Space Pioneers in Their Own Words
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Space Pioneers in Their Own Words
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Each month, a brief excerpt from a space pioneer's oral history will be featured on this page. This is the excerpt for July 2018:
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 Darby Chiles was considered one of the Broomstick Scientists, even though he held a desk job at White Sands Proving Ground in the post-Paperclip years. His oral history interview took place in September 2001.


I received my orders to White Sands Proving Ground, and I said, "Where is that?" No one at Fort Myers knew where White Sands was in October 1950. They said, "Well, go across the street to the Pentagon Travel Office and ask them how to get there." I went to the Pentagon. I am serious. No one at the Pentagon Travel Office knew where White Sands was located. I said, "Well, where do I go?" He said, "Usually we try to send fellows in a group, two, three, or twenty together with meal tickets, that sort of thing. But we can't send you with anyone because we don't know where you are going. We'll send you alone. Here's an allowance for travel by personal car in lieu of railroad ticket and meals."

They gave me so many days to get there, which allowed me several days at home en route. "When you get to Chicago, ask them, they'll know." So when I got to Chicago, nobody knew, except they knew where New Mexico was. "Get on this train to New Mexico and the conductor will know." Well, I got on the train and the conductor sadly shook his head and said, "No, son, I don't know where it is, but there's a new conductor that gets on just as the train enters New Mexico. He will know because he is right there in New Mexico." So he got on the train, and he says "White Sands Proving Ground. No son, but I know where White Sands is." And I said, "Fine, would you help me get off?" He said, "Yes, it is near a town, the stop is called Alamogordo, New Mexico."...

I remember the first sandstorm. I was standing on the second floor looking out of the window of the fraternity house. I don't know where it came from, but here comes an outside toilet, a privy. I had never seen any on the base. But now there's one rolling end over end across the company compound. And then there were other small sheds and oil drums and what-have-you, because it was like a hundred-mile-an-hour wind.
Featured Excerpt
 Home
Each month, a brief excerpt from a space pioneer's oral history will be featured on this page. This is the excerpt for July 2018:
Darby Chiles was considered one of the Broomstick Scientists, even though he held a desk job at White Sands Proving Ground in the post-Paperclip years. His oral history interview took place in September 2001.


I received my orders to White Sands Proving Ground, and I said, "Where is that?" No one at Fort Myers knew where White Sands was in October 1950. They said, "Well, go across the street to the Pentagon Travel Office and ask them how to get there." I went to the Pentagon. I am serious. No one at the Pentagon Travel Office knew where White Sands was located. I said, "Well, where do I go?" He said, "Usually we try to send fellows in a group, two, three, or twenty together with meal tickets, that sort of thing. But we can't send you with anyone because we don't know where you are going. We'll send you alone. Here's an allowance for travel by personal car in lieu of railroad ticket and meals."

They gave me so many days to get there, which allowed me several days at home en route. "When you get to Chicago, ask them, they'll know." So when I got to Chicago, nobody knew, except they knew where New Mexico was. "Get on this train to New Mexico and the conductor will know." Well, I got on the train and the conductor sadly shook his head and said, "No, son, I don't know where it is, but there's a new conductor that gets on just as the train enters New Mexico. He will know because he is right there in New Mexico." So he got on the train, and he says "White Sands Proving Ground. No son, but I know where White Sands is." And I said, "Fine, would you help me get off?" He said, "Yes, it is near a town, the stop is called Alamogordo, New Mexico."...

I remember the first sandstorm. I was standing on the second floor looking out of the window of the fraternity house. I don't know where it came from, but here comes an outside toilet, a privy. I had never seen any on the base. But now there's one rolling end over end across the company compound. And then there were other small sheds and oil drums and what-have-you, because it was like a hundred-mile-an-hour wind.





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