Meadows was, apparently, bad with money, and his overspending resulted in the couple having to declare bankruptcy. Moreover, he allegedly committed infidelity and then refused to end the affair in order to save his marriage. Silkwood, perhaps unsurprisingly, eventually ran out of patience, and she and her husband separated in 1972.
Unusually for the time, however, the children – then aged 18 months, three and five – did not stay with Silkwood. Instead, Meadows gained custody of all three kids, while their mom relocated to Oklahoma City alone. She reportedly didn’t even say goodbye when she left, simply telling her daughter that she was heading out to purchase cigarettes.
Silkwood then found a job as a clerk at a local hospital, although that career path did not last. In fact, she soon took a $4-an-hour metallography technician position at a plutonium plant some 40 miles away. Located near the city of Crescent, O.K., the energy company Kerr-McGee owned and operated the facility.