NASA Headquarters NACA
Oral History Project
Edited Oral History Transcript
Interviewed by Rebecca Wright
11 June 2014
Wright: Today is June 11, 2014. This oral history session is being
conducted with Marilyn Lunney in Houston, Texas, as part of the NACA
Oral History Project, sponsored by NASA Headquarters History Office.
Interviewer is Rebecca Wright. Thank you so much for taking your time
this morning to come into our office to talk to us. Start, if you
would, by telling us how you became involved with NACA at the Lewis
I knew of NACA because my brother-in-law [Robert J. Weiler] worked
there, and my sister had worked there when she went to college a couple
of years, then didn’t go back, and decided to go work there.
She met Bob and married him, and he was an engineer there.
I attended Case Western Reserve University and Saint Luke’s
School of Nursing in Cleveland, worked as an RN at the VA [Veterans
Administration Hospital] for a little over a year. We graduated in
January, I worked until about April-May, and then I decided to volunteer
at summer camps with cerebral palsy kids, and different other types
of things, to see if that would be something where I’d want
to direct my attention.
What year was this?
This was 1957. Then, I tried my hand for a few months, actually, at
a boys’ private boarding school as the nurse. Unfortunately,
I was 22 and some of them were 18 and 19 and bigger than me. They’d
show up all hours of the night with, “Oh, I have a stomach ache,”
or, “Oh, I hurt my arm.” Anything to get me out of bed
and to pay more attention, shall we say, than I cared to have. It
was a little bit, I won’t call it scary, but it was not something
I felt comfortable around there, doing. Of course, none of the teachers
were around, then. You were supposed to have a house person there,
but they never were around.
Then, the job at NACA became open late that summer for another nurse.
They already had a head nurse [Ruth Elder], who had been there quite
a while. I applied for that position and got it. It may have been
because we both came out of Saint Luke’s, or may have been because
I was the only one who wanted the job, I don’t know. I went
there in the early fall of 1957, and by that time, my sister, of course,
had retired and had kids. She’s five years older. Bob was still
The job there was as a clinic nurse. We took care of all the people
that were injured or sick that day—cuts, industrial accidents,
on-site emergencies, all of those things. My training basically was
what Ruth told me to do and I used my prior experiences as a nurse,
emergency room training—types of thing you garner as you go
through nursing school. For the most part, it was pretty non-serious.
Every now and then, we’d have a bad spill and somebody would
get something in their eyes, or some machine would blow apart and
hit them in the body or something, and you would have to get them
prepared to send them over to the emergency rooms, but for the most
part, you were pretty much on your own.
First days, you’re basically learning about the types of cases.
We had an MD on call who came there once a month, he came out and
looked things over and made sure we had the supplies we should have.
Very nice doctor. You could call him and he’d give you advice
and security as to what you were doing, but for the most part, he
really wasn’t there. You began to be on your own, pretty much
like working the VA at night, which I did; I preferred the night shift.
You learn very soon that you make choices and decisions you are going
to have to live with, and so was the patient. I’m not saying
we created any battleground miracles, but we did have to be ready
to take care of an emergency—stop bleeding, get the eyes washed
out, do all of those things. My training was basically on the job,
learning what procedures were going on in that clinic. Sometimes,
people came in for everyday back treatment, or other things that could
be handled on the job, rather than take off work and go somewhere.
Their idea was to retain people in the field as much as they could.
I don’t remember the exact location of the clinic; I know it
was very near the administration building.
Dr. [Edward R.] Sharp was the Center Director at that time, and Dr.
Sharp got along really well with Ruth. He was in our clinic at least
a couple of times a week, sometimes for a back rub or shoulder rub.
He was the nicest man. He used to tell me, “Look, have you not
found anybody out here yet? Do I need to hire some more young engineers?
I want to be sure we get you a good guy. Now, tell me what you’re
[Assistant Center Director] Abe Silverstein, on the other hand, was
a different kind of guy. He was quiet, removed, but pleasant and nice.
He rarely came in, but when he did, he was right to the point and
wanted to have it fixed, whatever it was—I used to kid about
hangnails and hangovers—half the young engineers would come
by the clinic, I guess, to get their hangnails and hangovers taken
care of. Dr. Sharp would say, “Oh, they’re just looking
you over.” That’s pretty much what it was.
You had asked me about World War II. I was just a kid then. I stood
and watched my brother go off when I was eight years old. I did not
take any note of impact on NACA because I didn’t know anything
about that or of the Cold War. We kids were just oblivious to the
politics. My parents talked about it, people talked about it, but
somehow or other, we were oblivious. We knew what was going on, but
then, of course, the Korean War was when I was in high school, and
a couple of my friends went over that were older classmates. One was
killed. A lot of those came back from Korea and were hired at Lewis
as non-degreed positions—electricians, plumbers, builders of
offices, scaffolding, all that stuff.
I had an understanding of the day-to-day workings at NACA and I probably
had a fair understanding of what was going on, mainly from my brother-in-law,
Bob, talking. He worked in the wind tunnel, as an electrical engineer.
He was one of those electrical engineers that when you walked in his
house, you pressed a button. The curtains would close, the sprinklers
would turn on. We saw him last fall, he was just the same old Bob,
93 years old. He says he’s living to 100—I hope he does.
I had the understanding of the facilities there at NACA Lewis mainly
because of the people who came in. I had to go look at what they did,
how they got hurt, I had to understand where they were at, all that
sort of thing, what they were doing. We were trying different chemicals,
or going with nitrogen mustard that was mostly out at Plum Brook.
You did have an opportunity to get out of the clinic?
Right. We’d have to go to a site if somebody was injured. Before
they’d move the person, we’ve had to observe and do our
little cursory exam that we could do as nurses. We weren’t allowed
to diagnose, of course, but you could tell if somebody’s arm
was broken or they had crushed their chest or had injuries. All those
sort of things because there are people always climbing around, falling
off stuff, just odds and ends that you find in industrial medicine.
I was going to say, the safety practices were a bit different.
They had safety practices. They were posted everywhere, we had them
up, but they were disregarded sometimes to get a job done. Everybody
was doing something important so they felt they would be protected,
sort of this, “I’m above all that” kind of attitude,
but they were all really good, hard-working people. You didn’t
find people coming in, just sitting around the nurse’s office,
wanting to get out of their work. They liked what they did. I won’t
say that was 100 percent, but a majority of them really were glad
to get back on the job. Sometimes, they’d be off for five or
six months, so they’d have to go through coming back to us,
and making sure each day, they were okay. Sometimes, they got a back
therapy or whatever the doctor ordered, just to keep them going back
to work. There was always a constant stream of people in the dispensary—colds,
stomach aches, hangnails, cuts, bruises, hangovers, bad night, and
of course, pneumonia. Various people had various diseases that they’d
been diagnosed, but had no clue what it was.
In the old days, doctors did not stop to explain what something was.
They just said, “This is what you have and this is what you
do,” and nobody questioned them like they do now. They’d
come in with their books, whatever books they found, “Can you
tell me what this means? Can you tell me what that means?” It
was like an education as well as treatment—I won’t say
“diagnosis” because we weren’t supposed to diagnose,
but it’s a little hard not to notice when somebody’s arm’s
cut open that they have a cut arm—that kind of thing.
In early 1959, I was appointed to fill the gap of nurse at the Plum
Brook facility. I worked a couple days at Lewis and then would go
to Sandusky to work at Plum Brook. We could drive ourselves down,
which was an hour from my house, or we could take the bus there, where
we’d all play poker or something in the back of the bus. I was
the only female. Or sometimes, [William] “Eb” Gough and
Fred [W.] Haise, [Jr.] would be flying down there for some reason,
taking somebody down or not, so they’d take me with them. They
always made sure I had a ride, and they let me ‘fly’ their
airplane. First and only time I’d get to ‘fly’ the
I was the only one down there. It was a huge facility. It used to
be an ordnance plant [in World War II], and there were still tons
of buildings and perhaps even things that could have been detonated.
The guys would go out in groups around the various places and go through
all these old buildings because they would find all kinds of materials
that could be exploded, could be dangerous. We were building some
rocket test facilities. We were running around looking at treatments
for nitrogen mustard, which was wash off, clean up, do all this stuff,
which wasn’t going to save your life at all if you got exposed
to it. I can’t explain it to you: just think of a big-hundreds-of-acres
place that used to be occupied by a huge Army contingent with all
the buildings and different things. A lot of the building had just
fallen over. The kids from the areas would try to get in there through
the fences; the guards they had were minimum.
Then we had the nuclear reactor facility. I was supposed to be the
nurse on site for everything going on out there. I set up my clinic
and I’d go over to the nuclear reactor, which had its own clinic,
but had no one providing any services. The manager over there would
ask, “What do you want? What are you looking for?” I’m
like, “I’m here, I’m a nurse, if any of your people
need help.” I know I asked him if he wanted help setting up
the clinic—“No, no, no, you can’t come in here,
you can’t come in here.” A couple of times, I had to go
in there because somebody fell in the vat, and give them instructions
on how to get them out of the vat. They were going to just go down
and pull them up, but I made them take down a stretcher, etc. The
vat was empty at that point. They would tell me it was never activated
when I was there. Many, many years later, I ended up with thyroid
cancer, so what was going on there behind the scenes, I can’t
I had limited access. It was just strange. I worked very hard to gain
their trust, his trust; all of the guys were delighted I was there.
They would come over and get their cuts and bruises and colds and
whatever treated. We were limited, of course, in what we could give
them in the way of medications—cough syrup, things like that—because
that would be like prescribing, but we didn’t do that.
I would make a point to go over to the Reactor facility each week;
I’d go down there once or twice, just to see how they were doing,
ask if there was anything needed, trying to gain trust. It was like,
there was no way. Just nothing I could do. Towards the end of my time
there, tho it was a little bit better, and when they realized I was
leaving to get married in the following April, he came around a lot
more and would ask what else do I need to do there, what I need to
get together, as I remember, but it wasn’t a lot. They had this
world, with this building, with a reactor in it, his people came and
went, they rarely interfaced with the other guys during lunches and
stuff like that They were all very, very pleasant people, but they
were nuclear engineers. That had to be so strange, in that era. I
had no clue. I understood some of it and I read everything that was
available, but at that time, in the fifties, I don’t think any
of us garnered what exactly they were doing. Maybe they did, but I
This material that you read, was it from the library, or did they
No. At that time, I would go to a library, I would talk to different
engineers. One university had some publications out at that time and
I would write to request those. You didn’t have the Internet,
didn’t have computers, you couldn’t look things up. You
had books. I just did whatever research I could do to find out what
I could do. Basically, if they did get exposed, they were supposed
to hose themselves down for 30 minutes in the water. When I went in
there, they made me put on a gown and headgear, mask, the whole thing.
I kept saying, “If this isn’t active, why do I have to
do that?” [They’d answer,] “You have to do that,
you have to do that.”
I guess they were practicing getting used to it. I don’t know.
I thought it was just different, that’s all, and I’m sure
this is what they felt we had to do. They were doing something that
was relatively secretive. I think people in the community were aware
that something was going on, but I don’t think they had any
clue as to the caliber of the thing they were building there. It’s
my understanding that it closed—I don’t know when it closed—after
I left in April of ’60. I really don’t know where or when
or whatever happened to it, but I know it was decommissioned and it’s
no longer active.
Tell me about the airplane ride—where did you land? You took
off, right there at the research center, but was there a landing field
there at Plum Brook?
Yes, sure, it was an old Army ordnance plant. They had all that. I
don’t remember a hangar so much—maybe a little building
where people kind of waved their flags to say, “Land.”
What an interesting time to fly.
I won’t say it was the Wild West because it’s Ohio, but
people just did what they had to do to get it done. They just didn’t
have all the rules and regulations and stipulations that you must
do this or that. If you knew Eb Gough, Eb just did whatever the heck
he needed to do. Fred came along and he was a new engineer, and he
was very kind and sweet. Of course, he may have a different idea of
it, but I remember that because they were just very, very nice to
You do a lot of things in life. You have different worlds that you
live in, with your family, with your community, your volunteer work,
your work, and I always felt, in this particular place, to be well
respected and cared about. That was a nice thing. I was 22, 23, 24
years old by then, and what did I know? I hadn’t lived much
of life yet, but a lot of them were much older and had been through
it all. I felt it was a good opportunity. I don’t know that
the treatment we had for mustard gas exposure or radiation was worth
anything, but that’s what we had.
That’s all you knew, at that point.
That’s all we had. Sometimes the nuclear regulatory people would
come down and walk around. I was often in a Jeep, riding around, looking
for stuff, seeing what guys were doing, making sure they weren’t
creating issues. I felt like the public safety person, I guess. I
don’t mean to overextend what I did.
No, but your role was varied. It wasn’t just in the clinic.
Right, I was there to provide health care, and if I could avoid a
health issue, I was giving them better care than treating it, I felt
like. Nobody ever told me not to. Nobody ever said, “You can’t
do this or that.” That was pretty much my career, and then Glynn
and I got married in April ’60, after a long sort of courtship.
How did you meet?
There were groups of young people there. We would go skiing together,
we would go bowling together, we’d go to the baseball games
and watch them play. The first time I ever heard his name, somebody
said, “Glynn Lunney (Looney) at bat,” and I sat there,
thinking, “God, what a name. Who’d ever want that?”
I met him, and friends of ours whom he worked with, mine were his
as well. He had co-op-ed there, so he’d known people a lot longer
than I did. When he came to work there, he went to the engineering
division that George Low happened to run. A lot of the young women
engineers were there, and he got along with them very well. He speaks
easily with everyone. He doesn’t have that ‘push-away’
feeling that some men get. They were all older than me by three or
four years, five years. He was always with them, going places, doing
things. I would go to some of the things. They kept saying, “You
need to date this guy. He’s Catholic, he’s everything
you want.” I’m like, “Nah, I don’t think so,
I’m not ready for that.” It was just one of those things.
We went skiing with the group, and I have had the good fortune to
be able to do most athletics pretty well. It’s part of being
tall and long-legged, whatever. It’s just silly to say this,
but I was doing some of my showing off because they were all falling
down everywhere, like a bunch of clowns, and I’m like, flipping
and flipping and flipping around back and forth. That’s what
you do when you ski, except my binder didn’t let loose one time
when I fell, and the ski ended up backwards, and my foot was going
foreward. I broke this ankle bone pretty bad. For some reason, he’s
the one that came over and got the sled and put me on the sled and
dragged me down to the place. They didn’t have [rescue] people
to come up to you at that point. That was ’57? Something like
that, fifty-eight, I guess. He just hung around the hospital. We drove
back together with a group. I was sitting in the front seat with my
foot up on the dashboard because I couldn’t put it down, had
a big cast on it. He’s driving, and he hit an icy patch on the
Pennsylvania Turnpike, and we did a 360. He went straight out again.
I’m looking at him, I said, “How did you do that?”
“Oh, I always do that.” “More blarney.”
We started to date. Dr. Sharp kept joking, “Do you think this
one is okay, or do I need to hire some more?” I said, “Well,
we’ll see.” You know the rest. He went to Langley [Research
Center, Hampton, VA] in the fall of ’59. We weren’t committed
in any way. I don’t know what to say—we were dating and
seeing each other pretty much exclusively, but I didn’t know
what was going to happen. He was going off to a new career and I was
still there. I didn’t expect it to continue. I didn’t
know if it would continue. He kept showing up on weekends, and wrote
endless letters. Glynn is very prolific when he writes, as you know.
Ed and Fred would wait on Fridays [in Virginia] for the Lewis guys
to fly them home. They’d pick him up at Langley, take him back
to Lewis, because a lot of guys hadn’t moved down there yet.
He always managed to grab himself a seat on the plane. One Friday
night, he was late getting there, they were telling me, “He
had to run down the runway after us before we saw him.” I said,
“What?” “He was running down the runway after us,
so we opened the door.” He was going to get on that plane!
We ended up getting married that following April. He did all the routine
things with my dad at Christmas of asking my Dad about marrying me.
I first worked as a public health nurse at Langley in Hampton, Virginia.
For me, that was a real experience. I had done some public health
nursing as part of my nursing training, but this was the South. I
had never been in the South. I didn’t realize that blacks were
treated differently. We’re talking about 1960. I had done public
health nursing in some of the bad areas of Cleveland, but I was always
treated with honor and respect. I’d go with my little black
bag, none of them tried to knock you over, grab it. They all knew
I was coming to do something helpful. It was a little different.
I remember going to this one apartment building, climbing up to about
the third or fourth floor, and this older black gentleman, probably
in his eighties, was up there. He hardly ever got out. I brought him
whatever he needed as far as whatever we had to hand out in the way
of medical supplies or care. He says to me, “Lady, little lady,
will you carry me down to the post office?” I’m 120 pounds,
and I’m like, “I don’t think I can lift you, sir.
I’ve never carried anybody down four flights of stairs.”
He says, “Oh, no, I can walk down, I just meant give me a ride.”
I never knew ‘South-talk,’ and I think of it to this day,
when I hear somebody say, “I’m going to carry her down
to something or other,” I still reflect back to ‘thinking
of picking them up in your arms’, and think about him. It was
a different experience.
I worked there to mid-summer, and one of the jobs at NASA opened.
There was an older nurse there at Langley, had been there forever,
never had any children, but got pregnant. In those days, you really
didn’t stay at work too long. I think she left just after the
first trimester because they didn’t want pregnant women ‘showing’’
around. I went over there and worked until after the first of the
year, and then we were pregnant. She decided she would come back.
Then I had Jenny, and I tried once to go back to nursing after my
kids were born. I went up to Southeast Memorial [Houston, TX] one
day a week. I hired a lady to come in—I had four kids in five
years; nobody wanted to come take care of them. Glynn was traveling
a lot. He was there two days every other week, or one day every other
week. There was just an irregular schedule. I’d went to work
there, and after four kids in five years, they put me in labor and
delivery, because that was the only place you could work for a day--they
wanted you to have an ‘everyday’ bond with your patients.
At that time, you shouldn’t call and say you were sick. The
lady that would come to help me was very good about coming, but every
now and then, she had problems. If you called in, they just ran you
up the wall, “You cannot do this. We expect you to be here.”
Finding another sitter on short notice was impossible, nobody wanted
to take care of four kids under five.
That’s pretty much what it was, and I never went back to work
as a nurse again. I gave up my license when I turned 70. I just did
other things over the years—got involved in the community of
Friendswood [TX], I figured that’s where we grew up. They put
me on the school board, I got to be the president, and I got to be
elected as a judge in Galveston County. Then, when we went to California—thank
you, Glynn, for breaking up my job in Galveston County when he wanted
to go to Rockwell [International]—and then came back; they appointed
me as a special judge in Harris County, which I just handed in my
resignation this year.
You were active in getting the Catholic Church established in Friendswood
as well, weren’t you?
Yes. When Shawn was born, our third child, I could not find anyplace
to baptize him. We went to church at the [Ellington Air Force] base,
along with [James A.] McDivitts and [Eugene A.] Cernans, and Bill
and Valerie [Anders]. There were about six couples there from NASA.
The chaplain was only there now and then for mass. I never got really
involved with one of the other parishes, which were in Dickinson,
Pearland, or Alvin. We would go and fill in at those if the chaplain
didn’t come out, but they couldn’t baptize, for some reason—at
that point, they said only military children, which I never understood.
I went all over. I tried Pearland, which is the closest one. I tried
Alvin, “No, we can’t take you, you’re not a member
of this parish.” Finally, the guy at Dickinson took us in and
I don’t know if you know anything about Friendswood; Friendswood
was very quaint and we had a store there called Baker’s Grocery
Store. Baker’s Grocery Store had a bulletin [to advertise],
“Eggs, three dozen for $1, chicken, blah, blah, blah,”
and [printed] all the births, deaths, anniversaries, parties, whatever.
In 1965, I put a little announcement in there, “Anyone wanting
to form a Catholic Church, please contact me.” I got 25 names.
I knew most of the people because I’d been involved in the community.
When I said I ‘grew up there’, the friends were great.
They welcomed us in, they were so nice to us, I can’t tell you
enough good things about the people. It makes me still cry to think
about how good they were to us because I didn’t know anybody
The [Christopher C.] Krafts were down the street, and the [Howard
“Bill] Tindalls, and [D. K. “Deke”] Slaytons—but
they were all 10, 15 years older. They had no young children. Jane
Tindall was a saint: her youngest was the same age as my oldest, and
she had a car, and she would take me places, even after I had four
kids. Most people, if you had four kids, didn’t want to invite
you anywhere. There wasn’t room. We had little cars, and Glynn
always took the car. He never carpooled.
Be that as it may, I got this list of 25 people together, and we talked.
I called the diocese and said, “I’m such-and-such, I’ve
got this list, and we want to start a parish out here in Friendswood.”
We met in the [Good Shepherd] Episcopal Church, we met in schools.
We finally got a group together and I called the diocese, I said,
“We have this group of 25 families that want to start a parish,
what can we do?” I was told, “Well, honey, when you get
your list of names complete, you have some of the men of the parish
come down and talk to us.” That was September 1965, I think,
Bryan was born January ’66, so by that time, we had even more
families. A lot of the men did actually go down there, and we formed
this parish. We met in the schools, in the City Hall, and the Episcopal
We met everywhere we could go. We had this old house on the property,
and we took it and fixed it up. Glynn swears there were rifle slots
in the window because it was that old. We had Mass in there. Pretty
soon, Father John Zabelskas showed up. It was La Salette Missionary
property, so one of the ladies knew the Saint Peter’s people,
and they would come out and say Mass. One day we were out there, digging
around, doing stuff. Father John arrived in his shiny black shoes,
his shiny black suit, his nice black car, and he looks at us, he says,
“ Is this Mary Queen church?” Yes, yes. Father John and
I are still dear friends. He’s 85, now, lives over at Friendswood;
he came back after his retirement. He went out and got himself some
jeans and boots, a trailer, moved in on the property, and that’s
how the parish started. Now, it’s huge. That’s how Mary
Queen got started. I always will belong over there. I know that’s
where I’ll end up.
I remember that Glynn told me, that when you arrived in Houston on
the airplane, you were pregnant and had, I think, a two-year-old by
I had Jenny, yes. She was 17 months old. We came in, that was July
3, 1962, and the doors opened on that plane out on the tarmac. I had
Jenny in my arms, pregnant, and I felt the heat. I tried to get back
on the plane. You had to go down the stairs and across the runway
to get to the gate, and I thought I was going to die before I got
there. The next day, they had a Fourth of July party, and we went
down[town Houston] to the Coliseum, it was called. I’m standing
around there with a kid in my arms, most of the time, the guys are
all drinking beer and they’re being ‘treated and feeded,’
and these guys come up with their big bellies and belt buckles and
said, “Come on, honey, have a beer.” I’m like, “I
can’t have any beer.” Then, this lady’s up there
dancing in her feathers, Sally Rand. I’m like, “This is
Texas? God, it’s a good thing my mother won’t see this.
She would go insane.” Good girls don’t go to these sort
of things. It was a little wild, but it was fun.
You weren’t in Ohio anymore, were you?
No, I wasn’t in Ohio anymore and my proper lace curtain Irish
mother, I wasn’t around her, either. It was kind of fun, and
everybody got along really well. At that point, everybody was working
so hard to get the thing going, and Chris [Kraft], of course, was
our guardian angel all along for Glynn.
Deke Slayton was a doll. Margie was a Lunney, not that we knew her,
but her maiden name was Lunney. Of course, Jane and Bill Tindall were
dear friends. We are still good friends with Bill and Valerie Anders.
We see many of the early folks still. We just went to Cernan’s
eightieth birthday party, which was beautiful. I’ve gone through
all of those kinds of things with people, and when you think back
on it, it’s quite an experience.
Glynn tends to write about all of the professional or the business-like
experiences rather as to the relationships, which is my complaint
about the Apollo-Soyuz book; there is none of the personal stuff that
made it interesting. The Russians would come to our house. We had
a big garage, a three-car garage, with a room upstairs where the kids
played. The Russians thought it was our ‘dacha.’ They’d
say, “Who lives there?” because it’s right here.
One night, one of them got in Cernan’s fast car—we lived
back about 800 feet into the woods, down the driveway and back and
it was just barely paved. I thought, “They’re going to
kill themselves, drive into the pool, wild.” They would show
me the wigs they were buying for their wives. We’d always say,
“No spooks [undercover agents], you can’t bring the spooks,”
to our house, so if any of them were, we didn’t know it. They
accepted it. They said, “That’s okay.” We’ve
seen a couple of the Russians from the program—[Valeri] Kubasov
and [Alexy] Leonov—out in Seattle, maybe three years ago. Leonov
is now a banker. He says, “I am now a capitalist.”
That was a lot of change from when you were at NACA and still the
When the name changed to NASA from NACA, it was just a name-change;
it meant no difference to their work. Maybe there was something I
wasn’t aware of because it didn’t affect anything I did.
One day we were NASA, and one day we were at NACA, so I really don’t
know that it mattered that much. The thing that probably bothered
most of us was when they changed from the Lewis Research Center and
called it John Glenn Center.
I wanted to ask you, did you have to wear a nurse’s uniform?
Yes. White stockings, shoes, cap, uniform, all of that. Carried my
hemostats and scissors in my pocket, and everything you would need
to tie off a bleeder or something. It’s just the way it was.
Yes, in the Jeep and in the plane, right?
That was our role, and I never felt—I don’t know what
the word is—I won’t say I was that self-assured, but I’ve
never felt threatened, or maybe because Ruth was a good steady, influence
on me. There was another lady would fill in when Ruth would go on
vacation, so then I’d essentially be in charge. She took over
when I got to Plum Brook, for that day. There were always two nurses
there because one would have to sometimes go out on the site, which
I usually did, and somebody would always be in the office in case
somebody was brought in or came in, there. We had a lot of heart attacks,
we had strokes, we had anything that can happen to the human population,
and they happened in earlier days than they do now. You had 40-and-50-year-olds
having coronaries, strokes, and a lot of lung disease. Some of the
Korean veterans had a lot of lung disease. I can’t remember
anything specific, but smoking was very much the thing to do, and
drinking. It was Humphrey Bogart era—they all did it.
There were a lot of social activities during those time periods, too,
There was always some event—picnics, and the family picnics,
and all kinds of things. My sister and brother-in-law would go, and
my parents, we’d bring them along, with the picnics. Two or
three nights a week, we’d be doing something with the folks.
Our job was regular 8:00 to 5:00 there; I didn’t have to work
shifts or anything, so whatever it was, 8:00 to 5:00, I think it was.
It was just easy.
Did you stay living with your parents until you and Glynn married?
I lived with my parents till I got married, essentially, but at Plum
Brook, when I’d go up there for the week, I had a place, I stayed
in a lady’s house. She rented out a room to me, and I would
go there and spend the nights, rather than driving back and forth.
It was just an easier thing to do. I got a little involved with Sandusky,
just kind of looking it over. At that age, and you’re unattached,
you just do different things. I remember taking some classes. I looked
at going to work in the ER, in the evenings, but I figured that wasn’t
a regular enough thing for me because some weeks, I’d be at
home, too. Girls didn’t really move out that much before they
were married, not that I knew anyone who did, anyways. Maybe we just
lived in a quiet area and nobody ever put their kid out on the street.
It’s been a good life.
[End of interview]