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Oral History Transcript — Dr. James Hays

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Interview with Dr. James Hays
By Ronald E. Doel
In Palisades, New York
May 30, 1996

 
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James Hays; May 30, 1996

ABSTRACT: Born in Johnstown, NY on Dec. 26, 1933; discusses family life and childhood. Discusses his early interests in chemistry, physics, and astronomy; pursued scientific interests at Deerfield Academy. Describes his decision to go to Harvard during the McCarthy era; comments on his undergraduate education at Harvard, 1952-1956. Discusses his decision to major in geology; describes his geology coursework and summer field work in Colorado. Discusses his Navy service from 1956-58 and his travels during the International Geophysical Year; describes his decision to go to Ohio State for graduate school in geology. Comments on meeting other scientists through the Polar Institute; describes his growing interests in the Antarctic and how he came to his undergraduate thesis research. Discusses his post-graduate research at Columbia, Lamont, 196 1-1964; describes his coursework at Columbia and the teaching of Heezen, Wust, and Newell. Discusses how he became involved with the CLIMAP project; describes the collaborative nature of the CLIMAP research. Comments on the Emiliani/Ericson debate; compares the involvement of Lamont with Scripps and Woods Hole in the CLIMAP project.

Transcript

Session I | Session II | Session III

Doel:

This is Ron Doel and this is an interview with James D. Hays. Wereí making this recording on the 30th of May, 1996 at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York. I know that you were born in Johnstown, New York on December 26th, 1933, but I donít know about your family or your parents. Who were they and what did they do?

Hays:

The town that I grew up in was a glove manufacturing center, or at least it was at that time, and so the main industries there were glove factories, usually fairly small ones, employing maybe in the order of a hundred people, and tanneries, which tanned the leather from which the gloves were made, so my father was a glove manufacturer, and he ran a factory that had about a hundred employees, and they made — they specialized in womenís gloves, and this was the era — or the heyday of that firm was in the era of long many button gloves, fancy womenís gloves that were sold to New York stores, and Chicago, large cities generally.

Doel:

Right. How old was — had he already been running the company by the time you were born, or was that earlier than that?

Hays:

Well, the firm belonged to my motherís father, and he went to work for my motherís father, and so when I was born, my motherís father was still alive, and he was alive until I was about ten or something like that, and then he died and my father took over the management of the firm. My father was a salesman for the firm during those years when my grandfather was alive.

Doel:

Okay. How seriously did the Great Depression affect the business?

Hays:

It didnít affect it too badly. The town had considerable unemployment, but it did better than many areas, and so there wasnít — it wasnít as if in my family there was not a problem that I was aware of, in that respect, and amongst my friends I think most people werenít wealthy, but nobody was starving either.

Doel:

What sort of house did you live in when you were growing up?

Hays:

Well, a relatively small, white clapboard house. It had I guess four bedrooms, and a living room, dining room, kitchen, just a couple of doors from the school, so it was very convenient in that respect.

Doel:

Do you remember whether there was a library in the house, when you were growing up?

Hays:

There were many books in the house. We didnít have a room that was a library, but there were bookshelves in the living room, bookshelves upstairs.

Doel:

Had your parents, either of your parents gone to college?

Hays:

They both did.

Doel:

O.K. Thatís interesting. And where did your father attend college?

Hays:

He went to Hamilton College.

Doel:

In upstate New York?

Hays:

Thatís right, in Clinton, it was in Clinton, New York, and then he went on to Harvard Business School, and got an MBA [Master of Business Administration]. My mother went to Wellesley College, and then taught school for a couple of years in Johnstown before she was married, and then she stopped teaching school after that, I guess.

Doel:

How many brothers and sisters?

Hays:

I have an older sister, three years older.

Doel:

Iím curious what sorts of things you remember reading when you were growing up. What kinds of books did you have at home?

Hays:

Well, I had a very early interest in science. It was something that I was interested in certainly by the time I was six or seven, and so I enjoyed reading things like Popular Science, and I also enjoyed reading Scientific American and Sky and Telescope. These are not books, these are magazines, but I also like biographies, and the family was fairly religious, so there was a lot of bible reading, and in fact the bible was read to me, more than I read it myself, but that was something that happened every evening, and so we certainly must have gone through the bible two or three times, from Genesis through Revelations, I mean everything.

Doel:

Were both your parents particularly religious?

Hays:

Well, I donít know that either one of them actually were very religious. I think my father was quite religious. I donít think my mother really was, but she still at ninety-three, still goes to church, but I donít think sheís very religious.

Doel:

What church were you attending when you were younger?

Hays:

Something called the United Presbyterian Church, which is a Scottish offshoot, fairly conservative church, more conservative than the Presbyterian Church, and this town actually — Iím of Scottish descent — and the town has quite a few people — the early settlers were of Scottish descent. The town was founded by a Sir William Johnson, who was King Georgeís ambassador to the Indians, and he was very important during the French and Indian War in getting the Iroquois to ally with the English against the Algonquians that were allied with the French.

Doel:

Indeed, I recall the name.

Hays:

You recall Sir William Johnson?

Doel:

Yes.

Hays:

O.K., well, I donít need to go into that. Well, anyway, he founded the town because it happened to be a place in the woods where several Indian trails crossed, and he was going to be in contact with the Indians, he felt it would be good to have his house there, so he went up there and built a big Georgian mansion in the middle of the woods, and then he brought in a lot of Scottish indentured servants, so after the battle of Culloden, when they were these Highlanders, disillusioned Highlanders wanted to leave Scotland and come over here, he brought them over and put them to work, and so they became his schoolteachers and his — the leather business actually was started because the forests around were full of hemlock, and so they could use the bark from hemlock for tanning, so they started the tanning, and then making gloves and so forth, so these Scottish Highlanders were the initial nucleus, and as happens Iím sure in many communities, that nucleus attracted later immigrants, so for quite a while it was a focus, Iím sure there was many foci, but this was one focus for Scottish immigrants.

Doel:

Indeed, but that was a very common pattern in those days, a very important one. It sounds as if your parents were particularly cognizant of their place in history, and that this was something that was discussed. How did you learn about your family background?

Hays:

Yes, yes, it was, and I think when I was growing up, my parents werenít so interested, but the next generation, my grandparents, were quite interested in all this, and I got quite interested, in fact there was a time when I wasnít, but Iím now again somewhat interested, so I asked a lot of questions of the grandparents, and so they were happy to tell me, and of course those things that you learn at those ages you donít forget.

Doel:

Indeed, indeed. I wanted to get back to an interesting thing you mentioned a moment ago, when you were reading Popular Science, and you mentioned Scientific American and Sky and Telescope. Were any of those subscriptions that you had coming into the house, or did you read those in the library?

Hays:

No, I remember the only place I could get Scientific American was at the railroad station at Schenectady, and I was having my teeth straightened by an orthodontist in Schenectady, so when I got down there, Iíd run over to the railway station and pick up Scientific American once a month, and that was a great joy. Interesting, I mean it was really something I looked forward to. Sky and Telescope I did subscribe to. I canít remember when, but I did, and I think Popular Science I could get locally.

Doel:

Certainly Sky and Telescope wasnít widely available at all during those times, and indeed it was just becoming Sky and Telescope, the merger had occurred a few years before that.

Hays:

Is that right? I didnít know. What was it before?

Doel:

They were the Sky and at the moment Iím blanking on the name of the other magazine that formed to become — it might have been the Telescope for that matter, but Iíll check on that, but you donít recall how old you were when you started subscribing, but you were perhaps ten or so?

Hays:

Well, I remember that I was — I was probably eight or nine, because I tried to build some telescopes, which wasnít — it was partially successful, and eventually I saved enough money to buy a telescope, and I remember doing that when I was twelve, I bought the telescope, because I — well, it was during the war. The war happened when I was I donít know what, about that time, seven or eight. 1940 — seven.

Doel:

About 8 would have been 1941 for you.

Hays:

Right, right. What was it for you? [Laughter] Youíre right, 1941. Well, I was inspired by the war, and went out and did a lot of collecting of newspapers and scrap iron. Iím sure a lot of kids did this, and thatís something I did, and I really went into it in kind of a big way with my express cart, but I spent a lot of time doing it, and there were people in the neighborhood who saved stuff for me, so I accumulated a fair amount of money over several years, I mean — two hundred dollars -Ė

Doel:

Which was a good sum in those days.

Hays:

Ten cents for a hundred pounds was quite a lot of paper and scrap iron, and what not. I had a windfall with my grandfather, was getting rid of some — what do they call it — die to cut the leather, anyway they stamp out the Ė-

Doel:

A stamping machine, in essence.

Hays:

Yes. And they did that by hand originally, and so he was getting rid of those things, and they were made out of cast iron, or wrought iron, so he gave me that, he gave me a lot of that, so that was — I probably made a quarter of my total sum probably just from that, but the rest of it was newspapers and scrap iron that I collected and carted down to Hymie Albrecht, who was the junk dealer. So anyway, I eventually had something like $200, and there was an amazing — I mean they donít exist anymore, but in Amsterdam in that time, there was a store called Rasmussen & Reese — this was sort of a Dutch area, obviously, Amsterdam — but he sold telescopes and so I bought a telescope for $200. I still have it.

Doel:

Thatís very interesting.

Hays:

Yes, still have it. Astronomy was my first love, I thought astronomy was wonderful, and that was my first love. Then — or was it? No, no, I guess it wasnít. I guess it was, I donít know, chemistry, physics, astronomy, all three. I went through phases with each one. Geology was not, when I was that age. It was chemistry, physics, and astronomy. Those were the real interests. I think that the chemistry started with a chemistry set, and then I think I got interested in physics, and then I think astronomy was when I was older, so that the more full-blown one.

Doel:

Right, right. But as you say, you still were starting all of these interests very early in your life.

Hays:

Yes. It wasnít that there was a lot of that going on in the family. In other words, I learned — amazingly, I learned when I was a graduate student that my father had majored in geology, but I didnít know that.

Doel:

You hadnít known that. Thatís very interesting.

Hays:

I donít know why I never asked him. I just never knew.

Doel:

Do you recall who the chemistry set came from? Was it your parents or grandparents?

Hays:

No, the Porter Chemical Company in Hagerstown Maryland. They made chemistry sets.

Doel:

Had you bought it through your earnings or allowance, or was it a gift to you?

Hays:

No, no, no, I think that ended up being a Christmas present.

Doel:

From your parents?

Hays:

I asked for a chemistry set, and I got one.

Doel:

Iím curious what you think as you think back on it now, stimulated your interest in the sciences? Was it things that you were reading, conversations with others?

Hays:

I think the family, although my mother majored in English Literature or something like that, was not scientifically interested, not in that way, but there was a big interest in nature, and a kind of a love of nature. Not so much from a study research point of view, but just enjoying being in it, and interested in the kinds of flowers, and the kinds of animals and birds, and all that sort of thing, particularly in the part of my mother. My father also liked it, he liked nature, and we would go in the summertime to a lake about eighteen miles north of town, where we spent our summers, called Canada Lake, and I loved it. I mean, it was wonderful. Just one of those — it was paradise, as far as I was concerned, and I think that that contact with nature, and I think the interest with nature in the family, and the fact that that was kind of a fun place to be, and I was out in the woods, stimulated an interest in that kind of thing, and I suspect thatís where it was born, but I donít know.

Doel:

I wonder if later in your childhood, you remember reading [Ralph Waldo] Emerson or [Henry David] Thoreau. It sounds a bit in your description like the sorts of things that were -Ė

Hays:

Yes, right, I did read both of them, but I think it was all much later. I know I didnít read them at that time.

Doel:

Popular Science you say was available locally, so you did have access to that.

Hays:

Then there were some other children in the area, some of them older than I, who had interest too. Now, the initial interest I think were in — in the chemistry phase were in the making of explosives, interest in acids, and all kinds of stuff, and the local pharmacist, who had a classic pharmacy, with all the glass jars with the glass stoppers in them, all that stuff was so fun.

Doel:

Really impressive when youíre young.

Hays:

Yes, yes, yes, that was really wonderful. And he was great, and he was always interested that I wanted all this stuff, and had no concern whatsoever about selling me anything I wanted, so I put a bottle of nitric acid in my pocket, and it would leak, and then my trousers would disintegrate [laughter] and my mother would say ďWhatís the trouble?Ē but they were pretty good about that, except I skipped Sunday School once to go to the drug store to buy some of this stuff, and lied about the fact that Iíd done it, but then they found this bottle of nitric acid. There was some evidence of nitric acid, and so I was caught. Then there was also gun powder, and making explosions, and so forth — trying to make rockets, and so there was a lot of that kind of thing. Starting out I think I was fascinated by just mixing vinegar and baking soda together, and having it blow the cork off the test tube, and then we get into making gun powder, which is pretty simple to do, and then packing it in things, and making explosives, and set them off in the cellar, until it got to be — kind of smelled the house up because of the sulfur, but again, my parents never worried about any of that stuff, which was quite good. I mean, I would worry if my kid was playing with sulfuric acid at that age with other kids. I mean you never know what theyíre going to do, but they didnít worry about it, and they didnít worry about the explosion. My mother would come to the top of the stairs, and say ďIs everybody all right?Ē and Iíd say ďYes, fine.Ē [Laughter]

Doel:

And off youíd go.

Hays:

Yes, so then we began setting them off outdoors, which was okay, but there was a hands-off in that area by my parents, which was quite nice, because they werenít necessarily that way really with everything, and that was something that was good about it for me as a kid, that it was kind of my area, they didnít know much about it, and it was sort of an area I could do without interference, and they were good about not interfering, so it became sort of my thing.

Doel:

Yes. You say that there were a few other friends in the neighborhood who had the same interests. Did any of their parents have a particular interest in science? Do you remember talking with Ė-

Hays:

Well, no, I donít know, but I do know that one of them was something of an engineer, but he never talked to us about anything, so he wasnít an influence.

Doel:

Thatís interesting. So there really werenít mentors in the sense, outside of say, the chemist, who was selling you — the druggist who was selling you Ė

Hays:

Pharmacist.

Doel:

— the pharmacist who was selling you some things, but Ė-

Hays:

He actually knew things, because he knew about things, so he was a source of information, even in terms of the compounds and things. I donít think he told us how to make gunpowder, I think we found that out, because you could get from the library these books of formulas. In fact, Iím sure, donít think they exist anymore, but there used to be big books that had everything under the sun in them, that people could make at home.

Doel:

Iím curious if you came across volumes such as [Edwin Emery] Slossonís Creative Chemistry [New York: Century Company, 1919 and various reprints] back in that time too. They would have been published in the 1920ís; during the time that chemistry was a major interest in this country.

Hays:

No, but I was interested. I donít know, chemistry — and I had childhood fantasies of being a big chemist, I remember that. Working for DuPont, I think, I donít know.

Doel:

It sounds as if you didnít have particular trouble finding books on the things you wanted to read about in the library when you were growing up.

Hays:

Well, I found something, yes; there was something there, right.

Doel:

Do you recall what particularly got you interested in astronomy, how you began to move from chemistry into astronomy?

Hays:

Well, actually, my grandmother on my motherís side, was kind of interested in astronomy, and she sometimes would talk about it, but it was just a matter of being able to recognize stars and things, not really a mechanistic interest, but I probably could recall — you know, I think I probably could recall, but at the moment I canít tell you, but I think there was probably something that nudged me in that direction, and this is really interesting.

Doel:

It is not uncommon for grandparents to play that kind of role, to stimulate that kind Ė-

Hays:

Yes, so maybe she did, or got me at least thinking about it, and then I did some more things. I donít know.

Doel:

You mentioned earlier, that before buying the telescope, you had tried to construct one on your own. How did you get the kind of information that would allow you to even begin that kind of project? Was there an astronomy club in town?

Hays:

No, there wasnít, there was nothing in town, but we did go in every once in a while to New York, because my aunt and uncle lived in New York, and I found out that at the American Museum of Natural History there was an astronomy club connected to the planetarium, and they actually ground lenses, and all that stuff. In fact I think they had some sort of an amateur club, which I think I went to one of the meetings. In fact I know I went to one of the meetings, but I donít remember much about it, but my mother remembers my going, or actually she may have taken me, I donít know how old I was, but I remember going to it, and she was very pleased, because I asked some questions, and so forth, but it ended up — the business of grinding a lens isnít such an easy thing to do, and I never actually bought the blanks and the rouge and all that grinding stuff. I never got into it that far, so what I did do, is I bought some war surplus lenses, and I mounted them in a stove pipe, and I knew the focal length of the objective lens, and it was kind of a jerry- rigged thing, and the pipe bent, and whatnot, but it did work, not terribly well, but it worked. I mean you could see the craters on the moon with it, but everything was a little bit yellow, which I donít know — I think I probably had not a very good lens, but it was about that time that I decided Iíd buy a good one, but I did go through the effort of making — and I made several that were sort of not bad. They worked, but there were better. Oh, there was also a man in town, the hardware store guy — the fellow who owned the hardware store. He was interested in astronomy, and he actually had a pretty good size refracting telescope. I think six inch, something like that.

Doel:

Thatís a good size.

Hays:

It is, itís quite a good — and he had it all mounted outside with a little house over it, the house slid out on tracks, and so I could ask him questions, and he once let me look through his telescope, but I only visited him once. He did not stimulate my interest, but he was there, when I was interested, and I spoke with him.

Doel:

So you would talk to him, even if you didnít use the telescope, about things you were finding interesting, and so on.

Hays:

Right.

Doel:

How did you find out about the company in Holland that you eventually bought the telescope from? Was it reading about it in Sky & Telescope, or through others?

Hays:

I think not. I think somebody told me there was a store in Amsterdam that sold telescopes. I think thatís how it happened, Iím pretty sure it is. I donít think it was in the Sky & Telescope, but I might be wrong, I donít remember.

Doel:

Iím curious, which teachers you found influential, say particularly in junior high school, and then moving on to high school?

Hays:

Well, I always liked science classes, general science when we took it, so I sort of enjoyed that, but this sounds a little bit negative, in fact these teachers didnít know a lot about science, unfortunately, so I donít think they were strong influences. They were not a detriment. They encouraged me, and so forth, but they admitted they didnít really know very much about it.

Doel:

No indeed, and that was certainly a common situation at that point — year, and particularly in a city of Johnstownís size.

Hays:

And it probably still is. Right.

Doel:

Before you went to Deerfield Academy, and I wanted to cover that in a moment, Iím curious what you do remember learning, what kinds of courses you were exposed to, particularly in the sciences?

Hays:

Well, just the standard — oh, I didnít take any subject courses before I went to Deerfield, in other words I was always general science. In other words, I didnít take a biology course or a physics course or a chemistry course at Johnstown, I just took general science courses, because those really didnít start until high school.

Doel:

Sure, sure. And these would move simply from subject to subject as the weeks went on.

Hays:

I have sort of vague memories of them; I donít remember exactly what we did do.

Doel:

Yes, sure. I was wondering if there was anything particularly came to mind when you think back to those courses, any kind of demonstrations that you found particularly interesting, or readings, or -Ė

Hays:

No.

Doel:

You were doing a lot of the reading on your own by that point.

Hays:

Yes.

Doel:

Do you remember any books that you found particularly interesting, say before you went to Deerfield that you did discover?

Hays:

I canít at the moment.

Doel:

Iím curious how the decision got made for you, or the pathway got opened up for you to attend Deerfield.

Hays:

Oh, that was my parentsí idea. I wasnít really very crazy about it, Iíd just as soon have stayed in Johnstown, so they pushed it, and I think in hindsight, it was a good thing, so I think they probably did the right thing, but I wasnít eager to go, but once we went around and looked at a number of places, and of all the places we looked at, that one seemed like it was a good one. I mean I liked it better than the others, because it had a big swimming pool. You know how kids make decisions.

Doel:

Of course. Do you remember which other schools you visited?

Hays:

Governor Dummer, Hotchkiss. I think we looked at Andover. I think they thought Andover was too big. My father had gone to Andover.

Doel:

Oh, is that right?

Hays:

Yes, but I didnít have a lot of say about it. They wanted to — they liked Deerfield, because my mother had read an article in the Atlantic Monthly years before, about Frank Boyden, and was very impressed with that, and so she said, ďWell, if heís still around, it would be nice if Jim could go there,Ē so -Ė

Doel:

Given that your father had gone to that kind of school, one could imagine that they were interested in having you do something similar, but was it also because of your achievements, what you were already doing by the time that you were in Ė-

Hays:

No, I donít think so, no, no. I think it was just that they felt that the Johnstown schooling system was left a bit, and if they could afford it, they would like me to go to a boarding school.

Doel:

Did your sister go to a private school as well?

Hays:

Yes, she went to Walnut Hill, which my mother also went to.

Doel:

Just out of curiosity, did she have an interest in science? Did she share that curiosity?

Hays:

Yes, sheís an ornithologist, and she works at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and runs a station out on Great Gull Island. So yes, she has a different kind, but itís definitely nature, certainly.

Doel:

Did she share some of your passions about science when you were growing up, or did she get involved in any of those activities?

Hays:

No, no, she had different ones. She had her own, but she wasnít interested in mine, which I think that was fine with me.

Doel:

As you say, you had your own space.

Hays:

Yes, thatís right.

Doel:

Which was important?

Hays:

It was. She was interested in birds and animals, and she used to collect road kills and bring them back and dissect them and all sorts of things like that.

Doel:

So, at roughly age fourteen, you arrived at Deerfield Academy. What were your impressions of it at the time?

Hays:

Well, I think in some ways I found it quite exciting. Iíd never been away from home for any length of time. Iíd gone to boy scout camp or something, but other than that, I Ė-

Doel:

Your parents really hadnít traveled with you when you were growing up, extensively?

Hays:

No, we didnít. We really didnít go anywhere. Once, I think once we vent to — we went twice to Nantucket, and — or once to Nantucket before Deerfield, my mother, aunt and I went to Nantucket, but other than that, no, no, we didnít travel. Somehow, people didnít in those days, but partly because of the war — gasoline rationing, and I guess after the war, I donít know, my father still had his old 1935 Plymouth until 1950, but Iím not sure that was the reason either, but we just didnít. We had the lake in the summertime, which we all wanted to go to, and then there was the school year, and so there wasnít a lot of time.

Doel:

It certainly was not a common pattern for people to travel that much in that time.

Hays:

So, Deerfield I found kind of exciting, but I think I was fairly homesick at first. I mean I donít think I realized it, but I didnít do very well academically. In fact my first two years there were pretty dismal. I did very poorly, and I was sick a lot. I did make the swimming team — well that was as a sophomore, but as freshman, no, I think I was sick a lot. [Laughter] Thatís all I remember was being sick a lot. So freshman year was pretty bad, and I did very poorly academically, very poorly, and -Ė

Doel:

And again, that was a very different experience than what youíd had back home.

Hays:

Yes, Iíd done fairly well there, but we were taking Latin and French, and Iím not particularly strong in languages anyway, and Ancient History was — that was interesting, I liked that. But there was a bright spot, and that was that there was a try out for a debate in the spring, called the Freshman-Sophomore Debate, so there was a team chosen from the sophomores against a team chosen for the freshmen, and it was an English teacher who basically sort of selected the ones, and I didnít realize it, but apparently I was fairly good on my feet, and I was selected to be part of the freshman debating team, which was quite an honor, so this debate went on in front of the whole school, not that that was such a big group, but it was still a lot, and the headmaster was there and everybody was there. The school was run, I donít know as you know anything about it, but it was run — he did run it like a large family. We had a meeting every evening, the whole school — everybody. The kids all sat on the floor, and heíd get up and say a few words. Thereíd be an announcement and take roll, but he wanted to meet with the boys every day for half an hour, or whatever it was, so he did that. He also — and this was very telling, and in my case, it turned out to have been quite significant, which Iíll tell you later — but his office was in the main school building, and it was in the corridor, so that when you walked to classes, or to the library or to the study hail, youíd walk past his desk. The corridor was here, and his office was in kind of an alcove, but it was open to this corridor, so heíd be doing business, writing or talking on the telephone or whatever, but he could watch the boys go back and forth, and he had said to someone that he liked that because he could keep — he could always kind of get a sense of what was going on with them, and in general and specifically, so there was that. In my case, that was important, because I did equally badly my sophomore year, and when it came to signing up for courses for the junior year, they didnít want me to take physics, because they felt that I was such a poor student, and physics was a hard course, and when I heard that they — and I was going to have to stay for summer school, which was a two week thing, because I was doing so poorly in French and Latin, and then I was told I couldnít take Physics, I was heartbroken, and I walked through the building, and he spotted me, and he stopped me and he said, ďWhatís the trouble?Ē and I said ďTheyíre not going to let me take Physics,Ē and he said ďO.K.Ē

Doel:

Youíre nodding your head as if he was just considering it.

Hays:

Thatís what he did. He said ďYouíre staying for summer school, arenít you?Ē and I said ďYes.Ē ďAnd youíre doing that because of French?Ē and I said ďYes.Ē and he said, ďTell you what. While youíre here for summer school, you work for the Physics teacher for two weeks, and if sheĒ — Mrs. Poland was her name — ďand if she says you can take Physics next year, you can take Physics.Ē There was actually another kid and I, and she said ďFine, take Physics.Ē And that was a big turnaround. Junior and senior year I did very well.

Doel:

Had you not had science courses during the first two years, the freshman and sophomore?

Hays:

None, no.

Doel:

This was the curriculum that one was exposed initially to the languages, humanities?

Hays:

Yes, thatís right, thatís right. History, language, a lot of languages, history and English. So there wasnít any science, although maybe some students took a science their sophomore year. I donít know why I didnít, but I didnít. But normally students took either Physics or Biology or I think Geology their junior year, and or something else, and Chemistry the senior year. The headmasterís wife taught Chemistry. She was an excellent teacher, very good, and so anyway, I took Physics, and everything turned around, and I did well in Physics, but I did well in everything else. So that was a big turning point, so I really feel that he had some real influence on that, because he gave me that chance which was really important. I donít know what would have happened if I hadnít had that chance.

Doel:

Why do you feel the other courses also went well? Was it simply the experience of being able to be in Physics and Ė-

Hays:

I think I began to study. I think I hadnít really been studying, and Iím not sure I knew that I hadnít been studying, but I think I hadnít been studying. I think I had been going through the motions. Iíd been sitting at a desk, or looking at a book, or whatever, but I hadnít been studying. But I think when I got to studying Physics, which I enjoyed, then I began studying these other courses, so I began studying everything, so it all was different now.

Doel:

Yes, yes. What do you remember particularly from the Physics course in junior year?

Hays:

Well, I remember — I guess I remember the summer school part. Well that was just two weeks, but it was mostly Archimedesí Principle and buoyancy and that sort of thing, and that seemed pretty reasonable to me, and then the — I think we just went through Newtonís laws, and more buoyancy and some electrical currents, I think we did that. A little magnetism, a little electricity, a little of everything — optics, so all those things were there.

Doel:

Did you have mathematics at that point?

Hays:

Yes, had algebra. I didnít do very well in that either. I didnít study it. We had algebra. Algebra was my freshman year, geometry sophomore year, more algebra junior year, but that didnít go very well. I guess junior year it went better, but those first two years it didnít. Now, math has never been — the science it — Iíve learned much more mathematics through science than I think Iíve ever learned by taking mathematics courses.

Doel:

Direct mathematics courses? I understand.

Hays:

That was never of great interest to me. And I didnít study it, and you know, I just didnít. See, my focus sort of I think those first two years was on athletics, which was not surprising, because the school emphasizes that. Itís a whole big deal, and so I was sort of into swimming, and track and cross-country or whatever I was doing, and did reasonably well in those things. I made the varsity my sophomore year in all those things, and so that was sort of where my head was. It wasnít in studying; it wasnít studying my first two years, so I think I just went through the motions, and didnít do very well.

Doel:

Do you remember how far the mathematics courses went? Were you exposed to calculus?

Hays:

No, they didnít — Iím pretty sure they didnít teach it. I donít think anybody had it.

Doel:

That certainly wasnít common in that period of time.

Hays:

There may have been places that did it, I mean some other preparatory schools may have, but Deerfield I donít think offered it.

Doel:

Yes. And did you take Chemistry then in the senior year?

Hays:

Yes, yes. That was fun. That was good. By that time I was too much into study.

Doel:

Was those the courses then that you took in the sciences when you were in Deerfield, or did you get exposed to some of the other courses as well?

Hays:

No, that was just in physics and chemistry.

Doel:

Were there clubs that met at different times — interests for the sciences? Do you recall any of those?

Hays:

Yes, but you know how those things go. There was a science club, and I went to some meetings of it, but it was definitely a student-run kind of thing, and so it depends a lot on whatís going on with the students who are a year or two ahead of you, and there didnít seem to be very much that was going on, so I didnít hang in with that.

Doel:

So you never became particularly involved or interested in what was going on?

Hays:

No.

Doel:

Did you continue your interest in astronomy during that period?

Hays:

Yes, I did. In fact, I took a telescope. This is one of the ones I made, a relatively small one, but I took a telescope there. This is another thing that was pretty good about the school. Now, this was the man who ran the house, that I was in my freshman year, and everything was done by the clock. That was typical of Deerfield. Headmasterís idea was that the best thing for boys was that theyíre kept busy, [laughter] so from the time you wake up in the morning to the time you go to bed at night, youíre doing something Youíre studying, youíre going to meetings, youíre on the athletic field, youíre in study hail, or youíre taking classes. So — study hall in the evening always started at a precise time, and there used to be a radio program out of Schenectady called the Science Forum, and it was on at a quarter to seven or something like that in the evening — and study hall was supposed to start at — I donít know what, but it doesnít matter — but anyway, there was a radio in the house, and he asked me what I was listening to, when everybody was going upstairs to study, and I said ďThe Science Forum,Ē and he said ďYou can stay. Finish listening to it.Ē So after that, whenever — it was just one night a week, he would say ďYou can stay. Finish listening to it,Ē and he remembered, so thatís — They had some flexibility. I donít know why I think it was so wonderful, itís just there was so little flexibility in general, that the fact that somebody made those kind of exceptions Ė-

Doel:

You certainly remember that, when your days are otherwise very organized.

Hays:

Right.

Doel:

What do you remember hearing on ďScience ForumĒ? What sorts of things were discussed? Was it the developments of the days, the major news stories?

Hays:

Well, there was a fellow there who actually ended up being quite famous as a scientist, a man by the name of Vincent Schaeffer, who was involved in cloud seeding, and all that sort of thing, so usually the Science Forum was a number of scientists from General Electric. They were all from General Electric, and they would answer listener questions, and that was basically it, and Schaeffer was part of this and he was always very good in terms of — I mean his answers were always very clear, and so there was quite a lot about cloud seeding, because that happened to be what he was interested in, and I think he got a number of questions about that, so I was interested in that. I was interested in the weather, and so forth.

Doel:

Thatís interesting. Of course, Irving Langmuir was at GE at the labs at the time, and that was his work in the years immediately after World War II.

Hays:

Right, right.

Doel:

So you were aware of things like cloud seeding activities that were going on and the wartime developments in various branches in the sciences.

Hays:

Building of the Palomar telescope. That was a whole big deal. Of course, Sky & Telescope covered that well, but it was the lens — the mirror was cast in Corning.

Doel:

Thatís right. That was a local development.

Hays:

Thatís right, yes. Not that Iíve ever been to Corning, but I knew it was in the same state. But that was a whole big deal, trucking this great huge mirror out to California, and putting it on top of Mount Palomar, and so forth, so I followed that two hundred inch — that development, and I donít know — I mean the atomic bomb, of course, went off, but that was a big surprise, I mean I had no idea — that was, of course, secret too, so nobody knew anything about that, I guess. But I remember — I did get encouragement, because when I was going through the physics phase, I was interested in Newtonís laws of motion, and I had gotten hold of some kind of physics book which I was reading, and I talked about it with my aunt, and she said ďAh, I think that you should come down to the railway station in Fonda. Thereís something there that you should watch.Ē And thatís when they threw the mailbags off the train, and the mailbags went sliding down the platform, and anyway, it had to do with if you — I guess the question had been asked, if you had a — I guess, it got involved — yes, it involved with [Albert] Einsteinís relativity, that was all — that was something about that in the air, in fact I had a book on that. If you were on a train that was moving at a hundred miles an hour, and shot a gun backwards, and the bullet was going a hundred miles an hour in the other direction, and there was somebody standing on the platform, what would the bullet do for the person standing on the platform, and it just drops. So, she thought the mailbag coming off the train had, you know — So there was encouragement, not that people — any of these adults were into these things really, but they were interested, and they were intellectually interested. She in particular, she always was.

Doel:

Indeed. Itís significant just to understand the things in terms of the frames of reference that one needed to bear in mind for understanding relativity. That she understood that was itself not common by any stretch.

Hays:

No.

Doel:

And what kind of background did your aunt have? I donít think youíve mentioned her before.

Hays:

She was very bright. She was valedictorian of her class in Johnstown High School, and then she went to Wellesley, and then she graduated from there and went and spent a couple of years, or a year studying at Oxford [University]. She wasnít a Rhodes Scholar, but she was there with Rhodes Scholars. Then she came back, and was involved in — she worked for the Federal Reserve in Washington for a little while, and then came back and ran the firmís New York office. The firm had a New York office for sales mainly, I think, so she ran that. She ran that until the firm closed. And her husband was a professor at Columbia [University], in French. He was a professor in the French Department.

Doel:

As you were entering your senior year, or earlier, what were you thinking about for your next steps? Was college clearly in mind for something that you were going to be doing?

Hays:

Yes, it was.

Doel:

Let me just pause Ė- Iím curious how you began to make the decision of which school to attend, and the sort of things that you may have thought about that you might be doing. Do you recall?

Hays:

Yes, and I think I pretty much made the decision myself. I donít think that I was influenced very much by older people, because most of them advised me against the move I made, except my mother, who I think didnít make any — didnít push in any direction. I couldnít make up my mind about much. I didnít know if I wanted to go to a big place, a small place, in the woods, or in the city, since Iíd kind of grown up in the woods, Iíd never lived in the city, that had some sort of appeal, although I liked the woods, so. So I applied to Dartmouth [University], I applied to Hamilton, where my father had gone, and I applied to Yale [University], where his father had gone, and Harvard.

Doel:

By this point had you visited any of the campuses?

Hays:

Yes. We used to swim in — our swimming team used to compete against the Dartmouth freshmen, so Iíd gone up to Dartmouth several times. Hell of a long bus ride, but — so Iíd seen a little bit of Dartmouth. I donít think Iíd ever seen Hamilton, and there was a Harvard graduate at Deerfield — as a teacher at Deerfield, and he took a group who was interested in Harvard to Harvard for a trip, so we went and wandered around. And Yale, I canít remember. I think I may have gone to Yale. I canít remember. So in those days, the — well, the mystique was, and it may have well have been true, that the headmasterís reputation was so important, that if he recommended you, youíd get in no matter what, and so there definitely was a change as a result of my junior and senior year, because at the end of my sophomore year, he wrote my parents, and said ďYou should come by. Iíd like to talk to you,Ē and so forth, so they did, and basically he said, ďIf something doesnít happen to this kid, heís not going to get in anywhere.Ē So, I did better my senior year, and he then wrote them and said that ďHe can go wherever he wants,Ē so I applied to all the places, and I was admitted to all, except I was put on the waiting list at Yale, so I wasnít admitted there, but most of the professors, the instructors who talked to me said that theyíd all discussed it and they all thought that Dartmouth would be a good place for me. ĎYouíre a swimmer, and youíre athletic, you like the outdoors, and all that kind of stuffĒ so thatís a good place for me.

Doel:

And the campus is congenial for that kind of interest.

Hays:

right and Hamilton is a nice place too, in the countryside, so I thought that Iíd lived all my life in the country and little towns. Deerfield is a tiny place, never been in a city. I want to try that, and also Yale always had a super swimming team, and I didnít think I could make it, so Harvard had a pretty good swimming team, why not go someplace where at least I can get on the team. [Laughter] Important decisions. Important reasons. Plus I kind of liked the fact that nobody — Harvard at that particular time was sort of out of favor. You know, if [Joseph] McCarthy hadnít started working; he started working right after that, see this was Ď52.

Doel:

There were already by this point concerns about — do you recall hearing for instance about Harlow Shapley? Was that something that came up?

Hays:

Yes and there was a physics Professor [Wendell H.] Furry, who McCarthy got all over, so Harvard had a kind of a questionable reputation, and my father was very much against it. He sort of thought it was kind of pink.

Doel:

For those reasons?

Hays:

Pinkos and queers he thought pretty much go to Harvard. [Laughter] So, but you know this is a very conservative [family] I came from. Itís very middle America, and so he thought Dartmouth and there are a number of graduates in Johnstown who were sort of pushing for Dartmouth, and my father would be happy to have me go to Hamilton, but somehow, out of all of it, it looked to me like Harvard would be the most interesting place to go, so thatís what I did.

Doel:

Did you know anybody at Harvard?

Hays:

Turned out when I got there, there were some people I knew, but I didnít know they were there. Somebody from Johnstown actually was at Harvard when I was there.

Doel:

What were your impressions of Harvard when you arrived?

Hays:

Well, itís — you know, you bring with you whatever you come from, so I brought Deerfield to Harvard, and so I thought what youíd do at Harvard was what I did at Deerfield, so I was very active. I ran for office. I joined the Glee Club. I was on the freshman swimming team. I did all those things, but then I realized that this isnít what people do here. This isnít what people are interested in. Thatís what people are interested in back at Deerfield, all this extracurricular stuff. What they do here is they study, I mean theyíre interested in the intellectual stuff. So I dropped out of all that stuff, pretty much — yes, all of it actually, and I began to think about taking courses, and I got really quite interested in various kinds of courses. I didnít do that well as I remember, but I initially thought I would major in Geology, interestingly enough, because — well, I took an astronomy course from Bart.

Doel:

Bart Bok?

Hays:

Yes. Good course, but somehow or other there was something about it. It lacked something of the magic that I associate with astronomy from my activities which were obviously all very amateurish, but there was something about, I donít know, calculating volume of Jupiter in cubic centimeters. We did a whole lot of things like that in labs which I just didnít take to, so there was a mismatch somehow between my fantasies about it and the course.

Doel:

About what astronomy was all about and what you were learning in Bokís class?

Hays:

Yes.

Doel:

Thatís very interesting. Was this a big lecture class that you recall?

Hays:

Not big, no. I mean it was in a fairly big room, but it wasnít crowded. I mean, there must have been maybe forty or fifty students, or something like that, it wasnít a big class.

Doel:

So youíd have some interactions with Bok, for instance.

Hays:

Yes, yes, and he would — it was kind of a deal in those days where the professor would — Iím not sure they all this, but many would come and have lunch at one of the houses one day a week, and turned out that Bok came to Leveritt House, where I was, so I had had lunch with him a few times, but then usually it ended up after a while, I think he began to bring people for lunch, so I didnít join him, but I did join him once or twice, so we could talk about some things, and he was an interesting person, but somehow or other, I donít know, I kind of lost it. In any case I then decided that maybe Iíd like to major in Economics. Had a certain interest in business. Well my father was in business, and also my entrepreneurial days as a scrap iron and waste paper and all that stuff made me — I donít know, I just sort of had an interest, so I did kind of flip, at least in my mind, whether I did it formally or not, I donít know, to being an economics major, my sophomore year, but then I really was homesick for science.

Doel:

You found that after you were taking some of the economics courses.

Hays:

Yes, definitely. This was not it, so I went back, and geology was it. Then — I really liked that, because it combined — it sort of combined in one field all these interests that Iíd had as a kid. There was chemistry in geology, thereís physics, and there are all these things, so it was wonderful — and thereís the outdoors, so it kind of was right.

Doel:

But how did you come to it, when you think back to — how did you make your way to the first geology course?

Hays:

I took it my freshman year. Kirtley Mather. He gave quite a good course. He was an old man at that time, I mean pretty old, probably about my age, but he was in, you know, probably within five or six years of retirement, maybe less, but he taught a good course, and he was very enthusiastic, and I liked it, so that kind of got me. I thought, ďthis is interesting.Ē

Doel:

What do you recall particularly from the course? Was it general survey, geological principles, and a bit of historical geology?

Hays:

Yes, yes, right. Physical and historical, taught pretty much like the textbooks ran, and you know, chapter on this, chapter on that, chapter on something else, but it was just interesting to think about these processes, and so these processes that shaped the landscape, that made rocks, mountains, all that was very interesting, but then the end of my sophomore year I guess, I took a field course at University of Colorado at Boulder, and there something happened which was interesting. The main thing was a mapping course, but I decided that while I was out there Iíd take another course which somebody taught, which sort of — you went around and looked at the rocks and thought about them, and I donít know how good a teacher this guy was, but there was something that occurred to me in doing this, that I found very fascinating, and that was the fact that you could learn about past environments, you could learn about history from the rocks which somehow or other Iíd missed in the initial course. I mean I donít know why, how I missed it, but it didnít quite sink it that you look at a sandstone and you can tell by its color or its this or its that or its something else that itís giving you information about life, you know, conditions at some distant time, and I thought ďThatís great, thatís wonderful!Ē Then I was really hooked, at that point, and then I went on and took — because Iíd only had an initial course because Iíd been in economics my sophomore year, so I came back in junior and senior year. I took a lot of courses.

Doel:

Yes, not to interrupt on that, but how did you make the decision to go out to Colorado? How did that come about?

Hays:

Well, itís because of the — you had to take a field course, and you could take in various ways.

Doel:

A field course in geology, you mean?

Hays:

A mapping course.

Doel:

So you were clear by the end of your sophomore year you were going back into geology and thatís what prompted the decision.

Hays:

Thatís right, thatís right. So — and it seemed like a nice place to go. Iíd worked on a cattle ranch in Montana for the summer after Deerfield and the summer after my freshman year, and I loved the West. I thought that was great, and I loved working on this cattle ranch, although it was extraordinarily hard work, really tough, but I still liked it, so I was happy to get back out West, I liked the West, so I was happy to go to. I was eager to go out to Colorado.

Doel:

Interesting. And you were telling me about the courses themselves, and you found — and you did both the fieldwork and the course that was essentially historical geology?

Hays:

Yes, it was historical, but it was a lot of going out in the field and looking at things, as opposed to reading about them in a book, or that sort of thing — class. I mean it was summer, and he took us out a lot, so it was basically a kind of a tour of local geology, and that was very interesting.

Doel:

How did the class work? Were you given an area, and then asked to try to recreate its geological history, or was it more focused on interpreting particular things?

Hays:

No, the mapping course was that, but mainly you were supposed to figure out the structures and so forth, so that didnít get into the history very much, because — but the course that went out where we just went around and looked at things — it was his talking about the rocks, and the fact that you could learn about history from them, that thatís what suddenly I thought was so fascinating.

Doel:

Yes, thatís very interesting. Do you recall who taught that class, by chance?

Hays:

Yes, I think his name was Langley. I think it was Langley, but Iím not sure, but it was a name like that.

Doel:

Sure, fine, and things like that can always be added to the transcript at a later point. I meant to ask you too, do you recall what textbook was in Kirtley Matherís class — what you were using at the time? There were a number, of course, of standard textbooks in the geological Ö

Hays:

[Chester R.] Longwell, [Adolph] Knopf, and [Richard F.] Flint, [Introduction to Physical Geology] those were the top, and Rodgers had one. I mean, Yale was always putting out textbooks, and I guess Princeton [University]. I donít think — I think Mather had a textbook of his own at one point, but I donít think we did use his textbook. I think it was probably something like Longwell, Knopf and Flint, which was of that period.

Doel:

As I recall, Mather had put together the collection of seminal papers in geology, although that wouldnít have been appropriate for a freshman level class to have gone through.

Hays:

How do you know all this, about Kirtley Mather?

Doel:

Itís in my field, in history of science.

Hays:

O.K., but science is quite broad. [Laughter] I know thatís not what youíre here for.

Doel:

Weíll talk about that a little bit off tape. Iíll be glad to do that, but I think thatís very interesting about the experience you had out in Colorado. How many students did you have in those courses?

Hays:

Not many. Seven or eight, something like that. In the field course, maybe it was twice that, twelve or fourteen.

Doel:

Okay. Very interesting. And then you came back then. Did that last only a part of the summer that you were out in Colorado?

Hays:

Yes, but I guess I came back and spent some time in the Adirondacks, but I do remember that I decided that Iíd like to see more of the West than Iíd seen and so I hitchhiked from Boulder to Phoenix. I got an air ticket from Phoenix back and hitchhiked from Boulder to Phoenix with darn little money, but somehow or another I managed to get there and to get back. [Laughter] That was kind of fun. Hitchhiked over to Salt Lake, and then down to Bryce and Zion and the Grand Canyon. Walked down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back, and then rented a car and drove out into Monument Valley, and then back down to Tucson and Phoenix. I mean I turned the car back in. Amazing, I didnít have a driverís license. Can you imagine they rented me a car anyway?

Doel:

These were earlier times.

Hays:

They said ďDo you have a driverís license?Ē I said, ďSure, I have a driverís license, I just donít happen to have it with me. Call Albany, theyíll know, itís a New York State driverís license,Ē and they said ďO.K.Ē

Doel:

A bit of a gamble.

Hays:

Yes.

Doel:

But that trip certainly exposed you to a lot of the geology that presumably you would have heard about in Matherís class, and gave you a real first-hand acquaintance with it.

Hays:

Yes, yes, it did. It was very interesting to see it all, because the exposure is so good, and so forth. I mean, I didnít know that much about it, but it was interesting to see it, so, yes.

Doel:

I realize weíre going to be running out of time here, in just a short time, but I would like to cover just a little bit more of your Harvard career before we stop for today. What courses then did you begin — did you think and actually take in the junior and senior years? By this point I gather you felt committed to geology as a major.

Hays:

Well, I took mineralogy, and structural geology. [Cornelius S.] Hurlburt taught the mineralogy course, and then I took another course in crystallography or something from [Clifford] Frondel, and — I never took a course from [Bernhard] Kummel, who was the paleontologist stratigrapher, which is interesting considering the direction Iíve gone since, but I didnít, so, I took a course in petrology from [James] Thompson, and I took — I didnít take any geomorphology. I donít know, I guess that was it. Must have taken some other courses. What did I take? Oh, I took optical mineralogy, and oh yes, I took a course from [Hugh E.] McKinstry in economic geology.

Doel:

Who had taught that course?

Hays:

McKinstry.

Doel:

Oh.

Hays:

Do you know him?

Doel:

Iíve heard the name, but I donít know much about him. What sort of teacher was he?

Hays:

He was quite good. He was an older man at the time, and he had been involved in mining and so forth, and I remember in his course, the thing I found so fascinating out of everything else, was that you could tell what — again itís the same thing that kind of turned me on in Colorado. You could tell what the temperature was of the rock, by the kinds of minerals that were formed in it, so you could reconstruct the thermal history, and oh, I thought that was fascinating. So that was his — that was something that I got excited about. I actually liked that course, because there was a — we were getting into how you can interpret things from the basic rocks, history and so forth.

Doel:

[Reginald] Daly would have been -Ė

Hays:

Gone.

Doel:

He was gone from the scene, I donít recall if he Ė-

Hays:

He may have been around. He may have been alive, and I remember I was — when I applied for honors, they gave me an oral exam, and they asked me a lot of questions about Daly. Not much about Daly, I donít think I got any questions right, but maybe I did, I must have got something right, because they ended up giving me honors, but I didnít think I answered anything. I canít remember the name of the geomorphologies. The fellow, he died of bubonic plague, for Christís sake, because he was down studying some Mexican volcanoes.

Doel:

Itís out of my mind too whether Ė-

Hays:

He was a young man at the time, he was a young professor.

Doel:

Did you have any courses from L. Don Leet when you were there?

Hays:

Yes. Wait a minute. Yes. He actually — he I guess taught the physical part, and Mather taught the historical part of that introductory course. I remember much more about Matherís — unless, maybe he — I do remember him standing up in front — he was a seismologist. I remember him. I did take a course from him, I canít remember much about the course, though, whether it was the introductory course or it was another course. I donít think I took any seismology per se.

Doel:

And Francis Birch was only teaching graduate students at the time, wasnít he?

Hays:

Yes, yes.

Doel:

Did you come to meet him or any of the other people, or it was really interaction within the classroom environment?

Hays:

Yes, yes, because he — in fact, I think he was in a different building. We heard about him. I mean he sort of was in the air, because it was a small department, we got to know some of the graduate students — not only because they were our TAs, but weíd go on field trips together. Billings, for instance took us on a field trip through the Appalachians, and that was pretty interesting. I didnít know enough to get much out of it, but I remember going down, driving down — I think I had a car at the time, and going into the library at Franklin & Marshall, and sort of getting some books out and reading about the Appalachian geology, and so forth, and so — the trip was for the graduate students, really, but Billings said ďIf you want you could come along,Ē so it wasnít as if they were doing this trip for somebody with my experience. They werenít, and so a lot of it kind of went over my head, but I remember something about it. I enjoyed it.

Doel:

Were you the only undergraduate that you recall, who went on it?

Hays:

I donít remember, I just donít remember.

Doel:

Sure, yes. Do you remember hearing anything of the experimental geology and geophysics activities that were going on at Harvard at that time?

Hays:

You mean like Birch, what Birch was doing?

Doel:

What Birch — the broader context that Harvard had attempted to develop.

Hays:

No, that was lost on me.

Doel:

I have a feeling that simply wasnít communicated very well to the undergraduates. That wasnít part of what was going on. When you look back on the experience at Harvard, which of those courses were particularly memorable for you?

Hays:

Well, I think McKinstryís course. I think Billings. Billings was quite an enthusiastic teacher, and I liked structural geology, I mean I have a fair aptitude for visualizing things in three dimensions, and thatís kind of what you need for that, and I enjoyed that course, and I enjoyed him. He was sort of an affable, friendly bear of a guy, and Hurlburt I thought taught a good mineralogy course too, and Frondelís crystallography was interesting. I found all that atomic structure of minerals, that sort of thing, was kind of interesting, but what they didnít — [Sir William L.] Bragg kept getting mentioned, and I remember even digging out his book [Atomic Structure of Minerals [London: Oxford University Press, 1937], and thinking that would be something I really would like to study, but I never took any X-ray work, and there wasnít — they were fairly specialized in a sense, the way they went about — or maybe just what they did for undergraduates. It was — we used Hurlburtís text and what he taught was pretty much what was in the text, and it was that way, sort of a description of the thing. It wasnít so much of Braggís work that was brought in, which was too bad, because that was really exciting stuff because of —

Doel:

And particularly given the time that you were studying.

Hays:

Right, in terms of physics, and relationship to that field. But I found Bragg and what I learned about him very interesting, and his little book, Atomic Structure or whatever it was.

Doel:

Right, right. Iím curious, in any of the, say, the upper division courses that you were taking, did you read any of the books that Daly had produced? Iím recalling what you said, that you didnít know the answers to the questions Ė-

Hays:

No, I knew nothing about this, no.

Doel:

— but you never got exposed say, to The Mobile Earth [NY: Scribners, 19261, or any of these texts that Daly had promoted at Harvard.

Hays:

No, no.

Doel:

Thatís interesting.

Hays:

There was some — I remember — maybe this came from the field trip with Billings, because I never took any geomorphology, but there was quite a lot of talk, and maybe it came from the introductory course as well, about peneplanes, and that aspect of geomorphology, which I think at that moment was sort of fading from favor, because — well, it was a generational thing, I think. The next generation kicks over what the previous generation did [Laughter], whether itís right or not, so I think — I actually think that his ideas are not so bad, I mean I did — I think that generation had a pretty good handle on it. Douglas Johnson here at Columbia, and those guys up there — I think thatís not — it wasnít a bad idea at all, but I think it was a matter of controversy, and the graduate students were all sort of pooh-poohing peneplanes, or multiple peneplanes, maybe that was it. They did buy some — but they probably did get out of hand with the number that they had, but they named them all in the Appalachians, so we did talk about. That got talked about, and Daly was involved in that sort of thing, as were many others.

Doel:

Right. When you look back on it, were there areas of study that you didnít get at Harvard within geology that you find surprising, or did you feel that your education was comprehensive?

Hays:

Yes. No, it wasnít — it pretty — it was, I didnít. Because I didnít take any stratigraphy — oh, I did take paleontology — what am I saying? I took paleontology from — Englishman, trilobites, Burgess Shale — why canít I think of his name? Heís at Cambridge now. He went back to Cambridge from Harvard. Heíd been at Cambridge. He spawned a whole bunch of students, went on to do all kinds of wonderful things with the Burgess shale.

Doel:

Donít worry about it. Weíll add that to the transcript.

Hays:

Yes, itís just a momentary gap, and I liked that course, that was a good course, so I did have paleontology, but I didnít have any stratigraphy, considering my interest in this historical stuff. It came later, so I — it didnít come then, I didnít know about it. I sort of thought of this as being — Harvard was known as a hard rock school, so you take hard rock geology.

Doel:

Yes, yes. [Laughter] Well, weíve covered a lot of ground here, and we certainly have far to go, but let me thank you very much for this introductory session for the oral history interview, and you will be receiving the transcripts once weíre a little bit further along in the session. Thank you very much.

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