Oral History Transcript — Dr. Cecil H. Green
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Cecil Green; October 17, 1994
ABSTRACT: Early life. Study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Meeting his wife. Work with Elihu Thompson at General Electric. Business partnership with Eugene McDermott, Eric Jonsson, and H. Bates Peacock to buy Geophysical Services, Incorporated (which would become Texas Instruments). Early use of reflection seismology for geophysical exploration. Work of Victor Vacquier on magnetic submarine detection during the Second World War. Recollections of Walter Munk, Maurice Ewing, Gordon Teal, and Jack Kilby. Development of MIT geophysics center during the 1950s. Philanthropic projects for the University of Sydney and the Colorado School of Mines. Difficulties with the Selective Service and engineering recruitment. Organization of the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest as part of the University of Texas system. Development of the International Deployment of Accelerometers (IDA) project. Death of his wife and the value of friendship. Structure of Texas Instruments.
Doel: Let me begin by saying that I am Ron Doel, and this is an interview with Cecil Green. We are making this interview on October 17th, 1994, in Dallas, Texas. And I know that you were born in Manchester, England.
Green: Suburb of Manchester. Northern Suburb.
Doel: Okay, and that was on August 6th, 1900. But I don't know very much about your parents, or what they did. I wonder if you could tell me their names, and a bit more about them?
Green: My father was Charles Henry Green, my mother Maggie Howard. That's something you wanted to know?
Doel: That's one of the questions that we ask.
Green: Well, this is back in the days when ambitious young people were told, "You should go to the new world to make your fortune."
Doel: And that is what your parents had been told?
Doel: What were the names of your parents? I just want to make sure that we know that.
Green: My mother's maiden middle name is Howard. That's my middle name.
Green: And she was one of seven children. And they all migrated about the same time, to various places in the world.
Doel: You were age two when your family came to Eastern Canada?
Green: There were four boys and three girls in the family. And my mother's parents immigrated too, they came to Canada.
Doel: Is that right?
Green: My mother's parents.
Green: I don't know what happened to my father's parents.
Doel: What was your father doing in England before he came to Canada?
Green: I think he was working in a coal mine there.
Doel: And he felt he would have better opportunities by emigrating?
Green: By coming to America.
Green: And they came by ship, sailing out of Blackpool. Sailing out of - oh, what was that sea port? Blackpool. Port of Manchester. And they first came to Nova Scotia, and Halifax, they lived there for a very short time, now they started migrating. They ran first through Montreal. But my father got a job working for the Sweet Railway System there. But he didn't like living in Montreal because there were too many Frenchmen there. And he always remembered how disgusted he was when he was riding in a trolley, in Montreal - downtown Montreal. And when the trolley came in front of a Catholic Church, the motorman would take his hands off the controls and pray as he was going by the church. That disgusted my father, that put religion above safety.
Green: But anyway, in a very short time, they migrated then to Toronto.
And they liked Toronto very-quite well. Then one of my mother's sisters and her husband, and their baby gal, had migrated way out west to San Francisco.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Was that what then inspired your parents to head West?
Green: Then my folks thought that would be a much better place to go, and my father got a job working for the cable car system in San Francisco. Yes. That was in about 1905. Well, I'll always remember when I was in Toronto, though. I guess I must have been about four years old there. My mother took me shopping to get me a pair of shoes. And there was a department store downtown Toronto, and she had an apartment downtown too, and as I say, she took me shopping to get a pair of shoes. Well, after we'd found the shoes all right, and they were put in a package. Then my mother went shopping for other things, and she got so interested and involved in other things, she didn't notice that I left her. And all of a sudden she looked to me, and I wasn't anywhere around. Oh, boy she worried. So, she ran through the whole store looking for me, couldn't find me. She wore herself out, so she thought she better go home, and get rested up, and then start searching some more. So she went home, and we lived across Yonge Street, which is a main street in Toronto. And she was going up the steps to our apartment building, and I was on the front of the veranda. I yelled at her, "Hi, Mama! What do you think of my shoes?" I'd gone home and put my shoes on. And I was on the front veranda. Well, of course, I got both a blessing and a bawling out for leaving her, but, she has to say that really impressed her, that I was able to do that, crossing the main street to get home. Well, we got down to San Francisco, we'd been there several months, and they began to get a little worried about staying in San Francisco. So my mother and father decided, maybe we ought to go back to Canada, only let's try Western Canada, this time. Let's go to a place called Vancouver. So, it was customary in those early days, for the father, the husband, to go ahead. To get a job, and a place to live, and then send for his family.
Green: Well, he'd only been gone about a week or ten days, when I was awakened in the middle of the night by plaster falling on my face, from that terrible earthquake. We had to get out of the house because soon after - we had to, my mother and I, and my Aunt and Uncle, and my cousin gal, little gal friend, we all ended up in Golden Gate Park. Right as we were getting out of the house, I forgot to put any shoes on, so I went out without any shoes. But a soldier broke a store window and got me a pair of shoes.
Doel: That was good of him to do that.
Green: Yes. And the reason we had to get out of the house was, a great fire started, you know? In fact, San Franciscans today, refer not to the great earthquake, but to the great fire.
Green: So we went out to the Golden Gate Park, and we slept in a tent there, and we had to eat in food lines. And, of course, we had no idea what might have happened to my father, because in those days there were no telephones, and there wasn't enough time for any letters, and he didn't know what might have happened to us, and we had no idea what might have happened to him. So, we migrated then, riding down Market Street, in a horse-drawn wagon, down to the Ferry Building. And over to Oakland, and getting in a train as refugees, heading North, and finally ending up in Vancouver. And my mother and her sister and husband, we got a temporary apartment to live in, in downtown Vancouver. The population of Vancouver, in those early days, was only about ten or fifteen thousand.
Green: There was only one main street, that was Hastings Street. About the second or third day, we were walking down the main street, that's Hastings Street, and we walked into my father.
Doel: That must have been an event.
Green: Well, that wouldn't happen today, but then there was only one main street in those days. And that was Hastings. So, I ended up - my father got a job working first on a tug boat, hauling logs, one thing another. Eventually he got a job over in Vancouver Island. He couldn't get any jobs in Vancouver, so he went over to Vancouver Island north of Victoria to work as a maintenance man in a limestone quarry located on Tod Inlet. When the limestone became finally exhausted, the Butchart family decided to create a beautiful garden in the quarry and my father then terminated there. And that ended up being Butchart Gardens.
Doel: I've heard the name, but unfortunately that's all that I know about it.
Green: Yeah. Probably one of the most beautiful gardens today in the whole world. Well, the Butchart family, owned and operated this my father was a maintenance electrician, and he was located on Tod Inlet as a maintenance electrician. All the same, my mother and I were without any, he wanted to go where he could get the most money. And that meant not working in Vancouver, but working outside. And I started school then, too.
Doel: Did you have an early interest in science or in engineering that you recall?
Green: No. I didn't have any, not in that area, because that was before - I wasn't even in my teens then. No, that happened later.
Doel: When do you recall first finding yourself interested in engineering or in science?
Green: When I got up in high school, I began to get an interest in electricity. My father, you see, was - had developed into an electrician, and I don't remember, when I was still in my teens and still going to high school - King Edward High School, in Vancouver, I got a job for wiring a new house for electricity. And then later on, my father got a better job up in Northern British Columbia, up on Portland Canal, at a place called Anyox. It was way up north of Prince Rupert, near the boundary of Alaska and British Columbia. He was the maintenance electrician up there. He got a job for me one summer, when I was in university.
Doel: Right. Was that when you were working as an electrician's helper in the copper ore smelter?
Green: Yes. And I became acquainted with the superintendent, a man named Speight. He and I took a liking to each other, even though I was only a boy and he was a fully developed man. And he told me about how his university education was obtained in a school in Colorado, Colorado School of Mines.
And because of my high regard for Mr. Speight I almost decided to go to the Colorado School of Mines instead of MIT.
Green: Well, at that time I had a mind on becoming an electrical engineer, and I was in the University of British Columbia at that time, in its temporary quarters. I wanted to be an electrical engineer, but that wasn't offered in those early days.
Doel: At British Columbia?
Green: British Columbia. And it so happened, I became acquainted with a chemistry teacher there at the university. He had graduated from a school back East named MIT. Boston Tech.
Green: And so that inspired me then to go there. But in the meantime, I was mad because there wasn't any engineering at UBC and so I was majoring in applied science.
Doel: Yes. Before you met Speight, did you have an idea about going to MIT?
Green: Yes, my chemistry teacher told me how to apply back then, now back in Boston, which I did. I was accepted, on one condition, and that is, I perform as good as I described myself. And so my mother and father decided to help me financially to go back there. They even sold the house that my mother and I were living in, and also a car that they had obtained, a second-hand car, and that provided money to go back East then. A long train ride then. From Vancouver to Montreal, and then from Montreal down to Boston.
Doel: That was quite a sacrifice that your parents made.
Green: Yeah. That was in 1921.
Doel: What were your impressions of MIT when you arrived there?
Green: I was accepted, I left the Sophomore year in applied science at UBC, and entered my Junior year, at MIT. And I elected to take the new course that had been invented at MIT then, a cooperative course, in electrical engineering with several industrial companies. There were several options, and I elected to take the one with General Electric.
Doel: Why did General Electric appeal to you, do you recall?
Doel: Do you recall why General Electric operations appealed to you?
Green: Because of being strongest in electrical engineering.
Doel: Okay. That's right, but what was it about GE?
Green: Well, the other companies were AT&T, and Boston Edison. That was the power company there. And Simplex Wire and Cable. Well, General Electric sounded to me like the most pure electrical engineering activity. And it was a case of four semesters in the year at MIT. In other words, instead of having a holiday in the summer, that was one of the four semesters. There was the Spring semester, Summer semester, Fall semester, and the Winter semester. And it alternated, semester at MIT and then a semester at one of the General Electric plants, then back to MIT. The first plant that I went to was in Lynn, Massachusetts, out east of Boston. Called The River Works, at Lynn. And I was in the laboratory of Elihu Thompson. He was the founder of Thompson-Houston Company, which is a forerunner of General Electric.
Doel: Right. What were your impressions of him?
Green: Very much. I used think that an empty barrel made the most noise, but that's not necessarily true, a full barrel can also make a hell of a lot of noise. The reason I say that was, during my first assignment was to work in Thompson's laboratory, and he used to like to come out from his office and climb up on the bench in front of us, young student engineers and talk about Elihu Thompson and his many accomplishments, including his great number of patents, and I used to wonder, "Why does a guy that has accomplished so much, have to do so much boasting?" So that's what I said, and so the empty barrel isn't the only one to make a lot of noise.
Green: But anyway, and then the next work semester was in Pittsfield. Western Massachusetts. We were working in the high voltage transformer department. A semester of that was in Schenectady, New York. Then the second time I went to Schenectady, I had to work in the research laboratory doing the research for my master's thesis at MIT.
Doel: Yes. Before we talk about your master's work, I was curious about your impressions of the MIT course work, when you transferred from British Columbia.
Green: Was enthusiastically satisfied! Incidentally.
Green: Yes, incidentally, the tuition had just been increased from 250 to $300 a year, and was I mad.
Doel: I bet.
Green: That was a lot of money in those early days. Today, of course, tuition cost so - going to MIT these days is up around $20,000.
Doel: Yes. But back at that time, a $50 increase was a lot of money.
Green: A lot of money. My mother and I lived in an apartment just outside Harvard Square, where we stayed for the next three years — that is until I graduated in 1924 with my BSC and MSC degrees.
Green: She didn't want to go up and live in the remote village where my father was working. And he didn't expect her to. So he provided the money, he got a good salary up there, and that. So, as I say, I had two wonderful parents. My mother was very ambitious for me, and my father was willing to go along with it, and provide the money.
Doel: Yes. You were quite fortunate to have that depth of support.
Green: Yes. I really was. That's quite a contrast today when there are parents today, who don't try to influence their children.
Green: When Frank Press first got his position at MIT as Head of Earth Sciences, his wife came back there, and she went to Boston University for a doctor's degree in Social Sciences. When she graduated, she got a job working for the town of Cambridge, working for disadvantaged young children. Disadvantaged in having poor parental guidance.
Green: In other words, there were children four or five years old, who were completely indifferent about going to school. And if the child didn't want to go to school, that was all right with the parents. Well, I can remember when I was at that age, I used to say, I wish schools had never been invented." And the reason I felt that way, I used to have such an enjoyable time playing with my boyfriends. And that was more important than going to school.
Doel: That's a very natural reaction.
Green: My mother, my father, didn't stand for any such nonsense. Where as today, there are people who well, if the child doesn't want to go to school, that's all right. So, what Billie was doing, was talking to these children, and getting them really interested in going to school. And then she had to follow the child home to try to straighten out the thinking of the parents, because what good did it do for the child to be influenced by Billie Press only to go home and have the parents say, "Where did you learn that silly idea?" "Oh, you're getting too good for us now, are you?" Can you imagine parents telling children that young, "You're getting too good for us"?
Doel: It's a terrible thing, but I know that happens quite often.
Green: But anyway, as I say, my parents were devoted, they were ambitious for me. I didn't have any brothers or sisters, but I had lots of cousins. In other words - see, my mother was one of a family of seven, and that's why I had a lot of cousins. And she was determined I was going to out perform all of those cousins. In other words, she was ambitious for me. As well as my father.
Doel: Yes. It seemed that you were also determined to do very well by that point.
Green: Yes. Well, I had learned the pleasure of accomplishment at an early age. That's one of the greatest pleasures in life, is the accomplishment of some special or difficult task, and that's certainly true of today, as some young people not only want to pass in a particular course, but they prefer to pass with straight 'A'.
Doel: There are problems with eroding standards.
Green: So I'm a great believer in that.
Doel: At MIT, when you entered the electrical engineering program, did you find the training you had at the University of British Columbia, in say mathematics, and E & M, prepared you well for the courses?
Green: Yeah, I had good mathematics training at UBC.
Doel: So you felt comfortable in going into the MIT curriculum?
Green: Yes. And another thing about those early days, I have to thank both MIT and General Electric, for enabling me to meet the right girl for my wife.
Green: That was Ida. Because when I was doing the research for my master's thesis - see I got both bachelors and master's degrees at the same time.
Doel: You were saying you had gotten your master's, that was in 1924, as I recall?
Green: Got them both, that's when I actually graduated. I was in the class of '23.
Doel: Ah, I see, that's good to know.
Green: One of my classmates was a man who originated in Seattle. A man names Julius A. Stratton.
Doel: Who became president of MIT much later.
Green: Stratton became president. But he and I became good friends as undergraduate students.
Doel: Do you have particular recollections of him?
Green: Oh, God yeah. Yes, that's why I went to the memorial service for him a month ago. Up at MIT.
Doel: Yes. I was sorry to hear of his death this summer.
Doel: You were also telling me about meeting Ida.
Green: I was able to meet Ida, because she was working for General Electric in the Department of Customer Statistics. And this department was up on the top floor of the research building where I was doing my master's research work down below. And there was a secretary in my department who had a girl friend up in the statistics department and they used to go out to lunch together, and do the usual amount of gossiping. And one time this girlfriend told Ida, "Ida, you know there's a new young man here from Boston, from MIT, and I like his looks, I like his behavior. I think maybe you ought to come down and meet him, maybe you'll like him too." So Ida was curious enough to come down then, and as she was walking across the lobby to the entrance of the research department, she saw a young man on the other side walking across too, and even from a distance, she liked his looks. She thought, "There's the kind of a young man I'd like to marry." So she then went on into the - to see her girlfriend, who then took her to meet this friend - young man friend of hers, and I turned out to be that young man that she'd seen ahead of time.
So that was a case of she chased me until I caught her. In other words you might say, it was love at first sight.
Green: So, when I finally graduated, I had about three job offers. One was from AT&T, and another one was from Simplex Wire and Cable, and another one, General Electric, Schenectady. Well, I took the Schenectady one. After I finished my thesis, I had to go back to MIT. And Ida and I corresponded with each other, and I've got all those - she'd kept all my letters in her hope chest. And I've got them today.
Green: My first job at graduation was in The Department of Steam Turban Generator Design in Schenectady, which enabled Ida and I to romance.
Green: And after a while I began to worry a little bit, as I became well acquainted with all my associates in the department, and learned they'd all been in that department 15 or 20 years. Well, that didn't appeal to me. I thought, "My God, I like this work, but I hate to think that I'll still be doing this same thing 15 or 20 years from now." Well, at that time, I had a classmate named Miles W. Pennybacker, who was a cooperative student with me. But instead of going to General Electric, he got a job with a brand new little electronics company just being put together back in Cambridge at the back door of MIT.
Doel: Right, Raytheon.
Green: That was Raytheon. In fact, he thought up the name Raytheon. And he was going to be the head of sales for the new electronic company, and he wrote me a letter, "Cecil, why don't you quit being a small cog in that big machine? Why don't you consider coming back down here to Cambridge and getting in on the ground floor of this brand new little electronics company?" Well, that sounded exactly the kind of challenge that I would enjoy. So, I - as I say, Ida and I had been romancing. But I didn't want to go down there without her, so I told Ida about this new job. I wanted to take it, but I didn't want to go without her, would she consider marrying me so she could go with me? Only took her one and a half seconds to say yes. So I went down there and, as I say Raytheon was in a building in Kendall Square in one corner of the fourth floor of the Suffolk Building.
Then I began to be troubled with something else, and that was I developed West Coast Fever. I felt, oh, Boston's a good place to learn, but not to earn, and I thought, "Gee, I'd sure like to go back to Vancouver." So Ida and I saved our money, and finally got enough to buy a second hand 490 Chevrolet Touring Car, with Isinglass curtains, - I'll always remember when I decided to leave GE, I had to tell the chief engineer in Schenectady that I was thinking of leaving. He said, "What's the matter, Cecil, are you unhappy?"
"No, I'm not unhappy."
"Well, has somebody been mistreating you?"
"Well why are you leaving?"
"Well, I hate to tell you, but I feel like a small cog in a big machine."
And he was incidentally waiting for that as he gave me a good answer. He said, "Cecil, let me tell you something, let's imagine the biggest oil tank in the world, with maybe a million barrels of oil in it, put one little air bubble down at the bottom of that tank and turn it loose, what does that air bubble do? It rises slowly to the top. It doesn't care how much oil is around it, it keeps going to the top. That could be you."
I thought that was a good compliment, but I still left.
Green: So, as I say, after being at Raytheon for a year or so, West Coast Fever overcame me, and Ida and I with this car, and an umbrella tent, and gasoline cook stove, and camped ourselves all the way from Boston to San Francisco, where my mother and father were living then. And then from there we drove up the coast to Vancouver. And that was really wonderful of Ida to put up with this, after she'd been born and raised in New York State. To be so far away from home. But it was all an interesting adventure to her. So we got up to Vancouver, and I looked up an Aunt and Uncle there, and my cousins were still living there, and we were able to stay with them while I looked around for a suitable job. And I had to finally decide that electrical engineering didn't have any jobs in Vancouver. So I finally had to give up. It was either a case of leaving, or if I was to stay in Vancouver, I'd have to throw away this MIT education. That I wasn't going to do, so I decided to leave. We drove south, and the first place to spend the night was Seattle. And we stayed with an MIT classmate of mine - who originated in Victoria. And he had a job when he graduated from MIT, in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle. So Ida and I stayed with them while I looked around for a job. And I couldn't find any job in Seattle either. But I always remember answering an ad in one of Seattle's papers. The ad was, "How would you like to earn $10 thousand a year?" Well, that was a lot of money.
Doel: That was a lot of money then.
Green: Well, I answered the ad, and I discovered it was by a man had invented a turn indicator to put on the back of an automobile. Back in those days when you were driving a car and you wanted to make a turn to the right or left, you opened the window and put your arm out, either up or down. Well, that's not very good if the weather's cold, or if it's raining. So this man had invented an arm with an electric light in it to mount on the back of an automobile, it would swing to the right or left. And so he told me, "If you can sell one of these, to every car registered in the state of Washington, your commission will be $10 thousand." I thought, "Oh, God."
Green: So I finally gave up on it, and we migrated back, finally to Boston and without trying — to get a job in Chicago too. I still have a Boston Globe front page newspaper, and on the front of the page is a picture of Ida and I standing in front of our umbrella tent at the camp grounds on the edge of Boston. Way up Commonwealth Avenue. And the article that went with it said, "Young couple after travelling 10 thousand miles all around this country, have decided Boston is the best place to live after all." We never said any such thing.
Doel: I'm sure not.
Green: But anyway, my associates at Raytheon saw this, and one of them came out, "Well, you damn fool, are you ready to go back to work?" I had to say yes, because we were broke.
Doel: Yes. I will be asking more specific questions soon about Geophysical Services, but I'm very interested to hear your recollections.
Green: There's a little more in this early career. As I was about to give up in Seattle, I noticed that neon signs were just beginning to appear in Seattle. It so happened, I'd learned quite a bit about handling neon, argon, and helium in my Raytheon days, and also in glass blowing and bending of glass. And I thought, "My God, maybe I could get in, go back to Vancouver and start a neon sign business." Well, Ida again was willing, so we went back up there and stayed with my Aunt and Uncle again. I looked up an old friend that retired from the prairie provinces, and for whom I used to chauffeur when I was a student at UBC; he and I were good friends. I told him that I'd like to get a job and live in Vancouver. "Oh, I'd like to start this neon sign business." So I told him what it consisted of, and I said, "One of the big arguments too, is that it only consumes about one tenth the electrical energy of a bulb sign. And he said, "Say, that sounds good." And he said, "If you can show me some customers now, I'll finance you." I thought that was a fair proposition. So I went downtown and visited the manager's of the principal department stores, such as Woodward's, David Spencer, Hudson's Bay, and Birks Jewelry. And one after the other, and I told each man about saving all this energy. One of them said, "By the way, where is your plant? Where is your shop?" I said, "I haven't got it." "Oh, well, come back and see us when you get your plant." So it was a perfect example of which comes first. The chicken or the egg.
Green: Not only that I couldn't get a customer without a plant, I couldn't get a plant without a customer. Incidently, one of the store managers told me that I would have to obtain permission from the City electrician ______ Fletcher, with office in the B.C. Electric Building. So in talking with Mr.Fletcher, he asked me "what is the purpose of an electric sign?" I thought that was a silly question, but I answered him by saying, "Well, it's to publicize the good name of the particular establishment, to which it's connected." "That is not the important reason, I'll tell you what it is, it's to help illuminate the streets." That was back in the days when electric signs, instead of being up on the top of a building, were down sticking out in front of the building across the sidewalk, just above the level of the pedestrians. And he said, "I'll tell you what, I'll give you permission to install this new type sign, if you promise to put a border of incandescent light bulbs all around each one." So I gave up again. That was it. As I say, I ended up back in Cambridge again. But again, after a while West Coast Fever set in, only instead looking for a job in British Columbia, I decided to see if I could get a job in California. And then I did in Palo Alto with Federal Telegraph Company as foreman in its shop making transmitting tubes for the IT&T radio system.
Green: One of my associates there was a man named Charles V. Litton. Charles Vincent Litton. I used to call him Charles Vigorous Litton, because he was the man that developed a 20 kilowatt transmitting tube, and in order to do that, he had become an expert in sticking molten glass and copper together. He had learned that when he was working with Bell Laboratories after he graduated from nearby Stanford. He did an outstanding job. Well, he and I became good friends, and I admired his accomplishments. So, as I say, I was in charge of the production in the shop. My work hours from eight in the morning 'til five in the afternoon. Eight hours. And Charlie Litton's work hours was four in the afternoon 'til midnight because he wasn't married, and the other thing is, he preferred working - four to midnight - because there was less chance of somebody opening a door and letting a draft of cold air in as he was handling molten glass.
Green: I admired his abilities so much I decided that I wanted to study him. So I - as I say - my work schedule from eight in the morning 'til five, then I walked back to the apartment where Ida and I lived, had dinner with Ida, and immediately walked back to the plant again, in order to work with Charlie Litton until midnight.
Well, this went on so long that Ida began to get disgusted. We'd only been married about four years then, and she began to get very unhappy about it. Well, it so happened, she had been writing to the wife of a man named Roland Beers, who I'd been working with me back at Raytheon, and who had left Raytheon, in order to join a Geophysical Service Inc. — A brand new company giving oil exploration service using newly developed reflection seismology. In writing this man's wife Ida wrote, "If Roland, your husband can suggest some kind of a job for Cecil that would interest him, to get him away from this terrible life he is giving me here then I would be grateful." And so I did get an offer then.
Doel: Right. Although I realize that was hard on the marriage, you were learning very helpful skills.
Green: Uh-Huh. Yes. Well, I had to tell Charlie then that I was planning to leave. I got the job offer, and the salary they offered me was about twice what I was getting with Federal Telegraph. So it was a good inducement. It ended up with Ida and I loading our car in Pal Alto - our touring car, and four days later, ending up in Maud, Oklahoma, population 275, where I became party chief of a seismic crew under contract with Sun Oil Company.
Doel: If I may ask you, how much did you know about geophysics prior to this offer?
Doel: It hadn't been an interest?
Green: I had to learn. I was an electrical engineer.
Doel: That's what I had thought. I was curious if you had any familiarity at all.
Green: Well, it was a new industry at that time. No one was a long time expert.
Green: Now that's how I first developed ulcers though.
Doel: How's that?
Green: Worrying about it.
Doel: Worry about what's in Geophysical Services?
Green: Yeah. How to do it. Out working on a contract as a subsidiary of Sun Oil Company, in Maud, Oklahoma. But Ida was happy then because my office was usually in the furnished house wherever we were living. And we were together a lot. And she became party mother.
Doel: That's a good way to put it.
Green: Some of my helpers were married and even had little children, and Ida helped the married people with their problems. So it was a big adventure to her. She enjoyed it.
Doel: Right. You had much more time with one another.
Green: And as I say, and that was in 1930. For the next six years until '36, there was hardly a small town in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Northern Louisiana, we hadn't lived in.
Doel: How did you learn about the techniques of geophysics? I assume you were in touch immediately with Karcher, and with McDermott. I was curious about your recollections.
Green: Well they taught me. My supervisor taught me. This was back in 1930. That was the years of the Great Depression. Reflection seismology was so much more effective than refraction seismology. They couldn't get enough people to turn out crews.
Doel: Right. And already by the late 1920s refraction seismology looked like it wasn't going to lead anywhere.
Green: Yes. The only school that gave education in geophysics in those early days was Colorado School of Mines. They didn't do that back at MIT. But my electrical engineering training was very, very helpful.
Doel: What recollections do you have of McDermott and Karcher in that time?
Green: Very favorable.
Doel: What sort of people were they?
Green: Karcher's the man who invented the use of reflection seismology.
Doel: Right. Do you recall any discussions with him about that in particular?
Green: Oh yeah. He was one of my supervisors.
Doel: Were any of them particularly memorable to you?
Green: Yes, Karcher was; he was my supervisor. And after coming and visit me, then instead of driving back to his home in Dallas, he'd like to stay up there.
Spent the weekend with me talking about how to improve this.
Doel: So he was one of the key people who helped you to learn about geophysics and practice during that time?
Green: Yes, and his right-hand man was Eugene McDermott. And Eugene McDermott was the man who actually hired me, at the suggestion of Roland Beers.
Doel: What was Eugene McDermott like back then?
Green: Oh, very friendly individual, very good. He had graduated from Columbia University. He got his master's degree there. Before that he did his undergraduate work at Steven's Institute. Which is in New Jersey.
Doel: Were there also discussions in the early 1930s among yourselves, of alternative methods besides reflection seismology - earth currents, for example?
Green: Geochemistry was another one.
Doel: I was going to ask you about that.
Green: In fact, McDermott got so enthused about that, he thought that was going to replace seismology.
Green: And I was headquartered in Los Angeles, as a supervisor there when this came up. It was a case of analyzing surface soil for the presence of hydrocarbons. Feeling that if there was any petroleum down below, maybe a small amount of hydrocarbon will rise - find its way to the top.
Doel: Which raised many questions about hydrology and other means of transport.
Doel: Did you and Eugene McDermott, when he got interested in geochemistry, begin working with any particular geochemists?
Green: No, I don't remember that.
Green: Oh, I've forgotten just how we first got involved in that. It was through some associate, and in order to sell it, it was a case of doing some trial work for interested oil company customers. I remember Union Oil was one of our first. Headquartered in Los Angeles. And what we did then, was to suggest to the exploration department of Union Oil Company say we would show them how to get soil samples, but not to tell us where it's located. What we wanted from them, though, was a diagram afterward, showing the interrelationship, its location, as far as location is concerned of these soil samples, but without telling us. So I got these soil samples then, and I shipped them back to Dallas to be analyzed in our laboratory. And the results were positive. In other words, I told them the recommendation from Dallas was that these results were encouraging. They ought to consider drilling there, so I went back and reported this to the chief geologist of Union into Los Angeles, and he laughed at me, he said, "That's ridiculous. You know where we obtained these samples? Out in the Majove Desert. Only a thousand feet to the basement rocks."
Doel: [laughs] That's interesting. Yes.
Green: So, about that same time, I got another customer, Continental Oil Company. And they collected another set of samples and with a map, and the results back from Dallas were negative, we don't recommend drilling there. Again, I got a laugh, because we'll tell you where that's located, that's located up in San Joaquin Valley, just very near Bakersfield. That's a brand new oil field.
Green: That's an oil field.
Doel: Right, I know.
Green: And the results came out negative. I reported that back to Dallas, well, they said, maybe it's about depleted, since we got negative results." Now again I got a laugh, because, what do you mean depleted? That's a brand new oil well. We just finished, brand new. It's just starting to produce, what do you mean being depleted? So that undid me too. So we had no more to do with geochemistry.
Doel: That makes sense. One thing I was very curious about: you mentioned in your citation in the AAPG, that you learned about structural geology and geological theories from other geologists in the 1930's, sometimes in other companies. I'm wondering what you recall learning at the time?
Green: Yes. I just naturally learned geology because of nearly always having a client geologist visiting with me regularly during the course of seismic work which helped me interpret my seismic data in terms of geology as we looked for reservoir which could contain petroleum.
Doel: Did you learn about major ideas in structural geology, concepts that were current at the time, or was this learning more focused on the very top of the mantle petroleum chemistry, geology?
Green: I can't think of- That's soon after that was when I got involved in world wide exploration. After several years of domestic work, I also became involved in foreign areas, such as Mexico, South America and the Middle East — especially Saudi Arabia.
Doel: Mm-Hum. For example, I was just curious if at that time, you had ever heard of the controversy over continental drift — Wegener's ideas.
Green: One by one. Controversy about what?
Doel: Continental drift. Alfred Wegener's idea which had already been published by the 1930s. Dr. J. Tuzo Wilson - an earth scientist at the University of Toronto - was an early proponent of continental drift and easily sold me. No, we weren't involved in that. [Note added later: I never knew Alfred Wegener and Continental Drift had no effect in our oil exploration work with geophysics.]
Doel: It just never came up, as a matter of discussion?
Green: No. That never came up. Continental drift, no.
Doel: I'm not surprised that it didn't. I'm just curious how much you heard about geological controversies.
Green: In those early days, too, when I was a supervisor, headquartered in Los Angles, most of the oil company geologists had no regard for geophysics.
They thought it was a just black magic. And that was also true in Saudi Arabia.
Doel: When you were over there for the-
Green: I was first in Saudi Arabia in 1939 when the first oil had been found not with geophysics, but with surface geology. The chief geologist at that time was a Stanford graduate in geology named Max Steineke. He found the first oil over there in about 1937, using surface geology. In fact, well, before that time, I used to hold classes in Los Angeles for the geologists of different oil companies to come together.
Doel: That's interesting. I didn't know that.
Green: I explained that there's nothing foolish about reflection seismology because of actually providing sub-surface structural evidence of reservoirs.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Principally reflection seismology?
Doel: And you say that many of them reacted in saying this is just nothing?
Green: Yes. Several of them just thought that was a lot of foolishness, looking at these records. Well, I remember I enlisted my geophysical friends at nearby Cal Tech to help me convince these geologists. (I don't recall the names of my Cal Tech friends).
Doel: Mm-Hum. Who were you thinking of in particular - who at Cal Tech was involved? John Buwalda was there in geology.
Doel: And Wood was there in seismology.
Doel: And you knew them fairly well at that point?
Green: Oh yes. I was very good - we were very good friends.
Doel: How did you come to meet them? It was after, of course, you started work in geophysics, with Geophysical Services.
Green: Yes, I just naturally became acquainted with earth scientists in all universities around the country as I was always involved in recruiting student graduates everywhere.
Doel: How did you first come in contact with the Cal Tech seismology group?
Green: Oh, just looking up the - and getting acquainted with - I was a great believer in collaborating with academia.
Doel: So you made a point of reaching out to them to understand their own work, and what they were doing?
Doel: Did you also talk at Berkeley?
Green: Yes. [Pauses] When I was teaching the validity of reflection seismology, at Los Angeles, there was initially the negative reaction of geologists in part because of the IR training, the mathematics that they didn't have? Or the lack of understanding of physical science? Yes, they didn't even want to look at the reflection records.
Green: They felt it would be beyond their understanding.
Doel: So not only did they not trust it, but they had trouble understanding what it meant?
Green: So that's where I got help from Cal Tech because these geologists
had respect for Cal Tech scientists.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Cal Tech people?
Doel: Did you meet other academic geophysicists at that time in the early 1930s?
Green: Hum. The main - I think Penn State. Also the Colorado School of Mines. Oh, Stanford too, yes. When I became acquainted with Stanford, I was sort of living in Palo Alto, back in my engineering days, electronics days.
I was on visiting committees too, in later years.
Green: Stanford, in fact, I was chairman of it. In the early days. It was the same at MIT. I was chairman also.
Doel: I wanted to ask you about that a little bit later in the interview. I'm wondering how much at Geophysical Services you were thinking about electrical methods and the magnetometer work that was emerging?
Green: Yes, we did get - electrical methods never really materialize. Electrical methods were used in looking for minerals. But we didn't get involved in that. We weren't interested in getting into mineral exploration.
Doel: Right. That's another area.
Doel: Did you see much value in gravity work at the time? Gravimeters and torsion balances?
Green: A little bit. Yes.
Doel: But the bulk of it was still reflection seismology?
Green: Reflection seismology.
Doel: When you were party chief, did you feel that the experience of the younger men brought into the crew was adequate? Or did you have to give them intensive training?
Green: When I was a party chief I gave field training in applied seismology as the ______ ______ ____ and because of getting involved in recruiting, I became involved in, education.
Green: I was a big believer in visiting committees, you know.
Green: With different universities. Particularly with MIT, Colorado School of Mines, and Stanford. Also the University of British Columbia, University of Ontario. Also Toronto.
Doel: Yes. I wanted to ask you about each of them a little bit later on since that was, of course, after World War II, in the 1950s, when you became active on those committees.
Green: Yes. The beginning of World War II. Just before the beginning of World War II, I was supervisor in California, and finally based in Los Angeles, and I began to realize that I didn't want to be eventually transferred back to the mid-continent again. Both Ida and I liked California. But I was thinking very seriously about resigning from the company.
Doel: Is that right?
Doel: Around 1940, you mean?
Green: Yes. Wait a minute - when did Pearl Harbor take place?
Green: Forty-one, yeah. Yeah. Oh, yeah. It'd be about 1940 then. I indicated to my associates back in Dallas, I was thinking of resigning in order to stay in California, and I was thinking I might get a job with one of the aircraft companies, or I might even go to Scripps Oceanography, down in LaJolla.
Green: And the response I got was, "We don't want you to even consider that. What we want you to do is come back and listen to a proposition we're working on." And the proposition was, he invited me to participate as a partner in taking over the ownership of the company - of Geophysical Services. GSI had started to suffer a little bit, as a result of Karcher getting into the oil business. Whenever we had a crew with an expired contract, he had it working on some pet area of his before the beginning of the new contract. He then did some drilling and ended up by having an oil company. Well, that began to hurt our business because the major oil companies didn't want somebody doing service for them who was at the same time a competitor. That was the reason then for us buying the company away from Karcher. I felt, that's an interesting challenge, and so Ida and I decided we'd like to do that. I had then to pay something like, oh $65,000 for my share of the assets to start a partnership. Between Eugene McDermott and Eric Jonsson, and me, plus H. Bates Peacock.
Green: Yes. And with the help of the Republic National Bank here, I was able to borrow enough money to pay my share to the bank. So I had then one quarter ownership. Well, about the day after that, Pearl Harbor took place and we were at war immediately, with Selective Service going into action with the announcement that looking for new petroleum is not important to the military effort. So, if you want to keep your technical people, you'd better get them into something more essential, otherwise we're going to draft them. Jesus.
Doel: I know.
Green: That certainly sounded like a calamity, but actually it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Doel: I'm sure it didn't seem so at the time.
Green: That resulted in our getting in the electronics business as a side line, and thus we had the beginning of a side line that became the very beginning of Texas Instruments. Another great worry at that time too, was submerge gem and submarines lying offshore our Atlantic harbors, waiting to sink our ships heading for Europe with soldiers or supplies. Well, it so happened that Gulf Oil Company in Pittsburgh had a research physicist there, who had just developed MAD (Magnetic Aerial Detector) — an instrument so sensitive to minute changes in the strength of the earth's magnetic field that it had to be pulled at the end of 200 foot long by electric cable behind a low flying airplane. Thus, it was to be used for doing reconnaissance exploration over virgin country such as Mozambique, offshore South Africa. At the same time, the Bureau of Aeronautics of our Navy heard about this invention, and felt that, anything that sensitive might be able to detect the presence of a submerged iron body, such as a German submarine. So we were the first to line up to get a contract to make those things for the Navy. Now, the name of this research physicist is Victor Vacquier.
Doel: Yes, indeed.
Green: And he spent his last years with Scripps Oceanography in La Jolla. Whenever I used to see him, I would to ask him, "How does it feel to be the guy that helped to start Texas Instruments?"
Doel: What did he say to you when you asked him?
Green: Oh I'd get a laugh out of him.
Doel: I bet.
Green: He laughed at it.
Doel: You mentioned earlier about Scripps Oceanography that you were thinking possibly to go there before the buy-out occurred.
Doel: How did you come to think about them? Had you known Walter Munk?
Green: Very well.
Green: Yeah. Best of friends.
Doel: So by then, you had a pretty good feeling for what Scripps wanted to do in its oceanographic program?
Green: Yes, highest regard.
Doel: You also mentioned that you came to know Maurice Ewing at this time?
Doel: How did that come about?
Green: I knew Maurice Ewing when I used to go around the country recruiting, you know? And Maurice Ewing, at that time... oh yeah, I was on the visiting committee - to Woods Hole Oceanographic. Maurice Ewing was on it too. And I was so enthused about Maurice - about visiting committees, because of my contact with MIT, where that really was used extensively. I asked Maurice one time, "Maurice, when are you going to have a visiting committee at Lamont Observatory?" He said, "Never. I don't want anybody looking over my shoulder." Well, he changed his mind in later years.
Doel: Ewing was a very forceful personality.
Doel: But that was in late '40s and early '50s that this happened?
Doel: You met him though during the war itself?
Green: But he changed his mind later. He was an adventuresome guy, for example. At one time he was the outstanding expert on ocean geophysics. He conducted a cruise one of his vessels all the way from New York to Cape Town. Then he sent a cablegram back, "Stranded in Cape Town, can you send me some money so I can get home?" In other words, he thought nothing of having enough money to get there, and then not worrying about how he was going to get back.
Doel: Yes. His famous line was, "I keep my ships at sea."
Green: He was a great money raiser. In fact, he got five million dollars pledge from the Doherty Foundation one time for the Lamont Observatory which he had started. The pledge was with Columbia University, with the understanding the money was to be given to Lamont Observatory via the president's office of Columbia University. And the first payment came through - a million dollars came through the first year, and the second year another million dollars came through to Maurice, and about the third year, nothing came through. So he called up his friends at Doherty, "Hey, did you forget to send that contribution this year?" "No, no, we sent it as usual to the president's office." So he then went over to the president's office, and talked to the president, and asked him if he knew what had happened. He said, "Oh yes, I figured this other department over here needs that money more this year than you do." So without asking Doherty, or Maurice Ewing, he let them have it. Well, Maurice was so damn mad, and I came along about that time, and I said, "Maurice, since you're so mad, why don't you consider accepting an offer from the U.T. Marine Biomedical Institute down in Galveston?" And he did.
Doel: Interesting. When was that?
Green: So I helped to steal him from Lamont. I set up a chair at the U.T. Marine Biomedical Institute in Galveston for him to occupy.
Doel: Yes. I'm glad to know that; I didn't know that had come about. When you were moving from focused seismic geophysical work into electronics for the Navy during World War II, was there ever any major discussion over whether this was a wise course?
Green: Oh no, we had to in order to save ourselves. It worked out so good we thought we'd like to stay in it. When the war came to an end, Russia was an ally then. But they lowered the Iron Curtain, and became a potential enemy. And so we kept on with the military work, you see. When peace began, we began to get a little worried. Should the Russians change their minds and tensions began to back up again, and they became a possible enemy again. We were worried that all our contract were going to be canceled. That's when we thought we ought to get into something of a civilian nature. We looked around strenuously, and we decided that getting into vacuum tube business, we couldn't do that.
Doel: Because that market was saturated already.
Green: We couldn't begin to compete with the major companies like General Electric and Westinghouse, and all those who were producing vacuum tubes, etc. with written off equipment.
Green: We couldn't compete with that. But it so happened we learned about three men at Bell Laboratories - Brattain, Bardeen, and Schockley.
Doel: It was a stupendous break-through. At the same time in the 1947, '48, you were then President of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. You helped transform it from an informal office into a formal structure during that period. Were there other main goals that you wanted to achieve while you were president?
Green: Oh, collaboration. My main objective.
Doel: Again, between the exploration geophysicists and the universities?
Doel: Did you feel that you succeeded in what you wanted to do?
Green: Yes - very much.
Doel: Were you aware at that time, of the large debates over what kind of geophysics education should be stressed? M. King Hubbert was active in those debates right after World War II.
Doel: And Shrahley
Green: Oh yes.
Doel: Did you have much contact with either of them about that question?
Green: Oh yes, in a way, yes. Informal. Nothing official.
Doel: Yes. What were your views about the debate then? Do you recall how you felt about it?
Green: I was a great believer in collaboration. Between industry and education.
That's the thing I pushed for mostly. That's one thing, you see, I learned from MIT, my student days in a cooperative program between General Electric and MIT.
Doel: And MIT offered one of the strongest academic examples of that kind of cooperation already during the 1920's.
Green: Yes. I was also a chairman of the visiting committee at Stanford too, in those early days after my graduation from MIT.
Doel: Yes. When did you come on the Stanford visiting committee?
Green: Soon after the war.
Green: I felt in order to build strength, to get the best people to working for us, we had to have working relationships with the best universities. So I was a great promoter of visiting committees.
Doel: Yes. Were there other visiting committees that you came on in the 1940s? I know in the 1950s you became increasingly active on them.
Doel: But in the '40s, were you on others besides Stanford and Colorado School of Mines.
Green: I guess the original one would be MIT?
Green: And UBC. And Toronto, much later.
Doel: Yes. The government and the military were very interested in parts of geophysics after World War II.
Doel: How did you feel about the way in which they promoted geophysics? Did they seem to be distorting the field, or taking away a lot of your good people?
Green: I became a strong proponent of there being three important things in order to run something, to be manager of - whether it's manager of an electronics company, or head of a university, and that was three things. First, people orientation. The next one, innovativeness, and entrepreneurship. Those three important things.
Doel: Did you find that when you were on the visiting committee at Stanford, were the people there receptive to the developments that you wanted to promote?
Green: Yes, very much.
Doel: You had no concerns?
Green: Oh yes, I became very well acquainted with the president at Stanford.
I also - well, I'd helped to develop cross-fertilization between disciplines.
I am a great believer in that.
Doel: Yes. That's become increasingly important now.
Green: It is.
Doel: At Stanford, did you have much contact with Fred Terman?
Green: Yes. Sure did. I well remember when I was on the visiting committee when Fred Terman was Provost in those days. And I can't think of the man who was president. He was outstanding. The president then was Wally Sterling and we were good friends. Just outstanding. And this was back in the days of the radical student days. And I remember when we had a meeting of our visiting committee. We were welcomed at the opening session by the Provost, Fred Terman, and he said, "Are there any questions?" Well, one of my associates got up and said, "How do you and the president relate in running this university?" And he said, "That's a good question, I'll tell you. Provosts job is to save the university, and the president's job is to make it worth saving." [laughter].
Doel: That's a good way to put it.
Green: I thought that was a damn good response. At MIT, I had a woman friend there named Margaret L.A. Mac Vicor, who originated in Ontario, Canada. And she became a full professor in physics at MIT. In later years she developed U-R-O-P. Have you heard of that?
Doel: Yes, I have.
Green: She developed that, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. She did that - became such an important enterprise it was adopted by every department at MIT today. And because of this innovativeness of Margaret, she was made the Dean for Undergraduate Studies for the entire university. And one thing she did then, was to expand the curriculum. Undergraduate curriculum to include more humanities and social sciences.
She used to tell me, she said, "What good does it do to graduate from MIT in science or engineering in order to go to work for a man who's just graduated from Harvard with a business degree?"
Doel: Mm-Hum. The need to integrate all areas of learning for a person to be complete.
Green: Yes. One of the people we hired from MIT - that was another thing about being involved in visiting committee, We were able to get some topnotch new young people to come with us, you see? And that was a cooperative program. That was very important.
Doel: Yes. Do you mean the student cooperative orientation program?
Green: Of course, I was a cooperative student in my early days. And I ended up by working with a company that I cooperated with, and we decided to do this in TI. And it worked damn good. Well, we had a man in at MIT in Earth Sciences that had done such an outstanding job, I was able to get him to come with us, and he was the one that introduced a new way of recording seismic data — oh, what's his name?
Doel: Don't worry, we can always put a name into the transcript if it doesn't come to mind right now.
Green: He developed a new way of analyzing recorded seismic data. And it was such a wonderful job, for that the Society of Exploration Geophysicists gave us the top prize for this wonderful improvement. And we felt this man ought to be rewarded, so we made him president of our Geophysical Company.
But after three or four months, we had to take him out and put him back to research again, because the company was losing money. Because he was interested in science and engineering, but not in people problems.
So, we were losing money because of that factor. And so I'm a great believer in "humanizing science" and engineering as they call it.
Doel: Yes. I agree. I think it's an important area.
Green: Very important.
Doel: It was also that time that you set up with Bob Shrock at MIT the student cooperative program that you mentioned a moment ago.
Green: Yes. [Note added later: After graduating from MIT in 1924 with my B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees, I had no dealings with MIT for the next 25 years until in 1950. I accidently met Prof. Robert R. Shrock at a joint meeting of the geological and geophysical societies (AAPG and SEG) in Chicago in 1950. I was so favorably impressed that I agreed to visit his MIT Department of Earth Sciences in the near future. Then he became a most expensive friend.]
Doel: Had you known Bob Shrock much earlier than the time that you set up this program with him?
Green: Certainly did. Oh, when I became a chairman of the visiting committee, after our first meeting at the Chicago convention in 1950.
Green: I was interested in being connected with that visiting committee, because of being involved in geophysical exploration. And Bobby Shrock turned out to be a very expensive friend.
Doel: [laughs] That's a good way to put it.
Green: Because he's the one that finally sold me and Ida on the idea of consolidating his department in a new building on the MIT campus. It was dedicated just 30 years ago. Sixty-four versus '94.
Doel: Yes, yes indeed. And you made that decision, as I recall, in 1959.
Green: Yes, that's right.
Doel: You set up the student cooperative arrangement with Bob Shrock in 1960 to bring good students into work with geophysics during the summer. When the country began mobilizing for the Korean War, did you find that you were losing opportunities to recruit new students? That there weren't enough geophysicists?
Green: Oh yes.
Doel: It really was a severe manpower problem that you faced?
Green: Yes. We became excited over it, yes.
Doel: Yes. Did you ever talk with people on the military geophysics side? They were worried in the late '40s and 1950s over there not being enough geophysicists in the country.
Green: No. We became involved in world-wide exploration as a result of our American major oil company clients finding it easier to find new oil fields — such as Standard Oil of California and Texaco entering Saudi Arabia and India in 1937. Not only the country, but around the world. That's how we began to get involved around the world.
Doel: Yes. But did they ever reach out to you, or vise-versa? The people who were concerned about bringing in geophysicists for military geophysics in the 1950s?
Green: Oh, I don't know.
Doel: Did you have any contact with them at all?
Green: No, I didn't have any contact with that, no.
Green: Say, would you mind if I called my secretary?
Doel: No, please. (Pause)
Doel: Were you involved in helping to set up the American Geological Institute, too?
Green: American Geological Institute? No. I had more to do with the American Geophysical Union which honored me with an award a month ago at a San Francisco convention - The Waldo E. Smith Award.
Doel: Yes. I wanted to ask too, about the main people that you were in touch with in the AGU during the 1950s. As a society they were interested in the interdisciplinary problems of geophysics, and the training of geophysicists.
Green: Yes. Well, I was very much into cross-fertilization between our geophysics - Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) — and the others.
Doel: Did you feel there was an effective working relationship between the societies in the '50s?
Green: Mainly between the AAPG and the SEG. Very informal though.
Doel: You wanted it to be more well developed and organized?
Doel: Was there resistance, did you feel, on the part of AGU in making those kinds of connections?
Green: Do you mean the AAPG?.
Doel: OK, between, say, AAPG and AGU.
Green: Between AAPG and AGU? I don't know of any, no.
Doel: What I meant is, given that AGU didn't focus particularly on exploration geophysics, — you wanted more cooperation between the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, and the AAPG.
Green: Yes. Well, that was a great thing. In those early days - I mentioned this already - petroleum geologists used to refer to geophysics as "black box stuff".
Doel: Right. But, of course, the geophysicists themselves had a better understanding about the techniques.
Green: And when I became directly involved, when I was headquartered in Los Angles, I was working with the oil companies there, and with the help of Cal Tech, since they were right handy.
Doel: In the late '50s, when you made the decision with Bob Shrock to endow the Green building and consolidate geophysics at MIT, I presume MIT seemed to be the most promising of all the geophysical centers in the country?
Green: Yes, but later on I became equally impressed by Stanford and Colorado School of Mines.
Doel: What was it particularly about MIT?
Green: Well, before I became involved on visiting committees with Bob Shrock, I'd first been in the Department of Electrical Engineering. And then after that, the Department of Physics. In fact, I was chairman of physics, and then finally I got into earth sciences. And the reason I got into electrical engineering first, then in physics, because I'd graduated from MIT in electrical engineering, you see?
Green: Excuse me.
Doel: Surely. You were talking a little bit, a moment before the phone call, about what you found particularly appealing about MIT's interdisciplinary geophysics work?
Doel: How did it compare say, to Toronto, which was also with Tuzo Wilson working to develop a major geophysics center? I'm aware of course that you were an alumni from MIT. I also know that MIT geophysicists had also done a lot of work on using digital methods of recording seismic data, which greatly increased the signal to noise ratio.
Green: Yes. Because of doing geophysical work for oil companies in western Canada I became acquainted with Prof J. Tuzo Wilson, head of geophysics at the University of Ontario in Toronto and ended by being chairman of the Visiting Committee to his department for many years. Its qualifications were very good.
Doel: Were there other aspects of what was going on in the research at MIT that you found to be very attractive, that you wanted to help along with your gift?
Green: I give MIT credit for introducing digital recording and analysis of seismic data instead of analog, which my geophysical company (GSI) adopted and won a special prize from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) for introducing this improvement to the petroleum exploration industry. Well, I'll tell you what, when I graduated from MIT I said, "Goodbye factory." And I never went back for 25 years. And the reason I went back was, I got talked into it by a meeting an MIT professor named Robert R. Shrock, at a convention in Chicago. At a geology geophysics Convention in Chicago in 1950, and over a bottle of beer, I agreed to accept his invitation to come back and renew my acquaintance with MIT. That's why I refer to him as an expensive friend. But today, I rate MIT number one in being sensitive to people's feelings. I think that's because of the development of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Green: And the first stop, the man who did develop that, was a former classmate of mine, named Burchard. He was the Dean for Humanities and Social Sciences. And that's had a wonderful effect on humanizing science and engineering. So that people make not only good technical people, but also good technical managers. Of course, there are some people who are not a bit interested in management, and so they belong in a corner off somewhere doing research.
Doel: Yes. But how a school is set up can help many people develop more broadly.
Green: Yes. Another thing too that has helped to, I guess, and that is MIT has always been co-educational, even when I was a student.
Green: There were women, but very few and far between. But today one-third of the entire undergraduate student body are women. One-third.
Green: And this is one reason too, why public school education is suffering in quality. When I was a student, in the early days at Vancouver, for example, going to a public school. I would put the quality of the women teachers I had up against the best in any private school today, because there was only three jobs that an ambitious young woman could get in those early days. And those were teaching, secretarial work, or nursing.
Green: But today those three jobs are down at the bottom of a long list. It's just like a story that President Jay Stratton told me one time when he followed out the usual practice of welcoming the incoming freshman class, to have them come by the president's office to be welcomed. And since there's about a thousand of them, there wasn't any time for conversation. It was just a case of "Welcome, glad you're here. Good luck." But along came a good looking young woman, and he couldn't help asking her, "Where'd you come from, young lady?" And she mentioned some little town in Connecticut. And he said, "I suppose you're here to major in Humanities and Social Sciences?" And he said she pulled herself up to her full five feet two inches, and she said, "President Stratton, I'm not here to major in Humanities and Social Sciences, I'm here to major in Math and Physics."
Green: [laughs] And as I say, that's why public school quality has gone down. And that's why private schools are so very important now, for secondary school.
Doel: Some of your later gifts went to, Saint Marks School here in Texas.
Green: Oh God, yes.
Doel: In Dallas.
Green: And I now rate Saint Marks as being one of the very best in the entire country!
Doel: In 1959, when you and Ida gave your gift to MIT, were you in touch with people in foundations like the National Science Foundation, which were also becoming patrons for academic geophysics?
Green: No, I had nothing to do with the National Science Foundation.
Doel: Did you ever?
Green: In those early days, no.
Doel: Okay. During this period of time, as you say, you became active on the visiting committees of several universities. In the 1950s and '60s you were on the visiting committees at Toronto and Stanford?
Doel: And also at the Colorado, School of Mines?
Green: Colorado, yes. And U.B.C.
Doel: What were your impressions of developments at Colorado? Heiland was there, of course, in trying to deepen the curriculum.
Green: Favorable. My first honorary degree was from Colorado School of Mines. In '53.
Green: In fact, Colorado School of Mines is probably the best-known American university in the whole world. Best-known American university, particularly, as I say, in earth science areas. It's like when I took a summer job up in northern British Columbia in a copper ore smelter. The superintendent was a Colorado School of Mines man. I've also been involved with University of Sydney too. I have an honor degree there too.
Doel: Right. You helped them with their computer facilities, as I remember.
Green: Yeah, that's right. That was because of becoming acquainted with Harry Messel.
Doel: When you and your expensive friend, Bob Shrock, were talking about the gift to MIT...
Green: Well, Messel's another expensive one. And William C. Gibson up in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Doel: Yes. When you and Bob Shrock talked, did you have a particular set of ideas that you wanted to see done at MIT?
Green: Bob was very open-minded about everything. We got along just fine. He was doing a good job, but I could see the best could be made even better. By consolidating the department which in those early days was spread around the campus like a dog's breakfast. So it needed to be consolidated. And that's why Ida and I then decided to consolidate it. And incidentally, I feel the most important room in that whole building is the Common's Room.
That's something else I'm very committed to — faculty clubs, for example.
The faculty club at the University of California, San Diego, is named for Ida and me. When they created that campus, I was connected with it through the Scripps Oceanography, and I heard that they hadn't even thought about a faculty club. We suggested it, and as result, they said, yes, and then we paid for it. So the faculty club at the University of California, San Diego is named the Cecil and Ida Green Faculty Club. In other words, that provides an informal way of developing cross fertilization between disciplines. This incorporated into residential colleges. For example, the Green College up at MIT, and at the University of British Columbia is a residential facility.
And provides living quarters for graduate students in all disciplines. So that they can meet each other socially, you see?
Doel: Yes. It's vitally important.
Green: And it's going over great. In fact, they're crowded.
Doel: When you mentioned this, I happened to think of Princeton. You remember the famous afternoon tea that was held directly between the physics and the mathematics departments. Scientists remember this as being the reason that mathematical physics at Princeton succeeded.
Doel: I think you're absolutely right.
Green: Well the reason for a Commons Room, you see? For a faculty club, where you meet people in other disciplines informally.
Doel: With the Colorado School of Mines, you helped them build a the graduate and professional center.
Green: Yes, we did, we put a building there. They consolidated; they were very much in need of more physical facilities. The graduate and professional center was named for my wife and me.
Doel: Yes. I went out there to do historical research a year ago, and did see the building on the campus. What were your impressions of Tuzo Wilson's work at Toronto? I know that in the 1960s you were deeply involved in that committee as well.
Green: Oh that was very impressive. One thing that I admired about him was that he was the originator, and the proponent, and the first manager of the Ontario Museum of Science.
Green: It was a hands-on type of science museum. That's something that I'm very much in favor of around the country. These are hands-on type of science museums. We have a very good one in Vancouver called Science World. Also in Dallas, called Science Place. And another thing is, the British Columbia Science Council established an award called the Green Award for Science and Entrepreneurship. In other words, if you get the Green Medal not only for graduating in science, but for putting that science education to work successfully. And that's going over great. As a matter of fact, another thing that happened too, is that the city of Vancouver honored me by giving me their highest award, the Freedom of the City Award. I remember when I got that at a business celebration. Got it from a mayor, and I asked the mayor afterward, with the crowd listening, "Mr. Mayor, does this allow me now to park in front of a fire hydrant if I want to?" He said, "Oh sure."
Doel: I like that.
Green: And then I went on to say, "Well, I guess what I'd better say, the reason is for getting this, it has been given to me as a former citizen who succeeded in life by leaving town." And that was literally true. As I said, I made the mistake of enrolling at UBC 60 years too soon.
Doel: You couldn't have done much about that.
Green: They have engineering now, of course.
Doel: Yes, Frank Press about 1960 wrote that he was concerned about a few geophysics centers in the US, like UCLA, had too much distance between the geologists and the geophysicists.
Green: Oh yes.
Doel: Did you find that there was anything that you could do to help bridge the gaps in those places? Did you try to aid those?
Green: Oh we used to work on that too, yes.
Doel: And it was difficult?
Green: Where up at MIT, they're in the same building - Earth Sciences. We call it Earth Sciences.
Doel: Right. Indeed it was your philanthropy that helped to bring the earth sciences together at MIT.
Green: Yes, that was before the building. Elsewhere you see these geology and geophysics are separated wide. Physically.
Doel: Yes. I think I remember reading too, that at Toronto you had been concerned that the physics and geology departments had been separated by St. Georges Street.
Green: Yes. I will always remember when I was chairman of the physics visiting committee at MIT, I told the head of the department, I said, "Do you know why I'm head of this department, head of this visiting committee?" He said, "No, why?" I said, "Well, I'm hoping to save a few poor souls." "What do you mean by that?" "I want to see if I can get some of these physicists to change over to geophysics." [laughter] I got the usual laugh out of it.
Doel: I'm sure. Tell me if you're feeling tired or want to take a break at any point.
Green: What about lunch? Can I take you to lunch?
Doel: I'd enjoy that, if you want.
Green: Oh there's a place just up Lemon Avenue here.
Doel: Good, good.
Green: Lemon Avenue Bar and Grill.
Doel: Sounds good to me. Yes, that would be fine.
Green: I can take you up there. Have you got a car?
Green: I can take you in my car.
Doel: You were working with the European Association of Exploration Geophysicists, trying to build a broader international cooperation. How did that come about, that you made the contacts with the European community, for geophysics?
Green: Well, I remember in the early days, I had some connection with Cambridge geophysics.
Doel: Cambridge University?
Doel: Right. Sir Edward Bullard was there for a long time.
Green: Yes. That's another thing I've been very much in favor of, the visiting scholar idea. They have that program up at University of British Columbia, also we had it down here at Galveston, and we had it over here at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas Christian University. They still have that operating in Fort Worth, as well as the one up at British Columbia. I was bringing scholars from around the world there, to spend two or three weeks.
Doel: Enough time to cross-fertilize ideas.
Green: Yes, well, that's right. That's the purpose of it. And also at of the University of British Columbia. It attracts local scientists, too, who are not on the campus to come out to hear one of these lectures.
Doel: It helps to stitch together the broader local communities of scientists. That's quite a good point.
Green: And some of the best people we've got at Scripps Oceanography started out as visiting scholars. This is true. I've got a program like this in medicine, at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, where we bring scholars there and they serve their internship there. It gives them a chance to size up the clinic and find out whether they want to live or stay there permanently. At the same time gives the clinic an opportunity to decide whether or not they'd like to attract them. In other words, it's a very artful way of recruiting.
Doel: It's a very effective way to avoid potential mistakes in matching.
Green: Yes. And that certainly has worked that way at Scripps Oceanography, at IGPP. In other words, some of the permanent staff, the key staff today, started out as Green Visiting Scholars. Just like in recruiting. I remember in the old days that I used to recruit around the country. I was visiting, I think it was School of Mines, and they had six students who were interested in seeing me, and there was only one hour available. And they said, "Well, all right, six, that's means you have ten minutes with each one. I said, "That's not the way I want to do it. I'll take the whole hour, and talk to them as a group, as to what it would be like to be in our company, and then let them decide at the end of it whether they want to apply for a job or not." And this was particularly true at the end of World War II, when university graduates were extremely scarce. I remember Mobil Oil, for example one time, they were in competition for students up in Canada, and they made fancy offers, — such as, if you will come with our company, we will make you a vice-president in five years, all going well. I thought that was foolish. No, what I proposed to do, was just to talk to them as a group, and then let them decide, "Well, this is the kind of university activity want to get into." And for them to ask for a job.
Doel: Plus, it would seem that in watching any person for an hour, one learns a lot more.
Green: I think it's much better than offering them a job. It's got to be mutual. You gotta want to come. This is the way I did in my recruiting at the end of World War II, where as I say, some of the oil companies like Mobil made these fancy crazy offers.
Doel: Looking back, it's clear that that's been a pattern in your philanthropy, in setting up the program with Bob Shrock, of having the students in for the summer for lectures and for field work.
Doel: You mentioned a moment ago your contacts with Teddy Bullard and Cambridge.
Doel: In working through Geophysical Services, you had field offices elsewhere in Europe?
Doel: Had you known Lloyd Berkner prior to the development of the Graduate Research Center? Was he among those that you came to know pretty quickly?
Green: Oh, real good. Did you ever know him?
Doel: No. Unfortunately not.
Green: He was quite a promoter.
Doel: Yes. And I wanted to ask you about all of that in detail. Did you know Berkner already in the late 1950s, after he left the Carnegie's Institution of Washington and began moving into issues like the Vela Uniform Program, and the Test Ban Treaty Seismic Program? I was just curious how much involvement you had with him on any of those issues?
Green: I don't know how we got him in. As I say, he was the first director he organized that (the Graduate Research Center). One of my associates knew him, and got him to come down here. I've forgotten who it was.
Doel: In the mid 1950s you and Erik Jonsson were thinking about how to develop the Dallas area, to promote higher education in applied science,
to train students locally.
Green: Oh yes. Well, we had to. In those early days, as I say, we accidently got into electronics, you know, and from that we wanted to develop a company. But we've began to find it hard to attract new desirable young people to come to Dallas. Because there's no high-tech education environment here. I think it was pretty well demonstrated by the example of what happened to me when I visited around the country, and I visited the alumni placement office of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. And I was interested in seeing who they might have in the way of recent graduates. In other words, graduates that had been out two, three, or four years, and were interested in changing their jobs. They obtained a little maturity, which is desirable. That meant I had to go to the alumni placement office. Not the graduate placement, but the alumni placement. A very nice lady in charge gave me a box of cards to riffle through. And as I looked at the cards, I must have let out a loud moan because she came over and said, "Mr. Green don't you like the looks of our alumni?" I said, "I like the looks very much, but there's one question on each of these cards, I don't know why they answer it the way they do." "Well, what's the question?" "Where would you like your next position to be located geographically? And I notice practically everyone says Chicago area." "Well, Mr. Green, what's wrong with that?" "Well, for heaven's sakes, haven't they heard of Texas - Dallas/Fort Worth, in particular?" "Mr. Green, I don't want to hurt your feelings, but I'm afraid our alumni look on that part of our country as being down in the boondocks." So we soon decided either we had to move the company to where there was a high-tech education environment, or do something about stimulating higher education in sciences right here. We decided the latter, because we didn't like to move to another part of the country. Dallas, Texas is a good location to the point of view that, there was little or no unionism here. And so, what we decided to do then, was to organize an operation here the GRCSW - Graduate Research Center of the Southwest. And that was to provide a facility to do graduate education research for the benefit of students in the existing universities. Dallas/Fort Worth had never graduated Ph.D. number one, either in science or engineering. And so we felt, well, maybe what we could do would be to help them do this. We'll set up the research facility, and suggest that the existing universities send their students to GRCSW that they feel are eligible for Ph.D. degrees, And then when they're fulling trained, we'd send them back to their own university to graduate. And do you know how many we got? Zero. In other words, no university is ever going to admit its deficiency. So we got none. That's when we realized we were going to have to create a brand new university here, which is what happened.
Doel: This developed during the 1960s.
Green: Yes. We first went to Texas A&M University, down here in Baylor. They agreed to do that, to take it over all right, provided we would also give them $25 million endowment money, and we felt, "Oh my God, we can't afford to do that." So then we went to the University of Texas system, and they took it. Took it over. We gave them the land and the buildings we'd already established too.
Doel: In that early period, even before the Graduate Research Center was set up, were there any attempts made to develop cooperation within, say, either with Texas A&M or Rice? I realize that Rice is in the far corner of the State.
Green: No, because we had to have higher education in Dallas-Ft. Worth. Oh, at that time I had just started a television education system, which still exists today - known as TAGER.
Doel: The Green Network?
Green: Yes. We'd tie together, by means of this closed-circuit television system, all the existing colleges and universities, and even the medical schools.
And then put classrooms, also, in technical industrial plants. For example, you could be talking to a young scientist in one of our Texas Instruments plants, and he'd say, "Oh my God, I've got to go now, I've got a class coming up in five minutes." So he has to go down the hall and turn in the left door, and his class is going to start. And the lectures start, and in one of the universities, and the professor has a class in front of him, and at the same time, he has a television screen that he's talking into, which is duplicated by short wave radio and carried to all the existing universities and colleges here. That's still operating today. That's for people who are employed, working in a plant, but at the same time want to further their education. And that's called TAGER .
Doel: That's been done more widely in recent years, but yours, I think, one of the very first that I've ever heard of.
Green: Yes. Oh, it's something like 30 years old. It's still going.
Well, you see, in order to make a successful industrial enterprise here, we had to get it completely involved in education. Which has paid off, of course.
Oh, we had the cooperative program I told you about, where they bring students here. Particularly in geophysics in those early days. They'd spend the summer with us.
Doel: Right. Do you mean the one that you organized through MIT and Bob Shrock in the 1950s?
Green: Mm-Hum. Bob Shrock. And I'll always remember as the time - the first year we did that, a group of students were here from MIT and we spent the first several days of their visitation listening to talks given by - well, I opened the organization, I opened the meeting, and then had key engineers talk to the students here, show what it would be like to be working for our geophysical company in the first place. And I always remember at the first session, one of these students said, "Mr. Green, it sounds very interesting, but how important is it? This program?" And I said, "It's very important." And I could have said that, but what I decided to do, was to invite in - in addition to bringing students here, we'd bring representatives, top people from various major oil companies, to come and answer that question. To sit in on the opening session. Well no, as you see, that was a good way of getting oil companies involved. And it was a good way to sell ourselves to other companies, by impressing them with how much we were involved, improving the education of young people for exploration geophysics. And there were some they appreciated. For example, one time I was invited to Pittsburgh by the vice-president for exploration of Gulf Oil up there, and he had a dinner party for me. In his opening remarks, he said, "Mr. Green, here, is working on the right end of the industry. That is trying to develop the interest of
desirable young people, of course."
Doel: Right. At that time were certain oil companies much more interested in developing geophysical work than others? Did you find that there was an enormous resistance on the part of some?
Green: I think there were. I think there were. Oh yeah. They were only interested in producing oil.
Doel: Was there a general receptivity towards geophysics among them by the 1950s?
Green: Yes. Well, that was true. It was a good way to sell new contracts too.
since we were so interested, since we were involved in the education aspects of people.
Doel: Was Wallace Pratt ever a speaker in your program?
Green: Yes. Oh yes. Mm-Hum. Oh yes, I met all the top people. Including from Standard of California. And Texaco. Whenever I used to visit San Francisco in order to call upon my friends in the Head Office of Standard of California, 225 Bush Street, I used to be invited home for dinner by the head of them. In order to be a good salesman, that made a good salesman. Because of their respect for me for what I was trying to do to improve the quality of people working in it. They really appreciated that, and they tried to show their approval by contracting us too, you see? For field work.
Doel: Yes, there were wide-spread benefits in raising the general level of interest and education.
Green: That's how we got involved in Saudi Arabia, through the influence of Standard Oil of California. And the higher regard we had with them here domestically.
Doel: You ended up having operations in dozens of countries overseas by the 1950s. And Hubbert was also one of the people who spoke at your program.
Green: Yes, I'd forgotten what company he was connected with, though. Mostly independent, I suppose.
Doel: No, he was with Shell Development.
Green: Was it Shell? Yes I think you're right.
Doel: For most of his career, until he went back to the Geological Survey. How did you come to know Hubbert? Was that already back in the 1940s?
Green: How'd I get to know him?
Green: Just by having contract with Shell Oil Company. We worked for Shell in Europe too.
Green: In England.
Doel: Right. Hubbert spent some time over in Shell Headquarters in Holland as well.
Green: Yeah, he was committed to the Royal Dutch Shell.
Doel: One of the main issues that Hubbert felt very deeply about was estimating the total available reserves of oil and natural gas.
Green: Oh, God.
Doel: And other natural resources.
Green: Wasn't he one of those people who predicted we were going to run out? In about 1985?
Doel: Not that early.
Green: Well, the date has gone by now though, that he predicted.
Doel: In the early 1960s Hubbert faced a controversy with Vince McKelvey and others in the Geological Survey about the National Academy of Sciences Report to President Kennedy on available resources. Do you have any recollections of that debate as it was unfolding?
Green: No. I think he was one of those all right, that predicted a certain limitation.
Doel: Hubbert argued that the peak of world oil production would be reached in 1973, and thereafter the slope of the bell curve would turn negative. That was his prediction: not that oil would be exhausted, but rather, that there would be a decrease in the amount of new oil drilled.
Green: But it's amazing how Saudi Arabia is so well off here with all the oil it produces and yet the service land is absolutely useless for growing anything. Sand dunes, mostly.
Doel: You already mentioned that you knew Frank Press from the time he was a graduate student at Columbia.
Green: Yes at Columbia.
Doel: Yes. He was thinking quite a bit about education in geophysics.
Green: Yes, see, his first job when he graduated from Columbia, his first job was geophysical education at Cal Tech. And that's where we stole him, brought him back to MIT.
Doel: Right. It's clear that he saw MIT at that point as being receptive to developments in solid earth geophysics.
Green: And also in recent years, he's been principally on the physics visiting committee at MIT.
Doel: And also on the Earth Sciences committee?
Doel: To get back briefly to the early development of the Graduate Research Center: as you say, it became clear that it needed to become like a more traditional university.
Green: It became a full fledged university, yes.
Doel: As opposed to, say, the Brookhaven model, thinking of it having central research facilities like a nuclear reactor.
Green: Yeah. I think that's where we got Lloyd Berkner.
Doel: Yes. He had run Associated Universities, the consortium that operated the Brookhaven facility. The Earth and Planetary Sciences were included as research fields in the Graduate Research Center. Were the research programs in geophysics actually set up under the auspices of the Graduate Research Center? Did those take root?
Green: You mean the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest?
Green: Oh, they weren't very active.
Doel: It didn't really take off on any of those areas at all?
Green: No. No.
Doel: Okay. I just wasn't sure. You mentioned also at lunch one project I wanted to talk to you about: Project IDA, the International Deployment of Accelerometers. This was a project that Scripps coordinated, and Walter Munk was deeply involved.
Doel: Frank Snodgrass was also involved.
Green: And Freeman Gilbert. Freeman Gilbert, he was an MIT graduate. I hired him, he came to work for our company, you know?
Doel: No, I didn't know that.
Green: To start with, when he graduated. And he was one of our co-op students. And then he came with us, and after being with just a very short time, he decided he wanted to get back into academia.
Doel: I see. How did IDA come about? Do you recall the discussions about setting up the network? Was this principally Walter Munk's idea or did others contribute significantly to it?
Green: Oh, we helped with it. Oh yes, he was very, very cooperative. I don't know who installed it to begin with. But there was another group of - I was, of course, very much interested in promoting and developing working relationships between academia and industry. And in talking to Walter Munk about that, that's how this idea came about then.
Doel: And some stations were set up within the Soviet Union, as I recall?
Green: You mean these earthquake recording stations?
Green: Oh yes, there must have been about - there must be about ten stations now all over Russia. There was five when I went over there.
Doel: When was your trip?
Green: About 1987.
Doel: Okay. In the last seven, eight years or so.
Doel: I was curious: The Cold War had been in your thinking about developing Texas Instruments — that is, whether the Soviets would become our enemy.
Green: Yes, the war with the Japanese was responsible for Texas Instruments.
It forced us into thinking of something else besides geophysics. And another thing the Selective Service said, "Not only are we going take your men, but if we need any more oil, all we have to do is open up the valves of the existing oil fields." Which would simply ruin them.
Doel: Yes. It sounds as if they weren't utilizing their own experts at the Department of Interior.
Green: Yes, but anyway, pretty soon afterwards, a new man came in as Secretary of the Interior, a man named Harold Ickes. He was the one that straightened out that thinking. And he appointed - he organized PAW, Petroleum Administration for War. And instead of appointing a lawyer, or a politician to run it, he appointed the world's outstanding petroleum geologist, E. L. de Goyler. A resident here in Dallas. And his deputy was one of the vice presidents of Standard Oil of California. And they straightened them out on this business of opening up oil fields wider.
Green: But at the same time, we had to fight to keep our people, though. I took on the job of fighting draft boards, and I must have fought with at least a hundred draft boards.
Doel: For each of the individual people that you had at Geophysical Services?
Green: Yes. I well remember one outstanding case of a young man that I had hired over in Arkansas. At that time he was a technician in one of our crews in Columbia, South America.
Doel: You were mentioning the crew in South America?
Green: Are these tapes numbered?
Doel: Yes, they're already numbered. I always make sure to pop the tabs.
Green: And I remember his draft board said, "How can that man be important to you, when he's never seen the inside of a college as a student? And here you've got him on a crew in Columbia, South America." Well, of course, I said, "As far as South America is concerned, we can find new oil quicker than we can here. The easy oil has all been found in the United States." And so, anyway, I ended up in Little Rock, talking to the State Headquarters for Selective Service there. A man named General M. Compare [?] has been in the Home Guard, and I told him that I was a loyal citizen, and I wanted to see us win this war as much as anybody does, but on the other hand, we needed this man. He said, "I know quite a bit about the oil business, but even so, we're going to fight to get that man. But on the other hand, if you really feel deep in your heart that man is absolutely essential to you, then it's up to you to fight harder than we do to keep him." And we kept him.
Doel: Yes. What it sounds like from what you're telling me, is that this had to be fought always on an individual basis?
Doel: Board by board?
Green: Oh yes.
Doel: There seemed no way of organizing on a higher level, as later happened in physics when physicists became involved in the bomb project. You really had to keep fighting this locally, and there was no hope of using the professional societies or at least that didn't do the trick?
Doel: Okay. What I was thinking about was when the Soviet Union was in large part cut off in the 1950s. When scientists had little chance to communicate back and forth with one another, did you have any sustained contacts with scientists in that part of the world?
Green: No, no I had no connection then. No. Not at all.
Doel: Was Geophysical Services or your later work aided at all by the IGY? Did any aspects of the IGY influence applied geophysics?
Green: Wait a minute, IGY?
Doel: I'm sorry: The International Geophysical Year. In 1957 and '58.
Green: Oh yes.
Doel: Some declared that it didn't have much influence on more applied areas of geophysics.
Green: I don't think it did. No, I never felt it did.
Doel: Okay. One thing I want to make sure we also get a chance to cover. We've talked some about the gift that you gave to the MIT to create the Ida and Cecil Green Center for the Earth Sciences, and your gift to the Colorado School of Mines, and your gift to the library at Stanford University.
Doel: Also the IGPP at Scripps and the advisory committees that you were on. Were there developments in the advisory committees for any of those places that we haven't covered, that you wanted to mention? Were there memorable moments that we haven't spoken about that you felt was important for the development of geophysics in this country?
Green: Yes, I remember at Colorado School of Mines, as you've already said, we've donated the building there - money for the building. And later on we donated money in order to - that building also included the main auditorium for the university, and later on we provided money for an electric organ.
And I can remember the severe criticism I got when we were dedicating that organ. Some would say, "Why the devil are you giving money for an organ, you as a geophysicist? Why is it going to-?" I said, "Now wait a minute," I said, "you've got to be broad-minded. In other words, have you ever listened to a beautiful melody and been - and made you been so influenced, that it made you - you got goose flesh, you were so excited, and you got inspired by good music? Well, that's the purpose of this organ here, is to get people so happy in minds, that they're going to do a still better job in the geophysics."
Green: In other words, in order to benefit geophysics, you got to support supplementary things. That's why, for example, I got interested in art and music. That's what I call humanizing, you see?
Doel: And we discussed at lunch, your support for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, as another example.
Green: Yes. I was chairman of it for - many years ago.
Doel: I didn't know that.
Green: Yes, that's all part of a successful community.
Doel: You also gave money for the University of Texas Marine Science Institute.
Green: Oh, down in Galveston?
Green: Yes, we gave money for a ship down there.
Doel: Had they had a research vessel before? Was it a replacement of an earlier one?
Doel: It was?
Green: Yes. In other words, you've got to be broad minded when it comes to philanthropy, and I'm convinced of that.
Doel: Your philanthropy now extends to medicine as you also mentioned at lunch. And to the humanities.
Green: Mm-Hum. And people will support you more if you're that way.
Doel: It's clear from what you've said in the interview, that there's been a connecting thread through much of your career.
Doel: Also, in emphasizing interdisciplinary work, the model from geophysics is applicable in that broader sense. You mentioned also at lunch your donation to Sydney?
Doel: And that gift, was for computing facilities?
Green: Oh, that was because of my admiration for Professor Messel. He was head of the School of Physics there. They needed a computer at that time, and that's what we - in other words, the department under this very capable man, if he was going to really get still better, and be of maxim - even more service to the country, he'd have to have this computer. And that man has the world's record for having served as head of the School of Physics at the University of Sydney, for 35 years. I don't think that's been competed anywhere. He got the job when he was 30, and he had to retire when he became 65.
Doel: Yes. That's a remarkably long run of time.
Green: Mm-Hum. And he never went to seed, in fact, he did all kinds of innovative things, such as bringing students from all around the Far East — they had Far Eastern countries — to bring them to the University of Sydney to spend a week there. It was called a cooperative program. And I remember when he finally became 65, his time to retire, and the administration said, "Harry, we're going to have a banquet here, in celebration of your retirement, and in tribute to all of your good work." And he said, "I don't want any retirement program. All I want to do is to clean off my desk, put on my jacket, and cap and leave." And they said, "Oh, we can't let you go, why your many Australian friends would be mad at us." He said, "Well, I'll tell you what, if you can get my long time and good friend Cecil Green to come here from America, then I will agree." So I got a telephone call from the chancellor, and I readily said, "Yes." And I went. In fact, my remarks was then went over a big - in my remarks at the banquet, I said, "I'm not only honored and happy to be here, but I would have been willing to swim all the way from America, if necessary to get here." And the reason I felt that way too was, that when my wife Ida died, she died the day after Christmas in '86. The Messel's heard about this, and Harry Messel said, "Well, I'll dropped everything," even though it was Christmas, and immediately flew to San Diego. And he was one of the pallbearers at her funeral. And another man who did the same thing for Ida was the warden of Green College Oxford. A man named Lord John Walton. He and his wife were on Christmas vacation up in Northumberland in Northern England, and they heard about this, and they dropped everything and immediately came through, and he was another pallbearer at the funeral. So, you can see why I readily said, I would go Harry's retirement.
Green: At my old age, I fully realize now, only two things are really important in life, provided you have a roof over your head, and enough to eat. Those two most important things are, good health, good friends; nothing else is important. Castles in Spain, or private yachts, or private airplanes, they're not important anymore, but good health and friends are. So I'm pretty well blessed in both categories. Of course, I'm getting hard of hearing and I'm unsteady on my feet, but otherwise I've got lots to be thankful for.
Doel: And you have a busier schedule, than many people half your age, considering what you have coming up in the next few months.
Doel: I wanted to touch base on the two other aspects of your philanthropy, when you set up the residential college at MIT, the Green College.
Green: The Green College, Oxford.
Doel: And Green College, Oxford, yes. When was that gift made?
Doel: To MIT and to Oxford.
Green: Oh that gift was made in the late '50s.
Doel: So both gifts were contemporary to setting up the Earth Sciences at MIT?
Green: Yes, at MIT. Oxford, that was in the late '70s. The college was dedicated in '79.
Doel: Mm-Hum. Okay.
Green: Twenty-five [actually 15] years ago.
Doel: It's a critical anniversary.
Doel: Two final questions. Is there any topic that we have not had the occasion to talk about, that you wanted to include on the tape?
Green: I can't think of anything right now, we've covered so much ground.
Doel: And I should say that we will welcome any additions that you might want to make to the transcript.
Green: Well, maybe something will come to me in the middle of the night.
Doel: Yes. Finally, you've already mentioned your convictions about management and the best way of developing university and resources, and interdisciplinary cooperation and contacts. But I wonder if you have other strong feelings, either religious convictions or other strong feelings, that you haven't spoken about so far?
Green: Incidently, we have a darn good rule out at Texas Instruments, and that is your responsibility exceeds your authority. You know what I mean by that?
Doel: Yes, I do.
Green: That works very well. And we're probably one of the largest companies in America that's not union. But what we do in place of that, and we did it right from the start, that's to share the profits of the company with permanent employees.
Doel: Right. And this went back to the origins of Geophysical Services and McDermott? That was the company philosophy at that time?
Green: Yes. Oh yes.
Doel: I wanted to thank you very much for the long recording that we've just done, and I should put on the tape, that the tape will not be made available to anyone or its transcript, without your expressed knowledge and approval.
Green: Yes. Well, that's fair enough.
Doel: And we will be giving you forms about the use of the interviews.
Green: I can't think of any restrictions right now.