University of Nevada, Reno




Typing at the Test Site

By Lorraine 


LorraineIn the summer before my senior year, I came to Las Vegas, Nev., to work for the summer. I was tired of going to the summer sessions. My friends Marie and Bernie were living here, so I stayed with them in an apartment downtown. They both had been here for three years then, so they both had jobs and Marie had a car. I’d walk all over downtown putting in applications.

At that time, the employment office was downtown and I went there looking for a job. I took the usual typing, shorthand and spelling tests. About a week later the employment office called me giving me an address of a company that was hiring. It was Wackenhut Services, Inc. and it had the contract for security at the Nevada Test Site. I took the tests they required and the first interview. The job was at the Test Site for a typist and it paid five dollars an hour and five dollars subsistence per day. I thought it was great, since at school I was only paid a dollar an hour.

The second interview was at the Test Site a week later, and I didn’t have a car to drive Mercury and couldn’t borrow Marie’s because she needed it to go to work. Over the weekend some friends of ours from Espanola visited us and I told them my plight. Anyway my friend said I could use his car to go to Mercury for the interview. I went for the interview and they hired me that day. While at the Test Site, I went to the Housing Office to look for a room so I could stay there during the week. As luck would have it a lady in the dorm went to the building where I would be working so she gave me a ride to work.

One day when I was walking to the Badge Office Building, I saw this man and he looked familiar, then it dawned on me who he was. It was the chemistry teacher from Santa Cruz, Mr. Martinez. He had quit his teaching job and was working for Los Alamos Scientific Laboratories.

I spoke to him and he remembered me. He said they had sent him from Los Alamos to work at Mercury for a week. My fellow workers said they’d worked there 10 years and never had anyone from their hometown passed through the Badge Office.

On week-ends I would find a ride to Las Vegas and stay with Marie and Bernie. We would go to the lounge shows downtown and just have fun. When August rolled around, I did not want to go back to school, so I called my parents and asked if I could work another semester. They let me and I was very content with my job and my life.

I met my future husband at Mercury. We would double date with Marie and her boyfriend Chico, who also worked at the Test Site. We’d go on picnics and parties together. We were so ready to get married. We went to pre-marital classes here in Las Vegas with the priest from St. Frances de Sales and our wedding bans were announced in Santa Cruz, my parish and Albuquerque, his parish. We were married by Father Augustine in the same church where I made my First Communion.

After I got married, my husband and I took the bus to the Test Site. We’d leave Las Vegas at six in the morning and be home by six in the evening. It made for a long day. After I got pregnant, we still kept the same schedule. It was not easy, but I was young and could do anything.

After my son was born, I found a licensed babysitter not far from where we lived to take care of him. By this time I had received several promotions at work and was now doing payroll. I worked several years more at Mercury, and then the payroll department was moved to Las Vegas.


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