A BOOK OF DAYS in NM history

08:45 8/6/45

Seventy years ago America bombed Hiroshima. The crude uranium bomb delivered only about 3 percent of its power. It was the first true weapon of mass destruction. I am reposting a history of the making the atomic bomb and its test at Trinity site in New Mexico on July 16, 1945.

January 1, 2014 in A BOOK OF DAYS in NM history | Comments (0)

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The only color photo of the first nuclear explosion (c) Jack Aeby


Asked for his first thought when the Trinity bomb went off, J. Robert Oppenheimer said, “I am become death, the shatterer of worlds,” words from the Bhagavad-Gita, which he studied in Sanskrit. He was a strange physicist, mixing science and sacred text. “Trinity” itself, was his allusion to a Christian poem by John Donne.

The Bhagavad-Gita is a justification of war and warriors that also speaks of “wondrous forms not seen before,” and “the light of a thousand suns” and “time grown old, creating world destruction.”
That’s the way it was, for some, at Trinity Site in the New Mexico desert at 5:30 a.m., Mountain War Time, July 16, 1945. For those who understood what was happening, it was a cosmic revelation that would change the world forever. For those who didn’t, it was still one hell of a big bang.

Georgia Green, 18, of Socorro was in a car 50 miles north on Highway 85. She was being driven by her brother-in-law, Joe Wills, to a music lesson in Albuquerque. There was a tremendous flash. “What’s that?” she said. Georgia was blind.

Richard Harkey and his dad, Sparkey Harkey, were waiting in the dark for a train at Ancho station. “Everything suddenly got brighter than daylight. My dad thought for sure the steam locomotive had blown up.” They were 50 miles and a mountain range away from Trinity Site, built in super secrecy in a place so desolate the Spanish called it Jornada del Muerto, or journey of death.


JUNE 5, 1967

The Courthouse Raid Recalled

July 28, 2001 in A BOOK OF DAYS in NM history | Comments (9)

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By Larry Joseph Calloway

Rio Arriba County Courthouse (oil by Paul Folwell)

The night before I drove down to Santa Fe to take a reporter’s job a Boulder political science professor gave me some farewell advice that foreshadowed everything. “Remember,” she said. “You are going to a conquered land. And you are the invader.” Liberals. Hah!

Nine months later as I sat with bound wrists in the back seat of a hijacked Rio Arriba County sheriff’s GTO with a pistol at my head and a driver in a military beret with an M-1 carbine on his lap pointing to a handcuffed sheriff’s deputy I thought, not so funny.

The driver, a wild young man named Baltazar Martinez, pulled up to an old adobe house where a woman was watching two children under the cottonwood trees.

“See what I got?”

She responded in harsh Spanish, “Trespassers. Take them out and hang them.”

It was the afternoon of June 5, 1967, in Tierra Amarilla, N.M., and I was learning about land grants and the land-grant leader Reies Lopez Tijerina, the hard way.


November 20, 1902

Equal Footing In A Dry Land

July 27, 2001 in A BOOK OF DAYS in NM history | Comments (0)


Gov. Bill Richardson’s fluent switching to Spanish from time to time in his first

Albert Beveridge

legislative address was an artful reminder to the English-only dummies: New Mexico is a state full of second languages, always will be, and always has been, although not always so proudly.
The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations did not need to wait for translation of his linguistic departures from the text. Each time, the applause or laughter was immediate on the part of the crowd in the House chamber — well, half the crowd. Forty percent of the Legislature is Hispanic, as is the new governor, the new chief justice, the attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer and auditor. No governor in modern times — not even Toney Anaya or Jerry Apodaca — was able to switch smoothly to Spanish. (more…)

August 18, 1846

The First American Invasion

July 26, 2001 in A BOOK OF DAYS in NM history | Comments (0)

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Stephen Watts Kearny

It was Indian Market Sunday in Santa Fe. One of the sisters — Stephanie or Susanna, I don’t remember who — carried a bottle of champagne in a brown bag. They were slim and poised in their bright summer dresses. We met at the Albuquerque Journal building, where I had my office, and walked four blocks to the plaza. The streets were full of money and Native American art. At the plaza they were going to meet another sister, Adelia, and her two children. They hated to cause a scene, but this thing was a long time coming. It was August 18, 1996. One hundred fifty years ago to the day their great-great grandfather, Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny, led his Army of the West into the Santa Fe plaza and declared New Mexico a possession of the United States. (more…)