Sunday, October 02, 2011

People, Places & Projects!

One of the interesting things of traveling place to place to teach quilting, is the history of the places I get to visit. Sometimes the most INTERESTING histories come from the smaller out-of-the-way places.

Sometimes getting off the main interstate takes me to a place I’ve never been before.

Have you ever heard of Oak Ridge, Tennessee as a “Secret City?” Anna gave me a little tour of what she could of the Y-12 area. I had to come back to my hotel room and read more about it:

From 1942 until 1949, Oak Ridge a city of 75,000 people did not exist on ANY map. The 100,000 people working here to both build and operate the world's first successful uranium separation facilities were locked in a battle with Germany and Japan, although they did not specifically know exactly what the true nature of the "battle" was, they only knew THEY HAD TO WIN IT.

Oak Ridge grew within a matter of months to the fifth largest city in Tennessee, but was a SECRET CITY. A city that required special badges to be worn by all inhabitants, even children. 840 buses brought people to work here and took them home. The city operated twenty-four hours a day. The plants operated day and night. Thousands of rail cars brought materials into Oak Ridge and ALL of them left empty.

Doesn’t that sound like a plot for some kind of Hollywood movie? We'll, it is not. It was real, it happened here in this little sleepy area with it’s rivers, rolling hills and ridges! I found THIS ARTICLE to be really interesting!

But while the whole “Secret City” was about splitting atoms, plutonium, and uranium with the focus on ending WWII, we ourselves made messes that had us stating

“It looks like a BOMB went off in here!!”

oakridge_TN2011 026

We were playing with our strings and turning them into Spider-Web blocks!

It was a wonderful day with the ladies --- some who had come from Georgia…..some from down by Chattanooga, Some from Nashville, and some even from Ohio! Those who travelled in found that they were only strangers up until the introductions were made, and then everyone knew everyone. And we were friends. Quilters are just like that, you know? '

One of the great things I enjoy is walking table to table to table and “eaves dropping” on conversations, and sharing in the stories and the laughter. It’s infectious! You just can’t “NOT” have a good time when hanging around with Quilters, even if you are strangers at the beginning of the morning!

Add a buffet table for lunch, and that seals the deal! There are some shots of our yummies in the slide show above. Pay very close attention to the pecan pie bars..Oh yeah, man! Those were delish!

I’ve got a couple more hours before check out time in the hotel…project coming along nicely! It will be a beautiful day for a drive, leaving the Secret City on my way back home through the Smoky Mountains ---

Thanks for everything, Ritzy Thimble Quilters! It’s been a ball! Let’s do this again, shall we?


  1. You realize when you show us yummy food that we're going to ask for the recipe.......those bars looked like they were to die for :o)

  2. Great day Bonnie, that was quite a slide show! All of the blocks were wonderful! When can we get together and do this??? Wonder if this will be part of the new mystery you are presenting?? I just loved the looks of these blocks and would love to see them when they are all put together.

  3. I learned about Oak Ridge TN back in the 60s... amazing history!

    Safe travels.... it's a beautiful day so enjoy your trip thru the mtns!

  4. Hey Bonnie, this is Becky, Kevin's friend. The above post from Daniel(my grandson) was me..he was signed onto my iPad with his Google account instead of me...just thought I'd explain.

  5. Bonnie, I love these slide shows. They are so inspirational! I'm going to work on my Hidden Spools now. Thanks for the motivation - and the pattern!

  6. Bonnie, if you want some good reading, get the books for forensice anthropologist, Bill Bass written with his co-author, Jon Jefferson under the name of "Jefferson Bass". He is from Knoxville and is the founder of the Body Farm at UT. Anyway, one of his books is called "Bones of Betrayal" and is set in Oakridge during those years of the "Manhatten Project". Fascinating fiction based on real facts. Bet you get hooked on his books. I promise you won't be sorry.

  7. Also forgot to tell you that if you go back, you have to go to "Big Eds" for the best pizza you ever ate in your life! It is in downtown Oakridge. Yummmm!

  8. VERY interesting link to the Oak Ridge history page, thank you. One of the craziest aspects of the atomic story is that Hitler FORBADE his scientists to work on atomic research, viewing it as "corrupt science" (because Einstein led the field and was Jewish), and made them concentrate on chemistry instead, in which Germany had long been a world leader. Result was that they developed rocket fuels, but lost the war.

  9. Cool story about Oak Ridge. It does sound like something out of the movies. Your workshops always look like they are so much fun? I hope you come to my area sometime. The pecan bars do look absolutely delicious. I will have to try to find a recipe for that!

  10. Wow, Bonnie, what a story! My Dad was one of those who went to work in the "Secret City" in the years after he finished his stint in the Navy after WWII. He went alone, leaving my Mother safely with her parents in Kentucky. Til the day he died he would never talk about what he did there except to acknowledge that he had been employed there. Top secret stuff, alright.
    Wanda Gene

  11. I never knew that. My dad was in the airforce and worked there in the early 50's. I was born there.

  12. Although I find the history of Oak Ridge, TN and Los Alamos, NM fascinating, the *most* fascinating thing about these two places is that as of 15 years or so ago, they were so much alike that I could be on one of them and suddenly think I was in the other. Weird!
    Haven't been back to Los Alamos since the fires, so I don't know if that would still happen. It was a very strange kind of disorientation!

  13. Thanks for sharing the workshop photos and the info about Oak Ridge! I recently retired from the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) and they still oversee a training lab there...



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