Alumni donate shell to Bombers
by Nathan Isaacs
Herald staff writer
Set the Doomsday Clock back another minute. Richland High School as the bomb.
Actually, residents don't have to worry about the explosive gift from alumni to the school bringing the world closer to nuclear apocalypse.
It lacks the parts that go "Bang!" and instead is dedicated to celebrating the school's heritage in a town that had a role in building the first atomic weapons.
The 10-foot-3 green and gold shell will be on display during the school's all-class reunion at the Richland Red Lion at 6 p.m. today. Eventually, it will be mounted in the foyer between the school's two gyms.
Jim Adair, Roy Ballard and Jim's son, Steven, first saw the '60s era shell, among others getting suntans in an Army and Navy surplus yard in Utah, during a March road trip to pick up a hot rod in Chicago.
As the three zoomed past the yard, Ballard suggested buying one of the shells and bringing it back north. The idea remained and after discussing it over "spudnuts" back home, Ballard was given the marching orders to retrive the $75 shell from Ogden, Utah.
However, it was still missing its top -- the government keeps the detonator to prevent anyone from making a real bomb. A new nose cone was fabricated and the whole thing painted with about 80 hours of volunteer help from Ballard, Adair and other Bomber grads.
"It stands for the school and the town itself," Adair said. "We are a product of the Atomic Age."
The school has another, but smaller, bomb tucked away in some academic closet and gathering dust, Ballard said.
But he said there was a day when cheerleaders would tote the bomb to the Bombers' athletic endeavors, including a few state championships.
It is because of those championships and the city's history of being a nuclear town that the alumni love the bomb mascot, despite campaigns to switch to something less controversial.
"It may be controversial, but to us the bomb represents our heritage," Ballard said. "To us, it doesn't have to be politically correct."