.  During this time, Frank met Antoine Gaudin who was chairman of the Mineralogy Department of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  Gaudin was visiting the Canadian Department of Mines and took an interest in Frank's Geiger counter work and nuclear techniques for ore exploration.  He offered Frank a post-doctorate research position with his MIT department.  Frank accepted and was off to Boston.

                  In December 1950, Frank was testing some Geiger counter tubes when the dean summoned him to his office.  The dean informed Frank that the United States Army had made an urgent request for a scientist trained in radioactivity to participate in a classified project.  Frank had heard this before.

                  The dean explained that Frank would have to leave MIT for about two weeks for a highly secret mission.  Frank hesitated and told the dean that he had a new wife and baby.  The dean quickly eliminated the problem telling Frank that the government would pay for his wife and baby to travel to Toronto so that Frank's wife could stay with her mother.  The dean could give no other information to Frank other than that Frank had orders to depart to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada.  As the United States was at war with Korea, Frank thought the mission may involve dropping a bomb on Korea.  Ready for an adventure, Frank boarded a train for Las Vegas.

1.

Nellis Air Force Base

                  Frank arrived at Nellis Air Force Base and was referred to Lieutenant Broderick.  Anxious as his adventure was beginning, Frank found Lieutenant Broderick shaving in the men's room.  Perturbed that Frank was interrupting his shaving, Lieutenant Broderick barked out orders for Frank to report to another official.  Frank was on his top-secret mission and was now being ordered out of the men's room.

                  Frank went to another building and was ignored by the guard controlling access to the front door.  Frank circled to the rear of the building and went through the back door as others left the building.  A guard quickly noticed Frank's maneuver and told him to stop.  Frank showed the guard his orders.  The guard told Frank to have a seat.  Soon another official directed Frank to wait outside because he was going to drive Frank to Las Vegas.  The official pulled up and Frank jumped into the vehicle.  "Suppose you want to know what's going on," the official quipped as they drove through the desert.  "I sure as hell would," the exasperated Frank responded.  Frank learned for the first time that the United States was going to drop an atomic bomb in Nevada.  In fact, the government was going to drop four bombs in the upcoming week and Frank would have a front row seat.  Frank was quite excited. 

                  Frank and the official eventually reached their destination which was a vintage gas station with curbside pumps.  They walked through the front door and a woman pressed a hidden button under the counter which activated a back door.  Frank walked through and there saw a group of scientists assembling the bomb in downtown Las Vegas. 

2.

The Black Car

                  The next day Frank was told to wait in front of a Las Vegas hotel.  Two other nervous looking men soon arrived waiting for the same ride.  Soon a black sedan drove up and a woman jumped out.  She reviewed the paperwork of each man before allowing them to enter the vehicle.  The men drove nearly 100 miles before arriving at Indian Springs Air Force Base. 

                  After arriving, Frank was directed to the Control Point Bunkhouse where he was informed that the first bomb would be detonated the next morning.  Frank's assignment was to measure the atomic fall-out from each bomb.  The next day the first bomb (1-2 kilotons) was dropped on schedule.  A historic moment as it was one of the first atomic bombs detonated in the United States.  The second bomb soon followed.  Frank would run into some problems with the third bomb. 

                  The third bomb was four times larger (8 kilotons) than the first two bombs.  Frank and other scientists were assembled 40 feet behind the Control Point Bunkhouse.  The bomb detonated setting off a dazzling glow followed by a large pressure wave that cracked the thick plastic bubble of a nearby helicopter.

                  After the bomb detonated, the commander of the site became concerned because he could not locate, by binocular, laborers who were dispatched to ground zero to remove debris so that scientists could access the site.  The commander asked Frank to travel to ground zero to locate the laborers.  About two hours after the bomb blast, Frank traveled in a jeep towards ground zero.  As he approached, the sand crystallized from the heat turning it into a flour-like substance.  Frank's jeep sank into the sand as his Geiger counter jumped off the scale.  Frank knew he was receiving a dangerous dose of radiation.  After being stranded for about a half hour, some of the laborers fortunately passed by and were able to lift Frank's jeep out of the sand.  Frank became sick from the dosage and lost some of his hair.  His adventure was cut short and he was ultimately ordered home.

                  In later years Frank often commented about the utter destruction caused by these early bombs.  He would tell stories how he would observe destroyed cars with dripping dashboards, large trees scattered like match sticks, and buildings scorched to the ground.  It was a power he held in awe that he would never forget.

                  Frank returned to MIT and finished his post doctorate program.  He landed a job with the United States Geological Survey in Washington DC where he worked for over 35 years.  He became chief of the federal Nuclear Solid State Physics Lab, publishing over 300 scientific papers in peer reviewed journals, and holding several patents.

IV.

Silver Snooper

                  One invention caught everyone's attention: the Silver Snooper.  Using a radioactive source, Frank developed a mechanism to measure minerals in the ground.  Frank would drop the source down a bore hole and then measure the reaction of minerals to the bombardment of neutrons.  Based on patterns, Frank could detect certain minerals, particularly silver, and plot out the potential mineral deposits in a given area.  In its time, the technique had significant mining potential.  Time magazine featured the Silver Snooper in an article entitled "Atomic Signals From Silver" (Time, Vol. 87 No 19. May 13, 1966).

 

V.

Frank Goes Lunar

                  Another telephone call came in early 1970's.  NASA had engaged the United States Geological Survey to analyze the first batch of lunar rocks retrieved by Apollo 11.  NASA had selected Frank's lab to perform the analyses.  Frank was headed to Houston, Texas.

                  Frank loved trains and decided to travel by train to Houston.  He met with NASA officials who debriefed Frank and instructed him on security measures to protect the small vial containing the historical first moon rocks.  Frank left NASA assuring the officials that he would use the utmost care in protecting the rocks.  Frank placed the vial of rocks in his pocket and headed for the train station.

                  On his returned trip, Frank noticed a small boy sitting alone one night in the dining car.  He leaned towards the boy and said, "See that moon up there?--I have a piece of it in my pocket."  The boy's eyes lit up as Frank showed him the vial of rocks.  He explained that the rocks were spherical and shiny so that the sunlight could reflect off the moon back to the earth.  The boy was thrilled and ran off to tell his mother about the nice man with the funny rocks.

                  Frank finished dinner and started to walk back to his seat.  He noticed the boy who was excitedly pointing Frank out to his mother.  Assuming that the mother would be intrigued, Frank headed towards them expecting to start a conversation.  As Frank approached, the mother snatched up the boy, pulling him away, saying "don't talk to that crazy man."    Strangers talking of moon rocks in their pockets were not well received in 1970's.

VI.

Camping

                  Science also led Frank to another passion in his life--camping.  Having lived for months in a tent in the Arctic region, Frank developed a zeal for the outdoors.  He was a man of the woods.  In fact, his children never understood the concept of staying in hotels because the family would always camp during family vacations.

                  On one trip to Canada, as night fell, Frank and his family pulled over to the side of a mountain road in New York State.  He had hoped to find a camping ground before sunset, but had run out of time.  Frank set camp for his family with some kids sleeping in the car and others on the ground.  The next morning Frank packed up the camp and continued on the trip.  He traveled about a mile and discovered that he had camp just outside of Allegany State Park which is one of New York State's largest state parks.  Allegany State Park became a regular stopping ground in later summer trips to Canada.

                  On another trip, Frank was returning from St. Louis and planned to camp on the way home.  Frank had passed through torrential rains that day, but had broke free of the storms as he traveled east through Ohio.  Knowing that the storms were traveling his way, he decided to sleep outside on cots.  He placed the cots on half of a tarp, with the remainder of the tarp drawn up over the cots to head level.  He planned to pull the tarp over his head when it began to rain. 

                  By 2:00 a.m., the storm caught up with Frank with a driving rain and tornadic winds.  Frank and his son pulled the tarp over their heads.  The wind soon blew under the tarp which filled with air like a sail, lifting the cots off the ground.  "Wow" was all Frank said with a smile as the wind died down and the cots returned to the ground. 

                  Frank could also be a camping taskmaster.  On a trip in Canada, Frank was camping with his family and Canadian nieces and nephews.  "Eins, zwei, drei,"  Frank barked in German as the kids were lined up stomping on air mattress foot pumps.  Frank's nieces and nephews affectionately called Frank "Uncle Fink". 

                  Frank loved camping and became rejuvenated on camping trips.  He would be up early on a cold morning working the Coleman stove to make coffee.  One by one his children would exit the tent and sit shivering at a cold picnic table watching their father boil water for oatmeal.  Finally, with everyone eating their oatmeal, and seeing their breath in the cold air, Frank would exclaim, "Now this is camping!"   

 

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VII.

God, Science, Kindness, and Patience

                  Frank's life can be summed up with four words: God, Science, Kindness, and Patience.  Frank's motivating force was his love of God.  His love was not emotional or comfortable, but deep and full of awe.  He truly believed that God was present at Mass and would not miss a day to be with the Scientist of scientists. 

                  He usually attended daily Mass at 6:45 a.m. at his parish.  His children would know when he left home.  Before the age of modern thermostats, many fathers, during the winter, would trim the heat at night.  Frank would turn off the heat.  He would arise at 5:30 a.m. to say his morning prayers.  His children, who were all awake freezing in their beds, would hear him walking around waiting for that sound.  Then it would happen--"swoosh'' --the furnace would kick on, restoring heat to the house, as Frank left for Mass.

                  Frank's love for the Mass was genuine.  One night Frank was mugged in downtown Washington, D.C., suffering a significant head injury.  He returned home black and blue and very distraught.  While most people would be in bed the next day, Frank was at 6:45a.m. Mass the next morning. 

                  Frank really loved science.  He was always interested in figuring out how things worked, and applying scientific concepts, even if he didn't understand exactly why a certain scientific phenomenon was occurring.  The fun was in the wonder and the scientific unraveling of the problem.  Frank would study the atom, moon rocks, bio-fuel cells, black holes, the atmosphere, and much more.  He was also intrigued in studying developing (and scientifically controversial) concepts, such as cold fusion and Brown's gas, knowing that tinkering led to other scientific discoveries.

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                 Frank was also kind and patient.  Despite a demanding job and chaotic family life, his family never saw him lose his temper.  He was always ready to help with homework and to drive children for miles to different sports and school events.  He was a spark at the dinner table, always teasing his wife and children, and masterfully adding a calming element of fun.

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                  Frank's kindness and patience was manifested on one summer day.  It had been a hot and humid summer in Washington.  The Senftle boys were in charge of cutting the yard of an elderly neighbor.  By August, the neighbor's yard was a foot high.  One of Frank's son started cutting the yard (using one of the seven geri-rigged lawn mowers in the Senftle garage that currently worked).  His son would cut about a foot of grass before the mower would stall out.  After the mower cut off multiple times, and Frank's son became obviously distraught, Frank walked out of the house and started up the mower.  He would calmly start up the mower each time it stalled, and patiently mowed the entire yard, giving up prime Saturday time.  In doing so, he not only cut the neighbor's overgrown yard, but also provided his son with a strong example of patience and perseverance.  

                   Frank's kindness was particularly manifested in his love for little kids.  He was never in a room with small children without soon being on the floor playing with them.  His own children have fond memories of "rough housing" on the living room floor with their mother yelling "Frank stop it"!  Even after the age of 80, he would still be on the floor teasing his grandchildren with his own children yelling "Dad stop it"!

 

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VIII.

Jokes

                  Then there were the jokes.  Frank was not really a joke teller, during his earlier working years.  After he retired from the government, Frank became an incessant joke teller.  Frank even started to write his jokes down in a notebook, memorializing over 100 jokes, with each one specifically numbered.  His family and friends thought it wonderful that Frank was finally relaxing and telling jokes.  All were puzzled as to where this comical streak had sprung.  Then one day FrankÕs children discovered that retirement had driven Frank to subscribe to Reader's Digest's and it all became clear.

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IX.

His Ladies

                  In 1943 Frank met Anne Keogh by a twist of circumstances.  A college friend, who was interested in one of Anne's sisters, and who didn't want to go alone, asked Frank if he would accompany him to the Keogh house for dinner.  Frank was preoccupied with a science experiment and wanted to stay at home.  The friend insisted and, reluctantly, Frank went and met his Irish lass. They were married on July 9, 1949, in St James Church in Toronto and celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary prior to Anne's death in 2009.

                  Frank's other lady was Our Lady.  He had a profound love for Our Lady.  He regularly said his rosary and attributed many of his "close calls" in life to her intercession.  His kids particularly remember going on pilgrimages, to a Marian shrine, as they knew there would be ice cream in the deal.

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X.

The Final Descent

                   In his final year, Frank's health began to fail.  Repetitive strokes and the onset of dementia began taking their toll.  Even while drifting in and out of reality, Frank, as if on cruise control, would instinctively be concerned about others in his nursing home.  As he was being fed, because he could no longer hold a fork, he would inquire at dinner about what his "feeder" would be eating, would wonder why one of his children was not at the family dinner table, and would say "ok, let's get going,Ó in reference to some project still percolating in his mind.  He still teased the nursing staff and would "poke" his hand at his grandchildren to tease them if they came close.  At times he would try to talk science, but his mind would not let him travel down that familiar road.  He was coming to the end and he knew it saying, "boy I am in bad shape, but it's God's will."           

                  Frank has gone to his new home where his mother will make up for lost time and he will be reunited with his wife.  He will learn the answers to all those scientific mysteries and will sit by the campfire with friends, family, saints and angels.  Some may even laugh at his jokes.  We will miss you Pop!   Bombs away. 

 

 

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Frank Edward Senftle Eulogy

         I have to admit, I have attempted multiple times to write this eulogy.

I have struggled to find the right words, the right stories, and the right thoughts that would speak truly of our father...   But there are simply too manyÉ.. Family, faith, science, humour, VW minibuses and, as IÕll soon explain,  ŅRynchonella capoxÓ.

You see, we had a father for 91 years and have only not had a father for a handful of days, so anything I say today must be understood as the words of someone who has lost their leader, their patriarch.

A eulogy is a classical Greek word for Ņgood wordsÓ which really means a speech in praise of a person.  Let me tell you, a speech in praise of my father would take a very long time. DonÕt worry; I am going to give you the abridged version of the GreekÕs good words. Trust me; this short eulogy is not a reflection of my DadÕs accomplishments, rather a measure of trying to capture the essence of my father within a reasonable period of time.

More than anything else, Frank was our Dad. So much goes into that simple statement. He was the head of the family, if you like, captain of the ship; our friend; coach; mentor and our protector.

He was a man of faith, and the rosary was never far from his lips. Dad showed us what life was all about. We were taught at a very young age what was right and wrong. In my words, he taught us honesty, integrity and respect. I have to admit, his approach to teaching us this very valuable lesson was not always easy. He was always tenacious. He showed us at a very young age that the teachings of the church will help us achieve that which is important in this world. He never deviated from his beliefs. To this day, anyone that knew Frank respects his commitment to his beliefs. 

Those of you, who knew Frank, knew my Dad as a strong, righteous and religious man.  Quiet and reserved as well. But there are also others that knew that he was also one of the funniest men weÕve ever known, and that his joke telling ability was tremendous.  WeÕll talk about some specific antics shortly but I must digress with a short version of his Ņcolleague in the barÓ joke.

He would enjoy telling us about his doctor friend that went into a bar at the same time every night to have a strawberry daiquiri.  One night the bar tender saw his friend crossing the street so he started making him a daiquiri. He discovered that he didnÕt have a fresh strawberry to top off the drink so he grabbed a nut from a bowl on the bar, and put it on top of the drink. When the scientist walked up to the bar, he commented ŅwhatÕs this nut on my drinkÓ.  The bartender calmly responded, ŅNo problem, relax, itÕs a hickory daiquiri Doc!Ó

Frank was born May 4th, 1921 in Buffalo New York. His parents were Edward and Edith, who were strong Germanic parents. His dad was committed to seeing Frank go to college. He lived through the great depression and worked his way through school, obtaining a PhD in nuclear Physics from the University of Toronto. It was during this time he met our mom, Anne Keogh.

It is impossible to speak of my Father without also speaking of my Mother, because they were one.  My Mother and Father shared a special love story, one that was tender, realistic and honest. I canÕt tell you how many times  my brothers,  sisters and I got to experience our Mother beaming,  as her face lit up full of love,  as she bragged about my father.  Together, they showed us what true love was like, taught us what a marriage should be.  Our family is the way it is today, because of my fatherÕs and motherÕs love and their faith in each other and in God. It is a legacy of love that lends us grace and gives us courage. Dad loved us all more than he loved himself.  He loved Mom more than words can explain.

Frank was a highly productive and successful scientist who published hundreds of papers. His incredible professional career is too hard to chronicle in a short eulogy. Pat has written down a brief summary of some of his accomplishments. Additionally, dad prepared a diary of his early escapades in Northern Canada in support of the Manhattan project. Both of these documents can be seen on his web page. In short, he was a highly productive scientist with a career that included the University of Toronto, MIT, Nevada Test Site, Bureau of Standards, and US Geological Survey. Even after retirement, Frank was active teaching at the Heights Scholl, Howard University and at 90 years old at the Marian Assisted Living Facility.

We all have memories of Frank, but the few I would like to share are those memories that give insight into my DadÕs unique character and personality.

Growing up, our parents would take all of the kids on a week trip to visit our cousins, aunts, uncles and friends in Ontario, Canada. We would carefully load up our Volkswagen Minibus with our clothes along with sleeping bags, lanterns, a cooking stove, food, utensils, a tent and air mattresses.  Now donÕt forget these air mattresses because we are going to talk a little bit more about them in a minute.

It must have been quite a sight seeing the minibus loaded with the SenftleÕs and all of our stuff, some of it tied to the roof, as we rolled into the Toronto and Sarnia neighborhoods. We were all ready to get out of the car because we had just endured a two-day trip going 50 miles per hour. Imagine, six kids and two adults forced to talk to each other, periodically looking for cheap gas stations because we were running out of gas and we were all nursing mosquito bites from the night before since we had tried to sleep in a tent or cabin at Alleghany State Park.  We look back at those days (memories) and smile.  Although we complained during the car rides home every summer, we couldnÕt wait to do it again next year.

It was during one of these summer trips to see relatives that we got all of the Keogh girlsÕ families together at the LarinÕs cottage at Lake Simcoe. The first night there it became apparent that sleeping spaces, namely beds, were going to be a premium. Dad sized up the situation and gathered the kids together with the air mattresses from the car. These air mattresses were the type that had a foot actuated air pump built into the unit. It was quite a sight to see Dad establish a military-like line of mattresses with the kids pumping away on the mattresses in unison to the beat of a fossil brachiopod named Ryncho-nella-capox.

There is another story about the Ņsweet and sour tuna Chow Mein on toastÓ meal that I donÕt have the time to tell, but IÕll be happy to tell later. Ask any of the kids and they can fill you in.

We had a laugh a couple of months ago about how working in Geology was a bit of a pain because we had to memorize the things like the names of fossils and the terms that described geologic time. We laughed when I admitted that I used a limerick device he taught me to remember the divisions of Quaternary time – Please Eat Only My Pies Please. Paleocene, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene, Pliocene, Pleistocene!

Another fond memory is Dad and Mom beaming during our visits with DadÕs sister Aunt Mary and Uncle Larry, especially on Christmas and Easter. Dad was particularly proud of the skits that Anne-Francis would organize with our cousins. We had our own Playhouse Theatre acting out anything from the Christmas Nativity to animated television commercials or even a vaudeville comedy routine. 

Dad loved to experiment in the basement and shared that love with his kids. He actually taught us how to make gun powder in the basement. Pat was particularly interested in the art of making firecrackers. Dad loved to tell the story about one winter afternoon when he was sitting by the fire reading a book. This particular day, Pat was on a quest to build the perfect firecracker.  The first attempt was a dime size package wrapped in aluminum foil and tape. Pat walked out the front door, past my Dad, and lit the package. Dad explained the experience as hearing a little pop.

Next, Pat made a return trip past my Dad with a walnut size firecracker, thru the door and then BANG. Dad smiled and was happy!

Pat continued to work and the next experiment was a softball-sized Ņmini bombÓ wrapped tightly in tape. Dad admitted to us later that he was a bit worried about the potential explosive power of the package and took special care to watch PatÕs movement. As he walked past my Dad sitting by the fire, he tripped and the Ņmini bombÓ fell into the fire! Needless to say, Dad was miffed and jumped into action grabbing the firecracker out of the fire with a set of fire tongs. He started to make sure the fire was out while peeling back the foil and tape to see a grapefruit!  A great practical joke.  Dad was very proud that his sense of humor was wearing off on his son.

DonÕt worry Theresa, I wonÕt tell the rabbit ears story!

I do remember one day when we were playing in the front of the house. There was some construction going on and they had just planted new grass and covered the area with straw. My brother Frank and I were playing with a magnifying glass, starting paper on fire using the sun. All of a sudden, the wind blew the paper into the straw, starting a fire.  Dad came running out yelling get water as he started to stamp out the fire with his feet. We hooked up the garden hose and poured water and stomped down the fire.  The fire was quickly out but I still remember his face trying to hold back a laugh as Theresa came running out of the house with a glass of water to help Dad with the fire. Fortunately, Mary was there to get the garden hose on the blaze. Thanks Mary for keeping us on track.

I could go on for quite awhile with our memories.  Frank gave us so very much.  Toward the end of DadÕs life journey, we actually got to know him more and in a very special way. He moved into an assisted living home and we all spent time making sure that he was comfortable. In many ways we felt like our best friend was heading off to camp and we worried about how he was doing.  He broke his hip just after Christmas last year and really lost a step. He spent his last months in a nursing home and the family made sure someone visited him throughout the week.  He was always happy to see us and kept fighting to live the good life in honor of God.

In closing, IÕd like to leave my Dad a message here today. Dad the hardest thing to deal with right now is to grasp the idea that you are gone.  You were our teacher and our guide, so good and so strong. You gave us so many memories of happy times. But Dad, our lives wonÕt be the same without you here. A part of us went with you. You are our father and our hero.  (The leader of our band.)

Our hero has passed on now.  We are proud of him, of all that he was. We are mostly proud to say this one thing:  Of all that he was – he was our Dad.

So hereÕs to you – Hickory Daiquiri Doc!

 

 

 

 

 

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:15:20130115-212946:I3UHFCB7QleM0z%a9uPviw:Untitled1.png

 

 

 

 

 

DAD


Quiet, unassuming, the first to turn the other cheek.
 Always teaching, showing us the way.
 He was determined, though some would think him meek.
And if you had need he would help without delay.

If you didn't quite get it, you were given a prod
To discover the answer through trial and error.
That he knew you could do it, never a doubt.
He gave you the building blocks to figure it out.
And then, you Got it! You got the nod.

Scientist, storyteller, and man of God.
He was a Saint, but don't tell him that!
It was seemingly effortless, his way of life.
Dad showed each of us the way to live.
To him it wasn't Take, but Give.

I love you, I miss you Dad, but,
I know you are where you dreamed about.
It was the day you worked for all of your life.

So, BE with God and Anne, your wife.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Description: NO NAME:baby-young boy:Frank Senftle 3 months.jpg

Frank Senftle, 3 months

 

 

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:08:20130108-135038:+fCFeRD1TrSmoptLpeV2qA:Frank Edward Senftle 1 yr A.jpg

1922 Frank Senftle, 1 year

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:08:20130108-135538:9hAjQb3+QNuC8AIGXIqAXA:Frank Edward Senftle 1 yr.jpg

1922 Frank Senftle, 1 year

Description: IMG 1922 Buffalo NY Frank Senftle

1922 Frank Senftle, Buffalo NY

 

Description: NO NAME:20s:IMG Frank Senftle July 1922 C.jpg

July 1922 Frank Senftle

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-142429:Eb2a0NC8TnCKMOWsqulCqA:IMG Frank Senftle July 1922 B.jpg

July 1922 Frank Senftle

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July 1922 Frank Senftle

 

Description: NO NAME:20s:IMG Frank Senftle Frank Arnold Weppner Oct 1922.jpg

July 1922 Frank Senftle

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February 1923 Frank Senftle

 

 

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Weppner & Frank Senftle

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Frank Senftle

 

 

 

Description: NO NAME:20s:IMG Frank Senftle Feb 1923 B.jpg

February 1923 Frank Senftle

 

Description: NO NAME:20s:IMG Frank Senftle Feb 1923 C.jpg

February 1923 Frank Senftle

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February 1923 Frank Senftle

 

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-144355:kLIF%k6fTdmG+PZV7J2c3A:IMG Frank Senftle May 1923 B.jpg

May 1923 Frank Senftle

 

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-144610:DzKk97fkQbKRE2TWVp8gXQ:IMG Frank Senftle May 1923 D.jpg

May 1923 Frank Senftle

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-144731:63X1kLhFQ1KxIl2+VlSWqw:IMG Frank Senftle May 1923 E.jpg

May 1923 Frank Senftle

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-144850:QTr4J%mbTcm2IhqP4%xlTQ:IMG Frank Senftle May 1923 F.jpg

May 1923 Frank Senftle

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-145025:3XJuplq5Q1+21MNImVVgcw:IMG Frank Senftle May 1923 G.jpg

May 1923 Frank Senftle

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-143420:zS287wodRu6FaJKu%qMRxA:IMG Frank Senftle July 1923 D.jpg

July 1923 Frank Senftle

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-142808:U+m1Ga86QFGe8Ja+ojbuaQ:IMG Frank Senftle July 1923 B.jpg

July 1923 Frank Senftle

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-143208:UzZGkBAtR9+8eU+ACygPBA:IMG Frank Senftle July 1923 C.jpg

July 1923 Frank Senftle

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-143530:SFKlrpKkSwe+pk0TGdr3Iw:IMG Frank Senftle July 1923 E.jpg

July 1923 Frank Senftle

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-144250:x4gk5glhRI2JANONOFacuA:IMG Frank Senftle July 1923.jpg

July 1923 Frank Senftle

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-121256:y4Ff5ezRTvSrfmROvqe1Cg:IMG Frank Senftle 4.jpg

Frank Senftle

 

 

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-113557:DLQIwS0nSLmwrNZxH79cnw:IMG Back Bill Staniland Frank Weppner M & F Senftle.jpg

Bill Staniland, Frank Weppner ,

Al Staniland, Mary Senftle, &

Frank Senftle

 

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-115241:vvJNNjVdTsSnbxqhsLMHZA:IMG Billy Staniland Frank Senftle Frank Weppner.jpg

 Billy Staniland, Frank Senftle &

 Frank Weppner

Description: NO NAME:baby-young boy:IMG Frank and Mary Senftle.jpg

Frank Senftle & Mary Senftle

 

 

 

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-114903:2eG4F%yeQCab%YTZpXNnXQ:IMG Billy Staniland and Frank Senftle.jpg

Billy Staniland & Frank Senftle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description: NO NAME:baby-young boy:IMG Buffalo NY Right Frank Senftle Middle Mary Senftle.jpg

Frank Senftle  &Mary Senftle

Buffalo, NY

 

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-113148:DdKhbDriTTyRbUpcsDAzdA:IMG Back Bill Staniland Frank Weppner Al Staniland M & F Senftle.jpg

Bill Staniland, Frank Weppner ,

Al Staniland, Mary Senftle, &

Frank Senftle

 

 

Description: NO NAME:baby-young boy:IMG Frank Senftle and Frank Arnold Weppner.jpg

Frank Senftle & Frank Arnold Weppner

 

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-121541:EAtgUPKITranV0MP1VuHqw:IMG Frank Senftle A.jpg

Frank Senftle

Description: NO NAME:baby-young boy:IMG Frank Senftle C.jpg

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-122832:egWvR1eJScOBKwR+KK8cJA:IMG Frank Senftle B.jpg

Frank Senftle

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-124317:KlHBkNJ6QZOhBqFbyJ+xTA:IMG Frank Senftle Krowles House Tonawanda New York.jpg

Frank Senftle

Description: NO NAME:baby-young boy:IMG Frank Senftle G.jpg

 

Description: NO NAME:baby-young boy:IMG Frank Senftle and Mary Senftle 2.jpg

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Description: NO NAME:baby-young boy:IMG Frank Senftle and Mary Senftle C.jpg

Frank Senftle & Mary Senftle

 

Description: NO NAME:baby-young boy:IMG Frank Senftle and Mary Senftle.jpg

Frank Senftle & Mary Senftle

Description: NO NAME:baby-young boy:IMG Frank Senftle E.jpg

 

Description: NO NAME:baby-young boy:IMG Frank Senftle Mary Jane Kleuck and Mary Senftle.jpg

Frank Senftle, Mary Jane Kleuck

& Mary Senftle

Description: NO NAME:baby-young boy:IMG Frank Senftle in Lake Erie.jpg

Frank Senftle in Lake Erie

 

 

 

Description: NO NAME:30s:IMG Summer 1938 Mary Senftle Lillian Feldman and Frank Senftle.jpg

Summer 1938 Mary Senftle ,

Lillian Feldman

& Frank Senftle

 

Description: NO NAME:baby-young boy:IMG Frank Senftle and Mary Senftle B_0001.jpg

 

Description: NO NAME:baby-young boy:IMG Frank Senftle in tree.jpg

Frank Senftle

 

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Frank Senftle & Mary Senftle

 

 

Description: NO NAME:baby-young boy:IMG Mary and Frank Senftle Carmens Farm.jpg

Frank Senftle & Mary Senftle

 

 

 

Description: NO NAME:baby-young boy:IMG Frank Senftle and Mary Senftle B.jpg

Frank Senftle

 

 

Description: NO NAME:baby-young boy:IMG Frank Senftle Wyoming Co, New York.jpg

Frank Senftle

Wyoming Co, New York

 

Description: NO NAME:30s:Frank E Senftle June 1938.jpg 

June 1938 Frank Senftle

Description: NO NAME:30s:IMG Frank Senftle_0001.jpg

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May 1938 Frank Senftle

 

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:09:20130109-232054:oJJtVNEMQ1arh1j51o3YVQ:Frank E Senftle.jpg

Description: NO NAME:30s:Frank E Senftle G 2.jpg

 

Description: NO NAME:40s:1945 Final Find, N of Fishhook Bay, F Senftle J Lomax.jpg

 

1945 Final Find, North of

Fishhook Bay,

Frank Senftle & J Lomax

Description: NO NAME:40s:IMG St Michaels College Frank Senftle.jpg

 

St MichaelÕs College Frank Senftle

Description: NO NAME:40s:IMG Frank Edward Senftle.jpg

St MichaelÕs College

Frank Senftle

Description: NO NAME:40s:IMG St Michaels College Frank Senftle 4.jpg

 

St MichaelÕs College Frank Senftle

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:10:20130110-235932:gwPrEF83QTSe4FVvzN%EGA:IMG Frank Senftle 1945.jpg

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:10:20130110-235745:WB%m4rvIT9CAWdLjDQ9sPg:IMG 1945 Frank Senftle 2.jpg

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:10:20130110-233801:MJaQO8kGSxGI+CqrnQV7OQ:IMG 1945 Frank Senftle bed.jpg

1945 Frank Senftle

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:10:20130110-234049:mNL2K7A3T4eBjYy7s4677A:IMG 1945 Frank Senftle.jpg

1945 Frank Senftle

 

Description: NO NAME:40s:Frank E Senftle late Summer 1944.jpg

Late Summer 1944

Frank Senftle

Description: NO NAME:40s:FES June 1945 Notes 2.jpg

 

1945 Summer Bearcat Lake

Frank Senftle writing notes at night

Description: NO NAME:30s:IMG Toronto Frank Senftle.jpg

Description: NO NAME:40s:1945 Edmonton Hal Leitch, F Senftle, back Norm Duncan, Jim Lomax.jpg

1945 Edmonton Hal Leitch,

Frank Senftle,, Norm Duncan

& Jim Lomax

Description: NO NAME:40s:1945 Frank Senftle NE of McIntosh Bay Dead Man's Channel.jpg

1945 Frank Senftle

NE of McIntosh Bay

Dead Man's Channel

 

Description: NO NAME:40s:Frank E Senftle 1945 A 2.jpg

1945 Frank Senftle

Description: NO NAME:40s:1945 Lee Godby, Frank Senftle, Dock at Clearwater Ft McMurray.jpg

1945 Lee Godby & Frank Senftle,

Dock at Clearwater

Ft McMurray

Description: NO NAME:40s:Frank E Senftle Sept 1944.jpg

September 1944

Frank Senftle

Description: NO NAME:40s:Frank E Senftle Summer 1945.jpg

 

Summer 1945 Frank Senftle

 

Description: NO NAME:70s:IMG Port Hope Ont Frank Senftle.jpg 

Port Hope Ontario Frank Senftle

 

Description: NO NAME:40s:Frank E Senftle 1945 Fishhook Bay.jpg

1945 Fishhook Bay

Frank Senftle

 

 

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:10:20130110-232428:rB4sv8WaT4mkwerQGNlGhw:Frank Senftle 1946 Humber Valley.jpg

1946 Frank Senftle

Humber Valley.

 

Description: NO NAME:Misc Family:Anne Senftle Photos:Frank_Senftle_and_Anne_Keogh_1944_Toronto[1].JPG

1944 Frank Senftle and Anne Keogh Toronto

 

Description: NO NAME:Misc Family:Anne Senftle Photos:July_1949,_Anne_(Keogh)_and_Frank_Senftle_at_Staniland'[1].JPG

 

1949 Anne Keogh and Frank Senftle at Staniland

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1946 Frank Senftle

Toronto

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG July 1951 Frank Senftle Mary Somogyi.jpg

July 1951 Frank Senftle Mary Somogyi


Description: NO NAME:Misc Family:Anne Senftle Photos:July_1951_Anne_(Keogh),_Frank_and_Mary_Senftle_Coram_LI[1].JPG
1951 Anne Keogh Frank and Mary Senftle

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG March 1951 Boston MA Frank Senftle Mary Somogyi.jpg

March 1951 Boston MA Frank Senftle Mary Somogyi

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Sept 1951 Marble Head MA Frank Senftle Mary Somogyi 2.jpg

Sept 1951 Marble Head MA Frank Senftle Mary Somogyi

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Sept 1951 Marble Head MA Frank Senftle Mary Somogyi.jpg

September 1951 Marble Head MA Frank Senftle Mary Somogyi

Description: NO NAME:Misc Family:Anne Senftle Photos:2_May_1952_Frank,_Anne_(Keogh)_and_Joe_Senftle[1].JPG

1952 Frank Anne Keogh and Joe Senftle

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1950 Baptismal day Toronto Frank Anne and Mary Senftle

 Description: NO NAME:Misc Family:Anne Senftle Photos:2_May_1954_Senftle_Family,_Forestville[1].JPG

1954 Senftle Family Forestville

 

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Spring 1951 Frank Senftle Mary Somogyi.jpg

Spring 1951 Frank Senftle  &Mary Somogyi

Description: NO NAME:Misc Family:Anne Senftle Photos:Aug_1956,_Suitland_MD_Senftle_Family[1].JPG

1956 Suitland MD Senftle Family

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Spring 1951 Frank Mary and Anne Senftle at Mahonneys .jpg

Spring 1951 Frank,  Mary & Anne Senftle

 

Description: IMG 1984 Frank Mary Anne-Francis Senftle

 Frank Mary Anne-Francis Senftle

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMGNov 1954 Frank Senftle Grand Canyon .jpg

Nov ember 1954 Frank Senftle

Grand Canyon

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Nov 1954 Grand Canyon Trip Frank Senftle.jpg

 

Nov ember 1954 Frank Senftle

Grand Canyon

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Summer 1954 Mary Bowles Frank Anne-Francis and Mary Senftle.jpg

Summer 1954 Mary Bowles Frank Anne-Francis and Mary Senftle

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Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Summer 1954 Frank And Anne-Francis Senftle.jpg

Summer 1954 Frank And Anne-Francis Senftle

 

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Christmas 1954 Anne Frank Mary Senftle Bowles and Joe .jpg 

Christmas 1954 Anne Frank Mary Senftle Bowles and Joe

 

 

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Feb 1955 Frank Senftle Grand Junction CO.jpg

 

February 1955 Frank Senftle Grand Junction CO

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Summer 1954 Frank And Anne-Francis Senftle 2.jpg

Summer 1954

Frank & Anne-Francis Senftle

 

 

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Frank Senftle Chevy Chase MD.jpg


Description: NO NAME:Misc Family:Anne Senftle Photos:Jul_1955_Anne_(Keogh),_Mary_and_Frank_Senftle[1].JPG
1955 Anne Keogh Mary and Frank Senftle

 

 

 

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Feb 1955 Anne-Francis and Frank Senftle.jpg

Feb 1955 Anne-Francis & Frank Senftle

 

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG July 23 1955 Mary Bowles Frank joe and Anne Senftle.jpg

July 23, 1955 Mary Bowles Frank Joe and Anne Senftle

 

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG March 1955 Frank and Joe Senftle.jpg

March 1955 Frank and Joe Senftle

Description: tn_Early_Mar_1955__Forestville__Joe_s_b-day__Mary__Joe__Frank__Anne__Keogh___Anne-Francis_and_Mary_Senftle_1_
1955 Forestville JoeÕs b-day

Mary, Joe, Frank, Anne Keogh, Anne-Francis, and Mary Senftle

Description: tn_ca_Oct_1955__Bowmanville__ON__Veale_s_1_
1955 Bowmanville (Veales)

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Sept 1954 Anne-Francis Frank and Joe Senftle George Keogh.jpg

Summer 1954 Frank & Anne-Francis

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Sept 1954 Anne-Francis Frank and Joe Senftle.jpg 

Anne-Francis, Frank & Joe Senftle

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Oct 1956 Frank E and Frank P Senftle.jpg

Oct 1956 Frank E. and Frank P. Senftle

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Feb 1955 Frank Senftle Mary Senftle Somogyi.jpg

Feb 1955 Frank & Mary Senftle Somogyi

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Spring 1955 Florence Staniland frank Anne-Francis Senftle.jpg

Spring 1955 Florence Staniland, Frank, Anne-Francis Senftle

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Fall 1958 British Columbia Frank Senftle 2.jpg

Fall 1958 British Columbia Frank Senftle

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Fall 1958 British Columbia Frank Senftle.jpg

Fall 1958 British Columbia Frank Senftle

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Oct 1956 Frank E and Frank P Senftle 2.jpg

Oct 1956 Frank E & Frank P Senftle

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Oct 1956 Elizabeth Bowles Frank P and Frank E Senftle.jpg

October 1956 Elizabeth Bowles, Frank P. &Frank E. Senftle

 

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG 1959 Lake Erie Anne-Franics Theresa Frank P Frank E Mary Joe.jpg

1959 Lake Erie Anne-Francis Theresa Frank P Frank E Mary Joe

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG July 1958 Mary Frank Joe and Anne-Francis Senftle.jpg

July 1958 Mary Frank Joe and Anne-Francis Senftle

 

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Oct 1959 Frank P And Frank E Senftle.jpg

October 1959 Frank P .& Frank E Senftle

 

Description: NO NAME:50s:IMG Fall 1959 Theresa Frak E and Frank P Senftle.jpg

Fall 1959 Theresa, Frank E.

& Frank P. Senftle

Description: NO NAME:60s:IMG Dec 25 1963 Frank and Pat Senftle.jpg

Dec ember 25, 1963 Frank & Pat Senftle

Description: NO NAME:60s:IMG Dec 25 1962 Frank and Pat Senftle.jpg

December 25, 1962 Frank and Pat Senftle

Description: NO NAME:60s:IMG Dec 25 1962 Joe Mary Frank and Theresa Senftle.jpg

December 25, 1962 Joe, Mary, Frank & Theresa Senftle

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1960 Easter Senftle Family


Description: NO NAME:60s:IMG Dec 25 1963 Barbara Bowles Frank Senftle.jpg

 

December 25, 1963 Barbara Bowles & Frank Senftle

 

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:theresewaymel:Pictures:Pictures:iPhoto Library:Previews:2013:01:11:20130111-115245:sBJZNtlQT4ey5A0M9MBBxQ:IMG Summer 1962 Frank and Frank Senftle.jpg

Summer 1962 Frank E. & Frank P. Senftle

Description: NO NAME:60s:IMG June 1966 Georgia Frank Senftle.jpg

 

June 1966 Frank Senftle

Georgia

Description: NO NAME:Misc Family:Anne Senftle Photos:Dec_1967_Anne_(Keogh)_and_Frank_Senftle[1].JPG

1967 Anne Keogh and Frank Senftle


Description: tn_9_Oct_1982__Frank_and_Anne__Keogh__Senftle__James_and_Theresa__Senftle__Quine_1_

1982 Frank and Anne Keogh Senftle James and Theresa Senftle Quine

Description: NO NAME:60s:IMG April 1968 Frank Senftle Sugar Loaf MD.jpg

April 1968 Frank Senftle

Sugar Loaf , MD

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1966 Frank Senftle

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Description: NO NAME:60s:IMG Dec 25 1963 Marie Sommer Barbara Bowles Frank Patty Bowles.jpg

December 25, 1963 Buddy Ogden, Frank Senftle, Elizabeth Bowles

Description: NO NAME:60s:IMG Dec 25 1963Buddy Ogden Frank Senftle Elizabeth Bowles.jpg

December 25, 1963 Marie Sommer, Barbara Bowles, Frank Patty Bowles

Description: NO NAME:60s:IMG Dec 25 1963 Frank Senftle.jpg

December 25, 1963 Frank Senftle

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December 25, 1963 Frank Senftle

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December 25, 1966

Description: NO NAME:60s:IMG Dec 25 1966 Frank Senftle Joe Ogden.jpg

 

December 25, 1966 Frank Senftle, Joe Ogden

Description: NO NAME:60s:IMG Summer 1964 Niagara Anne-Francis Pat Frank Frank P Theresa.jpg

Summer 1964 Niagara Anne-Francis, Pat, F rank, Frank P. & Theresa

Description: NO NAME:60s:IMG March 1964 Jim Bowles Frank and Theresa Senftle.jpg

March 1964 Jim Bowles, Frank & Theresa Senftle

Description: NO NAME:60s:IMG March 1964 Fr Ziegler Frank Theresa Senftle.jpg

March 1964 Fr. Ziegler Frank Theresa Senftle

Description: NO NAME:60s:IMG March 1964 Frank and Theresa Senftle.jpg

March 1964 Frank and Theresa Senftle

 

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Thanksgiving 1965 Theresa and Frank Senftle

Description: NO NAME:60s:IMG Dec 1967 Anne-Francis  Pat and Frank Senftle.jpg

December 1967 Anne-Francis  Pat and Frank Senftle

Description: IMG USGS April 1971 Frank Senftle Kay Garrett Patrick Senftle

USGS April 1971 Frank Senftle, Kay Garrett, Patrick Senftle

Description: NO NAME:60s:IMG Spring 1965 Frank Pat Theresa Senftle 2.jpg

Spring 1965 Frank, Pat, Theresa Senftle

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Spring 1965 Frank, Pat, Theresa Senftle

 

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Spring 1965 Frank, Pat, Theresa Senftle

Description: IMG Thanksgiving 1971 Frank Senftle Frank Paul Therresa Senftle

Thanksgiving 1971 Frank Senftle, Frank Paul, Theresa Senftle

Description: IMG June 1971 Frank Senftleand associates

June 1971 Frank Senftle and associates

Description: IMG Thanksgiving 1971 Frank Senftle

Thanksgiving 1971 Frank Senftle

Description: IMG Jan 1972 Larin Cabin

Jan 1972 Larin Cabin

Description: IMG Jan 1972 Allegheny Park Patrick  Theresa  Frank Senftle

Jan 1972 Allegheny Park

Patrick , Theresa,  Frank Senftle

Description: NO NAME:60s:IMG Aug 1968 Frank Senftle Phil Philbin.jpg

Aug 1968 Frank Senftle Phil Philbin

Description: IMG Fall 1972 Frank Senftle and Frank Somogyi

Fall 1972 Frank Senftle and Frank Somogyi

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Silver Snooper

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Silver Snooper

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Description: IMG Oct 1972Bernard Barry Frank Senftle Larry Bowles

Oct 1972Bernard Barry Frank Senftle Larry Bowles

Description: IMG Feb 1975 Anne Keogh and Frank Senftle

Feb 1975 Anne Keogh and Frank Senftle

Description: IMG Dec 25 1972 Frank Senflte

Dec 25, 1972 Frank Senftle

Description: IMG Aug 13 1978 Frank Senftle

Aug 13, 1978 Frank Senftle

Description: IMG May 13 1972 St Louis Riverfront Theresa mary frank Senftle

May 13, 1972 St Louis Riverfront

Theresa, Mary , Frank Senftle

 

Description: IMG Oct 1972Bernard Barry Frank Senftle Mary Senftle

Oct 1972 Bernard, Barry, Frank Senftle, Mary Senftle

Description: IMG 1973 Frank Senftle Frank Somogyi Chevy Chase

1973 Frank Senftle, Frank Somogyi

 Chevy Chase

Description: IMG Aug 14 1978 Capitol Building

Aug 14 1978 Capitol Building

 

Description: IMG 1973 Frank Senftle paiting for Mary Somogyi Wedding

1973 Frank Senftle painting for Mary Somogyi Wedding


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1976 Frank and Anne Senftle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1975 Pat and John Larin with Anne and Frank Senftle

Description: IMG Feb 1978 Will Somogyi Frank Senftle Becky and Ken Somogyi

Feb 1978 Will Somogyi, Frank Senftle ,Becky and Ken Somogyi

 

 

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1981 Frank and Anne Keogh Senftle

Description: IMG Sept 1977 Camping Trip Anne-Francis and Frank Senftle

Sept 1977 Camping Trip

Anne-Francis and Frank Senftle

Description: IMG March 1980 Ken Somogyi Frank Senftle Will and Becky Somogyi copy

March 1980 Ken Somogyi, Frank Senftle, Will and Becky Somogyi

 

 

Description: Frank Senftle Oct 1981

 

Oct 1981 Frank Senftle

 

Description: IMG April 1980 Frank Senftle Will and Becky Somogyi

April 1980 Frank Senftle Will and Becky Somogyi

Description: IMG Aug 2 1981 James Moulton Frank and Anne Senftle

Aug 2, 1981 James Moulton Frank and Anne Senftle

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Senftle Family

 

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1982 Teasing Frank and Anne Keogh Senftle

 

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1983 Frank and Anne Keogh Senftle

 

 

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Fall 1980 Frank Senftle

 

Description: IMG Fall 1980 Frank Senftle 3

Fall 1980 Frank Senftle

Description: IMG Fall 1980 Frank Senftle 2

Fall 1980 Frank Senftle

 

Description: IMG Aug 1981 M Bowles B Somogyi Frank Senftle W and K Somogyii

Aug 1981 M Bowles, B Somogyi, Frank Senftle, W and K Somogyi

 

 

 

Description: IMG Oct 9 1982 Frank Senftle Theresa Quine Ann Conley Dwyer

Oct 9, 1982 Frank Senftle, Theresa Quine, Ann Conley Dwyer

Description: IMG Oct 9 1982 Frank Senftle and Theresa Quine

Oct 9, 1982 Frank Senftle and Theresa Quine

Description: IMG Oct 9 1982 Theresa and Jimmy Quine Frank Senftle

Oct 9, 1982 Theresa and Jimmy Quine Frank Senftle

Description: IMG March 25 1983 Becky Somogyi Frank Senftle

March 25, 1983 Becky Somogyi  & Frank Senftle

 

Description: IMG Oct 8 1982 Frank Senftle Will Somogyi

Oct 8, 1982 Frank Senftle  & Will Somogyi

 

 

 

Description: IMG Oct 8 1982 Frank Senftle Theresa QUine

Oct 8, 1982 Frank Senftle Theresa Quine

 

Description: IMG Oct 9 1982 Joe Senftle Frank Somogyi Frank Senftle

Oct 9, 1982 Joe Senftle, Frank Somogyi ,Frank Senftle

 

 

Description: IMG May 16 1982 Becky Somogyi Frank Senftle Will Somogyi

May 16, 1982 Becky Somogyi ,Frank Senftle, Will Somogyi

 

 

Description: IMG Dec 1983 Frank and Ann-Francis Senftle

Dec 1983 Frank and Ann-Francis Senftle

 

Description: IMG May 23 1983 Theresa Quine Frank Senftle

May 23, 1983 Theresa Quine Frank Senftle

Description: IMG March 25 1983 Ken Somogyi Frank Senftle

March 25, 1983 Ken Somogyi & Frank Senftle

 

Description: IMG March 26 1983 Will Somogyi Frank Senftle

March 26, 1983 Will Somogyi Frank Senftle

 

 

Description: IMG Dec 1983 Theresa Senftle Quine Frank Senftle James Quine

Dec 1983 Theresa Senftle Quine, Frank Senftle ,James Quine

 

Description: IMG Aug 11 1983 Allan Tanner Frank Senftle Reston VA

Aug 11, 1983 Allan Tanner Frank Senftle Reston, VA

Description: IMG July 1 1984 Frank Senftle Keogh Reunion

July 1, 1984 Frank Senftle Keogh Reunion

 

 

Description: IMG March 25 1983 Will Somogyi Frank Senftle

March 25, 1983 Will Somogyi & Frank Senftle

 

 

Description: IMG Aug 12 1983 Frank Senftle in Chevy Chase home

Aug 12, 1983 Frank Senftle in Chevy Chase home

Description: IMG Aug 11 1983 Ken Becky Will Somogyi Frank Senftle Reston VA

Aug 11, 1983 Ken Becky, Will Somogyi, Frank Senftle

Reston, VA

Description: IMG Aug 11 1983 Will and Ken Somogyi Frank Senftle Reston VA

Aug 11, 1983 Will and Ken Somogyi Frank Senftle

Reston, VA

Description: IMG Aug 12 1983 Frank Senftle and Frank Somogyi  copy

Aug 12, 1983 Frank Senftle and Frank Somogyi 

Description: IMG Aug 12 1983 Frank Senftle in Chevy Chase home 2

Aug 12, 1983 Frank Senftle in Chevy Chase home

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Description: IMG July 2 1984 Don Waters Frank Senftle James Quine

July 2, 1984 Don Waters Frank Senftle James Quine

 

Description: IMG June 30 1984 Will Somogyi Frank Senflte Keogh Reunion

June 30, 1984 Will Somogyi, Frank Senftle,

 Keogh Reunion

 

 

Description: IMG Aug 8 1985 Will Somogyi and Frank Senftle

Aug 8, 1985 Will Somogyi and Frank Senftle

Description: IMG July 2 1984 Buffalo NY

July 2, 1984 Buffalo, NY

 

 

 

Description: IMG July 2 1984 Buffalo Fr Gonter Frank Senftle

July 2, 1984 Buffalo Fr. Gonter Frank Senftle

 

 

Description: IMG Aug 11 1985 Frank Senftle

Aug 11, 1985 Frank Senftle

 

 

Description: IMG 1984 Frank and Pat Senftle

1984 Frank and Pat Senftle

Description: IMG May 1984 Frank Senftle Phil Brinckerhoff

May 1984 Frank Senftle & Phil Brinckerhoff

Description: IMG Frank Senftle and Mike QUine

Frank Senftle and Mike Quine

 

 

 

Description: IMG Winter 1988 Frank Senftle

Winter 1988 Frank Senftle

 

Description: Frank E Senftle July 1990

July 1990 Frank E. Senftle

Description: IMG Aug 1985 Matthew and Frank Senftle

Aug 1985 Matthew and Frank Senftle

 

Description: IMG July 6 1986 Frank Senftle Jim Quine

July 6, 1986 Frank Senftle Jim Quine

Description: IMG Winter July 5 1990 Frank Senftle and Frank Somogyi

July 5, 1990 Frank Senftle and Frank Somogyi

 

 

Description: IMG July 1985 Jim Quine, Matthew and Frank Senftle

July 1985 Jim Quine, Matthew and Frank Senftle

 

Description: IMG March 18 1988 Will and Becky Somogyi Frank Senftle K Somogyi

March 18, 1988 Will and Becky Somogyi Frank Senftle & K Somogyi

 

Description: IMG July 10 1990 Frank and Anne Senftle St Louis Art Museum

July 10, 1990 Frank and Anne Senftle

St Louis Art Museum

 

 

Description: IMG July 10 1990 July 10 1990 in St

July 10, 1990 in St. Louis

Description: IMG June 1991 Frank Senftle

June 1991 Frank Senftle

 

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1990 Frank and Mary Somogyi Anne and Frank Senftle

 

 

Description: IMG July 3 1994 Frank Senftle at the Larin Cottage

July 3, 1994 Frank Senftle at the Larin Cottage

Description: IMG July 10 1990 Frank and Mary Somogyi and Anne  Frank Senftle

July 10, 1990 Frank and Mary Somogyi and Anne  & Frank Senftle

 

 

 

Description: IMG Christmas 1993

Christmas 1993

Description: IMG July 10 1990 Ken Becky Will Somogyi and Anne  Frank Senflte

July 10, 1990

Ken, Becky, Will Somogyi and Anne  & Frank Senftle

 

Description: IMG April 14 1995 Frank Senftle Austin and Mary Somogyi 

April 14, 1995 Frank Senftle Austin and Mary Somogyi

 

 

 

Description: Frank E Senftle Winter 1996_0001

Winter 1996 Frank E Senftle

Description: IMG Aug 12 1996 Austin Somogyi Frank Senftle

Aug 12, 1996 Austin Somogyi Frank Senftle

Description: IMG Aug 10 1996 Kody Matlock Austin Connie Haslog Frank Senftle

Aug 10, 1996 Kody Matlock Austin Connie Haslog Frank Senftle

 

Description: IMG March 29 1997 Della Quine Frank Senftle

March 29, 1997 Della Quine Frank Senftle

Description: IMG Aug 9 1996 Frank Senftle

Aug 9, 1996 Frank Senftle

 

 

Description: IMG Aug 8 1997 Frank Senftle Austin and Frank Somogyii

Aug 8, 1997 Frank Senftle Austin and Frank Somogyii

 

 

 

 

 

Description: IMG July 4 1999 Larin Cabin 3

July 4, 1999 Larin Cabin

Description: IMG Aug 9 1996 Frank Senftle Austin and Frank Somogyii 2

Aug 9, 1996 Frank Senftle Austin and Frank Somogyii

 

 

Description: IMG July 4 1999 Larin Cabin 4

July 4, 1999 Larin Cabin

 

 

Description: IMG July 1999 Frank Senftle M Somogyi Austin Somogyi A Senftle

July 1999 Frank Senftle M Somogyi Austin Somogyi A Senftle

 

Description: IMG Aug 7 1997 Frank Senftle Austin Somogyi

Aug 7, 1997 Frank Senftle Austin Somogyi

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Description: IMG July 5 1999 Frank Senftle and Joan Waters

July 5, 1999 Frank Senftle and Joan Waters

 

Description: IMG Tess Senftle Mike Quine Frank Senftle Easter ca 2002

2002 Tess Senftle Mike Quine Frank Senftle Easter

 

 

Description: IMG July 4 1999 Larin Cabin

July 4, 1999 Larin Cabin

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July 4, 1999 Larin Cabin

 

 

Description: IMG Aug 8 1997 Frank Senftle Austin and Mary Somogyi

Aug 8, 1997 Frank Senftle Austin and Mary Somogyi

 

Description: IMG July 4 1999 Larin Cabin 2

July 4, 1999 Larin Cabin

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2009 Frank Senftle & Matt Senftle

Description: IMG Dec 8 2009 Frank Senftle

December 2009 Frank Senftle

 

 

Description: IMG Anne and Frank Senftle Easter ca 2002

2002 Anne and Frank Senftle Easter

 

Description: IMG May 29 2007 Frank Senftle and Mary Somogyi

May 29, 2007 Frank Senftle and Mary Somogyi

 

Description: IMG Mike Quine Austin Somogyi Frank Senftle Easter ca 2002

2002 Mike Quine Austin Somogyi Frank Senftle Easter

 

Description: IMG June 10 2010 Anne-Francis Theresa Frank and Mary

June 10, 2010 Anne-Francis, Theresa, Frank and Mary

 

 

 

Description: IMG June 10 2010 Theresa Frank and Mary

June 10, 2010 Theresa Frank and Mary

Description: IMG May 29 2007 Frank Senftle and Time Waters

May 29, 2007 Frank Senftle and Time Waters

Description: IMG June 10 2010 Senftle and Quine

June 10, 2010 Senftle and Quine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


MEMOIRS

 

OF

 

FRANK E. SENFTLE

(1921 - 2013)

 

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Preface

In the next pages you will see an account of my experiences related to the Manhattan Project. I wanted to present these stories in a diary format, as they occurred. This was an extraordinary time and by the grace of God, I was able to have these experiences and I want to share them with you. Thus, from day to day, there will be a small amount of unavoidable repetition.

 

The time period of these adventures is broken into three distinct parts. The first story is centered on my time at Great Bear Lake, Canada in 1944. During this time I was introduced to practical nuclear physics and geophysical field work. The following Summer I found myself at Lake Athabasca, Canada which is the basis of my second story. Here I learned nuclear exploration methods. Our team used these methods and discovered a highly enriched uranium deposit. This was a culmination of our efforts and the fundamental goal. The last story is centered a few years later in 1951 when I was involved with the first series of nuclear bomb tests at the Nevada Test Site.

 

Introduction

The number of living persons who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II is rapidly decreasing. I thought it might be interesting to tell you about some of my personal experiences with the project even though I played a minor role.

 

First it will be necessary to understand the circumstances that led up to the development of the bomb. LetÕs go back to the days just before the Great Depression in say around 1932. I was still in grammar school but was developing a definite interest in science. IÕm not sure how 1932 was for fine wine, but it was a great year for physics! Of course there was no such thing as nuclear physics, but the first signs were evident. It was known, for instance, that two years earlier (1930) Boethe and Bechman in Germany discovered that when a naturally radioactive element, namely, polonium was put in contact with beryllium, a very unusual and penetrating radiation (neutrons) was produced. Irene Curie and her husband F. Joliet reported in 1932 that when this new radiation fell on paraffin, very energetic protons or hydrogen atoms were emitted. The same year Anderson of Cal Tech discovered the positive electron or positron. Also in the same year Chadwick identified the new radiation as neutrons. Urey and his colleagues at Columbia University discovered heavy water. Also, Cockcroft and Walton in England produced a nuclear reaction with high energy accelerators.  These discoveries in a sense were the foundations for nuclear physics. They were exciting because they gave scientists the first inkling of the structure of the atomic nucleus which up to this time was almost completely unknown. In 1934, Curie and Joliet made another discovery - they were able to produce artificial radioactive elements with their new radiation.

 

Physicists had a new toy and the race was on to see who would find out the Ņmostest and firstestÓ.  From 1932 to 1938 many more discoveries were made. At the same time Hitler was gaining power in Germany and their economy was rapidly improving. No one considered war was a very real possibility. In 1939 things changed abruptly when Hitler invaded Poland.

 

Early in June of 1939, a significant discovery was made in Germany. Hahn and Strassman discovered that by bombarding uranium with neutrons, other elements were produced by the breaking of the uranium nucleus. More importantly, when the elements were added together their weight was less than that of the original uranium nucleus. What happened to the matter that disappeared? It was immediately clear that it was converted to energy (E=mc2), and that the amount of energy was very large. Quietly among themselves, physicists discussed among themselves the possibility of an atomic bomb. By 1940 all the basic information was in place to make an atomic bomb seem feasible. In the summer of 1940, a National Defense Research Commission was formed to study the problem. In the fall of 1939, Einstein wrote his now famous letter to President Roosevelt on the advisability of immediate government support. The first support came in February 1940 with the transfer of Government funds to purchase uranium, carbon, etc.

 

Prior to our entry into the war, the United States was full of German spies. Our spies in Germany learned of their intensive effort on uranium research. This information spurred us on. I remember one of my favorite newspaper comic strips at the time was Buck Rogers. The comic strip authors kept abreast of most current physics and suddenly, due to government restriction, they stopped talking about atomic bombs, uranium, etc. The secret Manhattan Project developed in the next 3-4 years using code names including Manhattan District Commission of the Signal Corp, Clinton Engineering works, Los Alamos Energy labs, and Stagg Field, University of Chicago.

 

The impetus to build the bomb really started at the end of 1942 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It was realized early on that to build a bomb, one would need lots of uranium which the United States did not have. The known deposits of uranium where in Europe and in Canada but it was not known if these were enough. A large scale exploration program was needed to find more uranium. This program required measuring radioactivity content of many thousands of rock specimens in North America and elsewhere. I eventually became part of this program.

 

Section I: Great Bear Lake, Canada – Summer 1944

 

At the end of the winter term, 1944, I was at the University of Toronto, finishing up my MasterÕs degree. I had a lot of work to do to prepare for final exams. However, I was having trouble with one course, ŅMathematical Operations of PhysicsÓ.  I was working as hard as I could, but my background was very poor in this particular subject. As time went on, summer was approaching, but so were exams, which bothered me more. I had finished up my thesis material, the title of which was ŅThe Geophysics of Thorium, Uranium, and LeadÓ.  I had submitted the thesis to the bindery about the first week of June. I picked up the thesis about a week later and submitted it to the Dean of the physics department. In the meantime I had to study hard for my exams, and as I said before, I was not quite sure about this particular course. In fact there were two courses that I was quite worried and prayed about. About a week before the exams started I got a call from the Dean that he wanted to see him.  I thought, ŅGee whiz, what could be wrong?Ó I went over to see him and he was very nice to me. He told me he had a friend, Gilbert Labine, who was a senior administrator of the Eldorado Gold Mining Co.  He came in and visited the dean a couple of days ago, and my thesis was on his desk. The word ŅuraniumÓ caught his eye. Mr. Labine asked the Dean if I would go downtown and see him. It could result in a job for me during the summer.  I said sure, and he called Mr. Labine up that day, a Friday, and made arrangements for me to see him on the following Monday. That day I went down in the morning. I met with him and he said, ŅI was looking at your thesis, and I was impressed with it.  We are doing a lot of work in the Great Bear Lake region with uranium.  We call ourselves the Eldorado Gold Mine, but there is more to it than that.Ó  He told me some things in confidence ( in reality a front name for the Manhattan Project). ŅIf youÕd like to, IÕd like to have you work for us in the summer. We are developing Geiger counters and weÕd like you to use your knowledge of geophysics and electronics to help us with the whole program.  I have also promised my daughter I would let her go up to Great Bear Lake on vacation.  I hate to have her travel cross-country by herself. I would like someone to keep an eye on her. Would you like to do this?Ó I was really more interested in the job than watching his daughter.   I said, ŅDefinitely, IÕll take it. However I do have a problem: my deferment is up in two weeks.Ó He ushered me out of his office into another office where I met Mr. Carl French. He asked Carl to process me, and I interrupted. ŅThere is one problem IÕve got.  I have a deferment only until the end of my school year. I might be called up after that time.Ó Carl said, ŅDonÕt let that bother you.Ó  Carl made a call to Rochester, NY, to Colonel so and so, Head of the Selective Service. ŅColonel, we have another man we need to work with us. I want to get another six month deferment for him.Ó  He wrote some information on my deferment slip, and that was it, another 6 month deferment. That pleased me quite a bit. Carl gave me some idea of what I would be doing and what the job was all about. I got myself fingerprinted and all that sort of razzamatazz that goes with security. (Note: after the War, Carl French was convicted of being a German spy.)  Mr. Labine said, ŅThis is Monday; I want you to be on the train next Friday evening, leaving Toronto.  When you arrive at Edmonton next Monday, go to the Northern Transportation Co. and ask for Mr. Frank Broderick.  He will tell you what to do from there on.Ó  So I went back to the university, wound up the few things I had to do at the Department. I suddenly realized exams were two weeks away, so I went to the Dean and told him that I had gotten the job, but they want me to leave right away.  He just excused me from all my exams since this was a defense job.  Inside myself I was flabbergasted, especially since I felt that I probably could not pass two of the exams to begin with.  This was the grace of God if ever I saw it.  I left there pretty happy. I finished up my affairs at the University, and went to Buffalo to visit my Dad and sister Mary. I told them I was going to Great Bear Lake within the week.  I bought some heavy clothes and went back to Toronto again. I made arrangements to pack all my stuff in my room. I had so much junk; I had to get rid of a lot of it. I had to keep my travel weight down to 80 pounds, since that was all the clothes I could take with me.  I did take some books with me because I knew I had to do some studying. Friday night came, and I was getting quite excited because this was a sort of cloak and dagger deal. I didnÕt know where I was going, or why I was going: it was pretty exciting.  I remember getting down to Union Station in Toronto and getting on the train.  My ticket had been bought for me, so I didnÕt have to go through all that jazz.  I remember we went north of Toronto through North Bay toward Sudbury. The first night I didnÕt sleep well. I was kind of excited because IÕd never taken a big train trip like this before.  The next morning I woke up fairly early, about 8 AM or so, I looked out the window and saw we had already gone 1000 miles from Toronto. Every so many miles there was a marker, indicating the number of miles from Toronto. That kind of impressed me.  I got up and went to the dining car and got breakfast. I was really excited about the woods.  We were going through a cut in the woods, when all of a sudden the woods disappeared, and there was nothing but rocks. It was just like the surface of the moon.  I was amazed at the rocks, and was trying to correlate the geology to what I knew; I had never seen anything like this before.  We were getting close to Sudbury; I could see the refinery.  I remembered reading that the sulfuric acid from the refinery had killed all the vegetation in the area for miles. And that was just what it looked like for miles around. There was nothing at all, nothing grew at all. It was fantastic how the heavily forested area was denuded.  We stopped for a short while at Sudbury, and after that I went down to the club car at the back of the train.  I met a Benedictine priest, Fr. Wilfred, there. After talking with him I realized he was from St. PatrickÕs in Toronto, and knew Fr. Gallery, a very good friend of ours. After talking with Fr. Wilfred, I looked around for the Miss Labine and a friend Florence McNamara. The two were travelling together and I was supposed to be looking after them, but I hadnÕt even seen them yet.  Finally, I did find them and I introduced myself.  She had been told I would be on the train. They asked me if I wanted to play bridge. That was the last thing in the world I wanted to do.  I told them I didnÕt know how to play, which was the truth. They finally settled on a game of rummy, which turned out to be a very stilted game.  I didnÕt want to be there, and they didnÕt want me there. So I decided to take off.  About noon that day we came to a halt in a little town of Hornepayne.  The town was very big for a Wild West town.  The only way to get news was from the trains, which passed right through the middle of the town. We stopped at the main street. People got out to stretch their legs, talking to others, and to look at the general store.  We had about a 15 minute stop there. The conductor went directly to the telegraph office. He got the latest news then by telegraph from Toronto (since there were no radios on the train). From this, they typed up the newsletters. They were a one page deal; one or two sentences each of every item of news about the war, etc. The newsletters were then distributed to all the passengers.   I didnÕt realize we were so out of contact. I was kind of impressed with that.  The rest of the day I was reading Sherlock Holmes, a book I had taken with me. Besides reading, I spent a considerable amount of time looking out the window.  I was very impressed with the countryside. The woods gradually disappeared and gave way to the prairie. Towards evening I remembered we were in the Lake of the Woods region north of Lake Superior.  I went to bed fairly early, as soon as it got dark. The next morning I woke up as we were arriving at a town and I realized it was Winnipeg. I saw big wide streets. We had an half an hourÕs stop at Winnipeg.  I got off the train to look around. I remembered Sr. Celestine had told me about the bishop of Winnipeg, one of her good friends. The bishopÕs residence was not too far from the train station. I ran all the way from the train station to the BishopÕs house, and rang the doorbell. Good thing he wasnÕt in, because when I got back to the train, it was ready to go.

 

As we started out again, I noticed the prairie got flatter and flatter, and the rest of Winnipeg was as flat as a pancake.  I went to bed early that night.  The train arrived at Edmonton at 7:25 AM.  The first thing I did was to collect my baggage, hail a cab, and take off to try to find the Northern Transportation Company.  When I arrived there I found it to be nothing but a storefront, with a counter, and a whole lot of offices in the back. When I went up to the counter, the girl asked who I was.  I said, ŅMy name is Frank Senftle, and I want to speak to Mr. Frank Broderick.Ó  The secretary went back and talked to him, opened the door and ushered me in. I walked in and we talked briefly.  He then said, come follow me.  We went down in the basement, and it was fitted out like an army commissary for those travelling to the north: racks of clothes, sleeping bags, camping equipment, helmets, and other equipment needed for expeditions north.  He issued me a heavy sleeping bag and other gear I would need.  I mentioned that I didnÕt have a place to stay yet. He said, ŅDidnÕt they reserve a place for you?Ó I told him that they had not. During the war it was awfully hard to find any place to stay.  I told him I would leave all my gear there until I found a place. I spent almost all morning that morning looking for a place. I finally found a room at the Royal George Hotel.  I then went back to the station for my baggage, and went back to the hotel.  It was well into the middle of the afternoon before I got settled. I thought IÕd better buy a few things I needed.  I went to the Hudson Bay store there and I bought some heavy clothing. I was impressed by the underwear. My winter underwear was nothing compared to theirsÕ.  Their underwear was twice as thick and heavy.  Late in the afternoon, I took a letter from Sr. Celestine to the Precious Blood Monastery in Edmonton.  So I introduced myself to the sister, and they said they would like me to serve Mass the next morning. It was a very short distance from the Hotel, so that would be a great place to go to Mass. That night I was very tired when I went to bed.  About 6:30 the next morning the telephone in my room rang. It was the Northern Transportation Company, telling me not to rush, that the plane was to be delayed.  I went to Mass and breakfast at the Monastery. When I came back to the hotel, they told me that we would be flying out later that morning.  They called me again just before lunch to cancel flying out for that day because visibility for the take off was too low and too dangerous. This was July 6th.

 

 I had some time now to look around and do some sightseeing.  I met a fellow named Bob Douglas.  I donÕt recall, but I think I met him when I was at the Northern Transportation Company.  He was scheduled to meet the plane in front of the Northern Transportation Company the same time I was.  I got to know him a little bit.  He was on a different mission than I was. He was going to be a steward on the ŅRadium QueenÓ. This was a boat that was used to ply between Port Radium and the first rapids when the water was clear of ice.  They used to carry freight in the summer season, and they needed someone to cook for the crew during the summer. We got to know each other fairly well and he invited me over to his house for supper that night. I met his family and after that we went to the movie. I went back the hotel, read some Sherlock Holmes, and went to bed.

 

Friday, July 7th The next morning I got up early, packed my gear and was kind of excited because the weather was good for takeoff.  I called a taxi, but to tell the truth, I was pretty apprehensive that he would not be on time.  I had to be there by 8:00AM. They wanted me to be there at least an hour before the Northern Transportation Company opened.  The cab arrived, I loaded my stuff, and he got me there in good time.  As I drove up I noticed another fellow standing there, about the same age as myself, the same kind of gear and sleeping bag, and all the rest of it. I got out of the cab, introduced myself, and he told me his name was Lee Godby.  Lee and I became good friends later on, so that is why I mentioned it now. That morning we waited about 15 minutes and a big black sedan drove up.  By this time Florence McNamara, Lillian Labine, and some other guys had arrived. There were 6 of us in front of the building, all going to the same place. The car drove us out of town about 20 odd miles. We drove into the woods on a dirt road, seemingly miles from anywhere, when there appeared an opening in the area, and a big beautiful lake. At one end of the lake were a few buildings and a couple of seaplanes.   They were working on one of the seaplanes.  As we drove into the airport, if you could call it an airport, we went out on the dock. They had taken one of the engines out of the plane, and were putting it back in. I said, ŅGee, is that the plane weÕre going in?Ó ŅYup, thatÕs the one.Ó I started watching them very intently, sizing up what kind of a job they were doing putting the motor back into the plane.  It was only a single motor plane. I was apprehensive about taking off on a plane they had to repair in the first place. We got all our gear finally into the plane.  I remember about 9:30 that morning we were all ready to take off. I vividly remember going up that lake all revved up, raising the flaps on the pontoons. Each time we hit a little wavelet, the whole plane shook. These waves were only 2 or 3 inches high, but every time we hit one I thought the pontoons were going to come off. Finally we got airborne and everything was nice and smooth again.  I was rather excited, looking out the windows, looking at the buildings, which finally disappeared. Finally everything got green and we were quite a distance north of Edmonton and it was something to see any building at all. Just woods all over everywhere you looked. Finally about 11:30 we arrived at Ft. McMurray.  We landed on the Snye River, which is a small river connecting the McKenzie and the Athabasca.  I distinctly recall that after we landed we were taken to a lumber camp, and I remember the huge meal we had there. At that point we left Douglas off at the camp because that was where his headquarters were for the Radium Queen. 

 

Subsequently, we were taken into a mess hall, a really rough mess hall. It was full of a rough looking bunch of lumber jacks. We had a terrific meal there; they really served us well. After eating we refueled and took off again. The weather was rough looking.  It was still raining out. The visibility started closing in on us.  However, we were off again about 2:30 or 3 oÕclock. I recall we were getting low on fuel. According to my notes we landed at Ft. Smith, but this was too close to Ft. McMurry to make a worthwhile fueling stop.  I think it was probably at Port Resolution where we took on more fuel.  By the time we arrived at Port Resolution the weather was getting decidedly colder, and the rain was the kind you get just before a snowstorm.  The pilot decided he would take off because it was 4 PM. After we took off the weather started closing in worse, and the visibility was getting very bad. It started to snow as we started to cross a large lake, Great Slave Lake. Up at the eastern end of Great Slave Lake is Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories. It was already 6 oÕclock. I heard the pilot and copilot talking that rather than trying for Port Radium that night, for safety reasons, we would land at Yellowknife.

 

We taxied into the dock. Yellowknife was just a bunch of wooden frame buildings. There was one large building fairly close to the docks: that was the hotel. Next to it was a smaller building that was a drugstore. Then there were a bunch of small private dwellings. The tallest building was the hotel. It had two floors and was quite extensive, having a large floor area. During the war, everyone lived in the hotel. There were very few private homes. The only people in the town were miners or prospectors.  We went to the desk to inquire about rooms. The pilot and copilot got the first room, and then the two girls also got a room. That left the four of us.  I was second last. The proprietress came and told me she thought she had a room down the hall on the second floor for me. She opened the door and I saw a double bed and a single bed.  ŅThere is another fellow sleeping here, but you can sleep here, too.Ó  I dumped my gear in there. All eight of us went out to get something to eat.  There were only two places to eat in Yellowknife. One was called the Squeeze Inn, and the other the Wildcat Cafˇ.  We chose the Squeeze Inn, and it lived up to its name, as there was not more than a foot between the stalls and the counter. However, we did manage to get a pretty good table in the back. We all sat down and had a great steak dinner.  Boy, IÕm telling you that was a great steak dinner. During the War the men and women could not drink in the same room.  They had a womenÕs drinking room and a menÕs drinking room. This was standard procedure in Canada. After eating, the girls went back to the hotel, while the men went to the menÕs room and had a couple glasses of beer.  While on my second glass of beer, all of a sudden a fight broke out at a table 25 feet away.  Before I knew it, men were swinging chairs and throwing bottles at the bartender. One guy was standing on top of a table swinging a chair at another fellow.  Holy Mackerel, I exclaimed to myself, this is no place for me. I excused myself and went back to my room.  I didnÕt want to get involved in any fights.  This was 11 –11:30 at night, but it was still light out due to the midnight sun at that time of the year.  I went back to my room.  When I opened the door, there was another guy sleeping in the double bed, so I assumed the single bed was for me, so I jumped into the single bed. I put my wallet under my pillow and went to sleep.  About 2 AM in the morning someone came in the room.  He grabbed me by the shoulders and started to shake me.  He was half drunk. It was one of the miners. He said, ŅHey, you are in my bed.Ó  I said, ŅOK, IÕm not going to argue with you.ÓI explained that the proprietress had told me to take the bed.  I got dressed and went downstairs and complained that some guy had just kicked me out of my bed.  They asked for my room number and which bed I was in.  They said, ŅYou are not supposed to be in the single bed, but the double bed. Just get into bed with the other guy.Ó I protested that I didnÕt even know him. ŅWell, get in with him anyways.  ItÕs the only place to stay.ÓWell, gee whiz. So I went back to my room and got in the double bed.  ThatÕs the way of life up there.  I learned fast. 

 

Saturday, July 8th I slept until 11 oÕclock. We took off again about noon, after getting a fairly good meal. The weather by this time had cleared.  We were coming into Port Radium about 3 PM. I noticed as we approached we were coming into fairly rugged country.  The pilot came down to about 300-500 feet, and we were coming over very rocky terrain, with just a few scrub pines.  The trees had all disappeared.  The scrub pines were almost invisible in the cracks of the rocks.  On the south shore of Great Bear Lake in the distance there were a number of fjords, and deep bays with high rocks on either side.  All of a sudden I noticed the pilot was approaching one of these fjords very fast, and at the same time, the plane was losing altitude faster and faster. To make the plane drop even faster he wiggled the wings from left to right, doing this on purpose to get the air out from under the wings. The plane was almost falling.  My heart was in my mouth. He was doing this on purpose so we could get down into the fjord fast enough so he could land the plane. The water in the fjord was fairly calm at the end we landed on, but as we taxied out toward the opening of the fjord the waves got higher and higher.  The weather was extremely rough with almost gale force winds.  The waves were about 8-10 feet high. Here was this little plane was trying to get through these waves, the wings dipping into the water on both sides.  The plane was flopping back and forth. We had to taxi out of the fjord into Great Bear Lake, and go around the point and down into the next fjord. This second fjord was too short to land in, and that is why this maneuver was necessary. The few buildings we saw on the shore were the town of Port Radium.  We finally got over to the dock at Port Radium, and lo and behold, Mr. Labine was there to meet the girls, along with a number of other people. I met Dr. Joliff and Dr. Bateman of the Canadian Geological Survey.  There was Eric White, Buckley, and Dick Scott, who I was to work with closely the rest of the summer. Mr. Hugh Spence and Dr. Hardgrave were also people with whom I would be in fairly close contact. I didnÕt know them at this time, but they all helped us get our gear out of the plane.  The rest of the fellows went in one direction. Mr. Labine motioned to me and said, ŅIÕll help you take your stuff and weÕll go up to this other tent.Ó I didnÕt realize it at the time but it was quite an honor. The mine manager was the only one who lived in a house. Right next to the house were two fairly large 4-5 man tents with wooden floors in them, more or less semi-permanent.  These were for guests and VIPÕs. The first night I got one of these VIP tents, and slept with the pilot. At the time I thought it was rather rough fare, but apparently it was one of the better places to stay.

 

Since we had just arrived at Great Bear Lake I started to look around. I talked to Dr. Bateman about the geology of the area. Of course since we were in the Precambrian Shield, the area all around consisted of ancient sediments something on the order of 1300 million years old. The pitchblende here is amorphous, non-crystalline type of pitchblende. All through the area are large quartz veins. Sometimes the quartz is a pink color due to the iron dissolved in the quartz.  I didnÕt do too much in the way of geology on my first day there; I was just trying to get myself settled. I also met Mr. Dick Murphy, who was in charge of exploration for the mine. He told me that there were no fossils in the area except on the shores of Mystery Island, a few algae found by Dr. Joliff.  This was a small island right off Port Radium in Great Bear Lake. There are two islands: Mystery Island and Cobalt Island. The main vein of uranium that goes through Port Radium goes underwater and shows again on Cobalt Island.

 

Before suppertime, we went to the mess hall. At Port Radium an underground mine shaft goes straight down. Right opposite the adit to the mine shaft there are two large bunk houses for the miners, a large room for the mess hall, where they have a sort of recreation hall, a large room to show movies, pool table, and a commissary where they sell chocolate bars, tooth paste, and those sort of items that the miners need. That is all run by the mine company itself.  Up on the hill, away from the main group of buildings, there is row of tents with wooden floors in them.  These tents are mostly for visiting scientists, or scientific types from the University. Farther down the Bay from the mine itself, maybe a quarter of a mile, there is a house for the mine manager and two tents for visitorsÕ right next to the house. I was in one of these tents with the pilot.  Saturday night I didnÕt know what to do.  I went over to the mine managerÕs house. They were nice to me, but I got the distinct feeling they wanted to have a party by themselves. I wasnÕt upper echelon enough to be at the party.   It was mostly for mine managers and that type.  So I decided to go to bed, as I was getting kind of tired.  I went to sleep in the tent next to the house.  The pilot came in later and went to bed.  I knew very little about the town, so I didnÕt know if there was a church. It really wasnÕt a typical town, just a bunch of buildings run by the Company people.

 

Sunday, July 9th In the morning as we were getting up around 6 oÕclock, I asked the pilot if there was Mass in Port Radium.  He looked at me with a puzzled look.   I concluded that there was no such thing as a Mass at Port Radium on Sundays. 

 

Although some miners had to work, it was a day off for all of us in the Geophysical Group, so I sat around and met some of the fellows in the project group.  We talked a bit about the geology, and I talked to Dr. Bateman a bit; just getting to know everyone that day.

 

Monday, July 10th the weather was very damp, quite drizzly, with a heavy fog; I couldnÕt even see across Labine Bay.  Labine Bay was the name of the bay where the mine was located. The next bay over, where we had landed, was called Glacier Bay because a glacier had come down and gouged it out.  I took a little bit of a walk or a hike on this particular day with some of the fellows. We went to McDonald Lake which was a small lake behind the mine itself. We wanted to climb a fairly high hill, called Gossan Hill, probably the largest peak around there. It wasnÕt too hard, but it was a good climb; took us about an hour to get up there.  I donÕt remember much about this trip, except we learned that there was some show of uranium up there.

 

Tuesday, July 11th   Today I really started work in earnest. I worked with Ted Spice, a geologist and Emil Wally, the expedition boss and an aide to the real boss, Dick Murphy. Ted Spice, Emil Wally and I surveyed a grid by Geiger counter over Gossan Hill. This particular area had been surveyed once before in a rough way by the Consolidated Smelter Corp. There were five veins on the property, none of which carried much uranium. Some showed large quartz veins, and some native copper.  The weather was awful raw; particularly across the top of these so-called peaks. The wind was sharp, cold and damp. We had one walkie-talkie and we wanted to contact a fellow over on Glacier Lake, a geologist working over there. We were able to contact him by radio. Incidentally, radio transmission in this area was particularly bad, especially for short wave, because we were so close to the North Magnetic Pole. It really loused up the transmissions.  We couldnÕt even hear the broadcast stations from Canada and the US.  The best we could do was to get Tokyo Rose in Japan.  She came in louder than anything else.

 

Wednesday, July 12th The norm for this operation was to get up around 7 oÕclock. Then we would go down to the cookhouse and get a huge meal. Interestingly, we had vitamins on the table, something that was new to me, but we needed it to supplement our diet.  However, we had a pretty good diet. I remembered powdered scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, jam, and big bowls of oatmeal: more than you could eat. We also had honey which you couldnÕt get anywhere during the war; we could get it as part of our Army food.  At the end of breakfast, the cooks had a counter for us to pick up our lunch, which consisted of a couple of sandwiches, and I forget what else.  Everyone would pick up their own sandwiches and take them out to the field.

 

Dick Scott and I worked as a team. Gibraltar Hill is a fairly large hill right opposite Port Radium, made of columnar basalt, so steep you couldnÕt even climb up it.  Right opposite it was a smaller hill right at the bottom of the bay, where they used to keep the sled dogs tied up, called Dog Point. We surveyed lines out with a chain of a given length, making Geiger counter readings on a grid.  Dick and I worked all day on gridding Dog Hill.

 

We went back and finished up that same area, and found very little of interest.  They had a movie once a week, and that night was the night for the movie.  I forget what it was about.  My tent was no longer next to the mine managerÕs house.  I had been shifted up the hill to the group of tents above Port Radium with the other exploration people.  I had my own tent up there, which was nice, and it had a wooden floor.  As long as it didnÕt get too cold, it wasnÕt too bad. I had a desk, place to put my sleeping bag, and a chair.

 

Thursday, July 13th  It rained and drizzled all day. When it rains in Great Bear Lake it is miserable. It is a cold, wet, damp miserable rain. We didnÕt do much in the line of work in this weather unless we had to.  There are a lot of days you cannot work outside. We had a small lab in one of the bunk houses where we did our electronics work.  Dr. Huxley was in charge of the Geiger development work, and we worked with him on that.  This particular day we worked on electronics, tearing down an old Geiger counter and starting to rebuild it and revise the circuit in it.  That night we had a slide show of colored slides. Eric White, one of the geophysicists from Toronto, and I got to know each other fairly well.  We had a get-together of our own that night. I was talking to Dr. Bateman also.  He said you couldnÕt tell what a rock is from afar because they are covered with lichen.  They grow very well up there, and cover the rocks with a cauliflower-like growth. You really canÕt tell what a rock is until you break a piece off and examine it from the inside. Dr. Bateman had a lab of his own, and he showed me how he tested the magnetic properties, the sulfide fusion test, and so forth.  He showed me he was assembling a map to get a better picture of the uranium content of the district. 

 

Friday, July 14th It was a nice day, so we could go out in the field again.  However, I worked to finish up the Geiger counter I was building until afternoon, essentially working at the lab all day. After supper I went for a ride with the Geophysics boys in a motor launch, called the El Dora.  The El Dora was a launch the mine kept for ferrying things around the area. I remember one of the fellows said, ŅHey, letÕs go fishing.Ó  I didnÕt care to go particularly, but they did invite me to go, too. So, I said I would go. Just before we went fishing, some of the guys broke into the mess hall and got a frying pan, cooking utensils, a pound of butter: all the things we needed to fry fish with.  The El Dora was a motor launch about 20 ft in length, with a cabin on top.  We started out and went north from Port Radium. We got very close to the Arctic Circle.  The sun went down around 1 oÕclock  AM and came back up in 15 minutes later. We had sunshine almost all the way, even at that time of the night. We went as far as VanceÕs Peninsula, probably less than 15 miles from the Arctic Circle. In about half an hour we caught about eight great big landlocked salmon, each one over a foot long.  We had a fish fry on the shore, and boy, was it great! IÕve never had a fish fry like it since, or caught as many fish in such a short time. It is fantastic how you can catch fish up there. We returned about 3:30 AM and of course didnÕt feel like doing anything the next day.

 

Saturday, July 15th   I worked in the lab all day and  didnÕt get into the field.  I started to build a chassis for a new Geiger.  Metal was hard to get up in the Arctic, and the only metal we could get was from a crashed plane in which Charlie Labine had been killed during the past year or so. I was amazed to find out that this was Mr. LabineÕs brother who had been killed.  Rather than junk the plane they had stripped all the metal for reuse. The aluminum from the pontoons was great for making a chassis. About 5 oÕclock I ambled over to the mess hall to get supper. We ate very well considering that the war was on.  We got food that a lot of people in other parts of Canada werenÕt able to get. The Northwest Territories were considered so far up in the bush that we werenÕt on the rationing system.  We were able to get dried eggs, potatoes, powdered milk, canned vegetables, and such. We got fruit once a week or so from a plane that comes from Edmonton.  Each day we were given a specially prepared vitamin tablet that the miners used. We got two chocolate bars a week. The cook made fresh bread every other day, pie, and cake. I really appreciated that we were able to get honey and peanut butter that most people werenÕt able to get during the war.  Of course, we made the best of that.  At suppertime it was noised around that we were expecting a plane that night or the next day. We hadnÕt received any mail for over a week, so we were excited to wait for the plane to arrive.  I decided to write a letter to Anne on Saturday evening after supper.  Just as I had finished the letter, signed, and sealed it, I heard a plane in the distance. Of course, any time anyone heard a plane they jumped out of their tent and set to waiting for the mail. We were all down by the dock waiting for the plane to come in. Pretty soon, sure enough, it would come streaking in over the camp, once, then circle around and land in the bay.  I got my first letter from Anne that night, and I knew the plane was going out again first thing next morning.  So I went back and wrote another letter to Anne to answer the one she had written me. About the only thing I remember was her complaint that the bicycle I had left with her had a light generator that did not work. I remember that I had left a twig in the spring that held the generator against the wheel to make the lights go on, and I had forgotten to tell her how to remove it.

 

Sunday, July 16th  We didnÕt work on Sunday in a formal way, so a bunch of us went to collect specimens. It was a terrific place to collect mineral specimens. The mine dump was great, of course, because there were things like cobaltite, uranium minerals of all kinds; it was a mineral paradise. They had giant quartz veins up there, 15 ft across, associated with other types of mineralization.  I went up around McDonald Lake, and the mine dump, to collect specimens.  I helped Dr. Bateman, a geologist there, to analyze new mineral samples.  Sunday was a real slow day up in the Northwest Territories. Nothing much to do after you had explored the area. Once you know the area, it is just putting in time.

 

Monday July 17th.  Emil Wally was the boss of the geophysical team. He was a mining engineer. His job was to coordinate all the specimens we found, building Geiger counters, testing them out in the field, and also recording the position of the uranium finds. I talked with him a long time about the geophysical methods used to find radioactive minerals, mainly Geiger counters. Then we started talking about ion chambers. I had had some experience in Toronto with ion chambers. I spent a good part of the day talking to him about these things, and discussing new circuits. I guess it was partly this conversation that triggered our use of the ion chambers before the end of the summer.

 

Tuesday, July 18th   This was my first real work assignment, and I was to work with Ted Spice. Ted Spice was a geologist with a varied background, including Africa and other places, possessing a deep knowledge of a lot of things. He was very interesting to work with. There is an island just north of Port Radium called Cobalt Island. The main uranium vein that runs through the mine at Port Radium goes under Great Bear Lake, shows again a little on Cobalt Island which hadnÕt been really surveyed properly. They had a rough idea that the vein should intersect the island. Ted Spice and I had a magnetometer, so we went to Cobalt Island to do a magnetometer survey. We piled all our gear, magnetometer, lunch, and so forth in the canoe that and we headed out for Cobalt Island. We set down gridded lines, collected some samples, and made magnetometer surveys across the island in a gridded fashion.  I noticed that the sediments were greatly metamorphosed, which is what you would expect of a Cambrian sediment. At one end of the island was a large granite outcrop. This was supposed to be the youngest rock in the area, because there were no dikes cutting through it. The worst part of this adventure was lugging all the equipment around. We worked all day there. Nothing special happened, but we had some good readings.

 

Wednesday, July 19th We continued our magnetometer survey across the central part of the island along a Granite and Metasediment contact, and also started to profile the metasediment/Granite contact. Again, I donÕt recall anything very spectacular, just getting more data. After we got home that night, the plane came in.  It was announced at suppertime that the plane had brought a movie. They were to show it to the miners and geophysical group in a big room up in one of the bunk houses. We all got together, quieted down, and watched the movie. It was a pretty good movie, but I donÕt remember what it was about. Afterwards they opened the commissary and we were able to get a chocolate bar. That was our night out, our typical type of excitement.

 

Thursday, July 20th The weather really started to change. Up to this time we had had pretty good weather, although cold. This day it really clouded over, and the wind began to blow.  My gosh!, how it started to blow! I thought it would blow my tent right away. We were pretty well grounded. It was a wet sleeting rain, as expected since it was starting to get close to winter. By nightfall it was like a small hurricane.  I didnÕt sleep too well that night. Instead of going out to Cobalt Island again, Ted and I worked up the magnetometer curves, and derived susceptibilities of the granite and metasediments. We worked on some ideas for finding susceptibilities of rock to aid our magnetometer measurements. We had an old AC bridge, and this gave us the idea we could powder some of our rock samples and put them in the bridge and this would give us a way of calibrating the magnetometer.  We kicked these ideas around for a while.

 

Friday, July 21st. According to my notes we worked all day on the susceptibility of rocks.  The weather was really bad, too bad to work in the field, so we worked in the lab all day.  We had a set of drill cores ranging from granites to sediments that we used to test our ideas.  We worked with the bridge all morning.  In the afternoon, I went into the electronics lab, where I started to build a bridge circuit to make the thing more sensitive. I built a little amplifier and used the bridge with it. It worked pretty well. We got some pretty good sensitivities.

 

Saturday July 22nd. The weather is bad but getting a little bit better, but too bad to go out in the bush. So we all stayed in and worked in the lab.  I worked on the conductance bridge and made some analyses of some samples. I wasnÕt really getting very far, just putting in time. That afternoon the weather started to get considerably better. As it was Saturday, the rest of the boys in the geophysics group decided to go on a little excursion. They got one of the power launches associated with the camp, and went up to HunterÕs Bay, just north of the Arctic Circle. The idea was to stay out and not come back until Sunday. I didnÕt like the weather that well and didnÕt feel it was really that safe. Furthermore I wanted to be back at the camp that Sunday to say some prayers, especially since there was no Mass. I had to at least go through the prayers of the Mass. Everybody went on the trip except Eric White, Sam Block, Ted Hartney and I. We had other things we wanted to do. We went to bed early and that was the end of that day.

 

Sunday, July 23. This turned out to be a beautiful day. I was wrong about the weather. Eric White and I went up to Hornby Bay, about 4 or 5 miles from camp, a good walking distance, to collect samples and explore, since we hadnÕt been up there before.   We spent most of the day just fiddling around since nothing was doing.  Then I came back. We did a little work in the lab just to pass the time away.  I found a way of reducing the contact resistance on one of our instruments.  Around supper time the fellows got back from their excursion and were telling us all about it at suppertime. As I recall, at that same time a plane came in. I was very happy to receive a package from Anne with some chocolate bars and some film.  So I sat down and wrote a thank you letter right away so it would be out on the plane the next morning.  I also got a letter from my sister, and that made me very happy because I had been up here two weeks and hadnÕt received any mail from home, so I wondered if something was wrong. She hadnÕt put enough postage on the letter and they had to send it back.  That was why the mail was late.

 

Monday July 24.   Again I was working in the lab because I wanted to get this new electronic device together and get it tested. I wound some solenoids, and did a lot of other things associated with it, but I wonÕt go into that. The weather was warm and sunny. After supper one of the fellows and I took a portable radio and went a mile or half a mile from camp, and we tried to contact Ray Sutherland, one of the geologists. He was out at Cameron Bay, about 15-20 miles away. We tried to contact him, and about 9 PM we were able to get through to him.  He was getting ready to go to bed, having tried to make a contact before. We were able to talk to him for a few minutes, but the transmission went bad, so we went back to camp and went to bed ourselves.

 

Tuesday July 25th.  Again we worked in the lab winding coils and making various changes in the electronic circuits.  After supper I was anxious to test it, so I went back to the lab after supper and checked some of the equipment. I made some sensitivity measurements.

 

Wednesday July 26th.  The morning was rainy; apparently it had rained all night. It was one of these steady drizzle rains you get up north, and, oddly enough there was lots of fog.  The fog rolls in over the countryside there and fills in the draws, so if you are on one peak, you can look right across a fog layer, like a big bunch of cotton filling in the valley, over to the peak or ridge on the other side   That is the sort of morning it was, not a morning to go out into the bush. Everything was wet.  Another day to stay in the lab and work, so that is what I did. Then toward the middle of the morning it started to get warm; it got very warm. It went up to 70 degrees that day, which was just about the peak of the season. I worked on the AC bridge and vacuum tube volt meter most of that morning, and tried to get them working. We didnÕt do much that day.  It was just a miserable day out.  After supper we went over to the Commissary, which was our place of recreation. We saw a movie, ŅQueen of the YukonÓ vintage 1900. Boy oh boy, talk about a Wild West show.  Anyway, that is what the miners like.

 

Thursday, July 27th. We again stayed in the laboratory, at least the first part of the day. I measured some drill cores and we tried to do some more electronics work and tried to correlate the electronics readings on the cores with the magnetometer readings we took out on Cobalt Island several days prior to that.

 

That afternoon I got to work with Dr. Brant, a high ranking professor of physics at the University of Toronto. (When it was time for me to qualify for my PhD degree, there was some question about whether I had enough German. I told him I had a couple years of it, and he said, OK, thatÕs enough.  And he signed the papers to have me qualify.)  I owe him a lot, as he helped me get my degree. He and I worked that day on correlating magnetometer readings that he had taken with susceptibilities. It was mostly lab work that day.

 

Friday, July 28th. Again, it was a miserable day, a good day for lab work. I worked in the lab doing mostly magnetometer and AC bridge readings of the drill cores. At this time I found a piece of equipment I wasnÕt familiar with, a liquid conductivity cell, and I got interested in measuring conductivities this way. I knew that there was a relationship between the conductivity of the liquid and the amount of material dissolved in it. Could the conductivity of the water in the lakes be used to delineate areas of high mineralization?  There were so many lakes up here. This method could be used highlight areas where we could do more fruitful exploration. I set about trying to understand and check this new technique. Finally I was at the point where I was making fairly good measurements. I measured the conductivity of all sorts of liquids: distilled water, etc., etc., etc.

 

Friday, July 29th. I spent some time continuing the test of the conductivity technique. By now I was getting very interested in these conductivity experiments. I was calibrating the cell and determining calibration constants. I worked all day on that, using various kinds of water.

 

There was an air of expectancy in the lab; I guess that is what you could call it.  A message came through that the first boat of the year would come in late that night. We knew that they would be bringing in supplies; not only food, but medicines, and heavy machinery, and other things they needed at the mine. Up to this date they had been stockpiling large bags of uranium concentrates by the shore. The volume of these 80 pound uranium bags was stacked to the size of two large living rooms, and 8 to 10 feet high.  We used to eat our lunch sitting on top of those bags. Imagine the amount of radiation we were getting.

 

Sunday, July 30th I continued to make a few measurements, but didnÕt work very hard, basically whiled away the time. It was a fairly nice day, I slept late, read my Mass prayers, took a shower. I think that was the only shower I took all summer.  The water was wet and hot. Later I took a hike over to the other side of Wop Lake with Eric White. It was named after Wop May, a famous early bush pilot in Northern Canada. Eric White and I got to be quite good friends, and we wanted to do some exploring by ourselves. We went toward Cross Fault Lake, which is perched up a bit higher up than the Bay. Cross Fault Lake was formed by the intersection two faults, which formed a depression where they crossed, and later filled with water.  We went around the lake to a draw on the other side. This was a sort of gully carved out by a glacier. We walked around one side of the lake, and found a campsite that had been used by Consolidated Mining Corporation many years earlier. The remains of several log cabins were still there. I remember going into one of the cabins and we found some bacon, 8 cans of bacon sides. We opened one up to see, and the meat was still good, even though it must have been 12-15 years or so since the camp had last been used. We went to the south end of Cross Fault Lake had a spot of tea there. After we were finished, we hung our teabag out for the next guy who came by.  We left some of our gear down below and hiked up to a high spot above the lake. We counted about 14 or 15 lakes that we could see from that one spot. We collected some water specimens to take back to the lab. We then came back down, picked up our gear, and went back to the main camp. This day I started my first collection of water samples.  As Eric and I would go through this area of lakes we would pick up a sample of water in the sample bottles that I brought with me. I gathered water from various parts of Cross Fault Lake, some of the streams, then from Murphy, McDonald,  Dunphy, and Radium Lakes, which were closest to the camp.  When I went to bed that night the boat still had not arrived.  I wasnÕt going to wait up for any boat, even though they thought it would be arriving that night.

 

Monday, July 31st. Again we had a drizzly fog, it was a miserable morning, and we didnÕt want to go out. So I stayed and measured the conductivity of the water samples that I had collected the day before.  I got come peculiar results, but because I didnÕt have enough samples I really couldnÕt say why. Since I couldnÕt go into the field, I decided to work on building an ion chamber. I built the ion chamber and was comparing the measurements to Geiger counter readings. It seemed to me that the atmospheric ion chamber certainly was not sensitive enough, at least when compared to our Geiger counters.

 

About this time we were told that a team from the US, with a Dr. Sherbatzkoy would be arriving on the next plane. He was a very sharp physicist for one of the oil companies. The Manhattan Project saw the work he was doing and decided they needed his help with uranium exploration.  There was an air of secrecy about all this arrival because we were told that Dr. Scherbatzkoy would not stay at our campsite, but would stay at his own campsite a mile or two away for secrecy. We were not to go to this camp unless we were asked to go there.  We were to keep our distance from this camp. This raised our interest; we were not sure what was going on.

 

Tuesday, August 1st.  We learned that Sherbatzkoy had arrived during the night on a plan with Mr. Labine, the head of the company. He had two aides with him, a bunch of bigwigs, and supposedly a lot of equipment. He was put up in the managerÕs house that night, and the next day they set up a camp for him a mile away.  Anyway, we werenÕt supposed to have anything to do with him. That morning we came down for breakfast the usual way. Our tents were at the top of the hill, and we would come down for breakfast at a given time, so most of us ate together at the same time. Emil Wally happened to be in the mess hall at the same time, and as head of Exploration he more or less called all the shots.  He had been talking to Mr. Labine. He told us that Mr Labine  wasnÕt too happy that we hadnÕt found anything, as the summer was over half over. Apparently Mr. Labine was quite upset because our exploration season was almost shot.  They had been talking, and apparently Labine had encountered a rumor, based on an Indian legend, that there was a yellow stain on a hill just south and east of Cross Fault Lake. He wanted WallyÕs group to check it out.  Emil picked Dick Scott, Ted Hartley, and me, and we went up to Gossan Draw, the name of the area with the yellow stain.  Uranium weathers to a yellow color, which was the reason for checking the area. We had already checked all the areas in the immediate neighborhood already, so we werenÕt very excited about our prospects. We had one Geiger among us. We climbed up to Cross Fault Lake, portaging a very heavy canoe. We put the canoe into the water and went over to the other side of the lake. Emil Wally and Ted Hartley went on ahead of Dick Scott and me. I stayed with Dick because he was carrying the Geiger, and I was the technician in case something went wrong with the Geiger.  I was walking beside Dick, and we were climbed up the top of the hill, which was very rocky. I remember at the top of the hill there was a very heavy underfoot mat of muskeg and moss covering the whole hill so you couldnÕt see any of the rock. It was like a big carpet up there. As we almost got to the crest of the hill, Dick told me there was a loose connection in the Geiger Counter, there was something wrong that needed fixing. So we stopped walking while I checked it out. It seemed alright while we were stopped like that, but earlier there had been a lot of static in his earphones.  I said, ŅDick, just for fun, walk back over to where you just started hearing the static.Ó Dick walked back, and said, ŅHey, I hear it again!Ó I jiggled the wires to see if there was any change in the rate of the static, but Dick said it was the same. I said, ŅLetÕs walk over to where it stopped.Ó It stopped again.  ŅNow letÕs go back to where you hear it again.Ó  Sure enough, it started up again. ŅDick, this sure looks like radioactivity. LetÕs check.Ó We got down on our knees, after taking the Geiger counter off DickÕs back.  I started to pull away the moss. The Geiger was running wild on the ground next to us.  You could see a four inch wide vein of black material. I can remember this moment in its full intensity, I was so excited.   We followed this for 4 or 5 feet, digging the muskeg off to the side. You could see there was an actual vein running through there.  I was extremely excited. We took out our hammers and took out some good heavy chunks and bagged them.  At this time we called Wally and Hartley back again, and they confirmed the fact it looked like the real material. We explored just a little bit beyond that, but we were ready to go. We got our samples and went to the canoe.  We had spent so much time up there we had already missed our supper, but we got some sandwiches anyways.  That night Eric White and I got into one of our philosophical and psychological arguments, and that carried us up into the later night hours.  

 

Wednesday, August 2nd   I continued to make conductivity measurements of various lakes and swamp water samples I had collected over the previous days.  It struck me that if there were radioactivity in the area, that some of it would show up in the lake waters.  So I was trying to develop a technique to detect this. That afternoon Emil Wally, Ted Hartley and I went out just beyond the mine to an area called Silver Point. When we returned we got a motor launch at the mine dock. We went across Labine Bay to Glacier Bay. Remember, Glacier Bay was the first bay we came in on in the plane. The plane came in that day while we were out and I got some letters and a bulletin from the Canadian department of mines. Toward the end of the day I felt kind of sick and I went to bed early after supper.

 

Thursday, August 3rd.  It was a dark rainy day. The weather was starting to change now.  It was obvious that summer was over.  The weather had a decidedly winter aspect. The days were getting darker; the rain was colder. Everything was getting worse. I was curious about SherbatzkoyÕs instrument. I kept asking him questions, and little by little I began to find out what he was doing.  His device was based on gamma ray detection, and was probably an ion chamber.  I did more conductivity experiments. The Eric White, Mel Campbell and I had a discussion of about ion chambers and DC amplifiers that evening.

 

Friday, August 4th. Again it was a rainy day. Winter was really setting in. It still was not cold enough for snow. I took a motor canoe to Glacier Bay and collected a number of samples, mainly water samples. As I recall, I think Eric White was with me this day.  We ate lunch on the shore of Cross Fault Lake. I chummed around quite a bit with Eric. He seemed to be my companion at the time, as we got along pretty well together. We returned about midafternoon pretty tired; we had done a lot of walking that day. I went up to the lab and started measuring some more conductivities. In the evening I got the chance I was waiting for. For some reason, I donÕt remember why, Sherbatzkoy needed something, so I had an opportunity to legally to go to his tent at the isolated camp. I think he needed something like a resistor, so I was sent down with it.  Of course, I finally got to see his instrument; it was very sensitive.  I was very impressed with its sensitivity. He was able to detect a hand sample of pitchblende at 60 feet, which is very sensitive. He had two ionization chambers filled with argon pressurized at 1000 pounds per square inch. Everything else was rather normal, but as he opened the chassis I had a chance to memorize part of the circuit, particularly the circuit that lay across the ion chamber. As he was doing it, it occurred to me that it didnÕt work as I had originally thought. I memorized the color codes on the resistors and so forth. I got a pretty good idea of how some of the things work. So, I came back to the lab right away while my memory was still fresh and started to draw the circuit from memory. I didnÕt get all of it, just part of it.

 

Saturday, August 5th . I worked with Eric White and Sam Block. We continued Geiger Surveying the hill northwest of Glacier Bay. I saw my first glacier; it was 5-6 ft of ice.  I collected some water samples, and then brought them back to the lab.  Then I sat down with Eric and we tried to work out exactly what the circuit was that Sherbatzkoy was using. We figured out almost the complete deal. We began to understand pretty well how this instrument was working. It was a very clever device.

 

The insects were terrible this far up North.  The mosquitoes are easy to brush off, but the black flies are awful.  When we go out into the woods we smear oily dope over our hands, face and neck toward them off.  We also wear nets over our face and neck.  When a black fly bites you he actually makes an opening in the skin and injects poison.  The opening is like the head of a pin and bleeds like a small cut.  After about five minutes the skin begins to swell.  Some are more affected than others. They just look like pimples on me, but some of the men get them like boils.  I felt sorry for one fellow who went out one day without protection.  He came back bleeding from head to foot, just one mess of bumps.  He looked as if somebody had flogged him.  Unlike mosquitoes, these flies crawl underneath your clothing.  One of their favorite places to bite is beneath your watch strap.  Once I was eating a meat sandwich in the bush, when a cloud of these insects just seemed to descend for the kill.  I naturally thought the food was attracting them.  I took some meat from my sandwich and laid it out for them to get.  They would not touch it.  I guess they like live meat better than dead.

 

Sunday, August 6th. I slept late and the day was typical winter day, with a cold raw wind. After I went down to the mess hall to eat I decided to stay in my tent and catch up on my letters. I wrote letters to Anne, Mary, and the Department of Mines. Then I studied a bit. Mr. Labine was supposed to take the plane out that day, but the weather was so bad that day he couldnÕt get off. Around supper time the wind had whipped up a muskeg fire 2-3 miles from the camp.  Everyone was trying to beat out this fire.  The wind had whipped the flames so that the entire ground was burning, burning rapidly.  I worked so hard I was exhausted, from 4 PM until about midnight, and the midnight sun was still out. It was long past my bedtime. I should have noticed it was that late because the wildlife had gotten very quiet after supper.  They had enough horse sense to go to sleep at the right time, while we didnÕt. I canÕt recall exactly but while putting out the fire, I may have nibbled on a piece of lichen.

 

Monday, August 7th   The weather was a little better but still cold. The wind had died down, and Mr. Labine was able to get off by plane about 5 AM that morning. By the time we got down for breakfast he had already left. So I worked with Eric. We crossed to Glacier Bay by foot. We got to the end opposite the mouth of Glacier Bay by the portage where the glacier was coming down.  We collected a lot of samples. As I recall this was the day I got a hotfoot at one of the lakes, so I named it Hotfoot Lake.  There was a lake near that that was full of algae, which I called Joan Lake, on purpose.  I named a lot of lakes that day, among them Clare Lake. I was going through an area with a lot of small lakes, so it was a great place for collecting water samples.

 

During our trip, I came across a fairly large patch of lichen.  I was told that lichen was one of the favorite foods of the caribou. Whenever you would see groups of them clustered in one spot, you could be fairly sure it was at a lichen patch. They like it like candy.  I came across this rather lush growth of lichen in one particular spot up there. It struck me that if I were ever caught alone in the bush I would need to know what plants to eat and what not to eat. I thought I would try some of this lichen.  It is a light green lettuce-like growth on the rocks.  Up there it grows rather plush, while at home it is just a crust on the rock. I tried some; it was a rather rubbery consistency, and a characteristic taste. I donÕt really know how to describe it. It was just so-so, and I wasnÕt excited about the taste. 

 

Tuesday, August 8th. I didnÕt feel too good, but I went to work anyway.  I kept getting worse.  Eric and I took a motor canoe this day to the area around the mouth of Glacier Bay and continued working in the general area we had been working before. I had remembered I had eaten some of the lichen that grows on the rocks. I was wondering if that was what was making me feel sick. About 10 AM that morning I got so sick I just couldnÕt go on.  It started to rain a cold drizzly rain. We were near a cabin, so, we went into the cabin and built a fire. Inside was a food cache, basically an open log table with cans around the 6 foot legs so rodents canÕt run up the legs. The meat and other food are then placed on the table top. I got up on top of the food cache and lay down, trying to get some rest that way. We had been left off by Ted Spice and some of the other fellows who were going to take the canoe further up the shore. So we didnÕt have any transportation to get back to the camp. So we had to wait until they came back at the appointed time to pick us up. So Eric and I just stayed in the cabin most of that day. It was a very rough day. The waves were wild, and the winds were picking up quite badly. It was 3-4 in the afternoon when we heard a plane take off overhead, and it crossed our minds that the plane might have to come get us. We didnÕt think the canoe could even get through. We had enough food to last until the next morning, so we half decided to stay in that cabin overnight, the situation being as rough as it was. In the process of getting settled for the night and making the place as warm as possible, we heard a motor just over the sound of the wind. Sure enough, the canoe was coming through about 5 PM. Eric went down to look down the Bay, and here the canoe was coming with one guy in it. He was doing very well. I was sure it was Ted Spice. He had the whole canoe loaded down with big boulders. ThatÕs how he got through the waves at the other end. They beached the canoe, and laid me in the bottom of the canoe. I was as sick as a dog, I was really sick. I had my heavy boots, leather jacket and fur on, and everything else lying in the bottom of this canoe. We took off. As we approached the mouth of Glacier Bay into Great Bear Lake to turn around into Labine Bay we started to see10 ft waves. The waves were horrendous. The wind was blowing like mad. Every now and then a wave would break over the boat and it would fill up with water, and weÕd have to bail it out. I didnÕt think we were going to make it, and that we would drown. Finally we reached Port Radium.  When we finally got there they put me up in my sleeping bag. I had a temperature of 102 degrees by that time. I skipped supper and just went to went to sleep that night. The next morning I felt much better. I didnÕt go out that day and worked in the lab all day.  I was well again. I suspect I was so sick because the lichen is known to  absorb the toxic minerals they grow on.

 

I worked with Dr. Swan, an aide of Dr. SherbatzkoyÕs, and little more about the secret circuit that these guys were using. I got to see the type of tubes he was using. Every time I went up to his tent I learned a little more. It wasnÕt too long before I found out what they were doing.  

 

Thursday, August 10th.  A Red letter day. This was the day I worked with Sherbatzkoy the first time. We were going to go North and East of Port Radium. The particular country that we were going into to test his equipment,  was all new to me.  I hadnÕt been there before. Three of the other geologists on the team were going someplace either beyond or close by, so we all decided to go in the same canoe. We had one of the large 20 ft freight canoes. Besides Dr. Sherbatzkoy, Dr. Russell, and myself, there were 3 others. I canÕt remember who they were; I think they were Ted Spice and Hartley and IÕm not sure who the last one was. All six of us started out from Port Radium. As we rounded the point of Cobalt Island, the weather really started to set in. I was sure we were going to be upset. The canoe would approach the crest of a wave and be 4/5ths of its length out of water, then come down with a tremendous pound. We would be down in the trough, and then go up on the next crest. I thought the whole boat would just come apart.  I was prepared to be scuttled and do the best I could to get to shore.  I probably would not have survived because the water was way too cold. We were only 30-40 yards from shore. Fortunately we arrived at our destination without mishap. But I sure was worried.  We took all the gear out and Dr. Russell, the geologist, put on the meter part of the gear. The equipment was built so that each part was connected with cables, so each person was connected to another.  Dr. Russell was in the lead with a meter to indicate what the intensity of the reading was. I was in the middle with the ion chambers, which were the heaviest equipment of the lot. I was the lackey, carrying the heaviest part of the equipment.  I had two big ion chambers on my back.  Dr. Sherbatzkoy was carrying the batteries.  So here are the three of us, like a chain gang through the bush. We were climbing up some fairly steep slopes. Rocks would come tumbling down. A couple of times we lost our grip and had to be pulled up by the next guy.  It was quite exciting because I had never been in quite this situation before. It was really like mountain climbing.

 

Friday, August 11th  On Quartz Point, I continued to work with Dr. Sherbatzkoy. I was telling Dr. Sherbatzkoy about my water conductivity experiments.  He was very interested in them. That morning, as we were getting ready to go to Quartz Point, the boat, the Great Bear, the freight boat, came in the second time for that summer, and the last time. They landed, unloaded their stuff, and took on some more uranium ore, and left very fast. It didnÕt stay very long. I made some more conductivity experiments.  The mail came in, and I had seven letters all at once, and one from the Draft Board. I had to take it to Emil Wally, and the Company straightened it out.

 

Saturday, August 12th. I again worked with Sherbatzkoy, and we were becoming very good friends now. We talked not only about his instrument but also my susceptibility measurements. He gave me some pretty good ideas.

 

Sunday, August 13th. I tried to catch up on my letter writing.  I helped Sherbatzkoy a little bit over in his tent. Later they had a movie for us; I donÕt remember what the picture was.  I collected samples from the tailings dump with Eric White, and then went to bed.

 

Monday, August 14th.  Again it was a bad day because I stayed in the lab and did measurements on conductivities from the different lakes.  I worked with Dr. Bill Russell, and we went over to Weiner Bay in the morning, but in the afternoon we broke an electric cable so we had to go back to camp. We fixed the cable, and returned to Weiner Bay and picked up Dr. Joliff, one of the geologists there.  I remember carrying an awful lot of gear. I got to see the circuit again, and I realized that there were no condensers on the circuit, only resistors.  This was very exciting.  That was a real clue that he was using a DC circuit, rather than an AC amplifier. That gave us a real clue as to how he was making this thing work.

 

Tuesday, August 15th  This is the Feast of the Assumption. Dr. Sherbatzkoy had left early. Dr. Russl and Dr. Swan stayed behind. They were going to leave a few days later. I worked most of the morning with Dr. Russell N and E of Port Radium.  We came home early as I recall, I got another chance to view the circuit, and memorized some the resistor values he had in the circuit. I came back to my growing circuit diagram and espionage. That afternoon I was in the lab working on my conductivity experiments. I found out that the National Research Council, based on our results reported by Sherbatzkoy, were starting to build an ionization chamber. Instead of having it operate on DC current, they were going to have it operate on AC current.

 

Wednesday, August 16th  EricWhite and I took a Geiger counter with us and worked the area north of Cross Fault Lake. As I recall, it was between Port Radium and Cross Fault Lake, and a little to the east.  As we going down into a draw, a depression with hills on either side, we came upon a spot under the muskeg that was quite active.  We got very excited; in fact, we thought it was another find. We got down on our hands and knees and pulled out the muskeg and put it in a pile to the side.  When we put the Geiger counter down into the hole we had made there was no activity. I pulled out the Geiger counter and put it on the muskeg. It was the muskeg itself that was active. This was strange; I had never run into this before.  Apparently, we reasoned, the organic material of the muskeg was adsorbing the radioactivity that had been leached out from above by water. Somewhere on the high spots on either side there must be more radioactivity. We went up on the high parts of the slopes, and sure enough we found a small vein of uranium. Apparently, the uranium had been leached, and as it went down through the gully, it had been adsorbed by the muskeg. At least the radium was, I donÕt know about the uranium, as radium is more readily dissolved in water. Most of the activity was in the radium series. This is something I had heard about, but never seen. I now had first hand information.

 

Thursday, August 17th  We went up to #3 extension vein, close to the main vein of Port Radium. We mucked out the pit there hoping to find an extension of the vein.  We didnÕt find very much. It was a miserable day; it was wet and rainy. We didnÕt want to go too far away from the camp. Finally I went back to the camp at lunch time.  That afternoon, I got to work with Joe Preboy, who was the assistant manager of the mine.  He obtained a planimeter for me; this was an instrument which could measure the area under a curve. I did a lot of area measurements of the lakes there, thinking there might be a relationship between the area of the lake and the conductivity. I did this using map of the area lakes, and tried to come up with a relationship. I spent most of the day doing that,

 

Friday, August 18th.  We went West of Port Radium, and as one or two of the team had left already, we didnÕt go out in pairs anymore. We decided we could get more done by going singly. I went to an area just E of Glacier Bay. In the morning 3-4 of us would go in the freight canoe, and they would drop us off at different spots along the way on Great Bear Lake.  That was the area I chose to work in that day, because I wanted to sample the water of some of the lakes over there to measure the conductivity. So I had a bunch of bottles with me, along with my Geiger counter, lunch, and other junk with me. I got on the top ridge above Glacier Bay and was going along the ridge, the high spot between Glacier Bay, and the next Bay, Echo Bay. I thought if I ever met a bear up here all I had with me was a skinning knife, and there wasnÕt anyone around to help. The more I thought about it the more upset I became. Around noon I heard a motor. A canoe had gone down to the head of Glacier Bay and was coming back.  I dropped to lower ground on the shore, midway down Glacier Bay. I saw a canoe, and it was Dr. Bateman and couple of his aides. I think Sam Block was with him. He was coming up the Bay, and I was on the shore. I yelled as hard as I could and he couldnÕt hear me.  He was only 2-300 feet away. But the noise of the motor echoing across the Bay was too much for him to hear me.  So I went back up to higher ground again, and continued toward the head of the Bay. I picked up more samples from different lakes. I was in an area I didnÕt know; IÕd never been up there before. I thought I should cross the other side of the Glacier between Glacier Lake and Glacier Bay, to the West side of Glacier Lake, which is just north of Glacier Bay. Apparently this was all one fjord at one time. As there was a high spot in the middle, it eventually formed a separate Glacier Lake. I was on the west side of Glacier Lake at that time, and it was getting to be afternoon.  I thought I could drop down to Glacier Lake for a sample of the water from the high spot where I was. I then intended to go back south toward my drop off point, which was several miles away, maybe 10 miles. I started working my way back toward camp.  About 3-4 oÕclock, I got to the edge of Glacier Lake, and found it was just a sheer drop right down to the lake.  I thought there must be a path down there, so I looked for crevices and footholds and so forth. I made my way down about half way when there was only a sheer drop. There were no more footholds, or anything. And here I was with all this junk on my back. Coming back up again was a different story.  I tried to get back to my foothold, but there was just no way to do it, and to drop down to the lake below was 100 ft, a horrendous drop.  I started to get panicky because no one was near me; I wasnÕt in earshot of anyone.  Finally I saw a root sticking out. I grabbed that root, and it felt pretty firm.  I climbed up to the next foothold, and fortunately, I was able to make my way back to the top again.  But for a few minutes I was really worried; I couldnÕt go up, I couldnÕt go down; I was stuck. I decided to take the long way around and worked my way back to the place where I was supposed to meet the other fellows to take me home.  On the way it started to snow, became cold, and became a snowstorm. It didnÕt last too long, and it melted away.

 

Saturday, August 19th  We did more survey work the next day. I went up between Glacier Bay and Echo Bay opposite Mystery Island.  Today it was considerably warmer.  I got a chance to sample quite a few new lakes this day.  I came back home and continued to measure the conductivity of the lakes from which I had collected water.

 

Sunday, August 20th.  Again, it was a nice day, much warmer weather. As on all Sundays, we didnÕt have much to do so I wrote a letter to Anne. I spent some of the day working out the conductivity data I had taken the day before.

 

After August 20th , there was a week of bad weather.  At that point we were concerned that we would not get out before the freeze up of the lake.  As a result we quietly intensified our desire to leave. It was getting dark at 10 pm now, and I actually saw the Northern Lights.  There was not much work done the last week or so that we were at Port Radium.  It had already started to snow a little bit, but we were anxious that we would be stuck there if we did not get out before the ice formed.  So we went in to a leaving mode.  The company also did not want to pay us more than necessary, so they wanted us to leave promptly. We were informed at some point that we had to leave before ice formed in the water, because the plane would not be able to land.  We got our gear together and had it ready to go down by the wharf. 

 

We were informed on August 25th that we would be leaving the following day.  This did not happen. The planes were prevented in part from landing due to a forest fire several hundred miles south of us.  The smoke was bad, even up by us.  At times the weather was also too bad for a plane to land. We waited and waited, and eventually a plane came on Sept 7th, and we all jumped on.  We had at least 2, if not 3 refueling stops on the way down from Port Radium. We landed at Edmonton, and I caught the Canadian National Railroad 9:05 PM train back to Toronto on September 7th.

 

The purpose of the expedition had been to extend the vein already discovered at Port Radium.  Most of the summer, our efforts were unsuccessful.  In the final week we found a rich deposit of uranium near Cross Fault Lake.  It was so good that the company sunk a shaft to mine it the following year.  Of course, I didnÕt share in any of the profits.

 


 

Section II: Lake Athabasca, Canada Expedition-   Summer 1945

 

In the early spring of 1945 I had completed the water analysis research for thorium and uranium at the University of Toronto. This work was done on the water samples which I had collected during the summer before at Great Bear Lake.  We photographed electric current pulses produced in an ion chamber, each element having a distinctive pattern of peak heights. The results were not as satisfactory as I had hoped, but some interesting information was obtained.  I wrote a report and presented it to the Eldorado Mining and Refining Co. (In the 1920Õs the company was started to produce radium, which was sought after for its medical properties).  Uranium was considered to be a useless by-product and was thrown out in vast piles. Radium was isolated by selective crystallization in large vats of liquid. Around 1940-1949 uranium became the main product.  It just so happens that Mr. Richard Murphy, head of exploration for the company at that time, was organizing a group to explore the area above the north shore of Lake Athabasca during the coming summer. Some time earlier he had found a piece of uraninite while prospecting north of the lake, and he wished to find the source.   The party was to consist of about 14 men: 5 Geiger Counter technicians, 2 geologists, 2 cooks, and 5 laborers. 

 

I was asked to be in charge of the Geiger Counter Survey Team, and to train the men in the operation of the equipment and survey techniques. At first I was reluctant to do this, for I knew that once I was in the bush there would be no opportunity to go to Mass and take care of my religious duties.  However, after conferring with my religious advisor, I gladly accepted.  I also accepted willingly because the pay was good, and I had a substantial bill at the University.  The plans were made, and the party was scheduled to meet in Edmonton, Alberta, the first week in May. I was to leave Toronto on May 1st.

 

During the rest of the school term, I studied for my exams.  I found one course particularly difficult and did not see how I could pass with my poor mathematical background.  When the exam schedule came out, this subject was the last examination, set for a date after May 1st!  Fortunately I was excused from the exam on the grounds of the importance of the work I was to undertake.  That was a lucky break (the Grace of God) for I really did not know the subject (Mathematical Principles of Physics) too well.

 

Two weeks before leaving I started to get my gear together for the north.  I already had my sleeping bag from the year before.  As we had to fly, the rest of my equipment consisted mainly of a few clothes, which I also had from the year before. I also took my geology pick, magnifying glass, pocket notebooks, and a pith helmet.

 

May 1st finally arrived and I boarded the Transcontinental Canadian Pacific train out of Toronto that night.  While on the train I met Mr. Hal Leitch, the chief of the party.  He was a geologist from Queens University.  I soon found out he was my boss.

 

Things in Europe were happening at a great rate about this time.  During the first morning on the train news came that Hitler was dead.  Just out of Winnipeg on May 3rd word came that Goebbels had committed suicide, and that the German army in Italy had surrendered.  The end of Germany looked near, but the Japanese war was still in full swing.

 

I arrived in Edmonton on May 4rth.  It was my birthday, but I had little time to celebrate.  We started to make arrangements with the Northern Transportation Co. (a front name for the organization which arranged all the expeditions into the Northwest Territories to search for uranium) to get our supplies north. We were destined for a disappointment, however.  A report came that a warm spell at Lake Athabasca had made the ice treacherous for a plane landing on skies, and we would have to wait from 3 to 4 weeks until the ice broke up to land on pontoons.

 

I tried to get hotel accommodations but without avail.  After pounding the leather for a couple of days, Hal Leitch and I finally found a boarding house, The Villa Laurier, where I stayed for the next few weeks until I left Edmonton. The Villa was a boarding house for single men.

 

The next few weeks found us quite busy.  We organized the various groups in the party, bought supplies and clothing, and had everything in readiness for the day when we would receive word that the ice had broken up.

 

To fill in the time while in Edmonton I took the Geiger group, none of which had ever been uranium prospecting before, to a large open part of the country on the south side of Canada Packers Co.  I briefed them on the expected type of country, the geology, etc., and we felt fairly well prepared to start a radioactivity survey.

 

Before I came to Edmonton I served Mass every morning in Toronto at the Precious Blood Monastery near Saint Michaels College. When they learned that I was going to Edmonton they notified their monastery in Edmonton that I would drop in for a visit on my way up north.  When I dropped by they gave me the red carpet treatment and asked me to serve Mass as long as I was in Edmonton.  I was elated to get a chance to attend daily Mass.  It was wonderful since the Villa Laurier was within walking distance of the Monastery.

 

About the 27th of May we received word that the ice was out of the Athabasca River, and that we could go by plane as far as Fort McMurry, the northern terminus of the railroad at the junction of the Clearwater and Athabasca Rivers.  Our gear was soon packed and we left at 6 AM on the 29th of May.  We traveled some 20 or 30 miles from Edmonton by car to Cooking Lake, a small lake SE of Edmonton which is used as a seaplane base.  When we arrived, the pilot and mechanic were just finishing overhauling the motor on land.  Being anxious to go we all helped put things back together again.  My specific job was to bolt the cover plates on the bottom side of the fuselage, and I made doubly sure that every bolt was tight.  Having put everything in order, we wheeled the plane into the water, tested the motor, and proceeded to load the baggage.  The take-off was about 11 AM, and we arrived in Fort McMurry sometime in the early afternoon.

 

The plane trip was the first for many of us and enthusiasm was running high.  Every one of us had our eyes glued on the changing terrain below.  Just north of Edmonton the country was like a huge checker board of farms.  Gradually the roads became narrow and winding, the farms were several miles apart, and finally we gazed down on real wilderness.  At Lac la Biche there was a small settlement and then wilderness again.  Suddenly the wilderness came to an abrupt end, and we could see a bustling little town below – Fort McMurry at last. (May 21st).

 

Fort McMurry was really a dual town.  The southern part of the village was called Waterways and was centered about the head of the rail line.  Three miles north along a dirt road was Fort McMurry.  Here, by the banks of the shallow Snye River, which connected the Clearwater and the Athabasca River, was a seaplane base, a hundred or so ramshackle dwellings, the Royal Mounted Police post, and, of course, the army establishment.

 

We landed on the Snye River in a cold damp drizzle.  All of us were anxious to stretch our legs after a cramped plane trip.  We unloaded our gear because we were to stay at the hotel in the town for a day or so until the pilot flew to Lake Athabasca to make sure there was a break in the ice large enough for the pontoon plane to land.  We piled our baggage on a small service truck and made for the one and only hotel.  The hotel was a two story frame structure with the conventional wooden porch facing the unpaved dirt main street.

 

We paraded into the hotel with our sleeping bags, Geiger counters, and all the rest of our equipment. I talked with the proprietor whom I knew from the year before.  We were disappointed when he said he was sorry, but he did not have any room.  They would have to put us up in the hotel annex out in back.  Upon being told this, we picked up our baggage and followed him out through a dirty fenced-in yard strewn with fire wood and chips.  He showed us a beat-up old one story frame house with two rooms.  The rooms were furnished with several beds, a chair or two, and a wood stove.  Shortly after we unloaded our equipment, two Indian girls brought us some firewood which we put to immediate use.  Apparently the annex had not been used for some time and it was very damp.

 

After we rested and were warmed up, it was about time for supper.  None of us had very much money on our persons, but before leaving Edmonton I was given a letter from the Eldorado Mining and Refining Co. stating that the company would stand behind any expenses we incurred during the trip and which were authorized by myself.  I found this letter very useful.  It bought us all our meals and lodging, and indeed was just like a pocket full of money.

 

Previously, we had been advertising in the Edmonton papers for laborers to accompany us.  As this was war time, no one who was fit was available: everyone was either in the military or otherwise employed.  Frustrated in our efforts, we contacted the local jail, and requested men who had shown good behavior to be allowed to be hired for this job.  As I recall, we hired four or five men, Herb being the name of one of them.

 

That night (May 21st) we all turned in early for, it was a very exciting and tiring day for most of us.  Lee Godby, one of the Geiger Survey team, threw a large log on the fire just before we went to sleep to keep it going all night.  Unfortunately he forgot to close the draft.  Sometime later that night I woke up feeling warm.  I was immediately alerted by the smell of smoke.  As I looked about me I noticed my blanket on fire, and the stove was red hot.  I shouted to several of the fellows, and we cooled down the stove with some water.  That was the only event that night. It sure was all that we needed.

 

The next day the weather was bright and clear, but still very cold, probably too cold for the ice to break up farther north, I thought.  These thoughts were confirmed around 10 AM when word came that the ice was still intact.  We would have to wait in Fort McMurry for several days at least.  That was a great disappointment, for we were all anxious to get ŅnorthÓ.

 

Having resigned ourselves to being grounded for a few days, we decided to make the most of it.  We donned our boots, picked up our Geigers, and headed for the bush just outside of Fort McMurry for a little practice exploration.(May 24th)   We wanted to see what the country was like around the town.  Just behind the hotel was a winding dirt road which went up the small mountain in back of the town. We started along the road up the hill and walked for about ¾ of a mile.  The wilderness broke rather suddenly, and in a little valley below was what appeared to be a very active industrial plant.  On further investigation we learned that it was a government experimental refinery which was being used to extract oil out of the tar sands which abounded in the whole countryside.  After identifying ourselves we were allowed admission into the plant and the surrounding compound.  A guide showed us all the various operations and the crude oil which was being extracted.  Ironically enough, while we were there, the men were going through a practice fire drill.  I learned later that three weeks after we were there the whole establishment burned to the ground.  On our way home we stopped at a house belonging to one of the employees to get a drink of water from the well.  The sled dogs in the yard were lounging around for they were on vacation until the next winter.

 

That night was uneventful.  After a hearty supper in the local hash house, I walked up the road to the village church.   The next day was First Friday, and I thought it would be a good idea to get to Mass and Communion once more, for soon I wouldnÕt be able to go.  I inquired at the priestÕs house, and a short little priest who spoke with a broken French accent heard my confession.

 

The next day, June 1st, I arose earlier than the rest of the fellows in order to go to Mass.  It was a clear but cold morning.  The little chapel was about half full of people.  Half-way up the wide center aisle was a long cylindrical wood stove which sputtered and smoked all through the service.  The chapel was rough with little by the way of decorations other than on the altar.  The seats were rough benches made of simple slats much like park benches, and the walls were of rough unpainted wood.  Despite all this simplicity, however, this was a touch of regal splendor compared to the dilapidated structures that were typical of the town.  It so happened that at that time the Bishop of the Northwest Territories was visiting the parish, and he said the Mass.  It was very beautiful to see these poor parishioners do their very best to make the service nice.

 

After Mass I noticed a priest kneeling in the last pew of the chapel.  As I went to leave, he approached me and talked as if he knew me.  It was the same priest who heard my confession the night before.  His name was Father Chounard.  We had a long chat.  He knew several priests whom I knew, and was a particular friend of the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Edmonton who treated me so well several weeks before.  He liked his work and was really in love with the Northwest.  He insisted that I see his garden and hot house.  We became so friendly after I took such an interest in his pet hobby that he further insisted that I stay for breakfast.  To my surprise instead of taking me to the priestsÕ house he ushered me into a small new brick edifice next to the chapel.  He explained that this was the new hospital he had just built.  We went all through its several rooms and then went into the basement where a man served us our breakfast.  It must have been 9:30 AM before I left and the rest of the fellows were wondering what had happened to me.

 

After they had finished breakfast in the local beanery, Lee Godby and I walked down to the Snye River where the plane was based in order to get the latest information about the weather.  As we had surmised, the ice had not yet broken up, and we would have to wait a few more days.  On the way back to the hotel we came across two horses which probably belonged to one of the inhabitants.

 

That afternoon several of us decided to go to Waterways, the railhead, a small settlement 3 miles down the road. As I recall, we got a ride with one of the men staying at the hotel.  He wanted to pick up a package at the train station.  When we arrived it was a sight to behold.  The station was fairly large, 90% consisting of a large freight shed.  In front of the station were several sets of tracks which gradually converged into a single track.  On one track was the train which had come in that morning.  It was one of the two trains per week that arrived in Waterways from Edmonton, and boy, was it old! IÕm sure some of the cars at one time shared the same sunlight that fell on eager prospectors in the famous gold rush of the 1890Õs. The cars were all of wood with fancy gold painted molding. They must have been the real thing in their day.  There were even stained glass leaded windows in the sleepers, of course, complete with gas lamps.

 

After nosing about the settlement and taking in the goods at the general store, Lee and I started back.  We werenÕt long walking, however, when we thumbed down an army jeep.  The soldier and his husky took the front seat while Lee and I occupied the rear one.  With this mode of transportation it wasnÕt long before we arrived at the hotel again.  That night we retired early as we had walked a good deal. We were just getting used to what was to come, and were gradually getting hardened to long hikes.

 

June 2nd. After breakfast the next morning Lee and I again made our pilgrimage to the Snye River to get the weather report.  Again we were disappointed.  Rather than go back by the road we decided to explore the river shore a little while.  We walked along the Snye River bank toward the Clearwater River to where it meets the Athabasca River, near the Army base.  Along the shore were several shipping docks for small river craft, and near the Army base was a large field on which was stored several large oil storage drums intended for the Canol Oil Project at Fort Norman to the north.  After duly inspecting the tanks we turned inland, and soon hit the road between Waterways and Fort McMurray.  There being no traffic on the road, we were unable to get a ride, and we walked back to the hotel in Fort McMurray.

 

Sometime after supper that night word spread through the group that there was going to be a movie at the hall across the road from the town drug store. Shortly before the show I met Dr. Fred Joliffe, a government geologist who was an authority on that part of the country, and who we were to see much more of before the summer was over.  We talked over the geology of the Athabasca tar sands and speculated on how they occurred.  After the show we talked shop for a short time and then hit the hay.

     

As I recall, the next day, June 3rd, was a Sunday and I was able to go to Mass.  The weather was fine and the sun was extraordinarily hot.  After lunch it seemed the whole town turned out to see the local ball game.  It took place in an open field at one end of the town.  Sides were chosen and soon the game was under way.  The excited enthusiasm of the townspeople was like listening to a crowd cheering at a big league game.   Everything depended on winning that game, and it seemed the whole town showed up.

   

Shortly after supper word came from the pilot, Alf Caywood, that the ice was starting to become pock-marked, and showed signs of melting in some places.  Needless to say the next morning we were all packed shortly after breakfast in case word of the breakup came.  Alf Caywood and Hal Leitch took off early Monday morning and flew to Lake Athabasca to try and find a landing spot.  It wasnÕt long before Alf came back with the good news.  There was a crack in the ice large enough to land the plane safely.

 

In a flash we were back at the hotel telling the rest of the gang to get ready to pull out.  We loaded our gear onto a truck, and drove to the plane landing at the Snye River.  There was so much stuff the plane would have to make several trips.  My turn came on the third trip. Just before we got aboard, the pilot gathered us together and informed us the copilot was sick and couldnÕt make the trip.  Further he said it was Canadian law that all flights had to have a copilot for safety.  He then looked around at the bunch of us, and to my surprise stared at me.  ŅFrankÓ, he said, Ņyou flew with me last year on the way to Port Radium. YouÕll be the copilot for the trip.Ó I thought to myself – IÕd only been in a plane twice in my life and now all of a sudden IÕm a copilot. Anyway, I got in the front seat with the pilot, put on the earphones and acted like I knew what I was doing. The plane was so loaded we could hardly take off.  I sat in front with the pilot, and operated the fin guides on the floats after we left the water.  It was quite a thrill, but I was really scared – too much responsibility, too soon.

 

We flew on the east side of the Athabasca River such that we could just see the river in the distance.  Here and there, the monotonous spread of white snow was broken by high ground, trees, etc. The area about 25 miles south of the south shore of Lake Athabasca was a small desert.  The snow had all melted and the sand had become clearly visible for several miles.  Just north of this was a belt of uncovered ground and then more snow.  It looked very peculiar to see such large amounts of snow and sand together.

 

Eventually we learned that the ice had opened up enough in the area north of us to land a plane. It wasnÕt long before we were over Lake Athabasca.  The plane crossed the north shore at Strike Point, passing between the ghost town of Goldfields and Halfmoon Island. We then turned eastward over Cornwall Bay and then on over Mackintosh Bay.  It was our original intention while still in Edmonton to make our base camp at the end of Cornwall Bay. This decision was made because a small piece of pitchblende had been found nearby by Dick Murphy the year before.  However the ice was still thick in that area and we could not land.  As we passed out over Mackintosh Bay I noticed a huge crack in the ice and a space of open water through the ŅnarrowsÓ near the centre of the Bay.  The plane had already started to lose altitude and soon we went skimming over the water, just missing the ice at the edge of the open water.

 

The plane taxied up to the shore on a small peninsula near the narrows.  On the shore were a pile of packing cases and several excited men from our group who had landed there some hours before from the same plane.  After the plane was safely secured by ropes, all hands helped to unload her of what was now our most precious gear and supplies.  As soon as this task was done the pilot was off again for the final load.

 

While the plane was gone we weatherized the supplies on the beach with a tarpaulin and erected two tents within walking distance of the proposed campsite. One of the fellows undertook to prepare a meal since the cook was to join the party at a later date.  Until he arrived, Jim Lomax volunteered to take over the kitchen duties and did a good job at it.  It was no small job trying to bake bread out in the open.  For the lack of better accommodations we used a couple of planks set on tree stumps for a table.  Before we knew it the plane was back with the last of the supplies.

 

While the pilot was eating I hastily scratched out a letter to Anne.  It was the last letter I was able to send for a long time.

 

According to the plans, about June 10th we were left food enough for 3 to 4 weeks, and the plane was to return with fresh supplies at the end of this time.  We were to establish a temporary camp at the north shore of Lake Athabasca south of Fishhook Bay until the ice broke up, and then we were to move by boat, piloted and owned by one of the natives, Ed Cody, around Moose Island to some point in Cornwall Bay. It was our intention to do most of our prospecting around this latter location because of the small piece of pitchblende which was found there the year before.

 

After a good supper that night we started to think about where we were going to sleep for the night.  Our first task was to erect a large round white canvas tent in the centre of the peninsula on a fairly large plot of flat ground.  Just outside the tent were the crude dinner table and a temporary fire place.  Armed with axes we cut many small tender branches from the jack pines in the area, and used these to make rough mattresses.  Over these we laid our sleeping bags.  Each of us was allotted a small space in the big tent on which to place our pine branches and sleeping bag.  Somehow or another there was room enough in the one tent for the whole party, although things were a little crowded.

 

The next morning, June 11th, we arose about 6 AM after an excellent nightÕs sleep – my first on pine branches.  We took turns fetching water from the bay to cook and wash with.  We all washed from the same bowl – there was nothing fancy about this life. After a hearty breakfast of oatmeal, bacon and eggs, we all set to work to organize and build up the camp.  Several of the men and I set up one of the smaller tents on the bay side of the large tent (Number 4, Figure 1) , while several others set up a similar tent on the shore side (Number 2, Figure 1).  All around the surrounding ground was our equipment, packing boxes of food, etc. Several hundred yards away some of the fellows dug a pit several feet wide and about two deep.  Just above this was a light log nailed horizontally between two trees.  Such a combination was our latrine (Number 1, Figure 1).  The layout of our camp was something like this:

 

 Diagram of campsite at Fishhook Bay.

 

 

 

Most of our first day was spent in preparing the camp, and hauling the food and equipment from the beach to the storage tent.

 

June 12th. On the second day we started to get restless for some real prospecting.  I consulted our maps and laid a plan with the aid of the geologists, Hal Leitch and Mike Mikalovitch.  We would spend the next few days running Geiger Counter measurement surveys in the near vicinity to see what we could find.  Depending on our results we would go further afield.

 

According to our plan we divided the territory immediately around the camp into sections, and each Geiger team surveyed one of these.  For two or three days we walked up and down the terrain about the camp, but the Geigers did not show abnormally high radioactivity. There were no signs of large faulting, and the geology of the area appeared unfavorable for ore deposition.  According to our map the situation was much the same for several miles inland – too far to be able to return to camp the same day.  Several of us therefore decided to make a special trip due north of the camp to a small lake called Bearcat Lake.  We took food for three days, sleeping bags, and two Geiger counters.  Two of the fellows, Ron Robertson and Jim Lomax, were to go directly to the west arm of the lake, and set up a camp on the north shore.  Norm Duncan and I were to go by a more round-about route, and meet the others early in the afternoon in time for lunch.  The first group carried the bulk of the food, and sleeping bags plus one Geiger counter, while Norm and I each carried a Geiger.  Norm also carried a small amount of food, and I carried a small tent.

 

June 13th.  About 10 AM as Norm and I were prospecting along a low ridge, I thought it would be better if we separated, and thus could cover more territory with our Geigers.  I therefore went into the valley while he continued along the ridge.  According to our plans I was to come up to the ridge again, and meet him when we reached the end of the range of hills.

 

After I had been walking for about fifteen minutes in the valley I ran into a bog with about one foot of standing water and very dense tall vegetation.  Just before I entered the bog I shouted to Norm and he yelled back.  So far everything was as planned.  As I went deeper into the underbrush I had to search for high spots, rocks and fallen logs to keep out of the deeper water.  I concentrated so much on my path that I apparently became twisted in my direction.  When I emerged from the other side of the swamp I yelled to Norm again to see if we were still together.  Everything was quiet.  I wondered at this, but decided that he must be just out of earshot.  When going through brush it is easy to miss some extraneous noise which may be camouflaged by your own scraping against branches.  I therefore turned and started up the slope facing me.

 

According to my calculations, Bearcat Lake should be just on the other side of this hill, or not far beyond.  It took me about twenty minutes to reach the top. As I was crossing the summit I heard a loud commotion a few feet from me.  I was startled greatly and turned quickly.  As I did so a big bird flew up and away.  It relieved me to know that it was only a bird and not a bear.  Examination of the rock showed a fairly large nest and an egg or two.

 

When I reached a point where I could see into the valley on the other side, my heart sank.  It was dry and I could see no lake.  On the other side of the valley, however, was another hill.  I examined my map at the point where I thought I was.  There was a bare chance that the lake was on the other side of the next ridge instead of this one.  I thought it worth trying anyway.

 

The thing that bothered me was – where was Norm?  I waited and rested a few minutes, yelling periodically.  Receiving no answer to my signals, I lit one of my signal firecrackers.  Again, there was no answer.

 

I climbed down the rough terrain into the next valley and up the opposite slope to the next ridge.  My legs were getting tired, and it was well after noon.  I began to feel the pangs of hunger, but I managed to stave it off by eating my field rations of dried apples and raisins.  Half way up the slope I took a long rest before proceeding to the top of the ridge.

 

I reached the summit about 2:30 PM, and when I looked into the valley there was no sign of a lake.  On the far side of the valley I could see a small stream followed by a rocky slope of another ridge.  I lit another firecracker hoping to hear some sign of the other fellow.  There was an awful stillness, and for the first time I began to have a fear of being lost.  I realized this was a dangerous emotion to have under these circumstances and tried to dispel it. I consulted my map again, and finally decided I must be well off the map.  Nothing I saw about me corresponded with the map.  Since I was thirsty I thought I had better go as far as the stream to get some water.  This took me about a half an hour or so as I had to climb down into the valley.  As I leaned over to take a drink, my skinning knife, which I had foolishly put in my shirt pocket, dropped into the water.  In a flash I realized it was my only means of defense, and if I was lost I might be in great need of it.  I must make every effort to retrieve it, I thought.  The current carried it downstream as soon as it hit the water.  I watched it for a minute through the clear water, and then suddenly it vanished.  As it was quite heavy I knew it was not far downstream.  I jumped off the fallen log on which I was perched and landed on the bank.  Here I unshackled my Geiger counter and my pack.  Being a little more limber without my load I went downstream several feet to where there were a few rocks.  Working my way back and jumping from rock to rock I stared into the bottom of the stream, covering every square foot along the probable path of the knife.  Finally I caught a glimpse of it.  The brown handle blended well with the stream bottom.  After several attempts I managed to fish it out with a stick.  Somehow or another that knife gave me some assurance or feeling of security, although it would be as if nothing against any large game.

 

Returning to the bank I strapped my gear onto my back and wondered what I would do next.  It was apparent that the stream was flowing from considerably higher ground up the valley.  It was just possible that it was the outlet of Bearcat Lake.  I followed it for some distance, but exhaustion was fast getting hold of me.  Several times I stumbled flat to the ground and had to rest five or ten minutes before going on.  Although I tried to contain myself, my weakness tended to make me panicky.  I looked at my watch.  It was 4 PM. I had been walking for seven hours with little to eat.  Even if I knew my way back I could not get there until late at night and without food I was too weak to go much further.  At this point I rested for nearly half an hour.  I thought that maybe I was nearer to the rest of the fellows than I realized.  It was worth a firecracker to find out. When I reached in my pocket for another firecracker I was astonished that I only had two left.  I fired one, but heard no answer.  What would I do now? I did not want to stay there all night, but reconciled myself to the fact that I might have to.  Again I looked at my map.  As before, nothing corresponded.  However, I did notice that just N and E of Bearcat Lake was a large mass of granite.  According to the map it was pink granite.  There was no such rock about me, nor had I seen any all day.  When I looked due south from my present position I noticed a little patch of pink outcrop among the trees on a peak a mile or so way.  Could this be the same pink granite mass?  It was worth taking a chance.  Full of fresh hope I gathered up my gear and made for the pink granite.  After an hour of walking I reached the bare outcrop.  From this point I thought I saw water in the distance between the branches of the trees.  Excitedly I fished out my last firecracker.  The blast was only a few minutes old when I heard the welcoming bang of a similar explosion some distance beyond.  Never had a sound given me new strength as that did.

 

After going several hundred yards toward the sound, I yelled and Ron Robertson and Norm Duncan answered.  A few minutes later I stumbled into their camp on the edge of the lake and flopped dead tired on to the ground.  I was so exhausted I couldnÕt even get my own grub.  After eating and resting an hour or so I was back to normal and a little worse for the wear.

 

Sometime around 9 PM we started to get ready for some shut-eye.  Somehow or another there were only two sleeping bags for Ronny, Norm and Jim.  This fazed them little, however, as they soon had a lean-to constructed and the three of them managed to cram into the two sleeping bags which were arranged in tandem.  I was fortunate in having a silk teepee and a light summer weight sleeping bag which I had borrowed from Hal Leitch before we left.  The teepee was so small that with the sleeping bag in place I hardly had enough room for my gear.  Since it was still light out (11 PM) I decided I had better write up my notes while I had time.  Tomorrow promises to be a busy day exploring new territory and I would get little time for writing.  The mosquitoes and black flies were so bothersome I had to wear my net continuously. The rest of the fellows meanwhile had retired under their fly bar (large mosquito net) and attempted to get some sleep.

 

After I had finished my notes, I was pretty tired, especially after my experiences in the earlier part of the day.  I went to sleep quickly but not for long.  As soon as it became twilight it got cold.  It got so cold that I had to get up and dress fully (except for my boots) and then got back into my sleeping bag.  In short, I had a miserable night with little more than a rest.

 

Morning came at last (June 14th).  We arose about 6:30 AM. I was so thoroughly chilled I was glad to get up and warm myself by the fire. After a good breakfast we decided it would be best to get together and plan our work for the day.  From the maps it was evident that the north shore of Bearcat Lake and for some distance north was a large massive pink granite intrusion.  From previous experience I expected this to be barren, but the granite contact might be worth while investigating.  We therefore decided to spend a day or so along the southern contact of the giant granite mass to see if we could pick up any activity in the area where the granite met the adjacent usual rocks of the area, since the uranium tended to be located at the juncture of two rock types.  Having decided upon this, we checked the Geigers and took enough food for lunch.  The rest of the gear we left at the camp.

 

Shortly after we started, the bare pink granite hills became visible.  As there were three Geigers in the group we split to make the most effective use of the instruments.  Jim Lomax took the western part of the contact, Norm Duncan took the eastern part and Ron Robertson and I took the central portion.  About 11 AM we had found some abnormal activity.  The Geiger registered 2 to 3 times background counting.  Ron and I put on full steam and in a few minutes we were within sight of Norm about halfway up the next hill.  About this time we heard a firecracker from Jim Lomax.  He was near the top of another hill and by chance we were in direct sight.  He signaled to us that he also had found some activity and was going to eat lunch alone without joining us.  After acknowledging his signal, Ron and I proceeded to NormÕs position.  By the time we arrived he had pulled the loose rock out of a crevice and had made a hole about a foot deep.  To be sure there was a small amount of anomalous activity but we couldnÕt localize it.  It did not come from the crevice only, for the pile of rocks we took out of the crevice was also active.  The only difference we could notice was that this granite was coarser and more like pegmatite than that in the rest of the granite mass.  We spent about an hour investigating the anomaly and then ate our lunch.  We decided not to waste any more time as the activity, although mildly interesting, certainly was not important. Jim Lomax joined us about this time and reported several spots he had found which were similar to this.  Later on in the afternoon several more active spots were found but nothing of great interest.

 

We started back for camp about 4:15 PM or so.  Instead of retracing our steps we took a route which led us indirectly from the north.  As usual we did not walk in a group but traveled about 50 feet apart in order to obtain the most effective coverage with our instruments.  Just before we reached the camp, Norm Duncan yelled to attract our attention.  This time he found a somewhat more active anomaly.  It was a micaceous pegmatite bearing some active material and was interesting but again was not important.  I gathered some samples and then we all proceeded to the camp.

 

 After a big supper eaten mainly out of tin cans we felt pretty good again.  All we needed was a good hot bath.  In order to get the next best thing we took a sponge bath at the lakeshore.  The water was like ice.  As a matter of fact there was still ice floating around at one end of the lake.

 

About this time of the evening a shout was heard several hundred feet away in the bush.  We yelled back and in a few minutes a tired figure stumbled out of the bush.  It was Lee Godby from our base camp with extra and badly needed bedding and supplies.  After he was somewhat revived with some solid food the five of us got together to discuss our next dayÕs work.  It was agreed that from what we had seen from this dayÕs work, that the geology was extremely unfavorable for any important pitchblende deposits and that rather than waste time we should move out of the area.  As the night was still young we decided to pull up stakes immediately and start out. By forcing ourselves to keep going, we could reach base camp before midnight.  Having agreed on this we pushed as quickly as we could and started back along the high ridge south of Bearcat Lake.  It was a tiring hike as each of us was over-loaded with gear and supplies.  We rested several times on the way back from near exhaustion. Finally, sometime later we dragged ourselves into camp.  No persuasion was needed to hit the old sleeping bags that night.  It sure felt good and there was a feeling of security to be back at camp again.

 

One day about June 17th a plane arrived with Dick Murphy, our boss at Eldorado Mining and Refining Co. He came to assess how the expedition was going.  First, he checked in with Hal Leitch. Unfortunately Hal did not have any detailed notes to show what he had done. Next he came to me. I showed him my detailed notes and map of radioactive high spots which we had observed.  Later that day he called us aside and told us that Hal would be going to Edmonton and that I was in charge of the research group.  I was shocked at the responsibility I had suddenly acquired.  However we proceeded with work as usual.

 

The next couple of days were spent in making a thorough check of the area within a couple of milesÕ radius of the camp.  Ron Robertson and Norm Duncan took an old road north of camp, while Jim Lomax and I surveyed the outcrops adjacent to the camp.

 

June 18th.About 10 AM we heard a lot of shouting in the direction of the base camp. We knew that Al (cook) and Andy (cookÕs helper) were there, relaxing and having a little fun between the meals.  According to our plans all workers were to return to base camp that day for lunch.  About noon they started to arrive and took their places at the table.  Andy usually waited on table, but I noticed he was not present.  The cook did not know where he was and hadnÕt seen him for about two hours.  I became concerned.  Al noted that one of the canoes was missing at the dock.  Now I was really worried.  I told the rest of the fellows to stop lunch and we quickly organized some search parties.  Opposite the camp were two small islands.  We put two guys into two canoes.  They were to go around each island and shout back if they were any signs of Andy.   In a few minutes there was a shout that they found AndyÕs hat in the water on one side of one of the islands.  We then reorganized the rest of the men into 3 canoes and explored the deeper water off the one island where his hat was found.  Someone of the fellows spotted Andy lying on the bottom in the cold water.  It was about 10-12 feet deep, very clear and cold.  His hands were curled as if he had hung onto the canoe until he passed out.  We made a lasso from some rope we found in one of the canoes.  One of the fellows volunteered to dive in and put it around one of AndyÕs ankles.  After bringing him back to the dock, we laid him back in the cold shallow water to preserve the body as much as possible.  By this time it was time for supper and we all pitched in to clean up the lunch and prepare supper.

 

While all this was going on I was becoming concerned about AndyÕs spiritual welfare – particularly baptism.  As he lay in the water I baptized him conditionally.  Although I didnÕt know it at the time, medicine has determined that drowning victims are still alive if kept very cold, and can be revived if they are warmed very carefully and slowly.  This gives me great comfort that my effort was for the best.

 

At this point I remembered that any death in the Northwest Territories in the bush had to be reported immediately to the Royal Mounted Police.  We had no radio transmitter.  The nearest one we knew of was in an Indian village 30 to 50 miles away, as the crow flies.  The best we could do was to notify an official at Goldfields, about 20 miles away by water. Ed Cody, the owner of our small boat, The Bearcat, agreed to take me to Goldfields so we could notify the Mounted Police.  By this time it was fairly late, about 7 PM, when I set out with him for Goldfields.  It was dusk and we couldnÕt see very well, so I sat on the bow of the boat, my feet hanging over the edge, so I could see the rocks in the water.  It was about 10 PM before we could get the message through that Andy had died.  The officer transmitted the message to the Mounted Police. In the meantime, not wishing to waste time in Goldfields, we headed back to the camp.  We were about halfway back, when a Mounted Police plane swooped down over us, raced its engines and waved its wings back and forth.  This mystified us, but later on we found out this was to notify us that they had already picked up the body and were transporting it back to civilization. Needless to say, AndyÕs death put a damper on our enthusiasm. However, we tried to carry on normally.

 

One day our laborers and Mike Miklovitch had a disagreement.  Mike was frightened of them, as they had threatened him.  So he took a canoe and spent the night out on the lake.  The next morning, when I first heard of this, I confronted the laborers, and indicated that we all had to get along.  They countered by handing me a glass of moonshine, in an attempt to ease things.  I was flabbergasted and demanded to know where they got it.  They told me that the cook had saved the potato peelings, hid them in a gasoline drum, and fermented them out in the bush.  I made them dump it out. The laborers said they wouldnÕt bother Mike again.

 

Since we had no communication with the outside world, I built a one tube radio on an old cheese box we had. At least we had news with this rig.

 

About the 12th of August, we turned on our Geiger counters and realized that there was radiation on our sleeping bags, food, table, equipment; in short, all over the place. We didnÕt know what to make of it. The radiation lasted 2-3 days. Days later we learned the big news about the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. At this point we excitedly surmised that this was what we were working on.  The bombs went off on August 6th and 9th, but it had taken several days for us to get the news. When we heard about the bombs, we realized that our camp was downwind from Nagasaki, and we were observing the fallout from that bomb.

 

We realized that the war was coming to an end, so we needed to finish and wind up our work there.  Our goal was to pack up and get out by September 1st. Some of the men were to leave about Sept 2.

 

As I was in charge, I was the last person scheduled to leave. The night before we were to leave one of the laborers, Harold Webster, got very sick, possibly with appendicitis.  We scheduled him on the next plane, but the weather was so bad, freezing rain and high wind, the plane couldnÕt land.  He kept getting sicker by the day, and the best we could do was to keep him warm.  Finally, about 1 PM, on Sept 9th, a plane landed and I sent him and seven others out on that flight.  Sometime later I heard that he had died. That left five of us to keep camp in freezing rain with hurricane force winds. The weather continued to be bad for several days, so no plane could land. About September 16th there was a break in the weather and we finally took off from Fish Hook Bay. The weather was still so bad we had to land on the way.  The lake we landed on proved to be too short for a takeoff, so we unloaded part of the plane, and left some fellows on the shore so the plane would be lighter and could lift off with a shorter takeoff. The pilot took off for a larger lake just south of there, and came back later to pick up the rest of us.  The weather continued to be bad enough that we couldnÕt take off from the large lake, so we took shelter with a family in the area for the night.  The next day we took off and landed in Cooking Lake, north of Edmonton.

 

On this expedition we had found about 160 sites of radioactivity.  The readings and the size of the areas proved to be too small to justify a commercial operation.

 

I had my ticket back home was on the Canadian Pacific train to Toronto.  As luck would have it, I missed the train by 15 minutes, so was forced to get on the Canadian National train, which was going to Montreal.  As it happened, when I arrived in Winnipeg, the Canadian Pacific was just about ready to pull out, so I quickly gave the tickets back to the conductor and ran full blast to catch the Canadian Pacific, thereby saving myself a trip to Montreal.

 


 

Section III: The First Nuclear Bomb Test at the Nevada Test Site, Project Ranger – January 1951

 

I received the PhD from the University of Toronto in Geophysics late in 1947.  My first job was with the Canadian Department of Mines and Technical Services.  My initial assignment was to organize and set-up a Nuclear Geology Laboratory for the Canadian Government. I first devised a radon and thoron measurement ionization chamber to determine the thorium and uranium in rock samples. These tests took from a year to a year and a half to complete. During this time Professor Gaudin, head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Mineralogy Department, was visiting the Canadian Government.  He saw what I was doing, and came to me privately and asked if I wanted a job at MIT.  I said yes. Early in October 1949 I started post-doctoral research work at MIT in Cambridge MA.  My project was to improve the sensitivity of Geiger counters and apply them in nuclear techniques for ore exploration.  Late in December 1950, I was in the MIT lab testing some Geiger tubes that I had just made.  A messenger came to the door with a note from the Dean, for me to come to his office immediately.  You donÕt get a note like that from the Dean every day, so I made haste to reply.  He said that MIT had just received an urgent request from the Army to supply a person who had training in radioactivity, for a special secret project.  The Dean had told the Army there were only two people on staff who were qualified: Professor Rush Spedden and I. It was so secret that he couldnÕt tell me anything about it.  All he said was that it would take place far away for about 1 to 2 weeks and that I would be incommunicado.

 

During this conversation I told him that I was not sure I could take the job because my daughter had just been born a few months before, and my wife needed help.  He said that I could send my wife and baby home to her parents in Toronto, all expenses paid. That sounded reasonable and I would let him know in a few days.  This was taking place during the Korean War and I was guessing that the US was going to drop an A-bomb on Korea.  I considered it and thought that I had to be a good citizen and do my duty.  After discussing vague aspects of the project with my wife, we agreed that I should go.

 

On Monday, January 20th, I went to see the Dean and told him that I would take the job. He gave me a ticket and a sealed envelope from the Army with my orders.  Also, he gave me strict instructions not to tell anyone where I was going or what I was doing. I was very apprehensive not knowing what I was getting into.

 

 According to my orders, I was to go to Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), near Las Vegas.  On Thursday January 23rd, I put my wife Anne and my daughter Mary on the train for Toronto.  The next day I boarded a train for Las Vegas, NV. During the trip I got lonesome because I couldnÕt talk to anyone.  At one point, I finally went to the Observation Car, picked out an interesting person and started to talk.  He was very affable but very inquisitive.  I dodged a lot of questions, but I didnÕt tell him anything about my mission.

 

About 4 AM on Saturday the train pulled into Las Vegas.  I promptly registered in the Sal Sagev (Las Vegas spelled backwards!) Hotel.  After resting for a short while I went to Mass at a local church.  After Mass I took a cab to Nellis AFB. I was referred to an officer in a specific barracks. When I got to the barracks, the soldiers were just getting up. The man I needed to see was in the bathroom shaving, so I went in to talk to him.  He told me they had been waiting for me and I was to go to another barracks. When I knocked on the door of the other barracks, I could see the guard through the glass window, but he ignored me.  I could also see that there was another door that people could enter through on the other side of the building. I went there and waited until someone came by. I followed them in before the door closed (tailgated in).  Immediately the guard came after me.  I showed him my letter, and I was told to wait outside and that he would return.  A couple of minutes later, the officer I was supposed to see (dressed in civvies) came out with the letter. He told me to wait a couple of minutes while he got ready and he soon came out in a dress uniform. He apologized for the wait, and indicated for me to get into his car with him. We then drove off the base towards Las Vegas, all the while he said nothing.  After 5 minutes he turned to me and said he assumed that I was curious to know what this was all about.  I remember replying, ŅI sure as hell would like to know. Nobody has told me anything.Ó To my surprise he said ŅWeÕre planning to drop a series of A-bombs in the US. You have seen the signs along the road warning the local people about the impending military activity.Ó  After that we talked a little bit about the project, but not very much.  By this time we were approaching Las Vegas. Instead of going directly to the hotel, he had to make a stop first. We stopped at an old fashioned gasoline station where the pumps were right on the curb.  He asked me to go in with him. When he got in the building, the girl behind the counter recognized him immediately. She reached under the counter and pressed a button.  This opened a door to the back.  I had no idea where this went, but he beckoned me to come in with him. 

 

When I entered the room, there were 4 or 5 men working on the assembly of the atomic bomb and the arming mechanism.  I couldnÕt believe they were doing this in the middle of Las Vegas. He talked with one of the men. When they were finished with their business, he and I went out to his car again. He drove me over to the hotel, telling me to check out the next morning.  He also told me, after checking out, to go down the street from this hotel to another smaller hotel.   I was to go into the lobby of the smaller hotel and wait until I was approached.  So the next morning found me at the smaller hotel, luggage and all, waiting in the lobby. I noticed two other men who were also waiting, as I was.  Finally after a few minutes a big black limousine drove up to the hotel, and a lady got out with a pile of papers.  She approached one of the other men, talked with him, and then he left for the limousine.  The same happened with the second man. Finally it was my turn.  She asked my name and looked for my name on the papers.  She told me we were going to Indian Springs AFB, about 80-90 miles away. She said that I would be staying there.  She didnÕt tell me anything about the project.  I was then told to get into the limousine with the other men.  She later came down to the car and introduced us all to each other. We were to be informed later regarding what we were to do at the base.

 

It took an hour or two to get to the base.  We registered with the officials there, and we were told we didnÕt have to be back until the big meeting on Sunday night.  We met other people involved with the test that were on the base. It was Saturday night and I was concerned about getting to Mass the next morning.  I met a physicist from Los Alamos with a car who was also Catholic, and he agreed to take me to Mass the next morning.  After Mass he wanted to visit friends of his family, and invited me to go along.  These friends lived in Needles, California, which is about 80 miles through the desert, a long way.  We arrived before noon and were invited in to visit. After he introduced me to the couple of the house, we talked about the upcoming tests.  About mid afternoon, she invited us for supper. We declined because of the evening meeting we had to attend, so she prepared an early supper.  As she prepared the meal, using her best dishes, I noticed the painted decorations. These decorations had a particular hue of green that I recognized as uranium-containing paint produced at the Radium Refinery at Port Hope, Ontario Canada, where I had worked some years before.  At that time, uranium was a useless by-product of radium production, so they were trying to find a use for it in paint.  It was a long shot, but I thought it would be fun to get the Geiger counter out of the car to see if the plates were radioactive.  In short, I was playing a joke on my colleague physicist from Los Alamos. I turned the Geiger counter on while we were at the table. We got full scale readings from the plates. My colleague almost fell out of his seat.  I sure caused a ruckus that day. Our hostess wanted to transfer the supper to an old set of dishes that she had. We convinced her everything was alright and to continue to eat supper on her new plates. Immediately after dinner we returned to Indian Springs in time for the meeting at Control Point (centralized meeting location for the project, and project control area).

 

In the evening we assembled with other scientists at the Control Point Bunkhouse.  In this bunkhouse was a large meeting room, which would accommodate 15 to 20 persons.  We were told that the plan was to drop a bomb early the next morning. At the meeting it was decided that 4 or 5 of the scientists should go to St. George, UT in order to measure the fallout in the area from the bomb. This bomb was later revealed to be the bomb test called ABLE. I was one of the scientists sent to St George, UT.

 

The bomb would go off about 6 AM, probably to minimize fallout by local winds.  So we left immediately after the meeting for St. George, and spent the night there at a hotel.

 

The next morning, Monday, the bomb went off; the newspapers and all the residents were all abuzz.  We got into our cars, and used our Geiger counters with headphones to locate fall-out radiation in some of the small towns in the area. We all had lunch; then another fellow and I went to a town about 15-20 miles away to check out the possibility of radiation in that area. On the way we passed through Lund, UT which is so small it didnÕt have paved streets.  As we passed through the middle of the town, I heard a few successive clicks on the earphones.  I asked the driver to go back and then heard more successive clicks in the same area.   We stopped and after sweeping the area with my Geiger counter, we found a single patch of dirt emitting strong radioactivity. I scooped up this localized patch of radioactive dirt, folded it into a piece of paper and went back to the hotel late in the afternoon.  That evening I put newspaper on my dresser and spread the dirt out. I discovered that the radioactivity was coming from a single grain.  I was convinced that it was fallout from the bomb.  I measured the radioactive half-life of this particle. Although somewhat of a guess, the radioactivity appeared to come from zirconium, which was used in the bomb casing. I wrote a letter to the Manhattan Project authorities and attached the radioactive particle to the letter with a piece of Scotch Tape.  

 

Tuesday morning I got a message to return to the Control Point, by myself. I was told a plane would be sent for me.  At the time that the plane was to arrive, there was a severe storm at the Control Point.  It was so bad; they didnÕt think they could send a plane for me.  In spite of the storm, they sent the plane which landed about 2pm at St. George, where the weather was good. We all helped to knock the ice off the plane.  I was the only one who had to go back. To this day, I donÕt know why I was the only scientist directed to return to the Control Point.

 

We landed at Indian Springs AFB and were back at Control Point by late afternoon. At about 5pm there was a meeting at the Control Point.   We were told the results of the first two bombs, and what to expect for the next bomb, which would be about 8 kilotons (significantly larger than the first two bombs which were about 1-2 kilotons). We discussed the amount of light, the shock wave, and other destructive effects of the bomb. By this time it was getting late, so I took a nap across two chairs, as I had not been assigned a bed at that time!

 

Wednesday about 5:30 AM we were alerted to get ready for the bomb.  We were issued dark sunglasses.  We were told that when the bomb went off we would see a large bright light, and approximately twenty seconds later a huge pressure wave would hit.  We were to be on our knees, or we would be knocked over. 

 

Just before the bomb went off, we left the large Control Point bunkhouse. We gathered about 40 feet behind the bunkhouse away from the direction of the bomb blast (Bunkhouse was between us and ground zero).  We watched the bomb, and when the pressure wave came through I sure felt it.  At that same time I heard a large crack in the direction of some helicopters, which were stationed further away behind us.  The noise was the cracking that occurred when the 1 ½ in. thick plastic helicopter bubble split. This was due to the negligence of the pilot, who had left the door closed instead of open during the blast. The opened door was ordered to equalize the pressure inside and outside the helicopter.

 

The Control Point bunkhouse was set up on a hill about 8 miles from ground zero.  Data was relayed by radio from Ground Zero to Control Point. At Ground Zero there was an underground block house.  This block house had walls of concrete 10 feet thick, with a 15 foot roof made of layers of 3Ó steel plates laminated with alternating layers of concrete.  The bomb went off 2000 ft above the blockhouse, so they wanted to make sure the instruments were protected. Access to the instruments was made through a set of stairs going down into the instrument room of the blockhouse.  The access to the stairs was overlaid with telephone poles, which were scattered after the bomb.  After each bomb 4-5 laborers were sent down from the Control Point area by road to clear the telephone pole debris. This would provide access to the stairs by the scientists, who came down later in other cars. 

 

About an hour after the bomb went off, the chief scientists could not find traces of the laborers when observing Ground Zero in their binoculars. They became concerned.  The chief scientist came to me and asked me to take a jeep and go down and look for them. I went down approximately two hours after the bomb blast.  As I drove my jeep towards Ground Zero, it began to sink to the hubs into the sand. It sank so deep the jeep couldnÕt move, as if it had fallen into water. My Geiger and other instruments were off the scale. I realized I was getting a heavy radiation dose, and radioed for help. About 20 minutes later, a jeep with 4-5 husky guys jumped out of their Jeep 50 feet away and manually picked up my jeep out of the sand.   At this time, I saw the missing laborers coming out of the blockhouse at Ground Zero. They proceeded to go off in their own Jeep truck to the Control Point by a different route.  They had been smoking in the blockhouse and hadnÕt seen us, and consequently had not been seen by the senior scientists at the Control Point. 

 

One of the senior scientists had come down with the helpful Ņhusky guysÓ, and decided to return to Control Point with me.  Prior to the test, aluminum boxes of film were set up about every 1000 feet from Ground Zero, to record the blast.  At about 5000 ft from Ground Zero, we passed a box so badly melted, that I took it and put it in the car as a souvenir. 

 

When I got back to Control Point my clothes were checked for radioactivity, and were found to be hot.  I was given new clothes, but no shower, as there were no facilities for one.

 

Thursday I went to ground zero again and took measurements after a bomb was dropped. I had to go by a circuitous route down to Ground Zero. As I approached, I was astonished by the destruction created by the bomb.   Trees and other standing objects were blown over. Prior to the bomb the construction crews had built several fake building fronts facing the bomb.  The paint on these structures was completely removed and wood was deeply burned. Many of the roofs and their shingles were damaged and burned.  I collected a badly burned shingle as a souvenir.

 

In addition to the building fronts, the government placed 4 or 5 used cars about 1000 ft from Ground Zero.  The cars were badly burned, some with windows shut, others with windows open. Those with windows open were better preserved than those with windows closed. The cars with windows closed were blown apart, especially through the trunk area. Notably, I was impressed that the upholstery was blown out through the trunk.  The dashboards were dripping like melted candle wax.   The heat must have been terrible inside the car.

 

As I approached Ground Zero, I was able to see a trench lined with plywood sides which was about eight feet deep. I was later told that during the test, soldiers would lay at the bottom of this trench. I could see that the upper part of the plywood that lined the trench was heavily burned, but on the bottom it was untouched. When I returned to the Control Point I was directed to go home because I had received too much radiation. So I returned to Indian Springs AFB. There was no rest for the weary as we had to get ready for the next dayÕs bomb. 

 

Friday the big 22 kiloton bomb was dropped. I was at Indian Springs 22 miles away in a different bunkhouse. Just before the blast, we were ordered to leave the bunkhouse. It was dark at that time of morning and my goal was to see if I could take a picture during the maximum light emitted from the bomb from within the bunkhouse. As soon as the light came through the windows, I took a picture. I dropped the camera on the bed and ran as fast as I could out of the bunkhouse.  I was about 20-30 feet from the bunkhouse when the shock wave hit me. I thought it would break the glass in the windows and throw it around. I was surprised to see entire window frames ripped from the bunkhouse, throwing them 20-30 feet from the building

 

A funny story to note is that there was one soldier who had been out late the night before and refused to get up. Fortunately, his buddies had forced him to get up just before the blast when I was taking the picture. After the blast his bunk was destroyed, covered with glass.

 

In short, there was a lot of damage for 22 miles from Ground Zero. I helped to clean up bunkhouse, and slept there that night. As we closed down the test site, all of us that participated in the test received a diploma from the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). Someone in the head office was having some fun at StalinÕs expense. Attached is a copy of the diploma.

 

On Saturday, I took a car to the Las Vegas train station, and from there took a train to Buffalo. I stayed with my Father and Sister in Buffalo the first night. My wife Anne came from Toronto with our daughter Mary the next day. After picking them up, we went to visit my Uncle Alfred and his son Bill Staniland at their optician shop in downtown Buffalo. After dinner, we spent the night with Bill Staniland in Buffalo, NY. Several years earlier, I had been a delivery boy for his optician business while going to college.  The next day we then drove to Boston, subsequently to MIT to continue working in Cambridge. 

 

About a week after I arrived back in Washington DC, I wrote a letter to the fellow that I talked to in the train observation car a couple of weeks earlier. I told him about my recent experiences which were related to the events reported in the newspaper about the atomic bomb. He was ecstatic to hear from me and my adventures.

 

Acknowledgement

 

I wish to acknowledge of the help my daughter, Mary and son, Joseph who help me recapture my thoughts and diary notes. It truly brought back many memories of my experiences in the Canadian North.