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Radiumnumb
netskyIam

yet in draft form. pasted from another form, the line breaks  were lost in reformatting, and are in the process of re-making.  

.


IN 1973 I was eighteen and on the Orion, AS-18
 1
a submarine tender
 2
tied to a pier at Charleston's Navy Base.
 3
 
 
Assigned to and trained by Radiological Controls,
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'RadCon Division', one of my duties was weekly,
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surveys, radiation, of every deck and hall
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and hold and crevice of the craft.
 7
 
 
We serviced nuclear subs. Repairs performed by
 8
our sailors sometimes incurred some risk
 9
of Cobalt 60 contamination—crud from reactors.
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Crud, we called it, crud going afield, tracked back
 11
to our ship.  Mishaps never happened.
 12
 
 
I was, however, that kid,  gung-ho to make a great
 13
rank-increasing, radiation-astray discovery;
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preferably leading to major fallout.
 15
 
 
During radcon surveys, boring, always
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in the small night hours of Orion's workshops,
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departments, lockers, holds, in impossible places,
 18
I thought, 'Where will I find my fame?'
 19
 
 
So it was I, with a standard detector, who found
 20
our ship's foundry had on board a load of mold-
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makers' sand bearing uranium ore.
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Emanations tapped the meter
 23
needle.  I showed this result to my RadCon shipmates.
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They thought it interesting, mildly, glad they worked
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not in the foundry.
 26
 
 
On the particular survey, the point of
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this recounting, I entered the closet-sized Watch Repair Shop.
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Our ship was commissioned in '43.
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On the steel wall was a time-only clock in a black case
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with a swing-open, round Bakelite-rimmed cover glass.
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The face bore an anchor and 1943, the date of commission,
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a radium dial—noted
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this sentinel, ticking off figures.
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I thought. I opened the bezel. I presented the detector probe to the face.
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Beta particles pegged the meter. I closed the clock and
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wrote a report.
 37
 
 
My boss directed, "Bag it. Take it to DeCon", the decontamination room.
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That place was a pit in Orion's bowels. DeCon, a watertight, airtight
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compartment, from which nothing untoward ever escaped. DeCon
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swept by slight negative pressure to contain and catch any airborne mischief.
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"Absolute filters", which were just that, discharged Decon air
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from atop of Orion's tallest mast—a system to stem
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bad acting results.
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With my prize of pride, that clock, yellow-bagged, I scampered down
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to DeCon.  With my mate Walter Crowe in observance,  I prepared to plunk
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the clock in a drum, wherein all hot waste, cloth wipers and widgets were
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stuffed for eventual transport
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to be buried in Utah.
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"Walter, this is the hottest thing I've ever found."
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"How bad can that be?"
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So I unbagged the clock, opened the glass, reached for the AN for the last-rites
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reading to convince incredulous Walter
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when
 54
 
 
all of hell expelled WHOOP WHOOOP WHOOOOP
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through every loudspeaker horn aboard.
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Orion's global radiation alarm; the key sensor in DeCon's air exhaust
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flue scanning all manners of radiations; hadn't heard this siren before.
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What had happened? Radon gas, a whiff,
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from the clock upon the bench.
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That glowering face at decommission caused instant lock-down of ship operations
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fifteen minutes defluxed for six hundred men.  One hundred and fifty were lost !
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—lost man-hours of time.
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I flew the ladders to the RadCon chiefs' office—word to my superiors.
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Chief Woods looked as if he might chop me.
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He paused, didn't soften, barked:
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'Welch, don't do that ever again.'
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And so—the end—a shame, to bury that clock;  
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in its way, the wiser watchman.
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26 Jul 07

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Comments:

Are you certain this is a poem?  It's a story but not reading as a poem.  Maybe better served on the message area.  

Reid, are you this Welch?  
 — Isabelle5

It's interesting as a story, did I get that across?  I just can't get into it as a poem.
 — Isabelle5

It's in draft, Isabelle, only half-formatted so far.
It's a non-fiction narrative prosey-poem.  Neither one nor the other,
not yet.  It's also pretty long and messy looking at this time.
It will improve, but not to your expectations, I don't expect,
after all, it's based on technical history, no sentiment,  other than
maybe, a laugh.  It went down just as recounted. Thanks for (premature)
asking, thanks.
r.
 — netskyIam

I didn't say it wasn't interesting.  I had no idea you were involved with radon stuff.

explains a lot...hahaha :)
 — Isabelle5

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