Ball of fire

This shows the Meson Building under construction in 1972. Photo: Fermilab

Sometime around 1973 I was the crew chief on shift for the Meson Lab.  The electrical-power hand-off between the Accelerator Division and Meson Lab (part of the Research Division) was at the Meson Target Area, located between the MS-1 and MS-2 service buildings. MS-1 had power supplies belonging to each group.

A power supply failed in the MS-1 service building, which belonged to the Accelerator Division, and the Meson Lab would be down until it was fixed. After a fairly long wait, I drove down to the MS-1 area to talk to the Switchyard crew that was working on the power supply.

When I went in, I found a power supply scattered across the floor, but no one in the building. Just as I was about to leave, the door nearly flew off the hinges. In came Helen Edwards like a streak of lightning. She immediately asked in a very intimidating fashion, “What is taking so damn long to fix this supply?” I looked back and said, “I don’t know. When I see your guys I’ll ask!” Without missing a beat Helen asked, “Well who are you?”. I explained I was the Meson Crew chief, to which she responded, “Oh!”, turned around and left as fast as she came in.

Helen and I became good friends over the years, and when she moved into the office next to mine I reminded her of our early encounter, to which she said, “Yes, that sounds like me!”  One of the many Fermilab friends I miss.

Paul Czarapata is the deputy head of the Fermilab Accelerator Division.