Oral Histories

Dorothy R. Rossignol


Dorothy Rossignol

A: I think he was making. Well, everything was contract. You didn’t take much out for Social Security back in those days. He would have his (annual) Social Security paid by July. They only took it out up to $5000 or so. We’d have it paid in then; but you don’t get much from those guys nowadays. It was contract and it was good money. They were very good. We always had a party at Christmas.

Q: Did you come up to Moab much?

A: The only time we came to Moab was if we went out across the ferry and went out to Hanksville. Sometimes maybe to Grand Junction or something, then we’d go back through Moab and go to Blanding and that way. We crossed the washes between the ferry and Hanksville sixty-three times. There were no bridges, no culverts. You go up and down and up and down. That’s why you didn’t go when it looked like rain. Because we have sat on one of the ups for seven hours waiting for the water to go down from a flash flood way up the country. With insurance, if you drove into the wash with water in it and you lost your car, they would not pay for it. But if you were in the wash and the water came, then the insurance company would pay for your car. Why I don’t know, but that’s the way. You don’t know what is tumbling down those washes or how deep it is. And yet there are stupid people who go whoosh. If you are going so that in front of your car there is a wash and it’s running and while you are up here and the back side starts running, then you are just there until the water goes down. But you can wait thirty minutes and then it’s dusty and you can go.

Q: Without TV, news or anything else, how did you keep up with what was going on in the country in general and in the uranium market and things like that?

A: Through the office; the guys would meet with the bosses and they came and went quite a bit. They had the radios that they could drive up on the hill and connect with the home office wherever it was. I guess they figured we didn’t need to know everything. But when we went to town in nice weather, we’d get a motel and go fishing or the movies or something, but, boy, we watched television. We watched television. Even after we moved from the Happy Jack to Green River, the first thing we did was buy a television. Everybody said “all they’ve got are re-runs.” But they weren’t re-runs to us. We’d never seen them before.

Q: What other things can you think about in that camp or your living style there at Happy Jack that would be unique compared to the way we live now?

A: Well, you get to know your spouse. You talk to them. Nobody is watching television or listening to the radio. You can’t go fishing because there is no place to go. We did a lot of hiking, walking, down in the canyons. When they worked, they worked hard, and didn’t feel like doing a lot. You couldn’t say well lets go to Blanding and see a movie tonight because that would be 140 miles round trip. In the dark, on those roads, no, thank you. So you didn’t go to town and Fry Canyon didn’t have anything. You might go down there and have a beer and go back home, but you didn’t see any television or anything down there either.

Q: How many years were you at Happy Jack?

A: We were there from ’59 to ’63.

Q: About 4 years out there away from everything.

A: It was seventy-one miles from my front door to the front door of the bank in Blanding. And if you had more than one flat tire on the trip, it takes a long time to get there.

Q: When you left Happy Jack was the mine closing down?

A: It was closing down. Atlas had bought it and I don’t know what they were going to do, but everybody was leaving.

Q: Did they all go up to Green River?

A: That’s where they were going to go, and then for those that wanted to go, that’s why we bought 5 acres of ground and we were going to put a trailer park for all these nice people to live. After they went down 20 feet and shut it down, nobody got a job. That’s when uranium was kind of on the way out.

Q: Here you have a husband who is a miner and uranium is on the way out, now what?

A: Well, at the time that we moved to Green River, shortly after all this, the missile base came in. My husband was a cook, too. (That’s how come I married him) They had a commissary and a cook shack. The people who came to fire the missiles had to live in these little places and they had this big mess hall for the workers to eat. He went to cook in the mess hall and I did paperwork for the soldiers and the missile launchers that would come and stay like in little motels. They stayed right out there because it was out in the tulles from Green River.

Q: Not close to Green River?

A: No because you couldn’t fire a missile from the city limits.

Q: Where did they live in relation to town?

A: It was far enough that they wanted you there and not have to be called, maybe out of Rays Tavern. The first missile that was fired from the Green River base was Athena and it was supposed to come down in White Sands, NM. First one came down in Durango, Colorado. Durango said if you can’t hit White Sands any better than that, you better get a different program over there, but that only happened once. Of course, it was the first one. We used to go out and sit on a hill on the base because we had badges and watch them fire the missiles. I might find some pictures. Sometimes they would be counting down and come to a hold, and sometimes we would sit there all night before they would fire the missile. Everything has to be just right, especially after the first one. Durango was very upset with us.

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