Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Generations of Sparks

The recent news about nuclear warfare has reminded me of my late paternal grandfather, who died during the 1980s and who served in the US Navy during World War II. I have wondered about what it would have been like to know him these days. I did meet him a couple of times: in the 1970s when I was two years old (I'll have to find that old picture of me sitting on his lap) and once when he and I visited Dad's rented house on Galer Street (across the street from the old West Queen Anne Elementary School, which was still a school then), on Seattle's Queen Anne Hill. I remember his droopy ears and his black-rimmed glasses.

Dad has told me a fair bit about Grandpa Talley. Grandpa was a Navy Chief, and a radio technician, or "spark." Dad would be called "sparky", as he was the son of a spark.

Grandpa Talley was on board the U.S.S. Dixie at "Operation: Crossroads", July 1 1946, which I guess would be 60 years ago this Saturday. Dad still has the letter that Grandpa sent him from the Bikini Atoll, where the Crossroads tests were conducted. Dad would have been a year old at the time that Grandpa wrote the letter...when Dad invites Kirsten and I over for dinner I will usually stop in Dad's office at least once, to look at old pictures of Dad's salmon and halibut catches, family photos and Grandpa's letter from the atoll.
With a bit of Googling on "operation crossroads" I stumbled on this story, at the Atomic Veterans History Project, by one Harold Bakke, who was a sailmaker on the Dixie. I wonder if he knew old Spark Talley.

No comments: