By SHARON SNYDER and MAXINE JOPPA
Los Alamos Historical Society
In 1973, the alumni of the Los Alamos Ranch School arranged a huge reunion in Santa Fe. Many of the former students flew to Chicago just to take a special train to Lamy, a route many of them had taken as young boys.
John Shedd Reed, CEO of the Santa Fe Railroad and a member of the LARS Class of 1933,
made the cars on that special train available. Once in Santa Fe, the alumni stayed at Bishop’s Lodge, then owned by Jim Thorpe, LARS Class of 1942.
In anticipation of the “boys” returning to Los Alamos for a day, the historical society sent old
photographs from the Ranch School era to the Los Alamos Monitor to publish in advance of the visit. Those same pictures, clipped from the newspapers, were displayed for the men to see during the reunion, and, naturally, they wanted copies of the photographs! The historical society explored the possibility of furnishing prints from the original photos, but that idea proved too expensive to recreate all of them in large numbers. So, another idea emerged.
All of the photos could be put together in a commemorative book that would sold to the men who had attended the reunion. With a little more thought, it seemed a good idea to add some history of the school and captions for the photographs, but all of those plans were to be carried out by a group of volunteers who knew little or nothing about publishing and had no money!
Ranch School master Fermor Church was ill (he would die within a few months), but he and his wife, Peggy Pond Church, agreed to write a short history of the school to go with the
To produce the book, the volunteers who put it all together went to the Los Alamos Credit Union and secured a no-interest loan on a “pay it back as you can” basis. With the book finally ready to go to press, the inexperienced publishers contracted with a printer in Albuquerque, but they were given a bad press run. When the books arrived, there were mistakes and even some pages missing!
(Photo) Grandniece Rebekah Ashton with Helene Suydam.
by Sharon Snyder
Los Alamos Historical Society
Helene Suydam, one of our revered residents, enjoyed a very special milestone this
past week. On August 25, she turned 100 years old! Helene celebrated the day with
a small party hosted by her niece Sarah Ashton and grandniece Rebekah Ashton.
Family members traveled from as far away as North Carolina and Washington to
be here for the celebration and join a few of Helene’s friends on the patio at
Helene has lived in Los Alamos for 72 years, but as it is for most Los Alamos
people, life began elsewhere. She was born in 1919 in Philadelphia, PA. Her
college years were spent at Swarthmore, where she earned a degree in
mathematics. After college, she took a job at Dahlgren, the Naval Proving Grounds
in Virginia, and worked on the Norden bombsight. Dahlgren was also where she
and her future husband, Bergen “Jerry” Suydam, came to know Norris Bradbury,
who eventually brought the couple to Los Alamos in 1947.
These articles are written by the Los Alamos Historical Society Staff. Many of these articles were originally published by the