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Oral History Transcript — Dr. John and Betty Ewing

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Interview with Dr. John and Betty Ewing
By Ronald Doel
At Falmouth, Massachusetts
June 30, 1997

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John and Betty Ewing; June 30, 1997

ABSTRACT: Discusses running his own department at Lamont; comments on the Lamont system of doing science. Describes the tension created by Maurice Ewingís disavowal of plate tectonics; comments on Mauriceís move to Texas and Johnís decision not to follow him. Discusses the conflicts between Maurice and Bruce Heezen; comments on Mauriceís second marriage and the enormous pressure Maurice was under at Lamont. Comments on the burdens of bureaucracy; describes his work on deep sea drilling. Discusses Manik Talwani as director of Lamont after Maurice left; describes his and Bettyís move from Lamont to Woods Hole. Discusses the death of his brother, Maurice; comments on visiting Lamont after leaving.

Transcript

Session I | Session II | Session III

Doel:

This is Ron Doel and this is a third continuing segment of an interview with John and Betty Ewing. And today is the thirtieth of June, 1997. Weíre recording in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Weíre up to the point practically in our discussions to the time that Maurice retired from Lamont. Although one of the things we didnít get a chance to talk about was your department at Lamont. At what point did it really seem to be your department? What point were you in fact in charge?

John Ewing:

Well, it wasnít really a — It was an ad hoc thing. They, I had this feeling that they operated pretty well. And of course there was the disruption when Maurice moved down to the west, to the coast. But I think that you mentioned Xavier.

Doel:

Yes. Xavier LePichon.

John Ewing:

Well he was just, he was just a person who had come every so often, spent a few times.

Betty Ewing:

He spent, what — a couple years. Something like that.

Doel:

What were your impressions of him when he arrived?

John Ewing:

Well, he was a decent enough guy. He was a little bit picky, like all Frenchmen are. Except my Citroen. And he was, heís a bright guy. And as I understand, when he finally moved over back to France, he got himself in a very good position. I donít know exactly what position he has there, but I think itís a fairly good position. Do you know more about him than that?

Doel:

Itís certainly my impression as well.

John Ewing:

Right. In the geophysics line.

Doel:

How many people were considered part of that section at Lamont?

John Ewing:

Well it depends on how you, how you count them. A lot them are mixed up with the shop people. We exchanged people with other, with other departments when we needed them. And they didnít. And I donít know, I suppose running average would be about ten or something like that.

Doel:

Do I recall correctly that Karl Hinz was also in your section during the time that he visited or was he in a separate?

John Ewing:

Well Karl was a, he wasnít really with anybody that I could see. He was just looking around and finding out what we were doing there. And he took up, took up from there and moved over to Germany and started doing similar things. And he moved on very well. And Karl was a very good, solid geophysicist.

Betty Ewing:

Or is.

John Ewing:

Or is.

Doel:

Indeed. He is still alive. Do you recall much interaction with him once he had returned to Germany? Was there much collaboration between?

John Ewing:

Not very much. Except on occasion when I went over there with the DSDP [Deep Sea Drilling Project] or something like that.

Betty Ewing:

Or he would visit Lamont periodically. He would always stop by. You know, if he was in the States, if he couldnít come, he would always call.

Doel:

Interesting.

Betty Ewing:

He remained very friendly. And I think to me he was just very grateful for what he learned. Cause at that point, Johnís group were pretty much the leading show. Right?

John Ewing:

Yes I think so.

Betty Ewing:

Yes. I mean, Iím not bragging. Itís a fact. And Karl was just very grateful. John was always, I thought, extremely generous to visitors. Whatever I could do to help you. Lamont always had a very international attitude about work. I mean, Maurice was always pleased. If anybody wanted to learn something, by all means come. Weíll find you a cubby hole someplace. And Karl was one of those people. And Xavier was too pretty much.

John Ewing:

Yes. Several other people [cross talk], several of which I donít remember. But there was always, almost always, a visitor or two in residence.

Doel:

Thatís very interesting that your impressions that it was the most vibrant and active, leading group of the Lamont divisions.

John Ewing:

Oh yes.

Betty Ewing:

At the time.

Doel:

What do you feel was it that made that so?

Betty Ewing:

Hard work.

John Ewing:

Might be. I donít know. Just was the kind of people we had there worked well together. There wasnít much, no, there was no dispute against other than, you know, some people looked at the world some way and another one, and another one looked at the other way. But we always had a similar feeling about things. Even the people that came from the West Coast, and visited us were kind and Ė-

Doel:

Betty, youíre chuckling at the —

Betty Ewing:

Well, you know, the old Scripps [Oceanographic Institution] versus the rest of the world attitude. But they were, and John had a lot of visitors from the West Coast.

Doel:

Who particularly comes to mind from, say from Scripps?

Betty Ewing:

Well. Well, John always had a very strong feeling about Russ Raitt. And they were very good friends.

John Ewing:

But Russ didnít move very fast.

Betty Ewing:

No, but he, you know, they were very comfortable with each other.

John Ewing:

And, what was —?

Betty Ewing:

Bill Nierenberg.

John Ewing:

Yes, Bill. I got along well with Bill. And he was a little scratchy in places. But he was a nice guy. And he did his work well. And when he, when he got out of the directorship, he —

Doel:

Of Scripps.

John Ewing:

— still hung on and kept doing things, keeping things moving. He was a good guy. He was a little feared, a little weird in some places, but who isnít?

Betty Ewing:

Also a very interesting man. And he was interested in everybody, I felt. Didnít you?

John Ewing:

Yes.

Betty Ewing:

And of course Maurice and George Woolard and John were all very friendly with each other. There was, you know, much interchange of ideas. In those days of children, you know, whoís going to visit whom for the summer. There was a lot of that. They were very close.

Doel:

George Woolard, of course, goes out and becomes director. Did you visit him in Hawaii when he was serving as director?

John Ewing:

Who?

Doel:

George Woolard.

John Ewing:

Oh yes. Sure. I knew him very well. He tried to, when he retired, he tried to make me the director there.

Doel:

Thatís interesting. How did you feel about that?

John Ewing:

Well, it would have been interesting in a way. But I was quite happy here.

Doel:

This, of course, is the 1980s?

Betty Ewing:

No, this is still at Lamont. We were still at Lamont.

Doel:

You were still at Lamont? Interesting. Betty and

John Ewing:

Yes.

Doel:

What, clearly it was a smaller operation in many ways than Lamontís, but how did the operation at Hawaii compare to Lamont?

John Ewing:

Well, they took their leads, Iíve got to say it, by our system. Because it was the one that worked best. And George Sutton was a major person in it. And he had grown up through the system and had gotten very.

Doel:

Indeed. He served as associate director of.

John Ewing:

Yes. Right.

Doel:

When you, Iím curious when you say the system, what sort of things does that encompass? Is it more than simply the techniques and the kinds of instrumentation developed at Lamont?

John Ewing:

Thatís essentially what it amounts to, I think. We borrowed technology from other people. It didnít all go in the same direction. I donít know what the system is. Itís just a bunch of people that tuned in to work together well.

Doel:

Personality plays a role in it as well.

John Ewing:

Yes.

Doel:

When you look back particularly on that time, what achievements were you proudest of? What was, what do you feel was the greatest accomplishment that you did?

John Ewing:

Well, I think it was probably the seismic profiling.

Doel:

Indeed that was a central part of the, defining part of the department.

John Ewing:

Right.

Doel:

I was curious when you mentioned earlier that people within the department, some would look at the world in one way and another. Were you thinking particularly of the emerging debate over plate tectonics, or did you have something else in mind?

John Ewing:

I didnít ever get into that until it blossomed out. One of the critical arguments I had with Maurice. He would not tolerate the new system, what is it?

Betty Ewing:

Plate tectonics.

Doel:

Plate tectonics, intellectual framework.

John Ewing:

And I was really disturbed about that. Because I believed that it probably was right. And we still wrote papers together. But he wouldnít ever put his name on a paper with — awful stigma on it.

Doel:

Thatís very interesting. So this is after 1968, particularly he wouldnít sign on articles with you.

John Ewing:

Yes.

Doel:

And you feel it was because of the —?

John Ewing:

Oh, it wasnít so much that we wrote papers together, but he would always take out, manage to take out the —

Doel:

Any reference to.

John Ewing:

— Any reference to plate tectonics. And it wasnít very good.

Doel:

And how long did this continue after that big transition in 1968 when much of the community did come to accept plate tectonics?

John Ewing:

He just went on about his business and ignored it. When he went down to Texas, I donít think it was ever mentioned there either.

Doel:

Why do you feel that was the case with Maurice? Do you have a sense of what factors caused him to steer so hard against plate tectonics?

John Ewing:

I just donít know.

Doel:

Do you recall any discussions with him particularly about that?

John Ewing:

Oh a lot of them.

Doel:

I know that you and he would often talk late into the night.

John Ewing:

Yes, we had a lot of arguments about.

Doel:

What sort of points were you raising and what did he raise about it?

John Ewing:

Well, we had evidence, pretty good evidence by that time that the earth was moving around. And had been moving for a long time probably and so forth. And.

Doel:

You had, including evidence from other parts of Lamont, the magnetics.

John Ewing:

From other parts. Yes, particularly from the magnetics. And the guys in magnetics ignored his.

Betty Ewing:

His ignoring.

John Ewing:

And he just went on with physics. He thought that everything would still reside in physics, and his brand of physics, and nothing really happened. It did.

Doel:

And many people have argued that one of the reasons that Maurice didnít accept plate tectonics was in part the evidence coming out of the cores and the seismic profiling, suggesting that the sediment simply could not have lain, seemed to have been undisturbed for too long a period of time. As an argument against plate tectonics.

John Ewing:

Yes.

Doel:

You recall that as being one of the arguments that he had raised.

John Ewing:

Yes. We, by the time this came up, we had made several passes across the mid-Atlantic ridges. And it was pretty clear that that stuff couldnít have been sitting there for thousands of years. It was new stuff. And then it was not long that we started getting — I canít.

Betty Ewing:

Cores.

John Ewing:

What?

Betty Ewing:

Cores.

John Ewing:

No. Well, cores was always one of the things. And you know to make a point on this. I remember the, one of the times that I was doing, I was working on the mid-Atlantic ridge. And Maurice told me to get every core I could possibly get. And look at it very carefully, and let me know what it said.

Doel:

And you did.

John Ewing:

I did. And, you know, a lot of the things we were getting were bare rocks. And broke up the core packs and so forth. But that didnít change him.

Doel:

Very interesting. What I was curious about particularly was your recollection that he was successful in writing out references to continental drift or plate tectonics in the papers that were being written.

John Ewing:

Well, I think he did that to me mostly. Because he didnít make those kinds of papers any more until he got down to Austin, to Texas. And there they were not faced with the rock problem. A lot of mud down there.

Doel:

They had lots of mud. Yes.

John Ewing:

Yes. And so he just — they just feasted on that. And they got some damn good data.

Doel:

Indeed. I imagine that must have put you in a very difficult situation when you wanted to publish.

John Ewing:

Oh it did. Yes, it did. And it was very not — wasnít good, when — the last time I left him.

Doel:

How do you mean?

John Ewing:

Well, he wanted me to, still wanted me to come down to Dallas, I mean to Austin. And I just couldnít do it. And we had quite a lot of grief about that.

Doel:

I imagine. I can imagine that was not an easy situation.

John Ewing:

And it was not long after that that he caught a, he died.

Doel:

I want to get to that in just a moment, the entire transition and his decision to go to Texas. Iím — just to stay for a moment with the question of publications. I imagine at that, you probably felt at least at one point, that you might have. Was there a chance of succeeding with trying to get Maurice to allow you to say that? Why did he, why was it so?

John Ewing:

Well, I just knew that if I wrote a paper with anybody, with — what is it?

Betty Ewing:

Plate tectonics.

John Ewing:

With plate tectonics in it, he would ignore it.

Doel:

So that it would be at the risk of him simply not paying attention to any other points that youíre making, or you and the group were making, if it included the tectonics framework.

John Ewing:

Pretty much so.

Doel:

I can see how that was a very difficult.

John Ewing:

It was.

Doel:

What did others at Lamont feel about that? They were aware, werenít they, of the?

John Ewing:

Iím sure they were. Well, Doc didnít interfere in the magnetics and gravity work and so forth.

Betty Ewing:

He let them continue right on. He didnít try to stifle them in any way.

Doel:

But it was particularly in Johnís group that this pressure was applied?

Betty Ewing:

I donít know in Johnís group. Particularly maybe with John.

Doel:

With John?

Betty Ewing:

Yes. I donít know. Itís hard to say. As John said, he didnít interfere with their workings at all. Itís just that he privately wouldnít accept it. Which I guess was his prerogative. And John wasnít about to. If he felt that strongly about it, John would just as soon ignore it than to — what, make some kind of public declaration that you think your brotherís stupid. You know, you donít do things like that. Live with it.

Doel:

Were things difficult, though, in your relations with members in other departments or within?

John Ewing:

No. Of course, I didnít preach the gospel.

Doel:

Yes. Iím just curious in formal discussions — say in the, at Lamont or over lunch or dinner — was it clear to others like LePichon and or even Denny Hayes, Joe Worzel, that you had come to accept plate tectonics?

John Ewing:

Well, Joe would not, would not at all interfere in that at all. He would step right in Mauriceís feet, footsteps. The other people would chat with me just as they would with anybody else.

Betty Ewing:

It never became a cause celeb.

Doel:

At Lamont.

John Ewing:

No. I just decided that there wasnít going to be any argument about it. And did most of the geophysics stuff of a kind that could —

Betty Ewing:

— Help either side.

Doel:

So it did come to affect the kinds of research questions that you were doing between Ď68 and Ď72?

John Ewing:

Yes. No question about that. But, you know, there was a fairly long period when it didnít interfere in this.

Doel:

No, indeed. Indeed. How early on had you begun to hear of the possibility that Maurice would link with Texas, with the Galveston operation?

John Ewing:

Well, I donít really want to get into this too much. He had — he ran out of tenure. He did, tried some squirrely things to keep himself in the saddle. Such as having his wife move into the seat and all sorts of other.

Betty Ewing:

Or Joe Worzel.

John Ewing:

Or Joe Worzel. But Joe wouldnít have done it.

Doel:

You mean at Lamont, wanting to keep.

Betty Ewing:

Well, I think he just didnít want to be emeritus, emeritus scientist. I think he.

John Ewing:

Well, I think that the people in Columbia must have had a pretty strong voice in this. Because they must have known that things were not going to continue as it was. And they wanted them to get into the whole bit.

Doel:

Was that something that Maurice readily talked about? What was happening at Columbia, his relationships?

John Ewing:

Not very much. No, actually, I didnít get very much. In fact, Betty might have gotten more than I did.

Betty Ewing:

He used to come down and talk to me when there was nobody else to. I think he felt, Iím 65 years old, Iím not ready to quit. I think he had visions of himself with his little cubby hole at Lamont and the world going on around him, and he was just supposed to sit there like a dummy. And I think that really was what it was all about. He didnít like that role. I donít think he cared so much about being director anymore, because it already had become completely out of bounds. The directors of today wouldnít even try to do the things he did. Go to sea, run the whole show, know everybody, you know. So that part, but I think that the way the science would go, and whatever, that concerned him. And I think he thought Iíll just sit here, and people will come in and theyíll push papers around, and weíll have all this bureaucracy. And he didnít want it. And, of course, in the meantime, Texas was dangling this very attractive carrot. Come and start your own lab. Do what you want to do. And I think that looked so much more appealing, with a small group of people. Again, back to basics. You know, a nice little group that he can work with and enjoy. I think thatís what it was all about in the end.

John Ewing:

At the last minute, at Lamont, when he had to make a decision, he called me over and we had a very bad talk. And I just told him I couldnít do it. Wouldnít do it. He still invited us to come down and visit anytime we wanted to.

Doel:

That must have been very painful.

John Ewing:

Yes, it was.

Betty Ewing:

And he could call me and say, thereís a lovely house across the street, you know, thatís for sale. Come and live there. And I just had bad vibes about it. I was one of the main, principal —

John Ewing:

Well, he, I was just about to say. He was a — he leaned on people very much. And he leaned a lot on Betty. Even maybe more than he did on me. I donít think he argued with you about plate tectonics.

Betty Ewing:

No. No. No.

Doel:

Like he did with you.

John Ewing:

Yes.

Doel:

Iím also curious if he also talked to you about, say the Bruce Heezen matter?

Betty Ewing:

Oh yes. Oh yes. We talked about that a lot. And Bruce did some very, very.

John Ewing:

Bruce didnít like plate tectonics either.

Betty Ewing:

But that didnít make them allies particularly. Well, Bruce — letís face it, he was very, Bruce worked very hard and Maurice was very proud of him. And aided and encouraged him, and then Bruce kind of went over the top, as people do, you know, got a little carried away with himself. And he became, and I donít mean this unkindly, but he became abusive, didnít he. He was abusive to his help, abusive to other people — I need that slide right now, you know. Iíll just take it. When will you bring it back? I need it. You know, that kind of attitude. That gets old. You know, and so, people kind of got up to here with Bruce. And I donít think he even realized it.

Doel:

Is that right?

Betty Ewing:

Oh yes.

John Ewing:

Oh, I made a lot of efforts to clear the —

Betty Ewing:

— Air, yes.

Doel:

Iím sure you did.

Betty Ewing:

We had Bruce to the house so many times. Címon Bruce, letís settle it all. And.

John Ewing:

Bruce and I were pretty good buddies for a long time. It gradually came apart.

Doel:

Your relation with him as well?

John Ewing:

Yes. We still had some relation, but not like the — well, Bruce did a very good big —

Betty Ewing:

Oh, I know he did.

John Ewing:

Favor to the whole world.

Betty Ewing:

You know, no question about it.

John Ewing:

He mapped the world in a pretty damn good way.

Doel:

How did Marie Tharp fit into this matter?

Betty Ewing:

Marie was a peach. She did most of the work.

John Ewing:

She did what she was told. And she did it very well. She was a good —

Betty Ewing:

She was a very, very loyal worker. Worked hard for Bruce. He wouldnít have got that done without Marie at all.

John Ewing:

No.

Betty Ewing:

Bright woman, hard working.

Doel:

How did people feel when Marie was no longer at the lab, by the late 1960s, because of the, indeed, because of the controversy?

Betty Ewing:

Oh, people would talk to her and call her. And, you know, howís Marie? And sheíd call every once in a while, have a nice long talk. She just, she just did what Bruce expected of her. And the tragedy was that they were very close friends.

John Ewing:

But I donít know whether she was — she was having fun doing the maps. She loved doing the maps.

Betty Ewing:

But I do think she missed having a regular contact with people at Lamont.

John Ewing:

Yes, probably.

Doel:

How did that decision get made to work at home? Was it Bruceís or did it come from elsewhere?

Betty Ewing:

Oh, I think it was Bruceís.

John Ewing:

Yes, I think it was.

Betty Ewing:

And Maurice wouldnít interfere with something like that.

John Ewing:

Did most of the work in Marieís —

Betty Ewing:

Marieís house.

John Ewing:

House.

Doel:

Like writing The Face of the Deep for instance.

Betty Ewing:

There were big tables spread out all over the place, with maps. I mean it was. I remember saying, Marie, itís a good thing you bought a big old house, because you could never do this otherwise. She laughed.

Doel:

Youíre referring to the one thatís at the end of Washington Road, down by the Hudson?

Betty Ewing:

Washington Road, no, she was in Nyack. Is she still there?

Doel:

In South Nyack.

Betty Ewing:

Yes, sheís still there. Yes, thatís it. Have you talked to Marie?

Doel:

Yes.

Betty Ewing:

How is she doing? Okay?

Doel:

Sheís fine.

John Ewing:

Great. Iím glad to hear that.

Doel:

Just saw her on the Saturday last. One thing that Iím curious about too. As the maps developed, do you remember discussions about the maps themselves? How people felt about these kinds of physiographic maps and the kind of extrapolation that was certainly necessary, given the kinds of data available at the time?

John Ewing:

And those were very good things to have. Everybody, if you didnít look at them, you were crazy. Because they did a good job of it when they did — Iím sure theyíre pretty well superseded now, with the —

Doel:

With the SEASAT data thatís come in since then.

John Ewing:

Well, in those early days of those map making. They were really good stuff. Because Bruce went everywhere he could find maps, and tracks and so forth. And put it all together. It was a huge effort. He did that, he worked on that for ten, fifteen years I guess.

Doel:

Indeed. And at a time at which the kind of computers available today just werenít available. So that compiling these data was a considerable undertaking.

John Ewing:

Oh yes. Marie was the computer.

Betty Ewing:

She was the one that did it, yes. And she was very painstaking in her work, which, of course, makes all the difference in the world.

Doel:

So that aided the reception of the map then it seems. That her reputation for accuracy was as strong as it was. John and

Betty Ewing:

Thatís right.

Doel:

Thatís interesting. Do you think in looking back, that that whole controversy with Heezen began to affect Lamont as an institution or the kind of work that was getting done there? Did it affect the way that it did things?

Betty Ewing:

I donít think so. I think it was just one of those little blips that come along.

Doel:

Yes. In other words, that it really didnít affect the institution broadly as much as the conflicts existed?

Betty Ewing:

No. No. An occasional little blow up by Bruce and then that was gone, and then everybody would go back to work. No, I donít think it was a major. I think people often — whether itís Woods Hole, Scripps or Lamont — people often make too much of idiosyncrasies and personalities that clash. I think I remember Maurice talk about that one night at his house. Somebody had brought up something about Bruce, and he said, I donít really care. You know, as long as people do their work.

John Ewing:

But I can tell you for sure that Doc had every map that, copy of —

Betty Ewing:

Of course he did. He thought a lot of them.

John Ewing:

I still have them.

Betty Ewing:

Oh god, yes. We all admire them still.

John Ewing:

I still use them.

Doel:

Iím sure.

John Ewing:

Well, it never did stop.

Betty Ewing:

No it didnít stop, but —

John Ewing:

It was an ongoing thing.

Doel:

One of the other matters we havenít spoken directly about in the mid-1960s, was the marriage between Maurice and Harriet [Greene]. Did he talk to you before he made the decision to?

John Ewing:

Yes he did. He twisted my arm and made me stand up for him. And Betty almost threw me out.

Doel:

I was curious how you both felt about that, since you both knew Maurice so well.

Betty Ewing:

Well, it was a painful time. You know, he had these four children. And we were very fond of their mother, Midge, who was no question about it, an eccentric lady. But a very interesting lady. And I think thatís what attracted Maurice to her. And it was, you know, the whole thing was very painful. And he just called John one day and said he was getting married and he wanted him to stand up for him. And I think John rightly thought, this is my brother. Who am I, you know, to say what my brother do or should not do. But it was difficult, because we still kept close to Midge and the children. And I donít know, somebody suggested once that Maurice married her because she was his memory anymore. And itís entirely possible. I donít know.

Doel:

How well did you come to know Harriet even before the marriage?

Betty Ewing:

Oh yes.

Doel:

She had become a central presence at Lamont. How did Harrietís presence at Lamont, particularly in the position that she was within Mauriceís office, how did that change the way that Lamont worked or the relations that people had with Maurice?

John Ewing:

I donít know. Well, Iím sure there was some influence from Harriet. Because like you said, she was already, always around. And Doc tended to —

Betty Ewing:

Count on her, rely on her, you know. Oh Maurice, I can take care of this. Oh Maurice, I can take care of that. Donít you worry. You know, Iíll handle everything. She was — that was her style. And maybe she did. I donít know. So I suspect some other employees felt it too, donít you John?

John Ewing:

I would think so.

Betty Ewing:

But nothing was ever really said.

Doel:

Did it begin to change your relationship with Maurice?

John Ewing:

Did what?

Doel:

Did Harrietís increasing role and her marriage to Maurice?

John Ewing:

Yes. I think it had quite a big, whatever you do.

Betty Ewing:

It did affect our relationship. Though John and Maurice were still as close as ever. But there was that a little.

John Ewing:

Itís never, itís never the same after something like that gets into the system.

Doel:

Did you see less of him?

John Ewing:

Did I what?

Doel:

Did you see less of him after their marriage?

John Ewing:

Yes, I probably did. He was always calling somebody into his office to talk about something. He was a good talker. And I was one of them. And, of course, got a lot of calls. Joe, he trusted Joe very much. Joe Worzel. And I donít know. He just, he just worked and helped, not helped, but worked and tried to get the thing to keep on going. Thatís really what he did. I think.

Betty Ewing:

By then it was becoming really quite unwieldy, wasnít it, for one person to handle — Lamont.

John Ewing:

Probably was.

Betty Ewing:

Really. He was just overtired all the time. On the road all the time. You know, he just pushed himself.

Doel:

What were the things that were changing? What made it increasingly unmanageable?

John Ewing:

One of the large things, whatever it was, he was losing his grip on the whole thing. And he knew he was going to have to get out of there. And he hated that. And he didnít want to get out of there.

Betty Ewing:

And it had become, you know, a lot of departments, and government agencies putting pressure. You know, I mean, the reports were ten times as voluminous as they had been twenty years earlier. You know, there were all kinds.

John Ewing:

Theyíre even worse now than they were then.

Betty Ewing:

And then the union business with the ships. You know all that. It was all, you know, a big strain on everyone.

Doel:

Of course, the Conrad was a U.S. flag ship. And were there attempts to unionize the Verna as well?

John Ewing:

Was what?

Doel:

There were attempts to unionize the crew of the Verna as well, werenít there?

John Ewing:

I donít think they ever tried.

Doel:

Theyíd not even tried. Interesting.

Betty Ewing:

Not with Henry.

John Ewing:

Henry Kohler would have thrown them overboard.

Betty Ewing:

And taken them out for a ride and that would be it.

Doel:

Indeed. The — you mentioned too the reports. NSF [National Science Foundation] had become an increasingly important patron at that time. I believe you were very active in dealing with industrial patrons. How active did you become in efforts like Industrial Associates?

John Ewing:

A lot. Took a lot of patience. I did a lot of the work on that. I canít tell you which, exactly what I did, or anything like that, because I donít remember. But I know it was busy.

Doel:

You had dealing with individuals and many of the major petroleum companies.

John Ewing:

Yes. I worked with them and with the, Iím losing my grip. The —

Betty Ewing:

Something about the oil companies.

John Ewing:

No, Iím talking about the other side of it.

Betty Ewing:

NSF?

John Ewing:

NSF.

Doel:

Yes, the federal thing.

John Ewing:

I had an awful lot of grief with them.

Doel:

What sort of things?

John Ewing:

Well, they wanted, I wanted to do something else.

Doel:

Iím very curious what youíre thinking about when you say that. What you wanted to do versus what NSF wanted.

John Ewing:

Well, it just took away a lot of time from me, from doing all the things that NSF wanted us to do and the —

Betty Ewing:

— ONR [Office of Naval Research]?

John Ewing:

The ONR and what thing we were just talking about.

Betty Ewing:

Industrial Associates.

John Ewing:

Industrial Associates.

Betty Ewing:

Between the three of them, you had no time to think.

John Ewing:

Yes.

Doel:

I can imagine that took. Was it over fifty percent of your time by the end of the 1960s?

John Ewing:

Oh yes. Oh yes. I was doing almost nothing else.

Betty Ewing:

John only worked at night. That was the only time he got to. He would come home and have dinner with the children. Heíd go back to work and sometimes he wouldnít come home until two or three in the morning. That was the only time he could think. It was — So it was losing a lot of its fun.

Doel:

I imagine that wasnít easy for both of you at that point.

John Ewing:

No it wasnít.

Doel:

But, John, you really noticed a change by the late 1960s? Did it not seem fun for you then either?

John Ewing:

1960s.

Betty Ewing:

Late 1960s. Yes, it was losing its fun.

John Ewing:

Well, thatís, I guess that was about when ONR and the Industrial Associates really started getting in there. And the NSF started to be a pretty big operational thing.

Doel:

It was also, Iím sorry, I didnít mean to step on your words.

John Ewing:

No. I donít really have much else to say.

Doel:

When you mentioned that, I was just thinking. This is also the time of the Mansfield Amendment and the student protests against Columbia and military involvement in science in other areas of the campus.

Betty Ewing:

Didnít affect Lamont too much, but it was there.

John Ewing:

Well, for instance, when we first took the Conrad out. They forbid the rollers.

John Ewing:

The tank. Stabilized.

Betty Ewing:

The anti-roller tank.

Doel:

To keep the ship stable, while floating. Who had forbid?

John Ewing:

I canít remember who forbid it, but we were not — I think it was the NSF. Something was not right about it. So we went without it. We rolled like a god damn tub.

Betty Ewing:

Either that it was the Navy or the Coast Guard or somebody. I donít know.

John Ewing:

Yes, it was some, it was one of those things. It could have been the Coast Guard. Because they had some, some power on what people, how people managed.

Doel:

Iíd sensed from what your saying that you felt it to be increasingly regulated. That one could not do —

John Ewing:

Thatís right. Well, we eventually got the tank working and it worked pretty well. The Vema never had any such thing, but it was a very solid ship.

Doel:

It sounds as if your impressions were that the Vema and Conrad were very different kinds of ships, not only given the physical structure but the way in which they were operated.

John Ewing:

Yes, they were, well, we gradually got —

Betty Ewing:

Conrad.

John Ewing:

Conrad.

Betty Ewing:

Straightened out.

John Ewing:

Straightened out. Some with the — There were always some people on there that were not —

Betty Ewing:

Non-union.

John Ewing:

Non-union. But there were always some — there were some union. But they worked together. They got to working together.

Betty Ewing:

Yes, it all smoothed over. But it took a couple years.

Doel:

Were there worries at any point whether it would be possible for Lamont to maintain two ships simultaneously?

John Ewing:

We did.

Doel:

I know that you did, and indeed successfully, until the Vema was retired in Ď81. How well did you know Captain [Allen] Jorgensen? Was he one of the principal people there?

John Ewing:

He was the skipper of the Conrad. And he was a nice guy. He was a very helpful guy. I never had any problem with him.

Doel:

Did you know him as well as you came to know Henry Kohler?

John Ewing:

No. I knew Henry very, very well. I knew him, oh I knew him a lot. Because I, I didnít put as much sea time in on the Conrad as I did on the Vema.

Betty Ewing:

And also didnít they have relief captains time and again on the Conrad so that he —

John Ewing:

Yes, they did some. But not very much.

Betty Ewing:

Not very much, no.

John Ewing:

Jorgensen was pretty much on there all the time once he got his legs.

Betty Ewing:

And by then John was involved also in the deep sea drilling ships, the other. You know, just didnít have as much time to.

Doel:

That was one of the other things I was curious about. The development of the deep sea drilling and JOIDES [Joint Oceanographic Institutions for Deep Earth Sampling]. Was that, did that also become a major factor in what you were doing?

John Ewing:

Oh yes. Still is. I donít do anything with it anymore. I opted out of it ten years ago or something like that. But I spent a lot of time on it. A lot of trips to wherever. Everything takes away from what you really want to do.

Doel:

You really felt that all of these activities were taking away from the science you wanted to do?

John Ewing:

Well, you know, the science was getting more complicated. You had to have more things. The deep sea drilling thing. We had no way of rigging up a drilling ship. We had to go through the NSF to get that thing.

Doel:

Iím curious how — please.

John Ewing:

Go ahead.

Doel:

I was curious how important you felt the deep sea drilling efforts were for Lamont at that time?

John Ewing:

Oh, I think it was very important. Because we learned an awful lot now. Never learn it all. But you got out on a ordinary ship and bang away and do things like that, you donít know for sure what you did. You really have to go out in a drilling ship and drill a hole, and look at the stuff that you drilled through, and this will tell you whatís down there. And weíve now drilled enough holes in the bottom of the ocean, that we have a pretty good idea of whatís what. But, you know, like all scientists and other people, they want to drill deeper and deeper.

Doel:

That harkens back to the original proposal for the Mohole project.

John Ewing:

Thatís right. But weíve learned a hell of a lot from drilling.

Doel:

How easy was it to maintain good relations between Lamont and the other entities, other institutions, that were part of the deep sea drilling consortium?

John Ewing:

Oh, we sort of gathered them all into one big happy family. And everybody goes from wherever. No, there was no big problem. We had a system that worked.

Doel:

And again, the system being both scientific and in terms of the organization.

John Ewing:

And scientists and different labs. We had to have people that ran that to make sure that one group didnít take it all. And they, there must be three hundred proposals laying around somewhere over there right now. And they might get, some of them might get their hole drilled fifteen years from now.

Doel:

Right. The program has certainly grown enormously. When you were initially involved in it, who else were you working with particularly closely in the deep sea drilling?

Betty Ewing:

He [?] was the coordinator sort of, yes?

John Ewing:

And he — Scripps ran it for about five to ten years or something like that. And then Lamont took it over and ran it for four or five years. And itís now four or five years down in Texas. And they deal with all of the problems that come up, and a huge amount of — When I was — I made two trips on it and that was all I needed.

Doel:

Was this on the Glomar?

John Ewing:

It was on the first driller.

Betty Ewing:

Glomar Challenger?

John Ewing:

The Glomar.

Betty Ewing:

Challenger.

John Ewing:

Yes, I think it was the Glomar Challenger.

Doel:

We were talking a moment ago about the difficult transformation of Lamont when Maurice announced that he would go to Texas. There was a meeting called at Lamont, where he made the public announcement in Lamont Hall. Of course, you had discussed this with him? Or I should ask, you knew about his decision to go before?

John Ewing:

Yes, I knew what was happening.

Doel:

How many other people knew at that time do you think before?

John Ewing:

Oh, I suppose quite a few people knew by then.

Doel:

Joe Worzel.

John Ewing:

The word goes pretty fast.

Doel:

I can imagine that affected morale within Lamont, that kind of uncertainty.

John Ewing:

Oh yes it did.

Doel:

Realizing how extraordinarily difficult a personal issue that must have been to say, no, that you werenít going down to Texas, was there much doubt in your mind as to whether you might be able to accept the offer? Was that already very clear?

John Ewing:

No. This young lady here was pushed off to that.

Betty Ewing:

I was very, very fond of Maurice. I personally felt that he was too old to be starting that. I really felt, you know, that this is — I mean, he had all the enthusiasm of the world. Right? But he was not a child. He had high blood pressure.

Doel:

That was already pretty well known.

Betty Ewing:

Yes. Yes. And I didnít want John to have to deal with Harriet anymore. Simple as that. I felt rather strongly about that. I — it sounds terrible, and maybe the woman was just marvelous. I donít know. And I just knew it was just going to be more of the same. More, you know. And I knew Maurice would count heavily on John to do all of the things that nobody else would do. Which is okay. But I had felt we had reached a point where it was a little late for that. We were getting a little older too.

John Ewing:

And then Joe took after when [?] Creighton had a stroke. Joe took it over for a while. But he didnít take it very long.

Betty Ewing:

So thatís when Art [?] went down, wasnít it?

John Ewing:

Yes. Or a little later.

Betty Ewing:

When did they want you to come down, before Art took it, right? Yes. It was before Art took it, yes.

Doel:

Thinking about Texas reminds me of the role that Cecil Greene in financing developments down there. Had you known him earlier, prior?

John Ewing:

Yes. I didnít know him really closely. I knew him.

Doel:

Did he talk about Lamont, what he felt about Lamont as an institution and its work?

John Ewing:

Gee, I donít know.

Betty Ewing:

Cecil? I think he was pretty impressed. Thatís why he wanted Maurice down there.

Doel:

Arid yet, he, in his various philanthropic gifts, he didnít include Lamont. Although some of the funds did go to other institutions. I was just curious if you had a feeling of why.

Betty Ewing:

Well, of course, he was what — an MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] guy himself.

Doel:

Yes.

Betty Ewing:

I donít know. He just felt rather strongly about building up that lab down there. I never really knew what. Maybe Maurice never asked him for any money. You know, you never know.

Doel:

Did Maurice talk — you were at the meeting Iím sure when the announcement was made that —

John Ewing:

When?

Doel:

When Maurice announced that he was going to Texas.

John Ewing:

Yes.

Doel:

What were your impressions of that meeting? What do you recall from how people reacted?

John Ewing:

I really donít know.

Betty Ewing:

I just remember John saying he left the meeting and went right back to his office. He didnít want to get into a chit chat with anybody. And I believe Maurice just left the meeting too, didnít he? He made his announcement and then went back into his office. He did not — you know, let everybody digest it. Chew it around and work it over and whatever. And then, of course, then it started whoís going to be the next director. And those rumors were even more ridiculous.

Doel:

Do you remember who was considered as candidates once it was clear that Maurice was going to be leaving?

John Ewing:

I donít think so. I donít think they went along with me. I think Manik was the proper choice. Something like Manik, two or three other people.

Doel:

People within Lamont do you mean?

John Ewing:

Yes.

Doel:

Do you remember whether there was much debate or discussion about appointing Manik about the acting director? How that, as you say, you werenít on the search committee. Iím curious of your impressions of how that came about.

John Ewing:

Manik and Walter Pitman and a couple of other guys came to my office after I came from there. And asked me what I wanted to do. And I said, I just wanted to keep going. And they were happy with that. And we left it there. I didnít want any part of it.

Doel:

You werenít interested in, as you say, in the director yourself.

John Ewing:

No.

Doel:

How well did you know Manik at that point?

John Ewing:

Oh, I knew him very well.

Doel:

Do you think it was a difficult decision for Manik to move into administration in that way?

John Ewing:

I donít think it was difficult for him. Because I think he wanted it. And I think he was happy when he got it. And I think he was really depressed when he got thrown out. But I, and I made as good a show as I could with Manik at that time. Told him I would do whatever I could do to help him, help him make it and get something else.

Doel:

In 1981 when he was fired.

Betty Ewing:

Well of course, when we left, it was starting — his position was starting to erode before that, I think, donít you. I donít know why or how, but we had gone. And I think that — I always personally felt that Manik was extremely bright and wanted the position very much. And unfortunately I think he thought he could run it the way Maurice did. And Maurice wasnít running it well at the end because it was too much. And Manik was having exactly the same trouble. Donít you think John?

Doel:

So that he was spreading himself too thin. Wally Broecker had become a central figure.

Betty Ewing:

Yes, and I think Wally wanted a different director. And I donít think it — It was nothing personal. He liked Manik. But he wanted a director that paid a little more attention to —

John Ewing:

Chemistry.

Betty Ewing:

— to chemistry. And I think some of the other groups felt the same way. So. It was not an easy. And I have sympathy for everybody. I mean, there was nobody at fault. It just — those things happen.

Doel:

But you were no longer at Lamont at the time, if I recall correctly, when Manik was asked to leave.

Betty Ewing:

Right. No. We were not.

Doel:

Were there other reasons besides the factors that you mentioned just now? The, Manikís style in leadership and the nature of Lamont that lead to the problem?

Betty Ewing:

I donít know of any others. There may have been. John never encouraged Lamont people that we would see — he never encouraged them to, you know, whatís Manik done wrong. You know, we just didnít take that role at all. So if there were other problems, I donít know of them. Those were the main ones I heard about. That there were too many employees who felt that he was spending all his efforts on the seismic work and ignoring.

John Ewing:

Yes. He did that exactly.

Betty Ewing:

Yes, the other departments. And when youíve got a multi-purpose group like that, youíve got to keep your nose in everywhere.

Doel:

Thatís interesting. Thatís very interesting. Walter Pitman was one of the ones who lead the charge as I recall.

John Ewing:

Right.

Doel:

Who else?

Betty Ewing:

He lead the charge to get Manik and he lead the charge.

John Ewing:

To get him out.

Doel:

Do you have a sense of who Walter Pitman and others would think of as a more ideal director at that point?

Betty Ewing:

I donít think they had any in mind. I think they hoped. You know, wherever you get a new director — here at Woods Hole, I donít care where you are — everybody had these grandiose ideas and then youíre stuck with a human being. And as somebody said, I guess when the, Iíve forgotten whether it was when Craig Dorman came here, ďWell, do you like him.Ē And John said, ďThatís not the point.Ē The point is, is he going to be a good director. You know, forget this nonsense. Being a director doesnít necessarily mean youíre on the popularity pole all the time. So that was the problem for poor Manik, right?

John Ewing:

Well, when Walter kicked Manik out, thatís when he went over and set up —

Betty Ewing:

Manik.

John Ewing:

— Manik went over to Blue Hill. I donít know if you know about that or not?

Doel:

No. I havenít heard.

Betty Ewing:

Branch of Gulf. It was a research branch. And they set it up in Pearl River, New York.

Doel:

And this was set up for Manik do you say, or had it already been running?

Betty Ewing:

No, it had been set up for Manik. He just said he had people that could work, that were not happy at Lamont, and other people at Gulf, and he didnít want to move. Well, he did go. He went down to [cross talk]

Doel:

He went down.

Betty Ewing:

But a lot of the other people didnít. And so, and at that point they were going to close Harmarville [Pennsylvania] Gulf, and so Manik said ďWell, why couldnít we do our research here just as well as in HoustonĒ, and they said fine. So thatís how Blue Hill got set up. And they did a lot of work there.

John Ewing:

And some pretty good people went with Manik, including me. And there was Charlie Windisch, there was —

Betty Ewing:

Paul Stoffa.

John Ewing:

Paul Stoffa.

Betty Ewing:

And Lee Alsop.

John Ewing:

Lee Alsop and Tom.

Betty Ewing:

Tommy OíBrien. And, oh, the guy is at Dallas now. The guy from Belmont.

John Ewing:

Well, anyhow it was a pretty good group of people. But what about a year, a year went by. They were notified that we had to get out of Blue Hill and go down to Houston.

Betty Ewing:

Well that was when [?] McKelvey got dumped, the president of Gulf, and that was when that take-over happened.

Doel:

McKelvey?

Betty Ewing:

It was the president of Gulf. And then, thatís when the take-over came. When T. Boone Pickens was going to take it over, and instead Chevron stepped in and took it over. And thatís when all the — everything changed for Gulf forever.

John Ewing:

Yes, thatís right.

Doel:

When you say changed for Gulf forever?

Betty Ewing:

Well, they closed Harmarville, and they brought in, took in some of the employees. They let go quite a few people like, you know, the guy who ran Harmarville there. Bill, whatís his name, and Driver. You know, a big change. And Manik.

John Ewing:

When the word was that we were going to have to move from Blue Hill to Harmarville.

Betty Ewing:

No Houston. It was already straight to Houston.

John Ewing:

What?

Betty Ewing:

We were going to go straight to Houston. There was no in-between.

John Ewing:

Okay. Thatís when I balked and came back to WHOI [Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution].

Betty Ewing:

And then Manik left and got a position at Rice. And his position in geophysics in Houston, the research center. And Paul Stoffa went to UT [University of Texas].

John Ewing:

Yes. And Charlie [Windisch] went to UT.

Betty Ewing:

And the other guy went down to — I canít remember his name — went down to Galveston. Doug McGowan, Doug McGowan.

John Ewing:

I guess so. But then weíve left out —

Betty Ewing:

Lee Alsop.

John Ewing:

Well, more than that.

Betty Ewing:

Somebody at Blue Hill?

John Ewing:

Yes. He was at Blue Hill.

Betty Ewing:

Paul and Charlie and you and Manik. I canít remember.

John Ewing:

Heís now. He went out to some part of, some part of Gulf. But I guess Gulf was already discombobulated.

Betty Ewing:

Yes, right. Bob Houtz.

John Ewing:

Bob Houtz, yes.

Betty Ewing:

Thatís right. Bob Houtz, yes.

Doel:

He was also involved in — interesting. Iím curious what inspired you to come from Woods Hole to go, to join with Manik when this opportunity came up?

Betty Ewing:

The work.

John Ewing:

It looked like a really good thing. And it would have been if Gulf hadnít flopped.

Doel:

What sort of things would you have been doing, or did you start doing?

John Ewing:

Oh we were doing mostly, we would have been doing mostly geophysics. And working with.

Doel:

Marine geophysics, sea floor.

John Ewing:

Marine geophysics and so forth.

Doel:

Did you have pretty much flexible research opportunities — you expected youíd be able to work on problems that were of interest to you?

John Ewing:

I thought we did. Yes. But it didnít work out that way.

Betty Ewing:

That was the plan.

John Ewing:

And while I was still at Blue Hill, our old friend —

Betty Ewing:

Walter Pitman.

John Ewing:

Walter Pitman and.

Betty Ewing:

Mark, Mark Langseth.

John Ewing:

Mark Langseth. And who is the guy that, the doer at Lamont now?

Doel:

Denny Hayes?

John Ewing:

Denny Hayes was one of them, but then there was one more.

Betty Ewing:

Mutter?

John Ewing:

Mutter.

Doel:

John Mutter.

John Ewing:

They invited me over to a party, and big talk, and they wanted me to come back to Lamont.

Doel:

Interesting. How did you feel about that? This is Ď82 now or so.

Betty Ewing:

Yes. It may be a little later. Iíve forgotten. Ď82, Ď83.

John Ewing:

Well, I just said, what the hell. Iím tired of it. Betty didnít want to go back to —

Doel:

Was the — at least some have called it the coup against Manik — the principal development that needed to be straightened out, or were there other big issues when you look back on it that affected Lamont?

Betty Ewing:

Well, I think there were a lot of issues that had not been addressed. Donít you? Not necessarily major, but —

Doel:

What sort of things are you thinking about?

Betty Ewing:

Oh, I think there was a feeling of malaise. I think there wasnít enough excitement. You know, somebodyís got to generate, ďArenít we doing great things?Ē And I think it was just too much of — Everybody just felt — Iím not saying people werenít doing good work. That old unified feeling was gone. Right? And I donít know that anybody could ever bring it back. But they kept thinking, somehow we can turn this around. And I just think it — you just canít. You know, in the old days everybody knew what everybody was working on. Even if you werenít in that department. You know, Maurice would just casually mention, so and so just did a wonderful paper on something. Everybody knew about it. And I think it just kind of got too big and too sprawly. And Maurice was such a forceful director, it would have been very difficult for anyone to take over. Donít you think John?

John Ewing:

Yes.

Betty Ewing:

You know, he was so enthusiastic about everyoneís work. Whether it was the machine shop or the electronic shop, he was around. He was an on-hands director. He knew what was going on.

John Ewing:

Well, the main shop.

Betty Ewing:

Except with the buildings and grounds, that was his problem.

Doel:

Buildings and grounds.

John Ewing:

The machine shop was getting on hard times.

Betty Ewing:

On hard times, yes, they didnít have the funding. You see, the block funding had gone. So right away you got a big problem.

Doel:

Yes. And the timing probably could not have been more difficult in that.

Betty Ewing:

Thatís right. There were many factors, and they werenít all human problems. And it happened to all of the labs. I mean it was not just, it was just that the timing was particularly bad at Lamont. And yet many people still stayed and seemed to be very happy there.

John Ewing:

Well, Lamont has lost a lot of people in recent years. In recent, ten years.

Doel:

I was curious both either in the 1980s or in more recent times, when you mention things like, that were affecting Lamont. Were they also affecting other oceanographic and then some of the research centers to a similar degree, or do you feel that Lamont was particularly affected?

John Ewing:

No. I think itís probably universal. Weíve lost a lot of people out of WHOT in the last year, year and a half. I suspect that a lot of other labs have had to lay off some.

Doel:

In just the transition from the end of, after the end of the Cold War.

John Ewing:

Yes, right.

Doel:

When you mention in the early 1980s, the difficulties when the group asked you to come back to, did you feel that Lamontís standing among similar institutions had slipped? Or did it still seem to be a full competitor with Woods Hole or Scripps?

John Ewing:

Well, I would have had to explore around a lot to know what you just asked.

Doel:

Yes. I didnít know if you had a general feeling of it at that point?

John Ewing:

No, I didnít. Because I have, I just have a sneaking feeling that it wasnít good.

Doel:

Yes. Very interesting. Iím sure that wasnít an easy thing either, John.

John Ewing:

And itís better off at WHOI now than it would have been there, Iím pretty sure. May fall apart tomorrow, I donít know.

Doel:

Indeed, indeed. Iím thinking too to one question that we havenít had a chance to address is your decision to come to Woods Hole when you decided to leave Lamont. What factors were important? What made you decide to come back here?

Betty Ewing:

I think I was the main point.

John Ewing:

Betty was the main thing. She wanted to get out of Palisades and come back up to New England. Simple as that.

Betty Ewing:

That was one of them. And I felt, hard to put into words. I felt that Manik, and I donít mean this unkindly, so I hope I make it clear, was leaning too much on John to do, the ďdirty work.Ē Which maybe John let himself in for. Do you understand?

Doel:

Yes, I do.

Betty Ewing:

But I thought, I somehow think John ought to. And I thought, everybody said, oh, of course, heíll go to Texas with his brother. Others said, oh, of course, heíll stay at Lamont. And I thought maybe, of course, John ought to just do something entirely different.

Doel:

Thatís very interesting.

Betty Ewing:

And I just thought it was time.

Doel:

The combination of John being Mauriceís brother and personality, in terms of having worked to heal these divisions in earlier times.

Betty Ewing:

And I think John worked very hard at that for the time we stayed.

Doel:

This is the late 1970s that you made the decision to come back up?

Betty Ewing:

I had never longed to retire, to say be retired in New York anyway. I felt it was too expensive for one thing. You know, I mean. And I thought well, why donít we go now before —

John Ewing:

It was an appropriate time to make a move, I think. And these idiots here wanted me back. So, I —

Doel:

Did they approach you?

Betty Ewing:

They what?

Doel:

Did they approach you, or had they heard that you were interested?

Betty Ewing:

They had approached him, over the years, about every ten years or so. Right?

John Ewing:

Yes.

Betty Ewing:

What was his name? Paul [Fye] or the director would say, you know, John, why donít you come back to Woods Hole. You know, he was always welcome I have to say. And at the time they needed a new department chairman and —

Doel:

What were the responsibilities when you came up here? What sort of things did you want to do here at Woods Hole?

John Ewing:

Well, the first thing I did was get the flu.

Doel:

You didnít intend to.

Betty Ewing:

Pneumonia. Pneumonia I think.

Doel:

It was pneumonia.

John Ewing:

Or something.

Betty Ewing:

He had been down to a meeting in Miami and then flew right back up, and, you know, he got sick.

John Ewing:

And they immediately sent me a notice that I was overdue in my —

Betty Ewing:

— Sick days.

John Ewing:

My sick days.

Doel:

Thatís a very interesting perspective on it. When you were at Woods Hole again in the mid-1980s, how did Woods Hole compare to Lamont? What were the things that particularly struck you? In addition, as you say, to the sick leave policy having come so quick.

John Ewing:

Well one thing that was going on well, in my book, in those times is John Diebold was put in charge of the multi-channel.

Betty Ewing:

At Lamont, yes.

John Ewing:

And I know, I knew John well enough to know that he would do it well. And heís now, he has now got the, that ship up there.

Doel:

Youíre pointing behind us down to the Ewing.

John Ewing:

And heís been doing wonderful, wonderful stuff with it. And he had been working jointly with Neil —

Betty Ewing:

Driscoll.

John Ewing:

What?

Betty Ewing:

Driscoll.

John Ewing:

Neil Driscoll. Which is who is at in our department here at WHOI, and theyíre really going to town. Theyíre making really good stuff in geophysics that we didnít know how to do before we got these very systems.

Doel:

Were there things, ideas or ways of doing things, that you had learned and developed at Lamont that you brought to Woods Hole?

John Ewing:

Oh, yes, Iím sure there were. Because we — the multi-channel business was a good thing. It worked very well. But John just made it work better. We used to tail, have a streamer hanging out behind the ship, usually pretty long. And that was what used to be a seismic streamer. What John had put together is a set of stream, now what the streamer is here, not very big or very long, itís now broad.

Doel:

Quite wide.

John Ewing:

Quite wide. You probably know that if youíve been talking to their people. And that gives a totally different view of the, of what weíre trying to get.

Doel:

Yes. And you feel that was particularly Lamontís development — John Diebold.

John Ewing:

That was. I donít know, some of the industrial people probably do the same thing. But this is the only one in the, in our —

Betty Ewing:

In the scientific community.

John Ewing:

In the scientific community. So theyíre sitting in a very good position.

Betty Ewing:

At least there. The geochemistryís good.

John Ewing:

Yes, well sure. Iím just talking about geophysics now.

Doel:

Yes.

John Ewing:

And Iím working partly with Neil Driscoll, who is in partnership with John Diebold at Lamont. So Iím hoping to get — to keep that going. And well, I wonít get it. I hope it keeps on going so that I can still have some fun in it.

Doel:

Right. Right. Understood. You —

John Ewing:

Have you ever seen the results of these kind of things?

Doel:

Iíve seen some. But it would be very interesting to see them.

Betty Ewing:

The paperís right there John because you were on the phone with it earlier.

John Ewing:

This is what Iím talking about.

Doel:

Weíre referring right now to a, is this a pre-print now?

John Ewing:

This is one line of —

Doel:

Very interesting. Weíre looking at a fold out right now of the results of the seismic profiling.

John Ewing:

Well, this is all the result of that broad.

Doel:

Of using the multi-channel instrument.

John Ewing:

Yes. And although you canít really believe it here, but thereís another — see thereís sort of some wiggles.

Doel:

Thereís a signal thatís somewhat above the background thatís labeled here as the Moho. So that one is getting. [cross talk]

John Ewing:

It looks like itís for real.

Doel:

Thatís very interesting. And this is one of the first times that oneís penetrating.

John Ewing:

Thatís right.

Doel:

The resolution is quite extraordinary.

John Ewing:

The resolution is extraordinary. So —

Doel:

And this is as you say in very recent work from Ď96 or Ď97. You were mentioning that now the continued developments at Lamont. Were there particular changes you made when you came up here to WHOT based on your Lamont experiences?

John Ewing:

Well, they had already had some experience with that when we got here, but I made it bigger. But it hadnít, it hadnít really developed the excitement like we see in here. Because it was a long streamer rather than a broad stream.

Betty Ewing:

Where did John Diebold get the money for that, do you know? Iím just curious.

Doel:

I was just thinking when you mentioned funding, Betty, was — Did fund raising change at Lamont during Manik Talwaniís administration? Did he find it harder than Maurice to raise general funds for Lamont?

John Ewing:

I donít really know. I donít know how the — I really donít know the answer to that.

Doel:

You were mentioning earlier the changes that came when Maurice did move down to Galveston. One thing I donít think I asked you, was how often did you get down to see Maurice after he had gone to Texas?

John Ewing:

Only a couple times.

Betty Ewing:

But he came up to Lamont quite a bit, one reason or another. Right? Remember he would blow in for a couple of days.

Doel:

He was still calling on your advice Iím sure. Did he?

John Ewing:

I donít remember. Probably some.

Doel:

Were you worried about his health at that point?

John Ewing:

No. I didnít realize that he was sick as he was. But, you know, he had a stroke and thatís it.

Betty Ewing:

He didnít know how to relax.

John Ewing:

No.

Betty Ewing:

I mean it was just beyond his ken. He drove himself, you know. And that was — I was worried about that.

Doel:

He was buried then in the cemetery that overlooks Lamont?

Betty Ewing:

Yes. Yes.

Doel:

And I understand that Harriet had created a rather elaborate memorial for him.

Betty Ewing:

You mean what, the service? Or the stone?

Doel:

I was thinking of the stone itself.

Betty Ewing:

The stone. I guess so. I have never been back. I havenít seen the stone. You havenít either, have you? We have no desire to go.

Doel:

I understand. Do you recall anything particularly from the, from that service, that still stands out in your mind?

Betty Ewing:

Not particularly. No. We were all kind of numb. It was, it was just a brief grave side service. And then we all went back to Lamont and had lunch. A lot of Mauriceís old friends were there from all over the country. But it was, you know, a big mob scene. So it was — and John was more concerned about his children. And so we all left and went down to our house and had a cookout that night. You know, that was — They were there, and thatís what we did. But it was certainly a stroke that was unexpected, but I guess most strokes are.

Doel:

One of the questions I donít think I had a chance to ask you was, once you came up here to Woods Hole, how often would you get back to Lamont? Were there, it wasnít too often at that point was it?

Betty Ewing:

No. No. Weíd go back periodically because we had our house there. But, no we havenít been to Lamont for what, ten years at least, or longer? I donít know if anybody would know us. I remember the last time we did go. We were in Palisades and Barry [C. Baring] Raleigh was the director, remember, and invited us up for dinner. Which I thought was, you know, we didnít know Barry that well. But he knew we were in town, and invited us up for dinner, which I thought was very thoughtful of him. And so we had to go through the gate. And the guard took down our license plate. And where are you from? Massachusetts. Whatís your name? John Ewing. How do you spell it? E W I N G. And the guy said, ďWhat, I never heard of that name before.Ē We got kind of a chuckle out of it, you know. And he told us where to go so we wouldnít get lost and so on and so forth.

Doel:

That must have brought up some feelings that —

Betty Ewing:

Well, I donít remember. But I just remember telling Frank Press about it. And he said, ďWere you upset?Ē And I said, ďNo, Iím old enough to realize these things happen. What did this guy know or care.Ē You know. Not on his watch, you know. Just another car Iíve got to mark down.

Doel:

Press, of course, had gone to MIT.

Betty Ewing:

Yes, from CalTech [California Institute of Technology], right.

Doel:

Did you have much contact with him in the intervening years?

Betty Ewing:

Oh, theyíd come down to Lamont to visit every once in a while. Right?

John Ewing:

Not when he was with the National Academy.

Betty Ewing:

National Academy. Of course, he was here in the summer. So we see them. As I say, we usually try to get together once a summer and usually doesnít fly because something comes up.

Doel:

Did you have any contact with the Presses when Frank was serving as Jimmy Carterís Science Advisor?

Betty Ewing:

Oh just when they were here visiting. You know. No, wait a minute. When was that? No, that was NSF, when he asked you to serve on that committee. Remember?

John Ewing:

No.

Betty Ewing:

Iíve forgotten. There was some special committee they had. It was looking at USGS [United States Geological Service] somehow. And he called you and asked you. It was, you know.

John Ewing:

I probably said no.

Betty Ewing:

No, you said yes. You felt you owed it to Frank and you also thought it was important. At the time. It was a few years ago. But other than that, you know, no. We would go out of our way to see them if, you know, we were some place and they were here, by all means, letís say hi. But, no, heís busy, and weíre busy in our own way.

Doel:

You mentioned a moment ago this committee he helped. Were there other professional committees that, where you spent a particular amount of time, or had a lot of influence? When you think back, Iím just curious what you think of as the most important of your professional — the AGU [American Geophysical Union] type committees or similar undertakings?

John Ewing:

Oh I donít know.

Betty Ewing:

John avoided committees like the plague.

John Ewing:

Well, I couldnít.

Betty Ewing:

You couldnít avoid them all.

Doel:

You couldnít indeed.

Betty Ewing:

You were on a lot of the deep sea drilling committees.

John Ewing:

Yes.

Doel:

Those connected with those —

John Ewing:

Iím more at ease with being in the field and doing something, rather than talking. I wouldnít want to.

Doel:

Sure. I just wanted to give you a chance if you, if there were some things that you were recalling at this point.

Betty Ewing:

Well there were always meetings of some sort. Right?

Doel:

Iím curious too, if, when you look back, are there any particularly strong commitments and principles either of a scientific nature, or personal, religious that you have feel have been particularly important? I really want to ask that for both of you.

John Ewing:

You want to try it, Bet?

Betty Ewing:

Well, for John I can say that he always tried to do his very best work. And felt very strongly that one must not fudge the results. This is what you got. No sense pretending. If it was not important, it wasnít important. If it was great, swell. And just important just to get along with people because thatís the only way you get any work done. And then, and I think John was always particularly, and probably embarrassing him, I think he was particularly aware of people with big egos. And maybe thatís why he liked them, because there was no clash. John felt very strongly about sharing information. You know, whatís this big deal? This is for everyone, not for.

John Ewing:

Well everything we did was public domain. You had no right to seal it off from other people.

Doel:

Was that a particular issue at Lamont?

John Ewing:

No. I donít think so.

John Ewing:

Everything was published.

Betty Ewing:

He made it very easy for me to be a scientistís wife. Because there was never a meeting or a dinner that he wanted to go to in preference to staying home. He was away a lot. And he never, you know, he never came home and said ďGee I had this for lunch, you know, at some fancy restaurant.Ē If he did, he kept his mouth shut about it. Very wise, very wise husband. Very wise. So my role. And I was fortunate to know Maurice quite well. And I like to think that in some ways I was helpful to him. He could tell me things he couldnít tell other people. Didnít always agree with him, but I liked him. He was very generous to me, wasnít he John, personally?

John Ewing:

Yes. You two became very, very good friends.

Betty Ewing:

Very, very good friends. And that made it, that made it easy for me. And yet at times it was difficult. When somebody would start railing at Maurice, and Iíd feel like saying, ďOh you donít know what youíre talking about. Shut up.Ē You know, you have to listen.

Doel:

Right. Diplomacy comes in.

Betty Ewing:

He had his faults, but I was always very happy to be able to say that I thought a great deal of him. He never slipped me any tricks. And for the most part I think he played very fair with his employees. Donít you?

John Ewing:

I think he did.

Betty Ewing:

Yes. He tried very hard. If there were oversight, it was probably because he was just right up to here.

John Ewing:

He called a spade a spade.

Betty Ewing:

Oh yes, yes. He could be very disarming. One brief story and then —

Doel:

Iíd like to hear it. Yes.

Betty Ewing:

I guess we were having, it was a party for Johnís department, dinner party at the house. Nobody entertained out those days. You didnít take people to restaurants. That was considered low class.

Doel:

Thatís interesting.

Betty Ewing:

Well, it is. I still think it is. But anyway. And so one young man came with his wife. Oh — I called Maurice. And always at these things I would say, Maurice, if you and Midge can come down, it would be lovely. But if you canít — But if you canít come down I understand, but it would mean a lot. You know, particularly the new employees who really didnít get to know him. And of course he could be just marvelous at something like that. So he came in, and he hadnít met this woman before, and they sat down and talked. And they had a wonderful time. And the next day she called me, and she said, ďI just want you to know that any time John needs my husband to go to sea, he can have him any time at all. I had no idea how important this was. And I had a wonderful talk with Dr. Ewing last night. And I told him how shy I was. And he told me how shy he was. Well, you know, so anything you want of my husband, heís all yours.Ē Maurice could do that very well, couldnít he. And he always seemed to know which was the one that needed it. And he meant it, though. I mean, he truly meant it. You know, this is the most important thing your husband will ever do in his life — that kind of thing. And it just tickled me.

Doel:

Thatís one of the stories that stayed with you through the years.

Betty Ewing:

Oh yes. That particular night I remember it. But he could be very charming at those parties, couldnít he?

John Ewing:

Yes.

Betty Ewing:

Nothing pompous.

John Ewing:

He could be pretty snotty too.

Betty Ewing:

Yes. But not usually at something like that.

John Ewing:

No, I know.

Betty Ewing:

He bent over backwards I felt for the — people like janitors and whatever. He always kept thinking they never really had a chance to, you know, grow into something more exciting. He felt sorry for them that they didnít have a more interesting time in life. And so he was always very —

Doel:

Well, I want to thank you very, very much for all that youíve contributed, both of you —

Betty Ewing:

Youíre welcome.

Doel:

— to this session and to the preceding sessions. And I should say this on tape. You will be getting the transcripts from all the interviews coming up. And —

Betty Ewing:

Thatís, oh god.

Doel:

Thank you very, very much.

Betty Ewing:

Thatís when you say, did I say that, how could I?

Session I | Session II | Session III