Special Thanks To: Todd Franklin

Hey kids! Pull up your bobby socks and get ready to duck and cover ’cause we’re visiting the American Museum of Atomic Energy! I’m sure you’ve heard about that little project during WWII called the Manhattan Project, right? You know, atomic bombs and such. The souvenir beanie above is telling the truth when it says, “Oak Ridge, Tennessee is the home of the atomic bomb. This “secret city” sprouted up during the war years and in its factories the atomic bomb was built. After the war, the town shifted to civilian control.

In 1949, Oak Ridge also became the home of the American Museum of Atomic Energy! This was the place to learn about the benefits of the all powerful atom. More importantly, it was the place where you could get a radioactive dime to take home as a souvenir!

In the brochure pictured above, it looks like those teenagers are having fun feeding the machine dimes. Boy, that sure beats getting a wooden nickel for a souvenir!

Unfortunately, the dime didn’t glow like my exaggerated example, but that’s how I like to imagine it when it came out of the machine. In reality, the radiation faded away quickly and the dime was supposedly safe to stick in your pocket. (Click here for more info on irradiated dimes and here for another photo.)

The museum was much more than radioactive dimes according to these excerpts from the brochure.

The Dagwood Splits the Atom exhibit looks like fun! Science is always better when explained by comic characters. Apparently this exhibit made the rounds to various fairs and museums. Click here and here to view the official comic.

Here you get to see a schematic model of plants that helped build the atomic bomb.

The first gas diffusion separation is on display. (You know, I really don’t know what any of this means, but it sure does sound interesting!

The Theatre of the Atom. I think this is where an audience member would get their hair zapped. Click here to see this gal get a new atomic hairdo!

The American Museum of Atomic Energy moved to a new location in 1975 and in 1978 the name was changed to American Museum of Science and Energy. Even though they don’t have a dime irradiator machine the place still looks like a fun family outing.

I leave with you this very cool photo of a vintage bowling shirt from Oak Ridge. I snapped this pic at the Bowling Hall of Fame back when it was located in St. Louis, Missouri.


The How And Why Wonder Book Of Atomic Energy (With Cool Illustrations)


This 1970 publication for young people is actually pretty good. It’s good for anyone, of any age, who would like to understand the workings of atomic power/energy.

Click on the book above to open a small reader. Clicking on that one will get the full screen view. Just hit escape on your keyboard or tap the arrows at the lower right of the screen to return to the page.

Something Neat On eBay – It’s Reddy Kilowatt Being His Atomic Self


eBay seller Atomic Candy always has great old stock vintage toys and collectibles for sale. Currently there’s a really neat item up for grabs. It’s a 1949 Reddy Kilowatt Stick Pin Brooch complete with the original advertising card.

About Reddy: He’s a corporate mascot and, well, “spokesthing,” created in 1926 by Ashton B. Collins, Sr., of the Alabama Power Company. Reddy has a lightbulb for a nose, wall outlets for ears and a torso and limbs made of lightning bolts. The character was licensed to power companies across the United States to represent electricity as a safe and useful utility. Employed by more than 200 different companies at one time, he is rarely seen outside of antique malls and garage sales these days. – REDDYKILOWATT.ORG

By 1949 Reddy was also being used to represent atomic energy ‘as a safe and useful utility.’ This particular promotion has Reddy rhyming:

I’m a busy little atom I split myself in two,
I multiply as many times as I have jobs to do.

It’s kind of endearing, actually – and the Reddy stick pin is a lot of fun. You can find the listing for this cool item here.

1949 Reddy Kilowatt Promotion Card Front

1949 Reddy Kilowatt Promotion Card Front (Photo: Atomic Candy)

1949 Reddy Kilowatt Promotion Card Center With Stick Pin Brooch

1949 Reddy Kilowatt Promotion Card Inside With Stick Pin Brooch (Photo: Atomic Candy)

1949 Reddy Kilowatt Promotion Card - Back

1949 Reddy Kilowatt Promotion Card – Back (Photo: Atomic Candy)

Ed Talks To Johnny About The Atom

Adventures Inside the Atom - 1948: Johnny poses inside a model of an atom as Ed looks on.

Adventures Inside the Atom – 1948: Johnny poses inside a model of an atom as Ed looks on.

This is the front cover of the General Electric Company’s Adventures in Science Series, Inside The Atom, published in 1948. George Roussos was the illustrator. In the early days of nuclear energy projects such as this were deployed by the government and private industry not only to inform, but also to put a friendly face on atomic power. In the case of Inside The Atom, children in particular were the targets of this propaganda project. The intent was twofold, to ease the fears associated with atomic power and, to encourage young people to become familiar with a technology that would require future technicians and scientists for implementation and research.

You can view the entire comic and read more details about it by visiting the most excellent website, Comic Book+ here. A special h/t goes out to Quiof Thrul at Facebook for this way cool find.