by Sharon Lippincott
I woke filled with eager anticipation on June 5, 1962 recognizing it as a milestone day. I hurriedly pulled curlers from my hair and took extra care teasing and spraying my bouffant hairdo, then dressed quickly in a simple dress and high heels. I wanted to look my best as I began my first full-time job a week after high school graduation. True, it was only a summer job, but I wanted to make a good first impression on the staff of the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory technical library. I’d been hired sight-unseen based on my written application.
After breakfast, I slid into the car next to my father as I would do each morning for the rest of the summer. He dropped me off in front of the administration building on his way to work at a site further out the mesa and picked me up each afternoon.
Full of anticipation mixed with a tinge of uncertainty, I followed dozens of classmates and strangers into the Ad Building auditorium for security indoctrination. “Don’t ever tell strangers you work at the Lab,” we were cautioned. “Even if you don’t have access to classified information, they may not believe you. You could be tortured….” My heart froze at a mental image of fingernails slowly ripped loose.
Half an hour later, I was greeted by Barbara Hendrie, Director of Circulation Services. She introduced me to Vera and Bertha who showed me the procedural ropes and immersed me in office gossip.
The day passed in a blur as I eagerly drank in procedures and reveled in my new status as a wage-earning adult in a real office. At noon I found my way to the cafeteria and was thrilled at a beckoning invitation to sit at a table filled with male grad students working on various Lab projects for the summer. My heart beat faster as I wondered if I might find a summer romance among them. Romance was my next goal.
On the way home I could hardly wait to head to the Recreation Hall for folk dancing, my customary Tuesday evening pastime. Most of my friends had also begun summer jobs at the lab that day, and older friends would be home from college. Tonight dancing would be secondary to conversational buzz.
About twenty minutes after I arrived, I noticed a cluster of male strangers saunter through in. I instantly recognized grad students and sped off to greet them, beating the pack of other eligible gals by seconds.
One tall, skinny guy gazed at me with a shy smile that warmed my heart and lit a fire of imagined possibilities. We danced and talked. He offered me a ride home, but I had driven myself. I found my summer romance that night. We were married a year later.
That job was a milestone, but a small one compared to meeting that tall skinny guy who has been part of my life for fifty years today.
Sharon Lippincott lives to write about life and lead others down the life writing path. She is collaborating with the Allegheny County Library Association to start life story writing groups for all county library patrons and is thrilled to see this project spreading rapidly across the country and beyond.