Plutonium Injections; part 3 of 4

Eileen Welsome

Eileen Welsome

Ms. Welsome came to Rochester to do interviews and I was able to go along to give directions and also because I was interested in being in on her interviews.

We went to the apartment where William Purcell’s sister, Joan was living but she wasn’t at home. Ms. Welsome did get to talk to her after she had returned to New Mexico.

We went to visit Louis Lovecchio who lived north of downtown Rochester. He really didn’t have many memories of his father, Amedio (HP-1), at the hospital. He did tell about his loving gardening and how he would bury his prized fig trees for the winter. When we got back in the car I asked Ms. Welsome if she understood about fig trees. She didn’t. I explained that fig trees were native to warmer climates and that here in Rochester in order for them to survive the winter the trees were bent over and buried during the winter.

We went to Bergen to talk to a nephew of Edna Bartholf (HP-7). He hadn’t ever heard of anything about his aunt being hospitalized nor anything from the government in the 1970s about having her exhumed. He also said that he had a brother living nearby that surely would have talked to him about it if he had been asked to have their aunt exhumed. Ms. Welsome looked very disappointed until I asked if they had a sister. Yes, he said and both Ms. Welsome and I released that the government had probably asked the most sympathetic person to have Edna exhumed. We had to drive over to a farm south of LeRoy. As we got of the car a lady came out to welcome us. It was Winifred Thater, the niece of Edna Bartholf. At first she assumed we were from the government. After a very nice talk, Mrs. Thater offered Ms Welsome a fantastic picture of her aunt that was later used in the Albuquerque Tribune. A few days after the interview Mrs. Thater got a phone call from Helen O’Leary the head of the Department of Energy. At last someone from the government was apologizing for keeping relatives in the dark for so long. Mrs. Thater would eventually receive over 50 pages of medical records for her aunt.

We also went to Seabreeze to the home formerly owned by Harry Slack (HP-11). As Ms. Welsome was about to knock we heard screaming between a couple from inside. She said something to the effect that we probably should skip this. She did take a picture of the house and mentioned that it never would be published as there weren’t any people in the picture. Surprise! It was in the Albuquerque Tribune of Saturday, 5 March 1994. That issue included the names of five of the patients from Rochester and one from elsewhere. I would later learn that when that story came out that the management at the Democrat & Chronicle blew up at their reporters asking them about how could an out of town newspaper keep scooping them on a Rochester story. I received a phone call that same day from a lady at the D&C asking me if I would be interested in helping them. My answer was; “no, I am still working for the Albuquerque Tribune.” There was a few seconds of silence and then the lady said thanks, anyway.

The next day (Sunday, 6 March) the D&C ran a story with much of the same facts that had been published in Albuquerque. The only addition was a photo of Jean E. Daigneault’s tombstone which has the inscription; “a martyr to medical science.”