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We Had Geiger Counters in Elementary School

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“I grew up at Hanford (Richland, Washington).  I was born in 1959.  We used to wear dog tags for identification and have “body counters,” i.e., Geiger counters brought to our elementary school so we could each lay down and be scanned.  My sister and I both have medical deformities (more internal).  There is a lot more craziness than that.  My grandfather was part of the Manhattan Project.  My mother worked at Hanford for 40 years and I worked out there as well.
     I just assumed that all of the “nuclear” children that lived in these places [like Hanford or Rocky Flats] wore dog tags.  Mine had name, address, phone number, blood type, birth date, religious affiliation and next of kin.  I have a half sister whom I met later in life who reported the same thing.  It seemed silly because even at 4 years old, I knew the dog tags wouldn’t make the slightest difference in identifying anyone if they died from a nuclear accident.  I never said that to any adult, of course.  Maybe it was just a Hanford thing.
     Although my health has been reasonably good, my sister, half-sister, dad and mom have suffered.  My half-sister has had breast cancer, ovarian cancer and so many problems I can’t catalog them here. My mom has had Graves disease and breast cancer twice.  My dad had lung cancer which metastasized to his brain.  It was awful.  My dad died when he was 58.  My mom is still alive and almost 81 years old, although she does have a rare type of dementia which the doctors at UT Southwestern Medical School believe may be an undiscovered type.  Unfortunately, we won’t know for sure until she passes and her brain can be examined.”

–Pam Swank Gonzales

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