Saturday, July 16, 2011

Los Alamos, NM - The Pond & Church family

Just this last Thursday 7/14/11,  I had the pleasure of meeting the grandson of Ashley Pond, Jr.

Here is how it all happened.  Gene has been part of a study by DOE/Johns Hopkins where they follow past employees of LANL and Sandia Labs.  He had a physical with them 5 years ago and this time we had to go to Albuquerque to the UNM School of Medicine.

While he was being tested one of the ladies in the room mentioned that the man sitting at the table was the grandson of the man who started the Boy Scout camp in the Jemez mountains which later became Los Alamos. 

I got into the conversation when he said he was born in Santa Fe.  I laughed and said - yep in a Post Office box.  (Back then Los Alamos was so secret, nobody knew what was going on and all mail or reference to an address was the PO Box in Santa Fe).

I mentioned reading the book 'The House at Owati Bridge" and he had recollections of Edith Warner and how his mother would give talks about it and the correct pronunciation. (Owati - I said Ah-ta-wee and he said no out-ah-wee!)

Then I asked was his last name Pond? He said no it was Church and I said Peggy Pond Church.  He ginned and said "she was my mother".  Holy cow!!!  We had lived there for 7 years and anyone who knew anything about the history knew these names.  It was like talking to Christopher Columbus' grandson about America but on a lot smaller scale, but huge for me! 

He told us that his mother has written a book called "Shoes for the Santo Nino" and this winter the UNM Children's theater will be performing it as a Children's opera. (The Santo Nino is a statue in the chapel at Santuario de Chimayo and the legend says the little child leaves at night to help children and because of all the walking his shoes get worn out and need to be replaced) 

At that point a woman who works for UNM and was not part of the study came into the room.  She heard Peggy Pond Church's name mentioned and about came out of her skin.  Turns out she spent 42 years in NH and moved to NM to get away from the winters.  

She is a H U G E student of Los Alamos history and was naming names, told a story about Edward Teller, knew all about Ashley Pond, Jr and on and on.  She even got Mr. Hugh Church's autograph with a note that he was the 3rd son of Peggy Pond Church.  To say she was beside herself is an understatement.

I write this so I will remember it all and as a reminder to go back and read that book again.  And also for my son who was born in Los Alamos and my other 2 children who spent their first 4 - 5 years of schooling there. 

This experience also goes to prove that everybody has a story and we can all connect on one level or another.  Mr. Church was so humble in telling us these stories and not the least bit haughty, as so many could or would be.  It was 10 minutes in my life that really meant something because it came out of the clear, blue sky. 

1 comment:

Ashley said...

And Teh Interwebs make the world smaller still.

I liked the write-up. All the Churches are wonderful people. Those Ponds on the other hand…