Wednesday, May 25, 2005

However, this is a community where children can play tag outside in the summer

Comment from the


To the original poster:

When we moved here in 1968, the downtown was much different. We purchased appliances from the local Sears or Montgomery Wards catalog store. There was a lovely bakery where families would congregate on Saturday morning before taking their small children to the library on Central. We could shop for odds and ends in a dimestore where the kids could get small toys. There were no fast food restaurants but there was Sparky's, Baskin Robbins, and a bowling alley all within walking distance of Central.

However, Los Alamos suffers from a shrinking business district because of internet, catalog, and out-of-town shopping, because LANL has moved more and more of its work across the bridge, and because of all the small companies that rent office space along Central and in other locations to support LANL. Now even SUP has moved downtown, various IM groups are located downtown, and landlords (all three of them) are delighted to rent to LANL because retail shops can't afford the same high rent.

Although the County Council wastes a great deal of time trying to figure out how to bring some life back to the business community, everyone is responsible for supporting our local merchants. Fourteen Los Alamos businesses closed in 2004. How many of those did you shop at?

Yes, in one part of town there are dirty, torn up roads, and I'm sure the folks who live along them are really tired of the dirt and noise. They are also still rebuilding from the fire and are probably tired of living in the shadows of the burned Jemez Mountains.

However, this is a community where children can play tag outside in the summer without parents fearing for them. It's a community where when something horrible happens, like Todd's death, folks rally around with food and financial support. And it's a community with a great environment. Last week, the sky was incredibly blue; and in the older neighborhoods large lilac bushes were in full bloom, and the fragrance was overpowering.

You are not a whiner, a grouser, or a cowboy. But when you are gone, your friends will miss you; and you might not miss LANL, but you will miss Los Alamos.

This matches my memories from growing up in Los Alamos in the 50's. Only then, we played "kick the can" until it was too dark to see.

I was a member of the Kiowa Patrol (Troop 22), led by Turk Griffith (Griffith Gymnasium), and we played "kick the can" at the Boy Scout Lodge on Canyon Rd.
Ah..."kick the can". I'm sure most of us over 50 remember playing that game when we were kids. That was a time with little or no TV and, obviously, no computer games so we played outside all day. We encouraged our kids to do the same while we raised them here in Los Alamos and they had a great childhood here. I wonder why I never taught them to play "kick the can"?
It is interesting, in the context of this thread, to recall the fist-thumping hissy-fit that Nanos threw at the very beginning of his time as director, when he found himself unable to go across the bridge after work and grab a beer at a microbrewery. (Since certain of my friends were in fact contemplating opening a microbrewery at that exact time, they were interested in this!) When he first took the job, he seemed to have some understanding of the unusual relationship here between workplace and community, to see some things that needed fixing on the community side, and to be willing to extend a hand across the bridge -- but it didn't last.

In many regards the community has exactly the same strengths and weaknesses that it has for at least 30 and probably 50 years. There have been changes on the margins, both for better (the restaurant situation is vastly better than when I moved here in the 1970s) and for worse (fewer mom-and-pop businesses), but the overall outline of the town is much the same. Then, as now, there were people who'd come here and love the beauty and tranquility of the place at first sight, and others who'd arrive, wonder how anyone could live in the middle of such rural desolation, and leave at the first opportunity. The fact that some people in this blog object to the "dusty streets" and atypical church/bar ratio is nothing new and simply means that the most recent generation of arrivals is sorting out the pluses and minuses, just as all the previous generations have.

To me, a disappointment of the RFP is that it doesn't place enough (any?) emphasis on the interactions between the lab and the community. That's hardly surprising; DOE has never understood it. It does mean, however, that individual workers are going to have to expend more extracurricular time and effort to preserve and promote that which is good about the community. Well, at least the morale destroyers have started to leave, so that we can do that without the sense of despair that has pervaded us for the last year.
I object to the previous post in referring to retirees as morale destroyers. We should be thanking those people for the years of service that provided to LANL and wishing them well, instead of treating them as Nanos would have.
Whoa! I most certainly didn't mean RETIREES as morale destroyers. Quite the contrary, retirees are among the community's major assets. (Ever checked the bios of our "Living Treasures"?) There was one recent, non-retiree departure that I particularly had in mind ...
Ok, then. Glad we're on the same page.
It's been almost three years and I can't say I miss Los Alamos much. I found another backward little town, half it's size with more goods and services. Nearly everything I loved about Los Alamos is gone. I came back one time and was very dissappointed.

The Lab doomed private business with it willingness to pay outrageous rentals because it was too poor at management to manage its own properties. The fire scarred much of the natural beauty. The phoney facades downtown with nothing behind them sort of rub salt in the wounds. And of course the Lab which was such a grand place to work has come to the point of driving it's own workers into the grave as scapegoats for management incompetance. If the lab staff and the community stood up to the horrible mistreatment of Todd Kaupilla and insisted that was the number one item to be addressed, there might be hope. I've seen no such backbone before and don't expect it now.

I don't miss Los Alamos much!
Gene and Joe's. Casa Luna. The 1956 town (not Lab) phone book with name, LASL group, and phone number (no home addresses).

Harold Agnew in his corduroy jacket and driving his old, beat-up station wagon. A Pro Force who actually looked at your badge. The South Mesa cafeteria, where everyone ate at long tables. Lots of Manhattan Project vets around. The 40th annivesary celebration, with a half-dozen Nobel laureates, former Lab employees all. No one locking their doors and kids playing until dark.

Yes, a simpler time, a simpler place. Although some of the old attributes remain, it ain't the same.

In a month, I'll be retiring after almost 35 years. Partly because of the contract, but mostly because it is no longer the place where I began my work. It will never be that place again, but it can once again be a great place to work and live.
This nostalgia is wonderful!!!!---we should not dismiss it!

A lot comes from the national security needs of a different era. Are not our current national security needs at least as terrifying?

Let us resolve to get the job done—regardless of the constraints the bureaucracy imposes!!!
I remember walking over to the 7-11 in White Rock, getting a cherry slurpee, then heading for a show at the movie theater (early 70's). I saw the first Star Wars at the theater in WR, which is now the LANL-owned structure in between Metzgers and Conoco. I also remember the drugstore (now Starbucks), Anthonys department store (now Central avenue grill) and the old library next to the post office.
half the workers at the lab live OFF the hill, so who cares about local business? The seeming answer to the 9/80 mess is that it impacts local business. WHO CARES? I pay more for transportation because of the current schedule. Why should Metzgers have any say in my work schedule?
Gotcha beat, 06:31.

I remember my dad having to show his badge when *leaving* Los Alamos at the east gate, at least up until 1957. He would then have to show it again upon returning to Los Alamos after a big day in Santa Fe. We're talking late 50's now. Usually, my dad (apparently happy to be out of the house and away from my mother) would stop at the restaurant which is now known as De Colores, but which then, and for many years after, was known as Philomena's. The particular memory cell that just fired was the one involving my dad, who did not like cream in his coffee. We would all be sitting on bar stools at a 50's style luncheon counter and he would order my sister and me breakfast. His coffee would be delivered, accompanied by the cream which came in little glass milk bottle. He would offer the cream to me, and I'd drink it.

Now *that's* nostalgia.
Anonymous : 5/26/2005 06:31:00 PM said:

"I remember walking over to the 7-11 in White Rock, getting a cherry slurpee, then heading for a show at the movie theater (early 70's)."

The movie theater was called the White Roxy. Its phone number was very close to mine and I often got calls asking for show times. I kept a copy of the Monitor by the phone, and I also gave out movie reviews.

That little shopping center had a food store which eventually became Smith's, where the LANL training center is now. There was also a great resturant called the Pub; Wanek's Drug store; a Radio Shack. Dr. Gartz had his first practice there, and there was another resturant called Mel's Diner that later became De Colores when Joan moved it to Los Alamos.

The first Ed's Market was in White Rock next to Gibson's Department Store where Smith's is now. The close proximity to Smith's caused Ed's to close the White Rock store and the building became a bowling alley.

A new post office substation was built across from Smith's. The sign had the Zip Code 87546, but the Postmaster changed it to 87544.

With the exception of Smith's every business is gone now. Sadly, White Rock has become a suburb of LANL.
I remember leaving TA-3, SM-43 to go to my car on the west side parking lot (now the Nicholas C. Metropolis Center) at the end of each day, looking up at the golden band of aspens across the Jemez and actually feeling giddy about being so blessed to work at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. That golden band of aspens is no longer there but the memory will last till when my hair's full gray
and I finally disappear.
Ok, how about the A&W across from Rocket Park and don't forget the little pet shop (A-frame construction) where Conoco now sits. Got my first kitten at the age of 5 from that store.

Philomena's rocked. My family used to go every Friday. Dad would have beef burrito green, mom would have a chimi changa. Don't remember what I ate.

Went shopping at Gibson's department store for elementary school supplies.

Seems like so many stores have come and gone.
Fun thread! Touche'! No one has mentioned Pierotti's Clowns 4-man softball team. You had to see Bun Ryan's pitching to understand. There is a nice article about them at
Bun Ryan, catching with a garbage can lid. I'll never for get that.
We lived in the Sundts where the police station is now. My older siblings attended Central Elementary School (located where the residential development was built across from the Reel Deal). Nobody locked their doors that we knew of. TG&Y was located where Central Avenue Grill and the businesses on the upper deck are at now (a mortgage company and others). Starbucks now occupies the storefront where LA Drugs used to be, facing the post office.

Later, we lived near Piggly Wiggly, now known as the Black Hole. We used to walk through the canyons to attend Pajarito School and had many pinecone and acorn wars across those canyons. Seems like more than just a few decades ago when we attended Pueblo Junior High School, too.

Great memories! I left for a while and came back because Los Alamos seemed to be a fairly safe and 'untouched by crime' type of place to be and raise a family. It seems less 'untouched' in that way now though, which is disappointing.
[Correction] - in my last post I implied that living in the Sundts and TG&Y being where Central Avenue Grill is at might be during the same time period. That probably isn't necessarily true as we lived in the Sundts in the early 60's and one of my siblings worked at TG&Y several years later, maybe 9 years apart.
I have heard from many sources complaints about drugs at Los Alamos High; had my wallet stolen at the Mesa Library; was told about a hooligan harassing people in Urban Park in broad daylight; have seen what vandals had done to some streetlights...

Surely, South-Central Los Angeles is still much worse, but Los Alamos is no "safe haven" like it may have been back in the 60th. "Untouched by crime" it is not. Having seen/heard enough, I am not letting my children "play tag" unattanded.
Crime is definitely up in Los Alamos. Purse snatchers now operate around
Smith's. Cars are frequently broken into during waves of burglaries. When
they hit my car, it ended up costing me $700 to fix the damage. The whole
character of this town began to change after the Cerro Grande fire. We now
have some nasty characters roving among us. I miss the old Los Alamos.
I hate to rain on everyone's parade, but the drug problem here among high school and middle school kids is as bad as any place in America. Just b/c everyone ignores it doesn't mean it isn't prevalent, and in fact that's the reason it's there in the first place. Safe? I don't think so!
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