The Armadillo Files, Episode 13 — Featuring Darlene Foster

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Calutron Girls, photographed by Ed Westcott, at their calutron control panels at Y-12 Plant, 1943 Wikipedia
Calutron Girls, photographed by Ed Westcott, at their calutron control panels at Y-12 Plant, 1943 Wikipedia

You’ve reached The Armadillo Files.  Stand by for absurdity touched with reality. 

Darlene Foster Amanda series
A few books from the series

Random Reader Things

This intro is all about “Girl Power.”  That’s appropriate since the three things that drive the episode are from Darlene Foster, author of the Amanda Travels series.  Her random reader things are Land Girls (aka Women’s Land Army), Bomber Jacket, and Spam.

Tidbits of Truth

There’s a touch of reality in this atom-punk fantasy.  While I was preparing to start this serial, I mentioned “the Calutron Girls.”  Last time they finally came into the storytelling.  There are a number of books about these high school girls, most of whom were from eastern and middle Tennessee.  You can learn a lot at this Wikipedia article too.

Another group of young women is also mentioned as a random reader thing — Land Girls, or the Women’s Land Army.  That was a British civilian organization created in 1917, which was active during both World Wars.  That group inspired a similar organization in the USA.  Learn about the Land Girls here.

I can’t neglect Spam in these Tidbits.  There were actually “Hormel Girlsdriving around in Hormel cars, promoting the product. They were an all-female swing band and radio show (although their existence was slightly later than the time of this episode). Here’s one informative link about Hormel & Co. and Spam in various eras.

Previously in The Armadillo Files

It turned out that the big sister who got separated from the trick-or-treaters was officially missing. Fang and Dilly met the man they had seen in the woods one night — Harry.  He was the one who had a foldable motorcycle. The woman with whom he rendezvoued that night was also missing. Harry insisted that the “Calutron Girls” disappeared if they found out about the wrong things.  You can find all the past chapters by going to the categories on the right side of the screen.  Click on Armadillo Files.

All aboard!

13 — What are they?

Trolley

Calutron Girls leaving the Manhattan Project Y-12 plant at shift change, 1945 Wikipedia
Some Calutron Girls leaving the Manhattan Project Y-12 plant at shift change, 1945 Wikipedia

Adult human male of mission era detected.  Comparing reaction of the operative to his confidante, Delilah Faraday.  Bio readings indicate Tatu Pinkerton is wary despite the overt friendliness he displays.

Faraday’s readings indicate a degree of distrust that came so readily it appears to be part of her basic personality.  Also detecting… sympathy?  Human emotions can be difficult to decipher.  Collecting additional data to ensure correct determination of her reaction to the newcomer.

Operative Pinkerton appears to be trying to solicit information from the male.  He used an excessive amount of food resources in attempt to do so.  Allocating replication resources to production of Spam, since meat is in short supply in this time period.

Time Rate Oscillation Lithium Link Enabler Yttrion, TROLLEY now gathering intelligence to confirm male human’s statements.

 ♦ ♦ ♦

Dilly

303rd Bombardment Group B-17F Flying Fortress 1942, wearing bomber jackets, Wikipedia
303rd Bombardment Group B-17F Flying Fortress 1942, wearing bomber jackets, Wikipedia

My shirtsleeves had been fine while I worked up a sweat sweeping the walkways and tidying up around the trolley cars that were really TROLLEY, Fang’s spaceship.  However, the weather took an abrupt turn to a cooler temperature while we sat eating brunch and talking to Harry Morgan.  From what I remembered, that was typical of eastern Tennessee weather.

Excusing myself, I went inside, in hope of finding some kind of sweater or coat.  My unexpected trip through space and time didn’t exactly allow me to pack a suitcase, and my clothes were suited to the weather of Cape Canaveral, Florida.  The ship’s artificial intelligence could probably “replicate” something for me.  Although I was cautious of using power resources, since I had zero understanding of how things worked.

It felt nosey for me to do it since he was outside, but I stuck my head into Fang’s quarters.  Maybe I could find something in there.

“There’s something alright.  It looks like a clothing store blew up,” I muttered aloud.

A knee-high pile of clothing was in the middle of the floor.  Every color and style I could imagine created had been dropped in the heap.  A fur trimmed leather sleeve caught my eye.  I pulled out a wonderful bomber jacket.  Trying it on for size, it was just right — except that it was too warm.  I kept the jacket in case I needed it some other time.

Then I turned back to the fashion-filled pile.  Fang had been going through clothes for both men and women.  Considering the bright pink fishnet tights he wore the first time I saw him in human form, I wasn’t shocked.  Although the sheer number of garments in the mound was astonishing.

Selene Mahri Life Magazine October 1944
Selene Mahri, Life Magazine October 9, 1944

It seemed that most sweaters for women were cropped, and came only a few inches below the waist.  The breeze out there was cool, so I wasn’t sure either of the light-weight sweaters would be enough.

Beginning to feel like Goldilocks, looking for something “just right” I pulled out a menswear cardigan.  It was heavy gauge wool and covered my hips.  There were two big pockets in front, and one sleeve had white stripes around the upper arm.  I donned the cardigan and went back outside.

Fang was taking a stack of newspapers from the bicycle’s basket.  He pranced back and plopped down beside Harry.  The dishes went sliding across the table as he spread the various newspapers.  I caught a coffee mug in one hand and a gravy boat in the other.

In quick succession, Harry grabbed several of the golden-brown biscuits, rescuing them with startlingly good reflexes.  I noticed Fang discretely eye his action in a sidelong glance.

My brows knitted.  Had Fang deliberately spilled the remains of our brunch?  Did he test Harry Morgan in some way?  If so, was Fang interested in how Harry would react to the sudden mess, or the speed of his reflexes?  Why would he care about either?  Intrigued, I remained quiet.  People often told me what I wanted to know — if I just gave them time to fill-in the silence.

“You mentioned Calutron Girls.  What are they?  Are they like the Land Girls in Great Britain?”  Fang asked in a guileless voice.

Womens Land Army of America Wikipedia
Womens Land Army of America, Wikipedia

His glance at me confirmed that he truly was trying to get a sense of what Harry knew.  Or maybe he weighed the man’s honesty.

“They inspired a Women’s Land Army was here in the US too.  But to answer you, no, not at all.  The Calutron Girls aren’t picking up ordinary work that men were doing before the war.  They monitor and maintain the calutron,” he paused at Fang’s seemingly curious expression.  “A calutron is a mass spectrometer — an electromagnetic apparatus the war scientists invented.  It separates isotopes depending on their masses,” Morgan started.

“It sounds like you might be a scientist yourself,” Fang interrupted, chin propped on both hands.  “I’m sorry.  Do go on.”

“Yeah, well… that didn’t work out so well.  Call it philosophical differences.  Anyhow, after the machinery was set up, the Secret City brought in a bunch of teenage girls, and trained them like soldiers, not to reason why.  Their jobs are about monitoring dials and watching meters for the giant calutron, in those big buildings,” Harry added.

“What else are they doing?” Fang interjected.  “Why all those gigantic buildings just for a mass spectrometer?”

“Oh, the calutron’s big alright,” Harry continued.  “The government uprooted 1,000 families to buy enough land.  Nearly 60,000 acres.  Governor Cooper was none too happy about it.  The complex itself covers more than 800 acres.  The main buildings for the plant — for what the girls monitor are three 450-feet long, multi-story buildings.  Then there’s the biology complex, which is huge.  It’s the one with the tallest buildings.  And buildings for other departments too.  There are more people with doctorates living in the Secret City than any other place in the world.  You’ve probably seen it from one of these ridges,” he finished, and pointed at the landscape.

Yes, I had spent most of a day, trying to see all that I could, but from a distance.  Although I tried to keep my expression neutral.

“How the heck can they expect to keep all that secret?” Fang remarked rhetorically.  “I heard bits of gossip while I was in town.  About girls disappearing.  That’s why I got all these newspapers.  I didn’t see anything in the news about it, but there are some cryptic ads in the personal column that make me curious.  People trying to get in touch with each other.”

“And that would be a way of keeping secrets,” Harry muttered.

Morgan’s tone was droll and his mouth twisted wryly.  However, his calloused fingers gripped the coffee mug like they might strangle it.  His flinty eyes gleamed with menace.

 ♦ ♦ ♦

Tater Pie performed by the Hormel Girls, circa 1947 

 ♦ ♦ ♦

I get the feeling that there’s more to Harry Morgan than I expected.  It seems like he have that tough-guy side after all too.  Like I say, only the things know for sure. 

The history, particularly military aspects of this story probably make it difficult… However, please remember that this is my sanctuary — a place for all of us to be safe and away from political and religious commentary.  Kindly keep that in mind with your comments.

Hugs on the wing!

In other news, the October issue of Dead of Winter is now available.  November’s is still in the works.

DoW 10 Pergesca 09-29-2021

Dead of Winter — All the Journeys

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This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2021 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 


59 thoughts on “The Armadillo Files, Episode 13 — Featuring Darlene Foster

    1. Thanks, Denise. Even though I spent many years in that state, I had not heard of them until a few years ago. I’ve only seen a couple of articles about individual women. It seems all those billboards telling them to keep their mouths shut worked. o_O
      Have a brilliant new week. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The theme girl power was awesome, Teagan. Never knew this part of history. Fascinating and for sure we girls can do so much if we are given responsibility. Fang is pretty interesting as a character. Happy writing. Thanks for the wonderful photographs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m happy you liked it, Resa. The Harry Morgan character is unexpected to me, since this is completely unplanned. I had thought there might be a dad for one of the Calutron Girls, or a young boyfriend. I totally didn’t expect Harry. Maybe he will add a lot to the story.
      Hugs winging back to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s so interesting about the calutron girls, Teagan, (and the land girls and Hormel girls. I like all the real history that you’re adding in here. And loved the peek at the wardrobe. 🙂 Can’t wait to see what’s up with Harry. Happy Writing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m happy you liked the history, Diana. LOL and the wardrobe. I actually spent an inordinate amount of time, looking for public domain images of bomber jackets and of cardigans. I was surprised that I couldn’t find a suitable one of a 1940s women’s cardigan, since it seems like they were so popular then… Anyhow, thanks for reading and commenting. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so very much, Ms. Frances. I admit that this time I felt like I was dragging up a 10-ton boulder when I wrote this one. I just couldn’t get in “armadillo mode.” 😀 I appreciate your feedback, and am relieved to know it turned out okay. Stay happy and sassy. Hugs on the wing.

      Like

  3. Excellent episode. A lot of good history mixed in. The Calutron Girls could just as well have been called The Oak Ridge Girls. According to Wiki, Wally Fowler and the Georgia Clodhoppers played for the staff at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory so often, they changed their names to The Oak Ridge Boys.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I think there’s more to Harry than meets the eye. Fang’s room sounds like it belongs to a teenager……from any generation! Can’t say he’s not well prepared as far as his wardrobe is concerned. With all Fang’s silliness, there is a clever brain that isn’t missing a trick. He’s always observing and assessing.

    I think we’re in for a lot of twisted plots on this voyage!
    Ginger

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope I can live up to that about the twists, Ginger. Harry’s sudden character development came as a complete surprise to me. Now I’m as curious about him as you are. 😀 I appreciate your feedback. Stay safe and well. Hugs on the wing!

      Like

  5. Thanks for including me in this episode of the The Armadillo Files, especially since the theme is Girl Power! Amanda and I are big into girl power. I love how you used my random reader things in the exciting story. And I love Tater Pie! Sending hugs and kisses across the water. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you kindly, GP. The true concept really is stranger than fiction. I try to imagine being 17 or 18 years old, sitting in ad dorm after a day of work… Not knowing why you were doing what you did all day — but knowing that you’d get into trouble if you talked about work outside… I can’t imagine what must have gone on in their heads. (Wasn’t the high school graduation age a year earlier then? In Georgia, I remember my mother talking about there being one year less of school…)
      Stay safe and well. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do not know about the home front school year. Due to the Great Depression, many people had to go to work to help the family out, rather than graduate. Such as Smitty, he had to quit school after 8th grade.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. “ People often told me what I wanted to know — if I just gave them time to fill-in the silence.” That is a very insightful statement, it also tells us something about Dilly. The clothes on the floor in Fang’s room made me laugh. My piles were not as big or varied, but I heard similar expressions growing up from my parents (about a clothing bomb). True to form, you are weaving a fine story, Teagan. I feel more comfortable here each week. I hope you have a nice weekend,

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for calling out that line, Dan. That’s been my personal philosophy for decades. Giving it to Dilly made a tiny sprout start to grow in my mind for her character. Although, 10,000 (or so) words into the overall story, and I still don’t honestly have a feel for her. I keep seeing advice/commentary saying the narrator is often the least developed character. Maybe that’s part of it.
      I appreciate this wonderful, encouraging comment. Considering I had a migraine most of the night, it helps even more. I’ll be over to your virtual bar for a red ale around my lunchtime. Cheers and hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. We’ve learned a lot about what might be going on, got a great insight into Fang’s wardrobe, and there are many questions that need answers. And we have Harry as well. It’s getting more and more intriguing. Thanks, Teagan, a fabulous episode.

    Liked by 1 person

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