The Wheel of Death – 1950’s Richland, Home of the Atomic Frontier

Historic Photo of the Wheel of Death from the Hanford Declassified Document Retrieval System

DDRS Record Details for Record Accession Number
Accession Number N1D0035545
Document Number 2111-1-NEG-R
Alternate Document Number 2111-1-NEG
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s)
Document Date 04-Dec-2001
Public Availability Date 14-Feb-2002

Yeah, you weren’t expecting this when you saw that title, I know. Many individuals under a certain age have never had an opportunity to take a ride on one of these spinners which provided an awesome dopey experience of fighting G force physics which had every intention of killing you if your sweaty little hands let loose of the metal bar secured to a likely wobbly wooden base that sounded kathunk kathunk kathunk as it merrily whirled, threatening to itself let loose of its pedestal. And if it was fun hanging your head back and watching the world blend together into a dizzying smear of colors, quadruple the fun came when, as the wheel slowed, you leaped off, proved your stamina by standing your ground, then pitched yourself into the final thrill by attempting to walk. Less fun was when your turn came to spin the wheel. Dangerous ground threatened to cause you to fall and suck you under the death trap, or at least take all the skin off your hands and knees. The goal was to be able to run, run run till you had the wheel spinning faster than anyone had ever spinned it before then leap on, which was usually managed but always one felt lucky not to slip and have a leg go under the wheel and snap, like (fill in name) had happen the year before and was never seen on the playground again.

We felt triumphant for surviving our toys.

Even in the old days there were sensible playgrounds that didn’t have the Spinner, and I hated them. But we all also liked hopping on our bikes and chasing after the DDT trucks as they rolled down the street spraying for mosquitoes. Where was the thick cloud of sweet DDT perfume, at least a dozen kids would be pursuing to the last microscopic aerosol droplet.

Just because something was fun doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing to let bygones be bygones.

Read the introduction to the Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project series of posts and digital paintings. View all digital paintings here.

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