This is part 2 of the 2019- 2020 mini-stories episodes where I interview the staff about their favorite little stories from the built world that don’t quite fill out an entire episode for whatever reason but they are cool 99pi stories nonetheless…
We have centuries old bonds, standard tunings mandated by international treaty, abandoned mansions, and secret babies. If you ever need a conversation starter, the mini-stories are our gift to you.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent, invisible, I'm roman Mars.
Is this part to twenty nineteen? Twenty twenty many stories episodes where I interviewed the staff about their favorite little stories from the built world? They dont quite fill out an entire episode, for whatever reason they are cool. Ninety nine pm stories. Nonetheless, we have centuries old bond standard tunisians mandated by International Treaty abandoned, mentions it seeker babies
You ever need a conversation starter. These many stories are gift to you. Stay with us
versus producer, Joe Rosenberg
Joe. What do you have me? What
Happy Roman is a story that I have been sitting on for quite some time. You know it's one of this planet, money, pitches that I know
sent a planet
I go dreadful? It added actually starts a rather might familiarity with it starts about five years ago, when I was reading the news- and I came across this weird little AP wires or recital no weird abuse.
Where's servers items are our special and it was about this announcement in Britain by George Osborne that then Chancellor of the exchequer in the UK, that Britain
was finally going to finish paying off its bonds from world war. One like a hundred years ago were one not met. We were too were one yes, bonds from the war to handed rights, still counting the cost of the Great WAR Britain
only now redeeming most of the remaining bonds raised to pay for world war, one one hundred years after it started,
Britain has remembered its debt to the fall in another country
set to repay its financial dead. The government will pay off more than three hundred million dollars worth of those bonds. In February I was like how is it possible
that is only now paid off its removed, or what is I mean? I know must have inexpensive. Obviously, Britain issued a lot of bonds to pay for it, but I figured you: have Britain? One of the wealthiest countries in the world must have paid off his bond for a long time ago. Just so, I'm mixer
up to speed? A bond generally is like when the government needs funds,
or something, and they don't have enough cash on hands? They go to the populist essential,
and they say by this bond. For
amount of money and then over the course of
ten twenty thirty years. We will pay you back that amendment
plus a little bit of interest in this is guaranteed by the guy.
So it's a really really safe investment right after, like MAX
pretty year is usually bond, matures that's the term at which point the government has redeem the boss, Lou pay back everything and the interest in thirty years time correct
they are no longer in your debt write.
These were one bonds, weren't redeemed until they were ninety five years old, so that
wait too long for a month now it's crazy, but then it got weirder because it turned out world where one was just like the most well known thing: the british government wasn't done paying off. There were actually older bonds from their books that they announced
there are also redeeming as part of this package,
including bonds from wait for it, the Crimea
what a relief effort for the irish potato, famine,
the slavery, abolition, ACT, the Napoleonic wars,
that's great, and even that wasn't the oddest of the debt, because, after making it
announcement about World WAR, one George Osborne, the chancellor,
The exchequer must have thought that he was like a role
as he then send out a tweet which just might be the most anachronistic tweet. That you'll ever see check this out says
who were deemed to internet million pounds of debts incurred? Because of these?
South Sea bubble. Another financial crisis were clean up after what was
the South Sea bubble. Was you talk about what he's your
her into their bonds from a government bail out of investors,
who were ruined by the infamous South Sea China bubble in seventy
in twenty or so
can. I forget fancy turn above or seventeen twenty right of quite alarming, apparently, obviously, like these bondholders restore getting paid back by the UK,
three hundred years later, they had not forgotten, they were still expecting their money. That is credible. Three hundred years of bonds, that's powers at par
so it turns out what is going on and the reason there were. These old old debts is obvious
samples of a very rare type of bond, called a perpetual bond. How does a perpetual bond
ok, so a perpetual wine is quite simply a bond that never matures
promises that, instead of paying you back your principle plus interest in full after say thirty years, the government will just keep the principle
and instead they'll pay. You, your children and your children's children's children's children in a small amount of interest every year, for basically all eternity for at least until they decide to redeem the bond, which means they finally decide to pay. You back the principle, which is what the British finally did, with twelve hundred or so perpetual bondholders in twenty fourteen wow
so winded, they make a perpetual bond. I mean. Maybe you better question is: why did they do it in the first place, because it seems like a really
bad idea to borrow money. This way like, where did this idea come from being
is actually that in some ways in the beginning, most bonds were perpetual bonds before there were even more
Oh borrowing, there was just a process through which you would rents money you would render.
So this is a geared ruin. Hearst he's a professor of finance at Yale and good sense,
if you go back to the middle ages, you autonomy
an economy were actually kind of like today. Renting is really popular. You might pay a small amount of
money every month to rent a field or and oxen or a house, and just as you,
would render house for an unspecified amount of time. You would run money for unspecified amount of time, showing a private arrangements between two parties. It is always
easy to say I'm gonna rented for some unspecified a time, and you call me- or I call you and
media of the lung right, so just
The way that you rent an apartment, you give the apartment back when you're done renting that you can do the same thing with money order. So if you needed
the gold coins, and I were creditor at basely, say to you look I'll give you
fifty gold coins now and you can keep them as long as you want just as long as you can
must pay me at least to
old coins amount indefinitely. Until you give me
like regional fifty points back exact. Ok, they make sense
so if that was the standard that their early type of loaning was perpetual loans. Why
Furthermore, perpetual loans being paid out still to this deck right, that's a good cause.
And it turns out that there were a few problems with perpetual loans, but the biggest might simply be that when it came
the bonds issued by governments and companies, these tapes bond carry a lot of risk with them, because governments and companies
like all the time at which point not only do payments stop, but you're also,
not going to be getting your principle back. My ever, and it says this happened
all the time. So there were bonds issued by France before the french Revolution in by Russia before the russian revolution. Britain, Spain, defaulted on its debt like three times and so much
proposal bonds and lost a history
So is the South Sea China bubble
from seventeen when he's at the oldest perpetual Bonner, there even older wonder there. Actually there
grand geared or rather Yale owns one of cool.
So here is the deputy director of an academic research group at Yale called the Centre for international finance and one of them
they do is engaged in something called properly, which sounds like an ancient.
Skin wasting disease, but you have all it means is that they collect and curate financial instruments from various places in times in history and one of the most interesting contract remarks
she is a very old dutch bonds issued by a dutch water authority in sixteen forty eight, which pays interests.
Today. So sixteen forty eight. So this is a bond. That's been actively paid back
since sixteen forty, eight, yes and an ineffective
all of the oldest known perpetual bonds. I think there's fear than like half a dozen of them are from
single dutch water board.
And the reason is because this waterborne is basically this regional entity which, for hundreds of years, has been in charge of maintaining all of the dams and levies and dying Siena in giving corner of the Netherlands any. Oh, that's a good business to be in its really stable, the dutch
what our authorities they never go to war and day, but if the power of taxation, so they have been good borrowers
Right, Alaska, there's a there's. A strong incentive for those institutions is to survive because people need them in order to not drown basic right.
It will become even more pertinent going for it superfluous,
and I actually also have a photo of really likes you absolutely ok. So if you pick up this book to write, go to the flag, page is a book gear
and a colleague edited called the origin of value, which is about very
financial instruments throughout the ages and there's a chapter all about this bond, and so you can see the front on the back of it here while words like it's just a bunch of script like it doesn't look like designed the way, I think, of a bond looking with all the full agreement
and cool stuff about a bond. It's really basic yeah, yeah, yeah other you what you will see at the centre of the front page of the bond.
Are like there is the small print. You know it's laying out the terms
and in Dutch that even gear it says he has struggle reading this old Dutch. But basically it says- and I mean it-
but all these names, Johan Van Hoover, hook
Representative of the water, acknowledges
to have received from Mr Nicholas the major one thousand care
less guilders of twenty stuivers apiece.
Does it say what those a hundred careless guilders for four
Yes, actually does. It was for a new cribbing in the town of homes, weak and a cribbage apparently was a kind of peer that was placed in the bend of a river and
Islands of appear would help prevent the banned in the river from shifting and Mandarin, so just don't use the river and yeah and don't let me start on the answer in this, as you know, and so and it's what is it
what are some divers? I have absolutely no button, but the bond also acknowledges that they owe an amount of five percent a year to Mr De Major, his heirs, more other rightful persons, which means this bond is transferable, either as a gift or by sailed to anyone
The other thing I notice about this is that there are some there's always notes and imitations all around the corners it meet, looks like it's been annotated essentially is. Is the sale and transfers at what that's all about those
mutations our record of every single time someone has collected on the bond and how much was
it out and when it was paid out cruel, so it really is a living document which has been written.
Continuously, throughout its four hundred year, history, the blockchain
yeah could accept. No, that's exactly what it's like even to the point where actually they know how much to pay out because they see other previous notations. So they know how much back interest they owe you
while right and you can actually see they ass? He ran out of rooms. If you go to the next page of the book,
starting in the nineteen forty, they added this thing, which is
an alliance or sometimes a towel in which is basically like an extra bit
paper with the seal of the water board that continue
this tradition of no taking every pay out. So I can see all the notations it goes across looks like it goes all the way to two thousand three on here. It's
really diligent, no yeah and was then what is it you can see
handwriting of the receiving clerk at the waterborne. Getting more and more modern and kind of lesson, lesson against it, as the world got more modern, so doing,
No, these people who collected this bond, like as that written down here on who bear this bond.
Holding it you're the person they have to pay it. It doesn't matter who you are that's a unique aspect of a bearer bond. There doesn't need to be
the paid it doesn't matter who you are that's a unique aspect of a bearer bond. There doesn't need to be a record of who owns it. The bond itself is the ideal.
So you actually have to take this piece of paper and go to HOLLAND.
Collect the money for it. Yes, precisely
that is the cats. Anyone can present this bond and collect their money sort of no questions asked by almost like it is money, but you have to.
Physically presented to the registrar at the waterborne office
So that's what all these notations are. Really noting that someone showed up,
keep it alive the bond itself.
The to travel in person. You know with the bearer at least once in a generation, so this is team
he's the curator of modern books and manuscripts at the Yale by Nicky Library, which is where,
Bon currently lives, and he is the most.
Bear of the bond. He actually travelled all the way to HOLLAND from New Haven to collect on using. He was the first person to do that since geared acquired it. It's way I picture this is that there is this old
dutch building from the seventeenth century, just sitting there and
An old man has been waiting for for centuries.
The agenda for a person to bear the bond clerks.
You know, I don't even know what scrivener
exactly and makes there notation any handsome
a candle. He has a quill pan.
And makes a notation any handsome some money from an old,
the tellers, something maybe it's in gold, medallions or or script that is all
a four hundred years old is what it
You know there are many other than that. It will actually like now what you said it it's all kind of like half true, when are you
shut up? It isn't waterborne bond, it was an old town called hoping. So my brother and I walked about half a mile down the street and found this a list vary widely building and knocked at the door, and I said hi I have my waterborne bond. They go. Oh yes, we're expecting you and then we went to a conference table and they literally gave me a gigantic paper check like you see on tv, what they do, that
so far, this go to they actually had a dutch television crew waiting for him or doing this little bit. I mean this is obviously good pr for the Water board and four year they were going to. Let this moment go to waste
and then they gave me a check for the real check small tactic to bring back to new even about then they said. Oh, that's actually go see the appear. So one of these arguments here said the public work that this by
funded, is still there until the, and is it still regulating river flow, which just might be my favorite aspect of this whole story, kind of actually real life.
One thing that was achieved by this bond and this kind of weird aspen
time travel where you are partially responsible for this thing, that's nevertheless predates you right
When I went in twenty fifty and I got to stand on the on the pier, they called it that that address connection between me between Yale and people whose you know are working for a company that is of the descendants of something that was established no four or five years ago.
Let me get around just the value of this:
I'm gonna value what they pay out like the ale, bought it for how much money obviously,
incredibly rare item, Rennie Scoop, populist, skipper, file Adam,
but you told me that they got it at auction for roughly twenty four thousand dollar and saw how much did TIM good on whose both big and timely check when you went there, yet
It is much better twelve disbursements for every year worth of interests that was being paid out and that was eleven euro. Thirty five sell it.
Of years back interest that came out to a whopping one hundred thirty six euros and change. This is the thing about perpetual bonds that inflation really eats the value of Abad. Like this, a careless guelder. Just isn't it
that's not can't buy appear when that anymore. Thanks, so much sets us into permanent.
in this video with shown Rio Composure and you,
Please bring me a delightful music related,
many story our latest around. So what you have received here? Ok, so do you know it concert pit?
as I have no idea what contribution so it's Wyatt and Orkut.
Traveled tune to, and we basically have like a standard Petra now of four hundred and forty hurts. But sham is like
Do you think of a sign wave? Four hundred and forty hurts means
the sign wave is like hills and valleys
Oh go up and down four hundred forty times in a second ok, and so all the instruments are tuned to this pitch so that they all sound good together is actually the aid
note that one instrument places the same may note that another instrument place exact
four hundred forty hurts is concert. Is this this danger for everyone concerned
all the world or does it buried depending if we're just talking.
Western music, which is mostly what ivory searched for this like. There are a lot of different tuning traditions, but in western music up to like a lot of pop music and stuff, and today it's mostly four hundred and forty hurts, and how did they said her own? That is being the value that one too,
it's actually a very messy history. How we got here, if you go back
like a few hundred years, if you go through Alec different countries in Europe, you would be hearing wildly different thing.
As far as like what the pitch was for different orchestras, but as long as all the instruments in the room are the same tuning, does it really matter that between orchestras they have the same
or did anyone really care? There was a time where people didn't
Billy care and music didn't really travel that much anyway, but it's really
ass name, you think, about
this time, we're like if you were travelling from country to country,
How can a lot of a row or like an had good pitch? You could like a year if you'd be able to. You could tell that, like the orchestras were like Somerton, really low and Somerton really high, like some as
oh, is like three hundred and seventy four hurts and some as high as five hundred
sixty seven, her love, which just like for reference. Let me play you what that is so first, I'm gonna play you for forty
which is what we do today
Now: here's three seventy four,
has that's really different
I don't have very good patch in that's very different yeah and those are both considered a while, ok and then the highest one. Five sixty
and those are all supposed to be the exact same now, those like the reference point for an entire piece of music and
where these numbers come from is from this survey conducted by the french government in the eighteen hundreds of different pipe organs.
A like centrepieces of a lot of orchestras churches centred around the church, pipe organ and in order to tuna pipe org
like it's more like construction, then it is like an actual just like regular turning. So it's always made more sense suggests tuned to the pipe organ.
You see, I see, I see whatever the aid that the pipe organs as it is
That is what the aim is for that room beers returning the piper again, it's not like twisting a little knob on of
Now it's getting in and sighing started understanding, and so all these views on standards, earnings get prepared
waited indifferent rooms and controls because of the pipe organ that is there any.
So there was a time when the pipe organ was like the most central part of the orchestra. But then stuff started
develop in Europe and as like concert, music became more
the thing more like an event to be attended, concert Hall started being built,
bigger and bigger
like you would have just like large
large halls, you could like put lots of people in it, but they couldn't really account
The house sound travels.
And so, if you are sitting like in the back of a concert hall, you had mostly
may hear the base because base notes, just like travel farther than higher frequency notes and sewed. To compensate for this, a lot of orchestra leaders would
two and a higher said they would get everybody to dislike. Move everything up and there are just like stories that I was reading of, like people being frustrated because their strings were always breaking and there were two through tens. I am like singers were like having to go to the doktor from straining their voices and people were an uproar about this. So the Georgia, the chaos of every pipe organ being there
and then they introduce cancer halls and then there's like this arms race for how to be higher so can be heard better and yet concert halls, and then it gets more chaotic and so every different concert hall is now pitched wildly different. This elegant
even more but mostly consistently getting higher and especially with violin, strings and sort of, like those kinds of stringed instruments being able to be tuned higher, like string makers were like making
stronger in order to keep up with like the pitch rising gradually it came down to her singers being like you, have
he started up where we have to start using any higher than this, and I got to
the point where the french government,
actually had to like decree that battle concert, orchestras
would turn out four hundred and thirty five hurts ok, and so you said for four
It was the standard now so for thirty five sets.
Obviously it's shifted winded for thirty five become the standard, so for thirty, five became the standard in France,
in eighteen, fifty nine but then
while while later in
nineteen nineteen, it was adopted by a bunch of other.
Nations and that's because of the first treaty of Versailles. So like the tree,
beside it was the surrender of Germany turn when war, one yeah yeah the dry that ended world or one that actually has a clause in it? That talks about the tuning of orchestra, yet section to article two, eighty, two little, each with a seriously wow. Ok, there's all this stuff about.
Tariffs and, like standardization thing right
mix some sense are trying to create a unified Europe
You know so you'd want taxes to be fair and important next
or, but you wouldn't necessarily expect french tuning too to be. The thing is the thing that is adopted in the treaty of Rome
and yet they did, and America at that point was turning the four forty. So we actually violated the treaty oversight
Are we didn't sign it inside the YAP Ezra but action?
One country that did violate the treaty of Versailles in this particular instance and least was the United Kingdom
The way that tuning is written
this convention, that's in the treaty, is that you have to choose.
The four hundred and thirty five hurts based on a tuning fork out
room temperature of fifteen degrees celsius. Who may go
thing is the Royal Philharmonic in the UK, where Lake well
concert Hall are a bit warmer were at about twenty degrees celsius, so it makes sense for us
tune a little higher, because the temperature would actually bring us like down to four hundred and thirty five, but actually they were ending up at like four hundred and thirty nine, with a bunch of legs, smaller instances and details that I didn't find soup
interesting. There was another convention like meeting of minds about cancer pitch and there was raised a poor forty four forty after that point, but that's amazing that we consider two important culturally
for the harmonious existence of Europe that everything be tuned to the same frequency.
Yeah. It makes a lot of sense when you think about, like instruments are built. The lake be optimal for a pitcher,
Four hundred and forty heard before forty a right but
I feel a little romantic about the idea of just going to that
on over, like the music gonna sound a little differently here, that's gonna nice, but you haven't heard handles Messiah until you ve heard it in Prague.
a thousand other one of my favorite things was that Mozart actually like wrote everything
for twenty one,
I was wondering if, if in the movie about money
Sorry they had like actually o done it, that the right frequency or that they contemporaneous frequency they appeared to have not so I've never really hurt Mozart's on me,
None of us have that so cool irritation.
Be kind of a fun exercise to have an orchestra
d, you know reminder the classics in their original to name, you know like every so if he so interesting interest to hear, if there's a real difference, I don't know I got my pictures, and so maybe you at a joint that exercise,
I wonder I wonder if their people that are already doing that yeah. So if anybody
is doing that. Please reach out to us and to tell us about your work. What you're doing? That's? Ok, cool! I don't think so! Thank you,
So, I'm industry with senior precipitated mingle in a similar manner
we have so what's your story. Well, I think we should start
out by meeting someone named Irene worked so well hello, MRS Irene.
It is indeed
Irene and her husband, Alan live in an area in Washington DC called Color Rama premise, it's a very,
hence in neighbouring, etc. It's the neighborhood, the Jeff basis lives there s a vodka trump and jeered cushion or live. There are at least they did until very recently, I'm not sure if they still do a bunch of lake Ex presidents, former
dance, what their Woodrow Wilson S. The Obama
with there currently so yeah. When you think of this neighbourhood, think of motorcades and secret service retinues there
definitely some stand alone. Homes like with yards, but then there is also a lot of RO houses like town houses right next to each other. But like huge,
multi floor, afraid rinsing uncertainty about like tenements, run burger, but again
no matter how fancy a neighborhood is, there's always
and be that neighbour, whose just problematic
Yes, so Irene has this house right next to her hair, all actually let her describe as well as citizens.
Very early. Nineteen hundreds house was very
good lines, nice windows and it has an elegant, look from the outside, and
no one has lived in it since we ve been here telling we're talking about that.
Since nineteen, mainly three woe ogre yeah
financial, yes, like almost three decades. I think it's like. I think that this is a ten thousand square foot five floor, mansion so acute it's a huge space to just sit empty
but that long and it also connected to Irene and Alan's house it's one of these row houses, and so I think what happens to them.
The house can actually affect their place road before baking, probably hers
rats her termites her a bug problem like it actually causes more problems than the than otherwise good are connected.
Yeah and Irene, says you know. Over the years there has been stuff like decaying pieces of concrete.
Open and, among other things, the bird flew in and out of the house, or else we wonder was always open, and so I think birds are building in their. So yes, she said there were none.
As one brief period where this house next door was kind of a noisy roominghouse.
Ass, we wonder, was always open, and so I think bird
a building in their so yeah she's
there was one brief period where this house next door was kind of a noisy roominghouse of some sort, but
mostly, it's been empty since nineteen. Ninety three sources from which those you ever go problematic neighbours issues has no neighbour at all and its problem right now, so wise have been so empty for so long. That is the question
that's it that's what we're here for, and the answer is that this house falls into this special category of property in DC witches diplomatic property on very slight, very dc problem. Here,
whenever things do indeed he is to go to the embassy, Rowan and spot or the flags. That's why I've everything to do so. So what country owns the license? It's one, but what country owns this property this house is actually and by the government of Argentina, and it's not the embassy per se. It's a building,
the government owned. I'm not quite sure. Why may be initially they would have people stay in this house when it came to town to do embassy business. I think it's possible that people who worked at the embassy may have lived there at some point and DC has about five hundred and thirty of these diplomatic properties, like embassies
and kind of additional houses and they're, not all falling apart like this, but there's definitely several buildings that are in pretty rough shape, their common enough that thorough, like Youtube videos that you can watch of people exploring them. So here let me put one of these on
guys so then abandoned and the sea.
We already made in science first of all this guy. This should have a second there as like air somewhere, video guy
all this stuff in abandoned, tutor
financial issues and really
between the countries and other stuff, like the sentiment and there's one, pirate was there in the bathroom and they're kind of like this. Is it the day? This is where
people in other countries used to watch their, but like these guys, don't know time about agriculture
other cultures necessarily like they're. Just there is due on Youtube staff training at some views, its
not ideal to have all these empty mentions that that only like lawbreaking, you tubers her saying it's actually really complicated and difficult to get anyone to do anything about these building. They aren't actually considered to be foreign soil. Their sort of animals conception out there that they are foreign, soil man, but they do have a bunch of special privileges. For example, the police couldn't get a warrant to search for an embassy and there are exempt from, I think most, if not all taxes,
and they don't have to build by code like their encouraged to bite leg. They don't have to listen, and so there could be legal catch him on the back of her, hardly a city council members,
the color Emma area was quoted, saying like basically like. If I have a vacant house, that's becoming a problem, I can call the cops clean it up through a fence around it if necessary sees it for unpaid taxes. He says I have a lot of tools, my tool box, but I dont have those tools available to me. If it's a diplomatic property, one thing that makes these properties interesting and may be also a little harder to address is how
different. Each one is, if you think about your neighbors kind of having issues or your neighbors potentially having baggage behind each of these properties is basically the story of entire countries in political people so low
take Yugoslavia, but the solemnly country right, but they have
exact ivory. They they dont anymore, but they did
for quite a while. They had this house in two thousand and six, all their diplomatic properties were divided among those, the six succeeding countries and this
I was that they owned in DC was turned over to Bosnia, Ino, the deed
like never transferred and then in two thousand eight someone at the bosnian embassy was quoted, saying that
They don't even know who had the key. I guess they event
I found it because they did finally sell the house in twenty fifteen for six hundred fifty thousand dollars but
It had been vacant for, like three decades sows and terrible shape. There was a tree growing through the garage. There is mould everywhere and I think that honours basically gutted it and started over.
So in response to a lot of different neighbours complaining about a lot of different properties. The state department issued a response saying like me: no, basically, our hands are tied because of this Vienna Convention and the owner.
Recourse we really have is to remove diplomatic status from these properties, in which case they become subject to the same, like property taxes as everyone else, and sometimes that motivates them.
To sell through an issue that was from that. I think they do
sometimes do that, but I think they're pretty hesitant to do it because they want to maintain good relations with these countries, and you know these properties, I think, or private gonna blow on their list of concerns overall and actually, in the case of the argentinean place right next to Irene and Alan actually did remove diplomatic status from that property, and it didn't seem to make a big difference. When women I mean just politics again, like I believe Argentina's ambassador told the word tools that the country would actually gladly be free of the property and the tax burden of it, but because of alone that the country had defaulted on in two thousand and one
couldn't just like freely sell their assets, so I don't have that still the case fur Argentina. I did not reach out to the country of Argentina for comment.
But they still haven't sold it.
And I ve been told me that about six months ago, they saw Foresail sign, go up in the yard and they got really excited. But it came down a few days later and she thinks maybe they just changed their minds to Rome
that's so cool. I'd. Never thought about that. An all before when I was
flaxen embassy rose and another thing to consider.
Thanks to a writer at the Washington Post named Jenna Port Noise, who wrote the article where I first read about this also
two Abbe Madden who works with us on the show and helped me with a lot of this research,
We have one more story about secret nuclear families and how they were hidden from foreign spies and even the post office. After this, we
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Ok, so I'm here with Delaney Hall answer: what is your many story? So I'll start
they're playing tennis. There's one movie or looks like they're having a party ITALY, so they're all in bathing suits in theirs is one woman carrying a twelve back
so they don't have any sound I'll, just have to describe them to you
Jane early color films or the colors are kind of muted and washed out, and the film show
But each of these young people like in their twenties and Thirtys their riding,
horses through the mountains of New Mexico, their scheme.
Playing tennis there's one more
It looks like they're having a party the lake, so they're all in bathing suits in theirs is one woman carrying a twelve back. Of course
on her shoulder and other is doing that leg funny walk info.
Where's down to the edge of the water, the dozens of
Firstly, hunting that sounds legit I now I know they are like their totally normal home movies, but their hunting. Once you understand the context, which is
These were movies films by a physicist named Hugh Brantner back in the nineteen forties at a place.
That was then known by a secret code, name project. Why?
site. Why, today, at LOS Alamos,
and so all of these
see family care free young people. They were
just having a great time in Reno, Beautiful northern New Mexico. They were helping to build the first atomic bomb right now that a lot of context, heavy stuff is going on in the background of the year and it's sort of the contrast of them having fun hanging out and then knowing what they were doing during their working lives and
You know they were helping to build this weapon of enormous power and destruction. It's gonna completely transformed world the geopolitics of the world, but there also just now young
people living their lives
there were a lot of young people here, the average
It was twenty nine. The most common age was twenty seven, so you had a lot of young single people here there were a lot of young couples, so this
Alan Car, and he is the senior historian at LOS Alamos National LAB, and he says the fact it
There were all these young people working together on the Manhattan project at LOS Alamos, actually presented some surprising security challenges.
As for one thing, some of them it turns out, were like looking up and getting married told an have easy vs out there on this secret military campus, which was now
even supposed to be a place on the map of the sudden. You went from
a low cow, Indirect Mexico, where no choice
when were ever born. Hardly
to all the
it's a month that
awfully suspicious. If you're doing the paperwork down in Santa Bay, where all these
being born in LOS Alamos,
I don't even know what LOS Alamos is. So now we can
four bomb development and what it was like before it became project. Why? So what happened is in nineteen? Forty to the military decides? They need a central laboratory,
back then it would have been an that yeah, that's an important point, and so too, under
stand why this woman
and suspicious, let's backtrack and
I'll explain how the government
chose LOS Alamos as the site for bomb development and what it was like before it became project. Why
So what happened is in nineteen forty to the military
Besides, they need
central laboratory in an isolated place where they
can design build and test nuclear weapons? Were
you put a place. That does those types of things this was our
globally histories biggest supersecret project,
they decide their some very important criteria. For this place. It needs to be remote for safety reasons
They want to keep the scientists who are working on the project away from other people they do now.
On them accidentally blabbing about what they're doing that makes sense to a name.
I also wanted to be near a real hub so that they can ship all the stuff they need their site.
Electrons and what not
then. Finally, they wanted to be at least two.
There had miles from any international boundaries,
You know. Maybe they watched you know these old movies, where a savage,
or gets off a submarine and runs in and sabotaged the factory it blows up where we want to sabotage or to have to run a long long way. Right. Good point fell at this point,
and again this is nineteen forty to rob
but Oppenheimer has been selected as the head of project. Why and he had spent a week.
Of his time in his youth in northern New Mexico, which is remote and meets
most of the other criteria. So
They start looking around the area and pretty soon they settled on. What's now known as the solemn US, which is about forty five minutes, northwest of Santa FE yeah? So what was those animals but really like back them like how would people think of LOS Alamos back them,
back, then it wasn't even a town there was yet there was this rustic boys school. There called the LOS Alamos Ranch School and, and
I was about it. So the gun,
I just bought the school. They went about setting up this state of the art lab on the top of this very isolated, remote Mesa that turns by hard, but some third logistically
very difficult to do in an israeli nineteen. Forty two, I was kind of a logistical nightmare like the whole
occasion was served by this one little road that snake up a huge cliff
They were shipping in massive pieces of equipment pipes. For one thing, because Alan Card told me there was an old, reliable water supply and
also wasn't any electricity, and so
the original engineers who built the town, a choir,
a large generator in Texas. They had it
the Santa FE by train
but on a truck and dry,
but up the hill and as they were, it fell off. The truck
broke a cracked and they welded it back together and manage to get it up? The hill is so in those opening months of nineteen, forty three.
The real heroes were the construction workers, so like listening,
all the things that they had to do it doesn't sound like you could keep LOS Alamos
secret for very long like like if your shipping, gigantic generators and disease,
talks on the highway. How do you keep that all secret right? Yeah, it's it's kind of
this kind of mind boggling so fast,
Creasy. The main thing they dead is that the people who worked on the
I weren't necessarily told what they were going to be doing until they agreed to join the project. So
they'd be told something vague, like you know, you'll be doing important,
work for the war effort might help to bring the war to an end, but
was really only after you arrived in LOS Alamos that you would learn the details. There is also a fence
around the whole town so that people can just wander Anne and then there was
the mail, so all the mail was censored, obviously does no one would accidentally right a friend, and you know
what they were doing. That makes sense, I mean I mean
surprise they even had may army like how could you have male trucks guy coming in and out of LOS Alamos, something that seems like you know like a huge security risk in and of itself right.
Would have been an so. According to Alan, there were not me I'll try.
Come in and out of LOS Alamos
all the mail was actually delivered to Santa FE. Then it was
delivered to just two
in p, o boxes that served the entire project. Why so
was P o box. Sixteen sixty three, which was
for the civilian
because all the scientists working on the project were civilians, and then there was peel by
fifteen thirty nine for the military. So that meant that,
all the male come into the area just want to one place. That was far from the actual town,
and then it would likely have been trucked up by the military. Her superior to pure boxes
for the entire communities that, like people, wrote to two thousand people per p o box. Basically
yeah, yeah, ok, so
the number the number of civilians working at LOS Alamos, was in the thousands
It would have been in the low thousands. I would guess people receiving mallet at Po Box. Sixteen sixty three
probably somewhere between four and five thousand to a lot of mail and ok,
the fascinating thing is this whole p, o box
actually connects back to the LOS Alamos baby boom that we were talking about at the beginning.
So as Allen was saying there are all these young people working in LOS Alamos back in the nineteen fortys and this
I anticipate engineers who worked on the bottom. They were
civilians, which meant the military could not boss them around as easily or control their behaviour. In the same way, they could, with people
who were enlisted its use.
Here to control people and uniform than civilians. If you ve got a bunch of
pulling uniforms here.
Working wanting that they're not doing is getting married and having children, but
the civilian scientists Eddie, that's exactly what they were
a lot of them were young, their basic
a party in when they weren't working as I've seen in those home movies they shot and
they were also having babies, which was a total headache for the military Oppenheimer's
ass was the general named General Leslie Groves and he didn't like all these kids being born. You know because well, first, while yet Strang keep it secret, you have,
put a maternity wards in the hospital. You have to have a school district. All these things he didn't want to have to worry about. So I ordered Oppenheimer to tell the staff stop having kit.
Sir, that went over well yeah. I did actually, as I'm sure you can imagine, did not go over well
considering that the directors wife Kitty was pregnant at the time. So I don't think that
order was carried out in the sun.
How did they manage to keep all these? You knew
LOS Alamos babies under wraps cell.
The main way was that they did not list the place of birth on the birth certificates. They couldn't put LOS Alamos because LOS Alamos
didn't really exist and the official record it was totally Tom secret. They couldn't put project. Why cause that Wilson?
There is an end so who, even though these babies were born at the hospital in LOS Alamos, their birth certificates just said, p o box. Sixteen sixty three, if it's a few bucks. Sixteen sixty for that
keeps that a lot more secret. Our mandate also seems like you'd, be like what are these babies born? It appealed, whereas I was right, but at least the Bio Box doesn't give you a location and that's that
but they were trying to keep secret. So any ideas like how many kids were actually born and and and have the p o box listed
as their place of birth, howling guess, maybe a hundred or a hundred and fifty kids. He has actually seen some of the birth certificates before weird sign effectiveness.
Will you thank you so much to any vision? God thank you
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-14.