President's Letter 2006

By Kenneth Junkins, President

In 1942, my grandfather, Raymond Dexter "Deck" Junkins, who was working as a Patent Attorney for the Bailey Meter Company i Cleveland, Ohio, took on a second job to help in the World War II effort, as a consultant with the War Production Board (WPB). From April 1942 to October 1945, he worked as a "Dollar a Year" man as a member of the Y-12 Mercury Task Force out of the Oak Ridge Reservation traveling the country collecting mercury for the Manhattan Project. For this, he was paid $1 per year and was required by his security clearance to keep this information secret from all, including his family. We know about this now, long after the fact, by the four un-cashed checks from the War Production Board to my grandfather that my father has. These checks are dated from 1943-1946. In 1946, Deck was paid only $.31, presumably because he only worked about a third of that year. Little Boy, the atomic bomb partially developed at Oak Ridge, was dropped August 6th of 1945.

During that three and a half year period of my father's life, he tells me that he only saw his father on Sundays as his mother would take him to the East Cleveland station every Sunday evening to board a train, where he had a permanently reserved roomette, to Washington and the Pentagon. During the week, he would fly throughout the United States collecting mercury for the Manhattan Project. On the following Friday night, he would board the train in Washington and my mother would pick him up Saturday morning in Cleveland. He would spend most of the day at his office at the Bailey Meter Company, catching up on his work, and be home in the evening and Sunday during the day.

This family story has long fascinated me. Mostly, I think, because not even my dad knows much about it. It got me thinking about all the little family stories and legends that float around my family, and all those legends that float around all of my cousins' families.

In this day and age of computers and the Internet, much of the "technical" information underlying family stories can be found by using search engines such as Google or Yahoo! Information about the Manhattan Project is the basis of research that I am now doing about my grandfather. But, the real stories lay in the minds of the few living people who knew him and remember him, and in the correspondence that sits, unarchived in boxes and drawers.

Recently, a huge collection of documents was properly preserved, indexed and archived by Kay Wood, a Junkins descendant and friend of Roland's. This marvelous slice of history is courtesy of the late Roland Junkins and resides in the Junkins Family Scottish Heritage Room at the Old York Historical Society. You can learn more about the Roland Junkins letter archive in the article about the dedication of the Junkins Family Scottish Heritage Room on page 9 in this newsletter.

Also in this issue, my father has unearthed a collection of Junkins' stories by Norris Junkins. Family stories and legends such as these need to be collected. This is the sort of work the JFA can accomplish with little money or effort. All that needs to be done is for Junkins' to write down the stories and share them around, to collect them in one common place.

This past year and a half for me has been consumed with selling and buying a new house, moving, a new school district, Logan's competitive dancing, a trip to Scotland, and the wedding of my oldest son, Adam. In short, I was far busier than usual. Because of that, I did not take the initiative (nor did I follow up with the prodding from other Directors) to organize a proper reunion.

However, this year we will work hard to put together a reunion. Several Directors have offered ideas, and in addition I am asking if any of you receiving this newsletter have thoughts on a location for a reunion, or future reunions, please send them to me.

This year, I would also like to initiate regional reunions. I am suggesting a nation-wide "Robert and Sarah Day". The long Memorial Day weekend (May 26, 27 and 28 this year) would be perfect for this event. Regional groups of Junkins cousins would organize their own reunions for that weekend. Kathy and I will be organizing a "Mid-Atlantic" Junkins reunion. There could easily be an Ohio, Kansas and New England version of the same. This would allow cousins who cannot, or would not, travel great distances to participate in local reunions.

The most important part of the mini-reunions is to document them. Take photos, video and/or write up an account of the reunion and send it along to me. Then, we'll compile all of these reports into a newsletter to share with everyone. The mini-reunions are not intended to take the place of a grand reunion later in the year, but rather to afford opportunities for all of the Junkins cousins across the country to participate. If you are considering hosting a mini-reunion, please let me know.

I hope your are all well.

With Love, Ken Junkins, President, JFA

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