- The Conqueror & Other Bombs, 1998, The Scoop
Date: Wed, 03 Jun 1998
Subject: Re: Great column (Personal)
Paul Goettlich wrote:
> > > The Conqueror
> > > And Other Bombs
> > > ) 1998 Bob Harris
> > > TheScoop@earthlink.net
> > >
> > >  = italics
> I used this.
> Paul Goettlich, Member Board of Directors
> Hoosier Environmental Council
> P. O. Box 6854 South Bend, Indiana 46660-6854 U.S.A.
> email@example.com http://www.envirolink.org/orgs/hecweb/
Way to go! I was 15 when that battle started, and was just starting to raise the issue of fallout past and present -- we were getting underground leaks and nuclear rocket engine tests. My wee little noise was heard in Las Vegas -- 140 miles away, and I got contacted by one of the key people in the Hughes-AEC battle, John H. Meier -- see the book Age of Secrets, and remain close friends with him today. I passed some of those $10 and $20 out, and "Ski Utah The Hottest Snow on Earth" was my creation passed on to John Meier, and I watched first hand the resulting Hughes-AEC battle rage, and watched it turn into Watergate. I have thousands of pages of Hughes and other documents relating to it, and from it. That was also how I got to be on such good terms with the Las Vegas Sun and many of the key figures involved from Hank Greenspun to many of the scientist Hughes employed to fight the battle. Some day I hope to complete a book on the Hughes-AEC Battle.
I was also involved in leaking the original story of the John Wayne link, and organizing the media strategy that followed it, along with my good friends Dr. Robert Pendleton -- who is pictured in the People mag article standing on the sand dunes in Snow Canyon letting sand fall from his hands, Irma Thomas. Irma arranged for all the local people to appear for the People mag and the LIFE mag articles. She also was the one who appeared on the first national TV shows when the story first broke, all the time scared to death we'd get in trouble for having deliberately leaked the story and played with it to get attention to our plight. After all we were talking about John Wayne here and how bomb test fallout may have killed him!
Irma's oldest son is married to my dad's sister's daughter the same age as my only sibling -- sister, and Irma's youngest daughter now fighting both breast cancer and polymysystes (sp?) was in my graduating class at Dixie High School in St. George at the time I first started working with her mother. Irma's daughter and I were both in the 3,000 school children in Washington, County Utah that were forced into the first AEC-US Public Health Service Thyroid Study in 1965. Her daughter was one of the 250 called high risk, for what they have never been told.
When they came to my school in Enterprise they told all the school's assembled students they were from the Mayo Clinic and were there to help us because we didn't have proper health care. I clearly remember one of the head blood suckers looking in my direction when he said it too, and that load of bull shit has never faded from memory. The bastards lied to us, and to our parents and did not inform us they were there to check the guinea pig's cages to see how many they had killed. I learned from my ear nose and throat doctor in Salt Lake -- a native of eastern Nevada and a distant relative -- what they were really looking for, and why, and spreading that all over town and to anyone who would listen was actually my first major political act as a downwind activist.
If you've every seen the film Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang (1979) , the scenes of Paul taking his pain shots were filmed in Irma's St. George Bed Room. Irma, Dr. Pendleton, and I were the first to speak out among the downwinders in an organized effort, and by 1970 were working together to get the downwinders' story out. We also were active in one degree or another in the Hughes-AEC battle.
With a few other people we started calling ourselves "The Downwinders" by the mid-1970's, and of course that is where Downwinders came from. Without the Hughes-AEC battle and that horrible movie we never would have had a safe platform to begin the fight. Of that first original group, I am the only one still here today. And this is why the Las Vegas Sun started referring to Downwinders as the west's oldest radiation victims and anti-testing organization, and why we use that with some degree of pride.
As to Snow Canyon, it was off the road that ran from my home town of Enterprise, Utah (U-18) 40 miles south to St. George, Utah. During the early 1950's and at least until 1965 it was used all the time for making movies, and some still much later. I had to drive that road and look down into Snow Canyon twice each day for half my senior year in high school when I had to finish school in St. George because of medical treatment of lymphoma and not having a doctor in Enterprise. Right after Christmas that year I turned 18 and was legally able to get my own apartment in St. George for the rest of the school year and didn't have to drive back and forth every day.
There were many western films filmed on those sand dunes, or in and around Snow Canyon. Movies like Broken Arrow, Jeramiah Johnson, and even parts of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In fact just a half mile up the road from the sand dunes was a regular old west movie set of a fort and mission. As children, my dad's family -- 89 first cousins -- always went to Snow Canyon on Easter Saturday and spent the day -- we kids -- playing on the old movie set and climbing on the red rocks. Many times we had school and church outings there and family cook-outs.
One of my favorite keep-sakes from childhood came from an outing of my fourth grade class on "E" day -- the day we celebrated school spirit and the senior class white washed a hundred foot high "E" made out of stones placed on a volcano cone just out of Enterprise. All grades from kindergarten through 12 grade got the day off and went somewhere. At night after dark the seniors set fire to cans of diesel fuel outlining the "E" and it could be seen for 60 miles.
In 4th grade our class of 36 students spent the day on the sand dunes in Snow Canyon playing. I have a couple of old black and white photo's -- some of the very first I ever developed and printed my self of our class out there that day, including some of the boys in the class buried up to their necks in the dunes and others rolling around. Then we ate our lunch there, dust and all, and nobody ever told us the place was a confirmed AEC hot spot! It was a common party site for the whole region.
As I am writing this on the wall is a photocopy of two old RKO PR photos for that film. Once shows John Wayne's son Patrick with his shirt off playing on the sand dunes with a geiger counter when the film was being made. You can see it is reacting. Next to it is one of Susan Hayward on horseback in her costume with Dick Powell standing next to the horse and John Wayne decked out as Genghis next to Powell. As a kid I also personally attended the premire of the movie in St. George the same night it premiered in Hollywood.
Movie making in and around St. George was big all during this time. Many of us locals, my self included as a very young kid barely old enough to remain on horseback, were extras in dozens of westerns.
I wanted to share these memories with you not because they are anything special, but rather because they are not. They are common memories of growning up in southern Utah in the 1950's. And to thank you for running the bit on The Conqueror, for while it may have been the worst movie Hollywood ever made, it was also the most significant film Hollywood ever made, because it was the only film that ever brought down an American President, and fallout from that film via Hughes' political payoffs to Dick Nixon certainly did!
Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang 16mm color film, 1979, 60 mins.
A dramatic story of the cover-up by the U.S. Nuclear Program and of the hazards of radiation to American citizens. This film documents journalist Paul Jacobs' personal and political struggle of 20 years to uncover the cover-up beginning with his investigation of the effects on civilians and soldiers of being exposed to fallout from bomb tests in Nevada. The emotional impact of the film stems from its close attention to human detail: the shock and quiet indignation in the voices of the dying men and women of St. George, Utah, used as guinea pigs by the Atomic Energy Commission, and the blandness and cynicism with which government officials justify past actions and current politics. The film also has clips from old AEC and Army films of soldiers being marched into bomb test areas and of citizens being assured that fallout won't hurt them. Not available for college rental. Colleges must contact: New Time Films, 1501 Broadway, Suite 1904, NY, NY 10036. (212-921-7020) You will need an extra large takeup reel. Fee C
The above comes from http://www.afsc.org/nero/bigcat/pbigcat.htm
back to nukes | ratville times | rat haus | Index | Search | tree