Multi-media book highlights three women at 1050s Tech

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Bringing local history to life, a newly published multi-media book, “Three Prominent Women of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in the 1950s,” includes oral interviews by Kay Krehbiel of Socorro along with articles and photographs of the women.

Of the three, only Midge Grace is still living.

Krehbiel recently presented books to the families of Sally Smith and Jane Kuellmer and has made copies available to the public.

“When we came here in ’66, there were a number of Senior scientists and their wives who were such wonderful people,” Krehbiel, who eventually became librarian at Tech, said “Among them, Sally (Smith) and Jane (Kuellmer).”

In the interviews the women tell why they moved to Socorro and describe the town of Socorro as well as life on campus.

Sally and husband Clay Smith, came to Socorro in the late ’40s from Caltech at the invitation of Tech President E.J. Workman. After spending the night at the Val Verde Hotel (at the time, a Harvey House), Sally told her husband not to bother with a meeting with Workman, because “we’re not staying.”

But she quickly changed her mind when she found how friendly the people were.

The town of Socorro in those days is described has having one gas station and “lots of trees.” Stories about Tech’s annual reunion “49′ers” as well as insights into the relationship of “townies” and “Techies” are discussed. Descriptions of everyday life are recorded in the interviews with Kuellmer’s famous laugh and Grace’s sonorous voice preserved in the CDs.

While Krehbiel completed the interviews several years ago, finalizing the project took longer than she had first envisioned.

By the time the articles and photographs of the women had been gathered and put into publishable form, the recorded interviews had to be transformed into digital formats.

There is no transcript of the interviews, Krehbiel said, but for her much of the charm of the project was being able to listen to the women tell their own stories.

Along with copies for each family, Krehbiel presented books to the Socorro Historical Society and the Socorro High School. Copies of “Three Prominent Women of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in the 1950s” are available to the public at the New Mexico Tech library and the Socorro Public Library.