Oral History Transcript — Dr. William Layton, Jr.
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William Layton, Jr.; May 20, 1997
ABSTRACT: Family background and early schooling; Harvard University (1939-1943); Case Western Reserve Medical School (1943-1946); Army service (1947-1949); cold weather physiology research; steroid chemistry research; Stamford Hospital, Lederle Labs (1949-late 1950s); flame photometry and steroid determination; early work on sulphanamid drugs; Research pathologist at American Cyanamid (circa late 1950s); consulting for Lamont Geological Observatory; cruises he went on including the Eastward, Anton Brunn, and Eltanin; sectioning isopods for Robert Menzias and other marine biology research; encounters with Van Zandt Williams, Edmund Mayer, Dick Roblin, Robert Menzias, Maurice Ewing, Allen Be, Betty Friedan, Bruce Heezen, Marie Tharp, Joel Hedgepeth, J. Lamar Worzel, Larry Pomeroy.
Levin:This is an interview with William Malloy Layton, Jr., and it is the twentieth of May, 1997 and this is being recorded in Norwich, Vermont. And Bill Layton I know you were born April 28, 1921 in Mansfield, Ohio, but I donít know very much about your parents or what they did.
Layton:My father, excuse me, my father was an electrical engineer who worked for Westinghouse, and my mother was a housewife. In those days many women were housewives. I went to the schools in Mansfield and graduated from high school there in 1939.
Levin:Bill we want to get to that. But first, you know, you spent so much time growing up we want to cover that a little bit more in detail. When you were growing up, do you remember reading a lot.
Layton:Yes always. Having to do with interest. Yeah, I actually read, Iíve always read a good deal. As a matter of fact, I canít remember learning how to read. I think that, it was said I knew how to read when I was four. But I canít really remember if thatís right or not. And Iíd read almost anything I could get my hands on. And thatís continued, and my school career starting then and extending as long as it lasted, including graduate schools and everything else, has always been, my record has been extremely spotty because if I like a subject I usually do pretty well in it, and if I donít, I just let it die. And Iíve been in academic difficulties on and off most of my life because of that On the other hand, when I was in school, I did quite well in science. And in those days we had, we had state competitions where they would get up to the state level in the sciences.
Levin:Do you remember in your home, was science talked about a lot?
Layton:Yes. Well, my father was an engineer. And he talked about science a lot. And I had, or he had some friends who were also engineers. One in particular was a man who, was a, he was a German, wasnít a refugee at that time but he was actually a Austrian/German, and he was a director of research of a local company, the Ohio Brass Company, and he was quite versed in all kinds of scientific things. He actually had a doctor of science and also a doctor of engineering from someplace in Germany, or actually I think a Ph.D. and also a doctor of engineering. And he was, I got to know him quite well, and he was doing all kinds of interesting things. I can remember that I was a Boy Scout at that time, and there was a mining merit badge and he was, he had had some experience in mining, so he could examine me for that. But one of the things that I did then, which was sort of interesting, was he had an X-ray defraction apparatus in his lab, and so I made defraction patterns of garnet and a few other crystals. And most of the other people didnít even know what the technique was like. But I got involved in things like that.
Levin:About how old were you then?
Layton:Oh Iíd say I must have been twelve. And I, he also taught me how to grind lenses. He, in his basement, he used to make lenses. He was interested in polarization objects of which he was using to measure strains and stress, or actually stress analysis in insulators. And he would make a model of an insulator in plastic and then he would look at it with polarized light and photograph the stress patterns. And I got involved in that and I was about twelve then I guess.
Levin:How much were you aware that you actually were doing the stress factors and polarization?
Layton:Some of it I understood pretty well, but some of it was completely beyond me. I mean, the idea of circularly polarized light and things like that. Plain polarization I could understand and I could understand the geometry of it, but a lot of it I tried to read about and it was beyond me. And Iíve always been sort of like that, I can understand some things and canít other things. But that was quite important. The other things were probably, as far as my school career, I had an excellent school biology teacher in high school.
Levin:Do you remember his or her name?
Layton:Oh yes, I remember her quite well. Her name was Mariel Aberle. And she was quite well known as a teacher. As a matter of fact, she got an honorary degree from a nearby college just for her teaching efforts. She ran a course that was not like any other course in high school. It was like a college course. It was a lecture course. And with a very good lab in it. So I took the course my first year in high school and then after that I was sort of a TA in the department. And matter of fact, I met Mary [Layton], my wife, because she was one of my students when I was a TA there. And I can remember we dissected, I think it was a clam in her basement. I took, I had free access to all their dissection specimens so.
Levin:This is at the, you dissected at the teacherís basement or Maryís?
Levin:You were a TA there in high school?
Layton:Yes. I sort of had charge of all the formaldehyde stuff, keeping track of it and that kind of stuff. And I did, I was, my first year, I was in high school three years, the first year there I took the course then after that for two years I TAíd it. I, as I say, I took, we used to have state competitions in sciences and I took the first in the state in general science, and I think, I forget where I came in chemistry and physics, but I was reasonably up there, but in biology I got first in the state too.
Levin:What was that during high school?
Layton:Yes. The examinations, youíd take them locally, and then you would be eliminated and work your way up. And as a matter of fact, those people kept track of me for quite a while. I think it until about fifteen years ago, I used to get a yearly thing of what was I doing and stuff. So they kept track of apparently the top five or six people.
Layton:And as far as the teacher, I kept track of her.
Levin:This is Aberle?
Layton:Aberle, yes. Mary and I were back visiting my hometown about fifteen years ago, and she was still around. She was ninety something at that time. And an interesting woman. She was living alone, full of herself. She had a lucite cane and an Afro and was fun to talk to because she said that she had gotten off a lot of committees because her arthritis bothered her a bit, but she still did her own shopping. And that she was sort of worried when a little old man came up to her and he was limping bit and he looked up to her and he said, you are Miss Aberle arenít you? And she said yes. And he said, remember, I was a student of yours. And she said that sort of made her realize how old she was. I donít think sheís still around, but then, as I say, she was in her nineties. But she was a fantastic teacher. And I think that it was because of her and because she knew a lot. She was known in some academic circles. I think she. I donít know sheíd done something at the University of Chicago. But at any rate, she wrote a letter that got me into Harvard. And, which was, I think Harvard regretted it later, but at any rate, she did that. So the sciences, particularly biology, has always been of great interest to me.
Levin:Itís interesting, when you were talking a lot about your high school years, about how you got into that early biology class. What while you were developing while you were still in elementary school, did you have a lot of science classes then?
Layton:No, but I was interested in science. I was particularly interested in things like dissecting animals and stuff like that. I was usually doing that. Mostly biology more than physics. Although as I say, optics was, has always been quite interesting to me. I got off sort of on an early start with this guy, his name is Louis Meisse, the German man. And later on during the war he operated some kind of a manufacturing. It was a company and itís still in our town. He built this tremendous. He didnít build it actually, he moved into an old dance hall and set up milling machines and everything like that and he was making optical parts. Field glasses parts I think for the government. And that was quite an operation. I didnít help him, but I kept track of him too.
Levin:Do you remember reading any scientific books?
Layton:Yes. No, I used to, I think I read all the stuff on microscopy that was available in our local library. I know I remember that. I can even remember some of the books. The titles of them. And also the library had some, some pretty good. I mean our public library some reasonably good books.
Levin:And this was when you were younger?
Layton:Yes. That probably started when I was in junior, no, it started before I was in junior high.
Levin:Oh really? Do you remember what were some of the titles of the books?
Layton:Oh one of the books was by a botanist named Belling. I think it was called the Use of the Microscope. Another one on microscopy was by, an English book, and it was by, I think his name was Bevin. Belling was quite well known. I mean I kept track of that book because he really had a reasonably rigorous approach, geometrical not physical optics. And that was quite interesting. And microscopic technique has always been something that interested me. Actually it helped me through college because I had sort of thought a scholarship should take me through college, but no way. I did very poorly in my first two years in Harvard. So I had to sort of fend for myself and I took to cutting sections, microscopic serial sections and selling them. I knew how to do that by that time. Oh I should say besides that, when I was in high school, I used to work summers in the, and then actually more than that, in the local hospital laboratory as a technician. I had a summer job.
Levin:And how did you get into that?
Layton:Well I knew, I knew a couple. A friend of mine Willis Weygandt, his father was a doctor and Willis was a good friend of mine, and he sort of got me started there. First as a volunteer and then I got paid for it. And just doing routine stuff. But the important thing there was actually that the pathologist, when I first went to work there, they didnít have a pathologist, but the pathologist who came there, showed me how to cut sections. In other words histological sections. And that, later on when I was in college, that proved to be a boon, because I found out I could get paid for this. And in those days, though the pay wasnít much, if you took a college job, this one wasnít a college job, this was a job for one of the departments. But the government paid you thirty-three cents an hour. Itís called an NYA job, National Youth Organization. But I didnít have one of those. Iíd make sections and sell them by the slide.
Levin:And the NYA, the National Youth Organization, was that part of FDRís?
Layton:Yes. Right. I think so. But I didnít qualify for that since, at least they handed out that stuff based on both need and grades. And the need was okay, but the grades, I was on academic probation my first two years. One of the problems was I was doing very well in biology there, but I paid no attention in the other courses.
Levin:So you were very focused on the biology?
Layton:Yes. Iíve always been very focused on it.
Levin:While you were growing up, did you stay in the same house or the same town?
Layton:No, we lived in the same town, but I think I lived in a series of. I can remember three houses we lived in, and they were all rather close to each other. No, four houses. We rented, I think, the first three. And it was during, a lot of it was during the Depression. And we finally bought a house. I think it was during the Depression and I think it was quite a financial effort for my parents.
Levin:What was the house like?
Layton:Regular six room house. There werenít developments then. One of them was a reconstructed barn which was the best one we had. It had been a barn and then they rebuilt it into a house. And it was a lot of fun to be in. The others were just sort of standard six room houses in neighborhoods. And in those days there werenít school buses in town. When I was going to junior high school, I had to walk for about an hour and a half to get there. Then finally I found a friend and his mother used to take us in her car. See I donít think, my parents didnít have a car right away. This was, as I say, during the Depression. And then we got one. But I can remember my father riding a bus to work.
Levin:How many brothers and sisters do you have?
Layton:Iím an only child.
Levin:Youíre an only child? While you were growing up, did any of your friends share your interest in science?
Layton:Yes. There were quite a few of them. There were about three of us who used to gather on Saturdays and dissect frogs and do stuff like that. And Willis, the one I talked about, was one of these. Didnít end up, I think he ended up being a preacher. Iím not sure, or something like that. Another one was a preacherís son, Grover Swoyer was his name. And his, he went to medical school. He became a pathologist which is what I eventually became. And I wrote him a letter ten years ago or so. He was working some place in Kentucky I guess. But thatís as far as college goes, there I met and got to know quite a few of my classmates who were interested in science. My roommate actually is a microbiologist, actually he is a molecular microbiologist, named Werner Maas, I think heís at NYU now. Actually I think he was at Columbia with Dobshansky for a while. But he was somebody. The other thing is that at Harvard I was lucky getting to know a couple of the faculty people quite well.
Levin:And we want to cover that, but first, you mention that one of your friends was a preacherís son. Was religion a big part of your home?
Layton:No. No. It was not. We really didnít have any religion. I went to Sunday school for a while, but no, not much attention was paid to it.
Levin:What church was that?
Layton:I think it was a Congregational church. But there were, Iím not an athlete at all. But the Congregational Sunday school I was in, the members, were mostly picked because they were good basketball players.
Layton:Yes. I mean church basketball was a big thing then. It was a, like anything else, people would be stolen from one church into another because they were. I donít what kind of offers were made, but at any rate, that was a big thing then.
Levin:Thatís interesting. So you never really talked about religion at home?
Levin:So after, while you were in high school, had you always planned on going on to college?
Layton:Yes. No, my father had gone to college. My mother didnít. And so I sort of figured I would. And I wasnít like, one good friend of mine later, a Ph.D. biochemist, a very good friend of mine, who came from rather a poor family, and when he, he didnít know anybody whoíd ever been to college excepting his school teachers when it came time for him to go. I expected to go. I really wasnít planning on going to Harvard. As a matter of fact, I took a competitive examination and got a scholarship to the University of Chicago. And my biology teacher said if you could go — She had gone to the University of Chicago — if you could go to the University of Chicago, why donít you try to see if you can get into Harvard. Letís see what we can do. Iíd heard about Harvard, but I didnít know much about it.
Levin:What had you heard about it?
Levin:What had you heard about it?
Layton:I just heard it was. You know, mostly I had to learn one time it was the oldest school in the U.S. I donít think I ever knew much. I went there sort of without knowing much about it. Which was interesting, because I was competing with a lot of people who had been to prep school. I didnít even know what a prep school was. But I found out.
Levin:Interesting. You went on to Harvard?
Levin:And what were some of the early classes that you took? Did you go in knowing you would major in biology?
Layton:Yes. I knew that. And then Harvard was very liberal about what you could take. Each course that one took, a course either lasted a half, if you, Iím sorry, let me start over again. The credit system was sort of interesting. Itís not like, I donít think itís like it any more. You got a credit for taking a full course. A half of a credit for taking half of a course. And you had to take, you were supposed to take four courses a year, and you were supposed to be concentrating in one particular subject which you had to pick out by the end of your second year or something like that. But the interesting thing was as long as you passed an English requirement, English and another language requirement, I think you had to take at least four courses in your field of concentration and four outside of it, and that was all. There was, you were free to do anything you wanted to with the rest of your time. And I liked that because I could, almost all the courses I took except four were biology. Although, I took a couple of other courses. I didnít do too well in chemistry. I did physical chemistry, physical organic chemistry I did all right in. But mostly I spent my time in biology. It was a fantastic place to be. Because Iíd never seen, you know, a university set up before and the biology library, I practically lived in. I got to know the librarian, Mary Bryan, quite well. She kept track of new journals that came in for me and everything else. She was a very good friend. And the others, I mean like the Museum of Comparative Zoology that I got to know quite well. As a matter of fact, this was during the war. And I was a lire warden there. And if you know the MCZ at Harvard. Itís an old Victorian building that if anybody even lit a match in there it would go up in smoke in no time at all. Not a good place to be a fire warden, but that never occurred to me at the time.
Levin:Interesting. So do you remember some of the more interesting classes that you took and the professors that really impressed you?
Yes. As a matter of fact, this will impress you. My professor, I met him first as a professor in a course on history of science. And he was actually quite a well known man, not for that. His name was Lawrence Joseph Henderson. I got to know him very well. He was nice to me, it was around when he died actually. But he gave a course. There were two courses in the history of science. One was a course in early history, he didnít teach that. I canít remember who taught it, I met that guy too. The name will come back to me. And then Henderson taught one that started with the Renaissance. And he, he was an amazing person. This was not his field. He was a biochemist. And also, I think he had an M.D. A biochemist, but he got into physical chemistry and he became famous for discovering about the stoichiometric and what relation of acids and bases and he has been immortalized in the Henderson-Hasselbach equation. But also he was really a polymath. He taught the history of science, he taught a course in the sociology of Pareto, he taught a course physics based on Ernst Mach, I mean just for historical aspects, Mach was an Austrian physicist. And he also taught a course in French drama. But he was a very, very kind man.He was an interesting guy. He was very picky about things and had a very stuffy way of speaking, but he was really very nice. He used to come down once in a while and heíd sit with me. Iíd invite him to lunch. I was at Dunster House in Harvard and it had reasonably good lunches. But he would never eat there. He said the food was too bad. I learned later when I got to know him better that he wouldnít even eat in restaurants. He always, he had a chef at home. He was a marvelous guy. But he was, he had a lecture on Pareto, sociologist, that was quite famous for all of the obscure references he would make.
I think, I donít know whether he was doing it on purpose, but he could be a lot of fun. Later on, after, actually he died I think in 1942. It was an unfortunate, Christmas vacation, he had had a hernia that he wanted to have repaired and he went in and we heard that he died of a pulmonary embolism. But, as I say, I got to know him and years later he came back to haunt, not to haunt me, but his memories came up because in town here, oh this must have been about ten years ago, the president of Harvard, (whoíd been at Harvard then) James Bryant Conant, was living in Hanover. And one of our faculty members whoís since died, Burt Mudge, here, knew that I knew Henderson and so he had the Conants out to dinner with us one night. And I got to talking to, not so much to Conant himself, who knew Henderson, but his wife who knew him quite well. And we were talking about him. One of the things that Henderson did, I remember when I was taking his course, was he was, I thought sight reading Greek, cause I know he was using a Greek text. And I mentioned that to her, and she said, she suspected he was pulling my leg, I mean, when he did that. But she knew him quite well. And as a matter of fact, I think she was related. She was an interesting person. Her father was a Nobel Prize winner, Richards, who got the prize for determining atomic weights or combining powers or something like that. Iím getting off the subject.
Levin:How typical was it for you to have outside contact with your professors?
Layton:It could be very typical or not. A lot of people had none, but I had a good friend who was in romance languages, his name was Lionel Freedman, and he knew a couple of his professors quite well. Socially, every other way. I mean, but he was quite a bright guy. Heís a professor now at the University of Washington, I think, specializing in Dante. Heís written a couple of books about that. He was an unusual guy. So it could happen. It wasnít boredom. Now I taught undergraduates here. I used to teach them quite a bit. And there wasnít as much socializing, even at Dartmouth.
Levin:What sort of specialties, types of biology were you focusing on? Were you getting a wide range or?
Layton:Well I was interested sort of in general, mostly anatomical things. In other words, I did very well and took a course in what they called comparative anatomy then. It was a yearís course. And also botany did not interest me a bit. I had to take, they said, I didnít have to take it, but they suggested strongly I take one course in botany which I did and I liked. But I wish I had taken more botany because itís a very interesting subject. But mostly I was interested in anatomical things. I knew how to. I did very well in a histology course in microscopic anatomy because Iíd been doing that in the hospital and when I was in high school. And also physiology was quite interesting. The various physiological preparations. And I got into this same kind of thing as Iím in now is developmental biology. And as a matter of fact I did a research project on the development of the optic crossing over in the chick embryo when I was an undergraduate.
Levin:Were you given a lot of time in the lab?
Layton:Yes. And the thing is you could spend as much time in the labs as you wanted to. As a matter of fact, once the war broke out the graduate students started to leave, and so a good friend of mine, Milt Hamolsky and I were given were a lab which ordinarily would have been a graduate studentís, just for ourselves. And it was mostly Miltís fault. I was a good friend of his, and he turned out to be the top man in our class at Harvard. And so he sort of dragged me, and my scholarship was not sterling as Iíve indicated, but he carried me on along with his weight and so we shared a lab together. We were working, both working for Hisaw and he was working for a professor, a very nice guy, I got to know him quite well, in endocrinology. I was working on a hormone called relaxin. Thatís a hormone that causes relaxation of the skeleton, sort of almost dissolution of the skeleton in a guinea pig, so a guinea pig baby can be born. And that hormone is still around by the way. But we were mostly doing biochemical work. So. But Harvard was good. I mean, the people, they had acquired faculty some of which were good and some of which werenít doing any work at any all once they got appointed. But that happens I suppose in any university.
Levin:The war had just started. Of course, for physics there was the big projects around the overpass at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology].
Levin:Were you were aware of any biological activity that was happening for the war effort?
Layton:The only one that I was aware of because I was taking a physiology course during the war was high altitude physiology. And as a matter of fact I had a friend named John Chadwick who got some kind of a job, part-time job, working in some high altitude research project there. And I knew it was classified. The other thing that was going on there, we were very well aware of, was the biology laboratories at Harvard, which was a rather new building, they suddenly after the war got started, sprouted all kind of radar antennae in its roof. Because they were working on radar. They just, the, this whole outfit that was based at MIT and Harvard, radio research labs, I think they called themselves at first before they got fancy, just took over one whole wing of the building. And tore out everything and filled it with full of kind of gadgets. And we could see these rotating antennas on the roof and all kinds of things. And that was one thing we noticed.
Levin:So the physicists were taking over the biology lab?
Levin:So you noticed that it was going on. Did you have any, were you participating in any of these projects that were going on?
Layton:No. I wasnít, but we were aware of them. For instance, our organic chemistry professor distinguished himself by inventing Napalm, his name was Louis Fieser. But he was working with all kinds of incendiary gadgets and bombs. And a lot of this stuff was going off rather close, our lectures would be interrupted by bomb blasts and stuff like that.
Levin:And as you were being evacuated, did you just know what was happening? Did they tell you?
Layton:No we werenít evacuated. They were just exploding stuff outside during lectures. Which, sort of, I think he did it on purpose. The other thing that happened there that I found out about later as far as talking about tales there is George Kistiakowsky that I didnít know, was a physical chemist there, and he directed then, we knew he was doing some kind of strange secret work. But he had them take out a whole stairwell in Converse Laboratory and put something in it, mysterious. And this took about three weeks to tear the guts out of the stairwell and put something in it. And then he did an experiment that lasted one day, and then they put everything back. It turned out later that he was the guy who thought out and designed the detonating mechanism for the atom bomb. He was an expert in explosives and see what happened is that they were able to, when you detonate an atom bomb what you want to do is push together very suddenly U-235 until it reaches a critical mass. And this was his field. And later on I found out that he also demonstrated his efficiency when a friend of his next door neighbor was doing a home construction project and he let the concrete harden in the concrete mixer, and George managed by to blast it out without ruining the concrete mixer.
Layton:Dynamite, I donít know. But Iím getting off the subject.
Levin:Not really. So George was at Harvard?
Layton:Yes. Kistiakowsky. He was a professor at Harvard. Quite a distinguished one. He taught a course in, several courses, in physical chemistry. Oh yes, Harvard was — you see Conant was the president then — was present at the first detonation of the atom bomb at Alamogordo. And along with Oppenheimer and all, but Conant was there. And so a lot, there was, and in the medical school, I wasnít in the medical school there, but the medical school was devoting a lot of time, a guy named Cohn there, a protein chemist, trying to work out substitutes for plasma, because the big need, particularly in Europe, was plasma and blood for transfusing to these people who got, especially in London, who got crush injuries, because thatís one of the ways to treat it. So, but there wasnít enough plasma to go around. So they were trying to make plasma substitutes. And also trying ways to make, preserve plasma, when they did that. So that was all going on with Cohn in the medical school.
Levin:Did you ever have a class with Kistiakowsky?
Layton:No. I heard him lecture.
Levin:What was he like?
Layton:Well, he was a. You got to a, just a spare lecture, I forget what he was talking about that I wanted to listen to. I mean, but I had a schedule of his lectures. Sort of hard to tell what somebodyís like from an isolated, one isolated lecture. I canít remember what it was, but I can remember that I could not understand some of the notation that he was putting on the blackboard and things like that. But Iíve never been good at lectures. Almost all the courses Iíve ever taken, my notebooks, I have notes for the first two lectures and then they quit. Because the first time I hear of a new idea coming along, I have to stop and think about it. And so I think too slowly to fit into the ordinary. I like a lecture if I know ninety percent of the subject, and then I can fill it in. And then the lecture makes sense. Most college lectures I canít follow. And the ones I give nobody can follow.
Levin:So do you remember what Kistiakowsky was lecturing on, that one lecture that you went to?
Layton:Yes, I think it had to do with association constants. An ionization of association constants. It also involved some thermodynamics. And he was trying to work the two things together and thatís where I got boggled.
Levin:So why did you decide to go?
Layton:Oh. I really donít know. I had wanted to hear him lecture, but it wasnít for that. There was some and I donít think it was that. Really, I really canít remember.
Levin:When you say it was known that he was doing secret things, did anyone realize that he was a high-level government scientist? That he was actually working for the government?
Layton:Well. Yes. No, people knew that this was some kind of government work, but nobody knew anything about the atom bomb or anything like that. But you see at the same time, as I say, the radio research labs, you know were showing off. They couldnít hide their stuff. And MIT, if you wandered down there and you could see a lot of that going on. So, it was in the air. And you see we had air raid practices. In other words, the sirens would go off and everybody would have to find shelter. And thatís when I was, I was supposed to go down to the Museum of Comparative Zoology and wander through that, ready to put out any fires that started. We had buckets of sand all over, and we had arm bands with pictures of flames on them. But everybody else had to stay off the streets. And we have a couple of real air raids apparently. They werenít, nothing happened, but they werenít drills. And I donít know what was going on.
Levin:And during this time you had regular class work and you were working in the labs right?
Levin:Were you getting any field work training?
Layton:No. No. None of the, nothing that I did had to do with field work. My friend Chadwick who was another biologist, he turned into a pathologist too, was quite interested in field work, and we used to — He lived in Old Lyme, Connecticut which was not too far away — We used to go to his place sometime on weekends. And he had a sailboat and we used to go sailing. And also he was interested in field work and we did some collecting. But Iíd never done any until I went out with him. We were sort of looking at sea creatures in general. Because Iíd grown up far away from the ocean.
Levin:But did it become an interest for you?
Layton:Yes. It did become. And he sort of started it. But we got. He was interested in collecting all kinds of things. And he was a pretty good physiologist too. So we played around, or we were thinking about playing around and were trying to work systems for getting. I remember collecting blood from some segmented worms to look at their hemoglobin. We never got our sampling down, but thatís the kind of thing he was interested in, hemoglobin dissociation curves and that kind of thing.
Levin:And you graduated from Harvard College in 1943.
Levin:In biology. And did you, did you know what you wanted to do after that? The war was still going on.
Layton:Well, yes, I knew what I wanted to do. What I had wanted to do was to actually to start graduate school. And even I got started taking in some courses there, but suddenly my draft board got hot on my tail. And said I would have to report for duty and all that kind of nasty stuff. And so I realized I had to get into medical school in a hurry, so I figured my academic record wasnít, the last couple of years werenít bad, the first years wasnít good. I might have trouble getting into a lot of places, but I should be able to get into Ohio State because I was a native of Ohio. And so I went out there, went down to Columbus and they looked at my application, but I wanted immediate attention. And they said you havenít had any elementary biology. Sure I havenít. Which was true, I hadnít. And itís a requirement.
Levin:Interesting. So you had skipped elementary biology.
Layton:Yes, I was excused from it at Harvard because of the marvelous letter Mariel Aberle. But they said they didnít care whether I had a degree in it. So Mary was in, at that time, in nurses training in Cleveland, and so I thought, well Iíll go up and see her. And I went to [Case] Western University Medical School. I hadnít. I did have application into Ohio State, but I had no application. And I went in there and I found a dean whose name was Charles Sollman, interesting guy, he was a pharmacologist. And I talked to him a little while, and you know, he said well fill out an application. He said, you know, youíre Harvard, that sounds pretty good. Weíre probably interested in you. And he says maybe, maybe something will happen. I said, yeah, but. Well he said, weíll see what we can do.
Levin:I think Iíll turn it over.
Layton:So I talked to him. I filled out the forms and I lived in Mansfield which was about a couple of hours away. When I got home there was telegram waiting for me, I had been admitted.
Layton:And he hadnít even seen my record. But at any rate, it was very handy, because I didnít want to be shot at.
Levin:No, that sounds obvious. Well you say he sent a telegram. It sounds like he was in a hurry.
Layton:Well he knew was in a hurry. No, I mean, it was sort of. I mean I was talking to him. I explained my situation, you know, that my draft board was suddenly hot on my tails, and that I was sorry that I didnít have anything, but I told him most of my grades, and some of them that I could remember. I couldnít remember all of them. But I had no academic difficulties there. That was more not really academic behavior but behavioral I had a nasty way of talking back to people, getting into trouble. Medical school was okay. I, some of it I liked and a lot of it I didnít like. But itís a peculiar way of learning things. Having taught in medical school for a long time, I see that it can be difficult for some people.
Levin:So while you were going to medical school, what were you particularly focusing on?
Layton:Well, see I sort of started out being, working in a pathology hospital laboratory. And so laboratory medicine interested me and also laboratories were nice places to hang out. So when I was in medical school, actually I was quite, medical school itself I really didnít like, but I was fortunate in that this was during wartime and there was a tremendous shortage of physicians. So I, first I got started working, I got a job in a clinic, and it was an industrial sort of clinic that took care of patients from down in the industrial part of Cleveland in various surrounding companies, and I got a job working, working there at night. I was sort of the doctor at night. And I was supposed to take care of any minor injuries or anything else I thought I could handle, here I was, you know, second year medical student. And did reasonably well. I didnít have any bad accidents happen or anything else. But then Mary was then working at St. Lukeís Hospital in Cleveland, and I found out there was a job there helping with autopsies at night. And Iíd done that back at the hospital when I was in high school. I helped with autopsies.
Levin:When you were in high school?
Levin:Is that typical?
Layton:No, I donít think so, but I was doing it. And so I got a job there helping with autopsies at St. Lukeís Hospital, and that turned out to be quite fortunate. Not only helping their autopsies but also doing night laboratory work, various kinds of blood counts and all that kind of stuff. Because there was a guy there, resident, I got to know, an amazing guy, who was a, he had gone to college to Yale on a football scholarship and graduated third in his class, went to medical school on a bet, and I got to know him, he was a pathology resident, very bright guy. But he was also a musician. And he spent all night playing jobs with various orchestras and spent the daytime in the lab. And sort of a wild character. And I remember he used to also write arrangements for big orchestras. I mean some of the big orchestras at that time. Musical arrangements, and heíd drive us crazy in the lab by putting a record on a player that was constantly repeating itself until he wore the record out. And he used this as a way of putting stuff in. His name was Jeff Snavley. He was a character. But at any rate, that worked out quite well, because I went off. I finished medical school without being distinguished at all, but I got through. And I.
Levin:And that was in 1946?
Layton:Yes, that was in 1946. And I took an internship in Canton, Ohio, which was nearby and we could work things out. And Mary got a job there as a pediatrics nurse.
Levin:And by that time you were married?
Layton:Yes. No, we got married in my first year in medical school. And that was in Ď43. See I went through medical school in three years.
Levin:Thatís unusually quick.
Layton:Well, there were no vacations during the war. You gave regular hours, they just cut out all vacations. But thereís a great stimulus not to be thrown out of medical school. Because if you were thrown out, they sent you overseas almost right away. It was very dangerous because more than usual because we never got really much basic training and theyíd put some of these guys right in the infantry. They both got wounded.
Levin:Weíre resuming after a brief pause. And I think the last thing we were talking about was the two that had died.
Layton:It was a great strain to not have any vacation, but on the other hand, there were some advantages. We were in uniform and in Cleveland, and we could ride free on the buses. We could go to concerts free and take a guest, to plays free and take a guest, get in movies free. So it was a, and also elderly men in bars used to try to pour drinks down us because they always thought, you know, we were back from combat or something. But it was nice to be. I got paid to go to medical school and I got paid for this night job I had doing autopsies and stuff. Mary was going to art school in the daytime and nursing at night. We didnít see much of each other. We didnít see much of each other because we were both working day and night, but it was a lot of fun. That part. Medical school itself was all right I guess.
Levin:Do you know why they would, move the people that got thrown out of medical school into the most dangerous sections?
Layton:Well, it, see there werenít many of them. There was no routine way to handle it. And on paper it looked like weíd had more basic than weíd had actually. Or they gave us. We were supposed to have about a week of it. They gave us about a day of, you know, jumping over hurdles and being shot at. They used to shoot over your head with machine guns. That was supposed to last about a week, but I think, and we were, they did that at Fort Hayes in Columbus, Ohio, which was the. Everything was, you know, rush, rush. But they figured we didnít need it. Anyway. So that was medical school. And the thing is I took a yearís internship, rotating internship, something they donít have any more. And then went into the army because see the army had paid me and paid for all my medical school, and I owed them some time back. But the idea was that by this time, Snavley, the guy who I worked with, a resident, had finished his residency and moved to Stamford, Connecticut. And the idea was that when I got through with the army, I would join him and get back into the, and take a residency under him. Which actually happened. But I spent two years in the army.
Levin:So you were allowed to choose where you would go and you wanted to go to Kentucky?
No, no. What happened was we went, when we went in the army, we went back you see, I had been on active duty and then when I was an intern I was on inactive duty. I wasnít wearing a uniform but I was still in the army, and they werenít paying me. I went back on active duty. I was sent, everybody I think was sent to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio to the Medical Field Service School I think it was called. And this was a, a place where they gave a lot of lectures. You were sort of trained as a general kind of surgeon or general practitioner for the army. And it was emphasized, that parts of it were emphasized. And I was prepared not to like that, and it turned out. One, Fort Sam was a beautiful base. You live in these nice buildings with red tile roofs and itís very well set up and everything is air conditioned now. But the thing is that the training that they did was extremely good.
They had young officers who were either medical officers or some related thing who had really done their homework, who were really prepared. They were enthusiastic. And they did, a lot of the stuff was quite interesting and well done. And I was surprised because it was, certainly better than I got in medical school. And I remember one of the courses. They had one on, because, a veterinarian is supposed to inspect meat and stuff in some army installation. But if itís a small outfit and he canít do it, the medical officer is supposed to. So they had a course in inspecting and grading meat. Mostly grading it, how you say this is choice and all that. And that was so popular that they repeated it for the wives because they wanted to find out this kind of stuff. No, it was, that was a nice trip down there.
Then down there they talked to us and sent us. Down there they gave us various aptitude tests and all kinds of stuff like that. And then we were assigned posts. And I was assigned a post in something called the medical department field research laboratory and was said to be at Fort Knox. And that was sort of interesting because I went to Fort Knox. I think I had about a week off after Texas. Fort Knox. And I got off the train there and a couple of MPs were at the train. And I asked them, well where is this place? And they said never heard of it. And they said, but youíre supposed to go Brick Hospital, all the way back. You know, they could tell I was a doctor, my insignia, and Brick Hospital was the hospital at Fort Knox. So I went there and nobody heard of the place. And then, so, I just hung around there. I had a uniform on and I got fed. And I found a place to sleep. And I was having breakfast with some dentist one day. I told him I couldnít find the place. He laughed and he said, oh, he says, I know where it is. He says, ďI shoot skeet with the CO there.Ē He says, itís a funny place. He says, I think youíre supposed to be sort of quiet about it. But itís down over the hill. He says, letís get a jeep and Iíll take you down there.
So he took me down there to this building and it turned out this was a place where they had been doing a lot of research on what you would call, I donít know, biophysics or biomechanics or behavioral. In other words, where to put controls in tank turrets. Whether you should put them here or are they easier to reach someplace else I guess. Some kind of ergonometrics or something like that. And they were changing over, when I got there, to doing environmental physiology mostly. And some cardiovascular physiology. And so I got in on the tail end of playing around with the so-called tank turret problem which was sort of interesting messing around with tanks. But then they were just getting started some cold weather physiology, hot weather physiology. It was a renal physiology outfit and a cardiovascular physiology. Now the place was mostly civilian. I was working, I got assigned to cold weather physiology work. And cold weather physiology research. And I was working for a, actually two civilians, one was a physiologist and one was a biochemist. And there werenít many, there werenít many uniformed personnel there. Most of them were civilians, and various kinds and various ranks. It was a tremendously informal place. It was a very nice place to work. And we did not live on the post.
We lived in a, almost everybody that worked there lived in a little town called Elizabethtown, which was about eighteen miles away, Kentucky. And it was a, again, this was a very nice outfit because we had no, most doctors times when theyíre on call in medical. But we werenít doing medical work here. We were doing physiological and biological research. And the civilians that we worked for didnít really know that much about the army. And so it was, it was quite neat. And we could, a lot of times almost do what we wanted to do. They were very liberal about ideas for research and this and that. And then so we did all kinds of interesting little problems not having much to do with cold weather or anything else. But we did, we spent a reasonable amount of time doing cold weather research. And they had an interesting thing there. They had a great big cold room that you could get a Sherman tank into intact, which meant it was a pretty big cold room. And they could get this thing down to sixty below Fahrenheit, which is extremely cold. I never saw them get it down that low, but it was said to go that low. They could also put a sixty mile wind through it. And so we had that. And we used to use that for some work that was designed for a long-term experiment. Not long term, but a future experiment that we were going to do making measurements in the Arctic of things like heat loss by putting skin thermometer, skin temperature measurement thermocouples on people. And measure all kind of physiologic changes. So, but one of the first questions we were supposed to ask is, there was an almost a superstition that if people go to, if people sleep out in the cold, that they might be more or less comfortable, but their body temperature could go low enough fast enough that they might die of hypothermia without even waking up. And so we tried that. We had some volunteers. They claimed they werenít volunteers, but they were said to be volunteers.
Levin:They claimed they werenít volunteers?
Oh most of this was a joke. When things would get tough, they would claim they never volunteered for this. But at any rate, we had seven enlisted men that we were working with. We all got along very well. We were all on a first name basis. There was not much, but at any rate, there was a lot of joking going on. What we did with some of them, was we put them in a very light sleeping bag in this place at a low temperature. And we had a lot of thermocouples all over them. And seeing whether this would actually happen. And we had at that time, they were very advanced technically, not any more. These recording potentiometer which were strip chart recorders which would record body temperature and everything. In those days this was something new and different. I mean, that kind of an instrument was something new. So we had these guys, measuring them all the time, and what would happen is theyíd go to sleep and then theyíd start to get cold, and you could watch them shiver. Because we had some myograms on them and then they start, and finally, they really, and the shivering wakes them up. So this doesnít happen to a normal person. They wonít just go coolly off to sleep and freeze to death. You wake up and shiver. You can generate a fantastic amount of energy and heat by shivering. And thatís what theyíd do.
So we settled that problem. But then there was another, there was a general problem of what happens to people when you put them up in the Arctic for a while. And so we set up an experiment with these same seven subjects where they camped out, we made a little place for them to bivouac out back of the lab, where they camped out and lived out. And we measured their skin temperatures and what these were little contact things youíd cement on skin in various places. If you put enough of those on somebody, you can calculate their heat loss. Show their energy balance. So we put these guys there for a month, living out. And we measured everything. We measured all the food they took in and we measured the food that they didnít take. And we fed them C rations so we could measure the can, but weigh it before and after. They didnít like the C rations. I donít blame them. And then we measured skin temperatures, we measured urinary output of steroids which is a measure of stress, we measured blood electrolyte. We measured everything we could measure. And, what the idea was that we would then take these guys up to Fort Churchill, in thatís right on the edge of the Arctic, as it were, and repeat the whole thing, but at outside temperatures. And that was interesting to me, but it didnít involve me. Carl Gottschalk, who was also a guy I worked with, he is now a physiologist at the University of North Carolina Medical School, Carl was going to go up with these guys and live out with them. And that was fine, but then he pulled one on me. He decided he wanted to get married right away. And the only way he wanted to get married right away and if I would take his place.
So I got stuck with the duty up there. And Iíd been working with these people down there, but I wasnít that, and suddenly I became more interested in. So I went up to Fort Churchill and thatís was attached, we had a group that was attached to the Canadian army. And this was in the winter of Ď48-í49 I think. I canít remember exactly. And that was, the place where we worked, was picked, was outside of Fort Churchill, was picked because of all the places in this hemisphere, this quadrisphere, not counting Siberia or Antarctica, this was about the place with the coldest wind chill factor. Now we had, Paul Siple was a guy who went as a Boy Scout, as it was called, with Byrd in the Antarctic. But he developed a method to express heat loss as a wind chill factor. Not the one we read about now. But this was calories per square meter per degree temperature difference. And so they went around measuring this up in the Arctic. In those days they were measuring it by putting a heated copper cylinder out and measuring how fast it cooled down. So how fast, the outside had to be damp I forget how that works. But anyway they were hunting for the place. They went all over Canada and Alaska and found a place not too far from Churchill that had the lowest. And this was a place where this time of the winter the temperature averaged forty below and thatís the same Celsius and Fahrenheit and forty mile wind. And so set up a camp and a bivouac in that. And lived out for a while. And I lived out with the guys and was the sort of the officer in charge. It was interesting.
The tents that we took up with us, we tried to set up in this howling storm. And some sand came out of it. It turned out they were desert tents we got by mistake. Everything went wrong. So we got some Canadian tents to substitute. The mukluks up there that we were wearing, the U.S. issue mukluks had no heels in them, and most people canít stand in no absolutely no heel at all because their Achilles tendons stretch so we got Canadian ones. We found out that if you try to stay alive by melting, drinking melting snow, it takes an awful lot of time to melt snow. We had little Coleman burners. And the Canadians had figured that out. They had little pressure cookers. You can pressure cook snow and get water from it very fast. And so most of it, we ended up showing how poor our equipment was. But we made all of our measurements. We had some interesting times up there. And came back. And we brought all of this stuff with us back. We brought, we had all a foot locker, you know what a foot locker is.
We brought all of these foot lockers full of frozen urine because we collected all the urine these guys had put out up there. And I thought the customs guys would really go crazy when they got that. We knew that would happen so we also had some frozen caribou going back which was sort of illegal. But we took all of this back. Yes, we also brought some caribou back which I think wasnít quite legal. We didnít shoot the caribou. We bought it from somebody up there. But we brought back all of this material, also a lot of blood samples, and we were still actually working on some of our chemical techniques because a lot of these were, this was rather early in the days of steroid chemistry. Steroids are the, these are the steroid hormone secreted by the adrenal. And we measured both. We wanted to measure the concentrations in blood and the urine. And we had, I worked with a Ph.D., M.D. biochemist, got to be a very close friend of mine, Walter Zimmerman, and we worked sort of together trying to work out the techniques to measure these steroids in urine and blood and also we wanted some rather reasonably good techniques for measuring electrolytes in blood including.
In those days, one of the things that was very difficult to measure in blood was the concentration of sodium, strangely enough. And it turned out that methods were being developed then, just then, to measure sodium using flame photometry. If you put some salt in a Bunsen burner in turns yellow. And you can put diluted blood in a burner and if you can spray it in with a converted, with a paint sprayer into the base of the burner, then itíll get yellow. And the yellow, brighter it gets the more sodium you have. And this is sort of a hairy procedure because youíve got to control all kinds of things at once. And there was an apparatus developed. Actually the first one was developed in American Cyanamid Labs in Stamford, Connecticut called the flame photometer. And so what it is is an exalted, paint sprayer, spraying into a Bunsen burner and you look at the top of the spectrophotometer. And so I was, I got rather deeply involved in that. And part of that actually involved going to the physics lab at American Cyanamid in Stamford. And of course that worked out nicely for me because my friend Snavley was already at the hospital in Stamford. So I went there and looked at that and also something else that interested us for other reasons. Looking at steroids mostly with infrared spectrophotometry and this laboratory was doing fantastic work in that. They had a very big physics department.
So I spent some time hanging out there and then going back to try to make things work in our laboratory. We finally got to make measurements on almost everything. It turns out when you look at this that the amount of stress that, if you measure it by measuring steroid secretion and other things like that, is not tremendous, but these people seem to develop nutritional problems. Everything weíd heard about people living out in the very cold, eating a lot, at least under the circumstances that we saw, out there, their appetites increased, but not that much. And nobody could maintain their body weight. They were losing weight pretty rapid. But donít forget these people are living in this. Thereís no let up here. There was for me because I was allowed to go in and get warm. But they werenít supposed to. In fact, and but all of us, even my, I got a little bit anemic and they all got anemic and they had other problems. But after living in the Arctic for a little while you see that the big problem is not so much people as things. Machines. In those days we didnít have things like block heaters. So all of the vehicles had to be left on all the time. And this made a horrible cloud all over the place, you know about that, when itís that cold. And also the things like clothes didnít work quite right. Iíve already mentioned about our clothes. And the problem, it looks like people are not the weak link in the chain up there as far as their physiology is concerned. Enough of the Arctic. But what I should say is we came back and developed these techniques. Flame photometry turned out to be interesting. But also I made connections in Stamford with people that later on turned out to come in handy.
Levin:You were at Stamford between 1952?
Layton:No, no. I hadnít been there yet. But this guy Snavley that I was talking about, the resident that I worked for in Cleveland, went there to be a pathologist, and we had decided that Iíd go there at the end of my army career, to be a resident there. But also as I say it turned out that flame photometry and infrared absorption were being done at the Cyanamid research labs in Stamford. See, the American Cyanamid Company has a research lab there. All of this is sort of coincidental.
Layton:So the only other thing that came out of this is that Walter Zimmerman and I got involved in using some rather small samples of blood to measure blood electrolytes, including chloride in. And it turned out that there was, we devised a method. Itís a physical chemical method called drop polarography [? not on word list] or mercury drop polarography. And we managed to make it sensitive enough that it could determine chloride in extremely small samples. As a matter of fact, the samples were so small we could never quite figure out why anyone would want a technique like this. But we published it in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. It was the first paper that I ever got out. Polarographic methods for determining blood chloride. And thatís about all I can say. The only other thing I can say about that part of the army was the worst part of the whole thing was when it was over because for a long, for two years I really hadnít worked very hard. Iíd done some work, but to go from that into a residency in pathology where youíre on call a lot and you donít get much sleep, was a real shock to my system. But it was fun. And the social life there was good. We had a, Elizabeth Town, we all ganged together. And most of the people had kids while they were there. This was said to be because the Louisville and Nashville train used to go through town at two oíclock in the morning. But, at any rate, we had a neat social life. Cookouts and everything else. And no real responsibilities. No home work. And it was really bad to have to get out and start to do an honest dayís work again.
Levin:Interesting. And so from there you went to.
Layton:I went from there to Stamford.
Layton:By that time we had two kids.
Levin:And you became the director of labs immediately?
Layton:No, not immediately. No, no. That was. I went to. I was a, actually, I wasnít officially a resident cause Snavley fixed it up so I was called an associate pathologist so I got more money than if I had been a resident. But I got residency credit for it. In other words, to become a certified specialist in something, you have to take a residency and get credit for it. And spend a certain amount of time. Thatís what I was doing. But I was paid as an associate which was. It was legal. It was just kind. And he managed to get the money out of the hospital. So I was there as a resident or whatever you want to call it until 1953, and then he left and I was with two other guys Iíd taken my residency with. Weíd all done it together. And I was appointed the chief of the laboratory to succeed him. And the residency itself was, involved a lot of work, but again it was a lot of fun. He was quite a wild character in somebody to work for. But at any rate, that was that.
Levin:About this time at Lamont, as part of Lamont, they were developing their biology program about 1954. Did you hear about what was happening over there?
Levin:Were you hearing about any of the other biology programs?
Layton:No, the only thing I remember hearing about Lamont was I used to take, I was a member of the New York Academy of Sciences then, and I used to go to some of their meetings. And I think I went to a meeting on toxic marine organisms that they had down there or something like that. And I met a Lamont person there. And I canít remember who it was. It wasnít any of the people I knew later. But he seemed to be interested in them too. I was, I went down because it sounded like an interesting subject. But then from that so I found out what Lamont, at least that they had that. But then they did a, some kind of survey of the Hudson River they did I think that appeared in the New York Academy of Sciences that I saw. I think they did a seismic profile for the Tappan Zee Bridge. Iím not sure of that but they might have. And I think I ran into that some place. So thatís, no, otherwise, Columbia University I was aware of. Because I visited somebody down there, who was the professor, a biologist, I canít remember. Somebody in Schermerhorn. I canít remember who it was. But I remember going down there, going to their library. Was it my roommate? I think it might have been, yes. Heíd been my roommate at Harvard. And he was working with Dobjansky then.
Levin:And so the Columbia biology program was well known? Or it was known to you.
Layton:Mean Columbia University?
Layton:Yes, right. But not as far as the Lamont is concerned.
Levin:And so when did you start at Lederle Labs?
Layton:Okay, so Ď53 I became director of laboratories. By that time also I had my, Iíd taken my national examinations and was certified in pathology, etc. But the pathology part was okay, but it turned out then and Iíve proven again several times, I canít administer anything. I mean, thatís, I canít understand money. Iíve never known exactly how much I made. And the whole business is sort of Greek to me. So they didnít fire me, but it was a close thing. I donít think they, although I did get, the Catholic hospital in town, in Stamford, did offer me a job after I left there because I guess I got along with Sister Assisi the woman who used to run the blood bank. But at any rate, thatís another story. After that, then I had, well I should say while I was there, while I was still at Stamford hospital both as a resident and running the place, something had happened to the physics department at American Cyanamid. There was a big economy move and a lot of the people they let go or resigned. This was really an outstanding department. But the results were interesting. Everybody stayed there. There were, Van Zant Williams who I got to know because he had to do with infrared there, got hired by Perkin Elmer Company. Perkin and Elmer were two amateur astronomers who worked down in the financial district who during the war started making optical parts. And it turned into, youíve heard of Perkin Elmer, it turned into this company. And Van left the physics department and set up their infrared business and that turned out to be the big thing of theirs for a number of years. They were big in infrared. And a guy named Barnes set up a Barnes Engineering Company. I mean all these guys set up these little companies. And they were interesting, they all had to do with very high tech stuff. And I knew most of these people. So for a while, while I was a resident and also a pathologist there, I was a consultant and I was paid as such by Perkin Elmer. And mostly advice about biological things. Most of my advice was poor.
Levin:And what were they interested in specifically?
See, they were interested in flame photometry, for one thing. They were also interested in determining steroids by infrared absorption. Thatís what Van Williams was, a big infrared guy. So a lot of times my, they say consultant, usually if they wanted some blood or something like that. They, it was sort of like Lamont. You know, they didnít have any facilities for some of this stuff that they wanted to do. And I had the facilities or I could do something else. So I worked with them. I also, I got involved in working with the aspect of vision with Oscar Richards who at that time there was a, American Optical had a research laboratory in Springdale which was part of Stamford. And all these people, we sort of were a, were a group. But the Optical Society of America actually had a branch there. There were enough people interested in optics and stuff. And I was pretty active in that. And as I say, this physics group, when it broke up, these people all just sort of flowered right there. And I was involved with a lot of that. Because physical methods and that kind of thing, it always interested me to some extent. But then, after my career as a director sort of floundered, I had gotten to know a little German pathologist named Edmund Mayer who worked for Cyanamid. An interesting guy. He started out as a pathologist in Germany, some kind of professor. And he was Jewish and so he, Edmund took his family to Denmark at first. And then things got hotter because Denmark was invaded, things got hotter.
So then, actually before, before he went to Denmark he was picked up, and as soon as he became a refugee and the way he got to Denmark, was the Rockefeller Foundation subsidized him. And he worked in Denmark doing tissue culture work as he called it. Now we call it cell culture. Then Rockefeller moved him to Beirut as a professor, he was the head of pathology for the American University there. And then Rockefeller moved him, at the end of the war, Rockefeller moved him to the department of anatomy at Harvard. But that was just temporary. I mean Harvard didnít have enough money for that. So then he got a job with American Cyanamid as a pathologist. And this turned out to be fortunate. Because at this time the sulfonamid drugs were just being discovered. No, not discovered, theyíd been discovered some time before that. But they were being, I might say chemically exploited. There was a guy at the Cyanamid laboratories called Dick Roblin, who later became a vice president at Cyanamid. But Dick developed a real understanding of the pharmacology of these sulpha drugs and knowing how to tailor them so they will stay in the body longer so they wonít bother the kidneys, that kind of stuff. And he ended up getting sulfadiazine which was sort of the best drug then. The early sulpha drugs were pretty toxic. So Dick did that.
Levin:And what were they being developed for?
Layton:Oh sulphanamids are against various kinds of infection. Mostly streptochochil infections. Sore throats, rheumatic fever, that kind of thing. Same thing as penicillin. To some extent. The difference is that, well, one these bugs eventually become resistant to all of them. But he was very sharp about that. And the other thing that happened is that they also developed a drug which was later important to me in other ways, it was an oral diuretic. Now people with heart failure particularly and things like that, tend to store water in their system. They canít get rid of it. So they get edematous. They swell up. In those days there were some drugs that contained mercury you could inject into them and then they would get rid of this water in their urine. There was a diuretic for urine. And these worked, but the problem is you had to inject them. And at Cyanamid they found out.
Layton:Okay, weíre now talking about what was going on at American Cyanamid Company in Stamford at the time that I joined it and sort of why I joined it. But also there was, say a person there named Tom Mann who was a physiologist and who along with the other people who were working on sulphanamids found out that sulphanamids inhibited, some of them inhibited an enzyme in the blood Carbonic anhydradese. And those that were good Carbonic anhydradese inhibitors turned out to be good diuretics. And they found the drug that they called Diomax is itís trade name, and this drug turned out to be the first effective oral anti-diuretic. So it was a money maker as you might imagine. There are a lot of people who have heart failure and need diuretics and you donít have to inject in and go to a doctor or to inject it yourself. They were that far ahead. So it was a very important drug. And so they had sulphadiazyme and another sulphanamid, this diuretic that I just mentioned. That had happened and when that happened, they needed to do toxicology work. In other words if you get a new drug, youíve got to administer it to animals and see how itís tolerated, what it does to, what unwanted effects it causes. And so if you do toxicological work, you need a pathologist because youíve got to autopsy them. Knock these animals off and autopsy, or sometimes you knock them off with the drug itself. And so you can find a mechanism of action of the toxicity. And they hired Mayer. And he used to come over while I was still at the Stamford Hospital, he used to come over because he liked talking to another pathologist, and also he used to come when Snavley was still there. The three of us would sit around and talk about various things. And he was a very astute character. And so when I, I got disgusted with my job and they got disgusted with me, I went over to see him and said, you know, what about a job? Do you need another pathologist? Cause he said one time he did. He said, yeah we need another one. Not here right now, but eventually in Pearl River. He said we have a pathologist. Am I coming over all right?
Levin:Iím worried about that. Whether it is picking up very much. Itís not moving that much.
Better. Okay? He said they needed a pathologist in Stamford, but they were also going to need one in Pearl River, where they had several pathologists at Lederle. So I went to work in the Stamford place for a while and then I went to. What they were doing actually, the reason they were closing off the medicinal chemistry department there and transferring everything to Pearl River. See itís all part of American Cyanamid. So they did that. And so for a while I commuted to Pearl River until we found a place to live. But I settled down as a so-called research pathologist there. Now, Mayer was not the head of it, he was sort of the head of a lot of things. But officially Edwin Mayer, and Chuck [Charles Drake] knows him, was sort of a senior consultant in the department. Because by that time I think he was already over retirement age. The person running the department was named Fred Dessau, very nice guy, a German Jew, who was in very bad physical shape, but a very bright guy. But Mayer told me what to ask for when I took this job. And he said it may sound strange, but you do what I tell you, and he said tell them that you want to spend at least twenty percent of your time doing whatever you feel like. And theyíve got to subsidize it. And he says, Iím serious about this.
Unless you have something like that you can do, he said, youíll just turn into another one of these people who wants to find a new drug or something. So insist on that. And he said, you know, you do whatever you really want to do. I mean, and tell them if you want to do something new and different, how much itís going cost them to do it. I mean, if you need equipment or anything. He said, youíve got to have some independence around here, or, he said, youíll dry up. The other interesting thing that happened was I was also interviewed, so he sort of interviewed me and talked about. I was interviewed by this guy name Dessau who was a rather cadaverous looking person. It turned out that he was dying of pulmonary insufficiency due to advanced tuberculosis. The tuberculosis was cured, but he couldnít keep up with his lungs. But when he, I first I thought the person didnít like me. Because he said, why are you coming here? I mean, he says, your qualifications and this, he says, you can make a mint of money. He said youíre coming here, because the pay was less than I was getting before. And I really thought he didnít want me. But he, later on, he turned out to be a very good friend. He said, well, you know, the ordinary person just couldnít get along in this way because the money was less and a lot of things were less, and not a tremendous amount of prestige. But he turned out to be a good guy, although he died of respiratory insufficiency after Iíd been there about, oh a couple of years.
Levin:About this time, this is during the latter part of the fifties, were you hearing anything about Project Bluebird? Which was the attempt by the government, usually the CIA, to find mind altering drugs.
Layton:No. I wasnít. I was not aware of anything called Project Bluebird. Not at all, no. As a matter of fact if theyíd have been involved in it, I probably might not have known about it. Because, I think I would have. I mean something like that is hard to keep quiet. But the neuro people, I mostly was, I spent some time working with steroids, which Iíd done that before. But I teamed up with a very good steroid chemist named Seymour Bernstein and we altered a, starting out with a rather simple steroid molecule, we did all kind of chemical alterations that changed its properties. Had a lot of fun. Then ended up with a new drug called triamcinolone which had all kind nice things about it. But all the other drug companies caught up with that too. But I was able to do that. But any mind altering drugs would have come in our neuro department which was run by Bill Grey on the floor below me. But I think, in those days, that they were mostly interested in tranquilizer type drugs for obvious reasons. Because thereís a good market in them. The only thing that I remember is that they were working with a drug called M99 which was an interesting drug, and it was about a thousand times as potent as morphine. But otherwise no different. I can come back to M99 later. So, but, and most of my work had to do with one bioactive steroids which had not much to do with pathology, but measuring their potency of these ones that we altered. And then the other thing had to do with looking at the effects of various drugs they were trying out, and seeing, giving them to animals chronically. One of the things that we did was, at that time, they were adding various Tetracyclenes to food. Both animal food, if you do that the animals do better. And also there were, it was getting into human food, and there was a problem about whatís it going to do to the humans. So we started some lifetime studies of giving large quantities of these drugs to rats for their lifetime. You know, the rat life can last about three years, and then seeing what they die of. That kind of stuff. So I was involved in that. About at this time, now I can start this.
Layton:With Lamont, yes. About at this time, one of our kids, our eldest, Elizabaeth [Layton] got in. Mary found out about some science program for kids that was given on Saturdays. And as I say, now I start really to get to Lamont. And I thought this was fine, and so Mary took Liz down to this thing. It met at some school on Saturday mornings. And she would go down and pick her up. And it was, had to do with science. And they had to have projects. And it was on this sort of biological. So somehow she got the idea about working with flatworms. And you know about flatworms, you chop their heads off they get new ones. Flatworm regeneration. So we ended up getting some flatworms and she was doing it and I was helping her. And it turned out that, one time I went to pick her up or something, and Chuck was one of the guys giving this. Chuck Drake.
Layton:Yes. Yes, he was, Chuck was one of the teachers. There were several down there. And I got to talking to him, and it turned out. This may not be exactly right, but it turned out that they had found Neopolina, this living fossil on a recent cruise. They just discovered they had it. And they didnít really know how to go about looking at it. And I, somehow I got talking to them that I made sections of things and he knew about sections, and maybe I could give them some advice. And so I said, yes, so come around and see me at work. And he and a guy named Bob [Robert] Menzies, this was either Ď59 or Ď60, I canít remember which. Chuck might remember. He and Bob Menzies came around to talk to me about what, how they could go about looking at the anatomy of this. Because itís not a very big animal. It would require sectioning or something like that.
Levin:Did they tell you why they were very interested in finding out about this?
Layton:Well, they explained that, you know, this was a living fossil and only one other one had ever been found. And you know the ones the Danes found in 1952. And also Mayer was there too. Cause Mayer and I were always together, we were quite close. And so I said yeah what I thought they really needed was to section it and things like that. But then I got talking to Menzies, and it turned out that he was a biologist. He was an expert in crustaceans and mostly isopods, one kind of crustacean. But also he had all kinds of other interests. And he was, and he knew a lot because he was a marine biologist. And Iíd never really, you know, except in messing around, Iíd never met a marine biologist that way before.
Levin:What was your initial impression of Menzies? What was he like?
Layton:Menzies? Can I go to the little boys room now? Hey, we ought to eat some time.
Levin:Okay. Weíll take five.
Layton:Want to stay for lunch?
Levin:Weíre resuming after a very delicious lunch. And before we had taken a break we were talking about Menzies and I had asked what were your first impressions of him.
Iím not really sure about my first impressions because I remember meeting him, but very little else. He didnít, he can be a very quiet person. And as I remember, mostly Chuck and I were talking about things. And at one point Chuck was interested to know would I be interested in getting into this Saturday morning thing. I can come back to that. But I really canít remember. I remember that I talked to Menzies and it was interesting to find out that we shared a lot of common interests. But thatís all I can really remember. But that lack of impression didnít last very long. Because very soon, well, one of the things that came up either there or very shortly after that, is Menzies was working, his principal thing he worked on was the group of crustaceans known as isopods. And he was sort of the authority on them, particularly heís the worldís authority on the ones that live in the deep ocean. But isopods are interesting because some of them look rather more alike than others.
Some species look like they are good species. Other people will say thereís what weíre looking at here that Bob or somebody else might say, two species, are really two variants. Theyíre really the same species. Speciation in animals that you canít do genetic experiments with can be a problem, determination of species I should say. And at that time At Lederle. I was involved with some work with chromosomes. These were, I had, Ben Sparano, he had just gotten his Ph.D., was working with me. I forget, Ben got his Ph.D. at Fordham, had written his thesis on chromosomes of the milk weed bug. And which has nice chromosomes. And we were playing with chromosomes and trying to identify things, and actually even looking at chromosomes in some liver cells at Lederle. And Bob was interested in finding out whether we could use, or he could use, the chromosomal characteristics you might say the idiogram, if you will, of an animal to help identify species. Solve this problem do we have two species here or do we have one? And we had the techniques, at least for insects and for mammals for staining chromosomes and handling them, and so we cooked up an idea that maybe we could try this on some of his organisms, and that is his isopods. And one isopod that was very easy to cultivate apparently, at least Bob had done a lot of work with it, is the one that makes a nuisance of itself and actually more than that by chewing up pilings. Itís a wood, this lives in shallow water, it chews up wooden pilings, and itís called a Gribbel or Limnolia lignomur I believe is its name. We can look that up. And Bob was able to cultivate here, keep these animals alive in sea water at Lamont.
It didnít have to be running sea water along with some wood. And the Gribbels would chew into the wood very happily. And the idea was weíd get some of these Gribbels that were apparently ready to reproduce, dissect out gonads or embryos or someplace where you would expect to see a lot of cell division and make chromosome preparations. Look at the chromosomes. Are there a different number, different shape? Anything like that. So in those days, at least for this thing, I think Bob was, had two places, but the lab where we did this was a very interesting one, in that it was built in the floor of or on the floor of a swimming pool. But it was dry. It looked like a great big swimming pool. And as I remember it, this was divided by partitions that didnít go all the way up to the ceiling into either four rooms or six different laboratories. So it was pretty big. And we were in one of these. And we spent a lot of time to trying to find any cells that were undergoing division. And we had all kinds of problems. At one point I thought perhaps there was some kind of a rhythm, a so-called circadian rhythm to this so maybe only one time of day or one tide, something like that, where we could find any cell division. So we, I remember at least twice we spent twenty-four hours making preparations about every hour. The quality got deteriorated a bit because we usually went through about a case of beer during this time. But we had to do something for amusement. But we never got anyplace with that, that problem.
Levin:Were they especially interested in it because of the problems with the boats?
Layton:No, he wasnít. He was getting his, he was getting his money from this, I think from ONR or from somebody because of the problems with boats. But what he was really interested in was to be able to define species of these. He was being criticized by some other people in the field because he would, they were, some people were saying that Bob was calling two things different species just to be able to name a new species. But really they were just some kind of variants, some kind of morph or whatever you want to call it, of another species that was already identified. So he wanted to try to find some objective method of establishing differences between species. He had already tried some biochemical methods I believe, but apparently that didnít work out. But those can be pretty difficult to do properly.
Levin:Who were his main critics?
Layton:I donít know. I mean, probably the five other people who worked with isopods. I really donít know that much about it. I just know that he was muttering about things. But he was, it was interesting, he was doing a lot of work with very isopods that were very deep. Abyssal isopods, that is from deeper than four thousand meters. And whenever you work a trough that deep, which is a bit of a chore, a lot of times he would come up with new species, and draw them. And so there are many new species that have his name attached to them. And I think when youíre working with animals that are this hard to get and you only get one of them, itís very hard to say talk about species. But we used to argue about that. I thought he should get at least sort of a population. But, at any rate, this was the reason we were doing it. But I donít know. I met some of the people and I may come to those, at least one guy who works with cumacians, a good friend of his that Iíve been with. But I donít know about other isopodcologists. But thatís.
Levin:Was there anyone else at Lamont that was real skeptical of his research?
Layton:Yes. I think several I mean, Bob, a person doesnít exist in a scientific vacuum. I mean some people thought Bob was a little wild anyway. And I think they were more inclined to disbelieve him than those that werenít. I donít know much about the social anthropology of Lamont, oh not Lamont, but the saying among the people that I got to know well was that it was sort of divided into two schools. They were the theochemists, mostly people who got from Wheaton apparently, the mid-western Wheaton, I think, not the one in Massachusetts. And I think Wally [Wallace S.] Broecker, a very nice guy, was part of that. Iím not sure. And then there were the others who tended to be a little more drunk and disorderly than some. And there was, I think some feeling between them. But I really, this is all rumor. I probably shouldnít even mention it. But at any rate, Iím sure that Bob had critics there. And I think Bob was extremely sensitive to criticism. He was, sometimes he would say, for instance, that Doc [W. Maurice] Ewing was, didnít believe this or that. And what he said, I think he was over interpreting what he heard. Iím not sure. But he was, Bob was an interesting and different guy as will turn out.
Levin:Did he mention any specifics that you remember about criticism that he received from Ewing and from others?
Layton:No. I just. I can remember he would, lot of times it would be something else. But he was, I think a little bit paranoid about people. But Bob was a loner. And some loners can sort of feel that way. And also as will turn out, Bob was really drank pretty heavily. Iím not sure he should be called an alcoholic or not I donít know. But at any rate, he, and for that reason, and sometimes he would get a little obstreperous and for that reason I think some people didnít approve of this. And some people find it hard to disassociate science from personality. So I donít know. But at any rate.
Levin:Okay, you mention these two groups. One was the theochemist group. What was the other group? Did they have a name?
Layton:I donít think they had a name. We just called them the theochemists.
Levin:The theochemists and the others.
Levin:And what were there main divisions? What were each looking at?
Layton:Well, the theochemists were actually geochemists. And thatís what Wally Broecker I think is mostly known for. And they do fantastically good work. I mean this is a, in many ways, the kind of work that they are doing is much more quantitative and reproducible than the kind that Bob was doing. I mean, one is sort of field biology and the other is almost physical chemistry. But actually, as a sort of an outsider, Iím the wrong one I think to say much about that. Iím going more on hearsay than anything else. And, but it came pretty shortly after that, or maybe at the same time, that Bob became interested in the fact that we could probably section some Neopolina. Excepting there were only a few specimens and he didnít quite know what to do about that. And we decided that we would leave that in abeyance. Meanwhile, I think Iíd become associated with that teaching group that had one very interesting thing, and that is the group was founded by a woman known as Betty Friedan, of feminist note, who lived there. She got a grant from something called the New World Foundation was part of it. I think part of it from the Rockland Foundation which was a local foundation, to pay the faculty for this. The faculty wanted me because I could scrounge all kind of material from Lederle. Lederle said that was fine, whatever I could carry down if I tried to get it back it would be nice. But so we didnít, I didnít borrow a lot, but things like cylinders for measuring volumes and scales and all that kind of stuff Iíd cart back and forth for the Saturdays. And so I did that. Meanwhile, I managed to get one of. I had one particularly good technician at Lederle making sections. His name was [Jim] Flaherty and he came from a line of these people. His grandfathers, his uncles, they were all, had all been at Harvard. He was the, they looked down their nose because he had gone over into industry. But Jim was a tremendously skillful guy as long as you didnít watch him. He would get very nervous anybody looking over his shoulder. But at any rate, a very nice guy. And he got some sections of isopods, again looking for chromosomes. Didnít find any.
Levin:Jim Flaherty was working at Lamont?
Layton:No, he was at Lederle. He was a technician at Lederle. So all this is, turn it off for a second. Okay. So we got some good sections of the isopods. We could certainly not identify any dividing cells so thatís still up in the air. But we did find out, or Jim found out that he could handle this kind of material pretty well. Then Bob.
Levin:So this work was being conducted almost jointly between Lederle and Lamont?
Layton:Yes. Right. See, that was the reason they wanted me was because we could make sections. They had absolutely no way to do that kind of work. It required a microtome, all kinds of special apparatus.
Levin:And I imagine they liked that you had the facilities there, and the equipment?
Layton:Right. Thatís right, yes. I could lend them equipment and also. [Interruption to speak to someone else] Oh youíre going for a walk. Okay. Hi Linda, this is Tanya. Linda: Hi Tanya. Tanya: Hello. And we were just being joined by Linda and also by his wife Mary.
Layton:Youíre being recorded now. [Laughter] Yes, I know. It didnít take them long. Okay, now we come the part about Neopolina. They had about three specimens I think at Lamont, but we didnít want to sacrifice those. But then, and I canít remember the timing on this exactly, but Bob I think started looking at some specimens he collected in Southern California from the Volero, which was a research vessel off of Baja, California. And ran across what looked like a neopolina in that. And this was, he found about two or three, as I remember it, small. These were a couple of millimeters in diameter so they were about much smaller than the other two species. And so we decided that the only way that we could look at these at all was to make serial sections of them. And so Faherty made serial sections of several and one of them turned out to be pretty well. And we could see enough that we realized that this was a new species. Particularly because it was extremely small, but also it had some mature ova in it, which means it wasnít just a small neopolina, say Ewingii or Galatiaa. But it was a different. So this then became a new species. And which we named neopolina voleronous after the Volero which was the research vessel. And I think that that was actually about all we did with that. Because at that point, just about that point, actually Bob went to Duke, and so that sort of ends that part of it.
Levin:Do you know about when he went? When did he go to Duke?
Layton:Letís see. I suspect it was Ď61, Iím not sure. It was probably Ď61 or Ď62. I was down there the summer of Ď63 working on an NSF grant and he had been there a while.
Levin:Did, this was about, well Ď61, Ď62, thatís about seven or eight years after the programs had actually just begun at Lamont. Did Menzies ever tell you about why the program began, about its earliest beginnings?
Layton:No, no he never did. He never really talked very much about why of anything. Mostly we were trying to figure out how to do things. I mean, the whole thing was mostly about science. Now I can go back and talk more about Menzies if you want.
Levin:Definitely would like to go into that. Do you, well I guess this is a good time to start talking about a little about Menzies.
Yes, personally. Yes. Weíre talking about Bob as a person. And he was a very interesting guy. We became reasonably close because, actually more after he left Lamont than while we were there. But we saw a good deal of him. But he was an interesting guy. And part of the Bobís problem. If you can call it that, was he was married to a woman named Lucille [Menzies], and one viewed her with sort of mixed emotions. Because she was a, acted like a sort of a typical southern belle. She was long and willowy, rather good looking. Somebody said sheíd been a dancer, and that she may have been. I donít know. But she was almost a complete opposite of Bob. She was, wanted to be very proper and correct about everything but in sort of a southern belle-ish way, and Bob a lot of times sort of found out the ways to annoy her by being socially unacceptable in various ways. And there was a lot of conflict there. Some of it was sort of funny. They had, the time Iím talking about, they were living in an apartment in Nyack on a floor, I think it was the middle or the second floor. I canít remember. Quite a, nice, big, beautiful apartment. And above them lived a guy named Victor and his wife, canít remember Victorís last name. He was an extremely nice guy. He was a headmaster of some private school someplace around there. And Victor and his wife lived above it. And they socialized a good deal with these people. But Victor would tell stories when the Menzies werenít around about several times.
One time, apparently Victor went down to sort of keep them out of scraps occasionally. If things would get too noisy, heíd try to quiet them down. But Victor said, one time it sounded particularly horrible, everything going on. And so he rushed down to see what was going on. And there was blood and stuff all over the place, and what has happened was they were both throwing pieces of raw hamburger at each other. [Laughter] At any rate, things like this went on. And Lucille was really, it was almost comical some of her behavior. We got to know her better, not then, but later on when they had moved to Duke. And once in a while, every once in a while, Bob would have some things to do at Lamont and heíd come back. And the both of them would come back. But it always worked out the way that first the phone would start ringing for Bob at our place and weíd know he was on his way. He would never tell us.
Then sometimes Lucille would turn up, and usually with a little bird called Tweety Bird and sort of settle in. And Lucille was the kind of person who would put a cigarette in her mouth and never light it if there was a man around because it was his job to light the cigarette. I donít know, but at any rate, Lucille was something else. They finally separated, but quite a long time after they actually should have. The other thing about Bob is that he was quite close to two other, particularly two other people there: [David B.] Dave Ericson and Bruce [C.] Heezen. And I will go into Dave and some of his work later on. But we got to know Dave through him. And Dave was quite a guy. We didnít get to know Bruce and Marie Tharp as well, but we got to see a reasonable amount of them. And they were, but again, Bruce doesnít have anything to do with the biology part of it. Heís strictly into the mapping. And Dave does as far as the biology letís say of some of the organisms that he was using as keys, and I can go into that later. But otherwise as far as Bob was concerned, one of the things that stands out in this person, and Iíve known few other people like him, is the amount of drive towards one object that he can exhibit. Heís stubborn. If he wants something, he wants it and he usually gets it. And heíll do anything to get it. He is, Iíve seen times, particularly when we were at sea. I hadnít been with him at sea at Lamont. But later on I was at sea with him a good deal. That he would want something that seemed to be almost impossible to do, for people to do, but eventually it would get done. Because he could do things almost by sheer willpower. He was a very talented guy that way. He had all kind of personality problems, but he was, he was amazing.
Levin:Interesting. Did you ever come to know or hear of [Paul] Burkholder? He was the first director of the biology program at Lamont.
Layton:I talked to. I met Burkholder because Burkholder was interested in maybe making some affiliation with Lederle. Because Burkholder had some ideas about drugs from the sea. You know, I mean various extracts. And so I talked to Burkholder about that. Cause I was at Lederle. And it didnít seem like we could come to any. He was too indefinite that we couldnít do much about it. In other words, I think I could have gotten some money for him, but, you know, you want at least sort of a something written down. And I donít think he knew at that time. I donít think that any. I think later, if he hadnít just gotten there, things would have worked out better. But I think I talked to him once or twice about that. Nice guy.
Levin:Interesting. So he didnít really have any definite plans? He was looking at the idea in general.
Layton:Yes, I think so, and I donít know what eventually happened.
Levin:And also another person there that was interested in antibiotics from the sea was Fred Sissler. Did you meet or run across him?
Layton:Iíve heard of him I think. But Iím not even sure I heard of him. No Sissler I didnít.
Levin:Did anyone talk about him or mention he was in the CIA?
Layton:I donít think so. No. Sissler, no.
Levin:Did you also hear about Burkholderís wife, Lillian? She also was doing some work.
Layton:Somehow maybe. I donít know. But rattles something up there, but Iím not sure quite what it is. Did I say, even Doc Ewing I talked to a few times. I didnít get to know him very well.
Levin:What were your impressions of Ewing? Did he seem interested in the biology program?
Layton:Yes, I think was. He seemed to be interested in an interesting way in that he sort of seemed to think, well, you know, he didnít know that much about it, but if we thought thatís what you ought to do, thatís what you ought to do. I mean I never found him after talking to Bob sometime, I was a little worried about it. But he was a very nice guy and seemed to be very reasonable although I donít think he was very interested in biology.
Levin:He wasnít very interested in it so.
Layton:I mean as far as I could see. But I, but I should add something here about me. I was involved more later when I was going to sea with coring and all that. And the whole business about tectonic plates and everything missed me completely. To me the coring was a real pain because it screwed up the biology I was trying to do over the side, things like that. And all of the, and I thought this was, you know, a bunch of nonsense. And like everything else that was the important part of the whole business. I missed it.
Levin:Do you think that would have been typical for the biologists on board to feel that they were being sacrificed? What they were doing wasnít quite —
Layton:I think there was some of that feeling. I hadnít really thought about it. But certainly I think Ewing was a smart enough guy to know that that wouldnít be a very good way to. Youíre got to support it all, youíve got to support it. But he was, apparently talking to other people, you know, he was a pretty, could be a pretty demanding guy. And really wanted his way. A guy like that has to be. I mean, thatís where leaders come from and he was certainly a leader.
Levin:Talking with Menzies, did you ever get the impression that Ewing was overstepping his bounds in biology trying to take away their autonomy in choosing their programs or sciences?
Layton:I donít know that much about what went on. In other words, the whole business of choosing programs never, you know, came up. Once in a while Bob would sort of indicate some annoyance. But mostly he just seemed to be afraid of, you know, what he might say. Bob was tender that way. I remember one time, there was coffee house near there. Chuck might remember what it was. And Ewing was giving a talk at the coffee house, and Mary and Bob and Lucille and I and Dave and other people went. And Bob later after the talk said, I really wanted to ask him about this but I was afraid to. You know, some question. And I couldnít understand. I mean, to me that didnít make any sense. Why didnít you? I mean, the guy needed questions in the first place. I donít think there were too many of them. But Bob seemed to be very defensive as far as he was concerned. And whether or not that had anything to do with his leaving, I donít know. I donít know the circumstances of his leaving. I know that he went down to Duke, but I was with him very much more at Duke than I was at Lamont. But I donít know the circumstances.
Levin:So you donít know why he left for Duke? Around the sixties they were introduced both in the drugs and anti-cancer and also Parkinsonís Foundation looking at metals in diseases. They were also interested in drugs, well not just drugs, but also in food from the sea. Do you remember any of that?
Layton:No. As a matter of fact. Well, see, one thing, since I was working for a drug company, I donít want to be too interested in drugs somebody else is doing. You follow me? Because you know thereís the whole business of letters of disclosure. I mean, I had enough to do with patent stuff to know that when I go consulting even after I was here, to another drug company, I got to be pretty careful what I say that I donít spill somebody elseís beans and stuff like that. And so I can see why people wouldnít talk to me about drugs because I was in it commercially. So Burkholder. Of course when Burkholder and I talked, it was about that as a subject. So that was fine because we were exploring each other for money, but as far as anybody just talking about any kind of drugs, they probably wouldnít around me.
Levin:Do you remember talking with Oswald Roels or Allen Be?
Layton:Well Allen Be I know.
Layton:I got to know quite well.
Levin:Really, what was he like.
Layton:He was very nice. He was Oriental. And I had some interesting experiences with him. And he got involved with this program of Betty Friedanís also. And as a matter of fact, we did some field work. Allen went along. Want to change?
Levin:Yes, I think itís about time to turn over the tape.
Okay. Yes, Allen Be. I didnít know Allen tremendously well. I got to know him through several things that happened down there. He got involved with this Saturday program, education of children program. And we even went on several field trips and looking for fossils. And he would talk about a little bit about fossils to the kids. We usually had maybe twelve or thirteen kids trailing along. And he showed me that the best place to hunt is a road bed or a railroad bed. And I learned a lot from there, and the kids had a lot of fun. Mostly throwing rocks at each other. But Allen was quite interested in teaching, and as a matter of fact, Allen got involved with Dave Ericson in some business about some of Daveís organisms that Iíll come to later. And they were both interested in me trying to culture some of these. And I think Iíll save this until I come to Ericson because thisíll make more sense.
The only other thing about Allen that was remarkable is one day we took a whole gang of these kids, Saturday program, down to the American Museum of Natural History. Only Allen was going to meet me down there, and I went alone on the bus with this bus driver, who it turned out didnít know his way around New York. He thought he did, but he didnít know which streets buses werenít allowed on and which were one way. So it took us about two extra hours to get there. Then we got there, and I managed the kids pretty well. It was just me. The only adult with I donít know, maybe twenty kids. And it was nice that the deafening radios that each of them, pocket radios, each of them seemed to have on the bus, were gone in the museum was nice. But after I got down there and things were pretty well, I saw some people come over and take several of the kids away. And I didnít know who they were. I knew who the kids were that were gone. They were both Oriental kids, which we didnít have many of in those days. And I was quite distressed, and the other kids didnít seem to even notice anything had happened, but I did. Well to make a long story, short. These were relatives. It was an arranged pick up, but nobody told me that. And the other problem is that getting lost going down, we had the same driver coming back. We were about four hours late, and so I was met at the place where the bus stopped with a whole bunch of infuriated parents. And thatís something else. But Allen was down there. He was quite helpful. And Allen really is, he knows or used to demonstrate rather wide knowledge of biology which was quite handy. I think mostly he was a protozoologist.
Levin:Can you explain a little bit about what Betty Friedanís program was?
Layton:What it was was that she. I should start out by saying there was sort of a cultural organization, if you can call it that, called the Rockland Foundation. And I donít know where their money came from, but it was mostly for things in Rockland County. See this was Rockland County. And most of it was centered down around Lamont. And the Rockland Foundation would sponsor string quartets and things like that. They also, besides having this class, I think both of our kids went to ballet classes that they ran. And things like that. I think they also did discussion groups. I donít know what else. But she was a big wheel in this. She didnít run it, but she was noticeable. And she was also sort of a, as I say, Iím pretty sure she dug up this money. But Chuck knows her pretty well. And heís the guy who can really fill you in on her role in all of this. All I know is that she was supplying the money and she used to come to the meetings. And I shouldnít say this, but I heard she was writing a book, and I couldnít imagine anybody like that being able to write one.
Levin:So she was donating the money for these biology classes at Lamont?
Layton:Yes. Not donating it, she was getting it. I mean she was writing grants for us. This was. Iím pretty sure the name was, Iíve never heard of it before or since, the New World Foundation.
Levin:But she herself wasnít a scientist?
Layton:No. No. She wasnít. And she didnít pretend to be. And she was pretty good at running things. I mean I could see that. Iíll never get over, one day when we were having a day when the kids were supposed to be demonstrating things for their parents and everything, a sort of a little science fair. And that came off pretty well. But then Betty started, sent all the kids to the back of the room, and started telling their parents about, you know, helping little minds and all this kind of stuff, some of which I found a little sickening. But at any rate, the neat thing was the little kids in the back were raising holy hell. They were having a squirt gun. They found out they could put rubber tubes on the end of the two sinks back there, and they were squirting each other, but very quietly. And by the time the parents got their kids back, they were all wet. [Laughter] They didnít know. And all this time Betty was, you know, telling them how wonderful the intellect was going on.
Levin:The intellect was getting on.
Layton:Yes. Thatís right.
Levin:Wonderful. During the fifties a big project although itís not that big that people knew about it then, about 1953, Project Sunshine became a major project at Lamont. And it was to investigate the dissemination of Strontium in throughout the world. And they started collected wine and cheese as well as bodies. Do you remember any of that happening?
Layton:No. Thatís interesting. Because you see, here I worked with heavy metal toxicity, and all kinds of metal. But Iíve never run into that. But Iíve never worked with Strontium. No. Thatís interesting. So they were looking all around where it was.
Levin:For five years they held it in secret. Not until 1958 was it made public. But you never heard about the attempts to get bodies.
Layton:No. Iíve been involved in attempts to do that.
Layton:As a matter, well no. It was perfectly legal. A guy I know, I canít remember his name. I was going up to the Arctic once and a guy I know wanted to find out if I could get any Eskimo fat from preferably dead Eskimos. Because he was measuring DDT and everything. And he figured that if there were some people who we found were buried that had died during the influenza epidemic in up there in the permafrost there was probably still some fat available. And but I think his name was [Dennis E.] Hayes, he worked for the CDC. But any rate, no I never heard about that.
Levin:Were you able to get?
Layton:No. I chickened out. I didnít want to get into trouble.
Levin:In 1957 IGY, the International Geophysical Year, did you hear of any proposals for marine biology?
Layton:Gee in Ď57 I wasnít involved in it. I remember the IGY because I had been taking science for years. But, no, I canít remember anything or as far as any talking to Bob or any of the people there, we were occasionally talking about grants, but no.
Levin:Did you hear of Zenkevitch?
Layton:Oh yes. He was a good friend of Menzies.
Layton:Yes. And they used to, I never met him. But Bob used to talk about him a lot. And they used to send interesting cards to each other. Zenkevitch, they could both draw reasonably well. I didnít see the ones that Bob sent to Zenkevitch. I think I did see one before he sent it. But they had different ideas about something, but I canít remember what in the hell it was about. I mean a very friendly disagreement about something and Zenkevitch made a neat cartoon once. All I remember is it was a good cartoon, showing both of them and their ideas sort of. I canít remember how it was. But, no but, he was, he got along very well. There was another guy in the country called Bacesu that I was with later on on the run, who was a Romanian that Bob got along. He was an expert in cumacians that Bob got along very well with.
Levin:Did you hear of the programs that Zenkevitch was working on?
Layton:No. No all I heard was, I remember that he and Bob. Zenkevitch must have had something to do with isopods. Iím not, I think that was a central thing. There was some evolutionary fine point that they couldnít agree on. But again, I canít remember.
Levin:Was he at Lamont as well?
Layton:No, he was only in Russia.
Levin:He was in Russia?
Layton:He may have come over to Lamont because there were some Russians there occasionally.
Levin:Do you know what the Russians were mostly concentrating on?
Layton:No. I used to know something about Zenkevitch, but I canít. But, of course, if you talk to Russians now, you realize that our ideas about Russia then were a little distorted. I mean we thought it was a little less civilized than what it was.
Levin:You also mentioned Saturdays. Could you explain a little bit what these Saturdays were?
Layton:No, Iím talking about the program that Betty Friedan did. Because she had, the kids werenít in school Saturday so they had this thing Saturdays.
Levin:Of course in the sixties the big thing was the environmental sciences. Rachel Carsonís book in Ď62 and the beginnings of the fear of the deterioration of the earth. What was it like do you remember for Lamont during the sixties.
Layton:My, I only really had close contact with these few people, and that never came up. No. Itís, I mean, our whole thing had to do with organisms and not the environment. Just never came up.
Levin:So Lamont was more focused on individual organisms rather than looking at the environment?
Levin:Do you know why they were so concentrated?
Layton:Well they didnít. There were no people to speak of. I mean there were, you see, this was a group of all kinds of geological types, paleontologists, this and that, but very few real biologists. And so, unless a biologist was an environmental, Iím sorry, unless a biologist was an environmental biologist, the specialties arenít that broad. And there were no environmental biologist. The closest people would have been the geochemical group because some of their business borders on environment. It has to. But again, we had very little to do with those. I used to work with a very nice black guy at Lederle, chemist, who was a good friend of Broeckerís, named Ed Peets. And he, from what he said, I think some of those people may have been interested in environment, from what Ed said.
Levin:And you also mentioned Heezen and Tharp.
Levin:You said that Menzies was really close to him. How did they get along so well? Did they have similar interests? What kept the relationship strong?
Layton:I think they had similar interests and they had a good deal of respect for each other. I mean with scientists it has to do with mutual respect. And also Bob was quite interested in the ocean bottom. Because he was very interested in Abyssal organisms. I mean one of the things that he kept pushing me to try to find was some kind of an adaptation, a morphological adaptation, in an animal thatís an adaptation to great depth. And theyíre almost impossible to find it turns out. But that in itself was impressive. And so since he was interested in that and Bruce was and Marie were mapping the oceans and their depths and this was quite important to him. But as I say, I think that just, Bruce was quite an impressive guy. And also a very funny guy.
Levin:What do remember about him?
Layton:Well, I can tell you some story. One story. Mary and I really enjoyed this. We went to Bruceís one time, he invited for tea I guess, and dinner with these other people. And this very nice young couple were there acting as waiter and waitresses. They were marvelous. And we had a good time and everything. And after theyíd left, I said Bruce where did you get those people? And he laughed. He says, well, he says last year it was Halloween and these two people showed up at our door. They were Halloweeners; they wanted tricks or treats. And Bruce says, at that time, we had a big party going on here, and we didnít have, we really, so many people turned up we needed some help. So I says, trick or treats, Iíll pay you ten bucks if youíll come in and help us. And they did. These two kids. High school kids. And so they helped bartending and that kind of stuff. And heíd been inviting them back ever since. But that was. Another time I remember I was down at the Duke lab, and Bob had already moved down there. And Bruce was, he was going out on the cruise with us. Though another guy, I canít remember his name. And I and our wives went down to the airport in Newburn to meet Bruce coming off. And the guy with us didnít know anything about Bruce, but he knew he was quite a well known guy. Said, oh here he comes now. And this guy in a three-piece suit comes up. And finally Bruce comes off all Hawaiian outfit, and in those days, you know, shorts, real loud shirt and everything and this guy refused to believe that anybody would travel like that. But and Marie was marvelous. Sheís as you know a tremendous artist. And it scandalized quite a few people in those days that a couple would be living together. And what else goes on now. But he was criticized for that. Actually, I mean, the reason was his wife was in an institution. It was not the usual business. Also he was, he had a pretty good sense of physics and everything like that. And he was a pretty well rounded science guy.
Levin:In fact, he wrote Other Faces of the Deep with Hollister. And in the end of the book, they decided to reorganize the classification of marine animals based upon their photographs and tracks.
Levin:So he was actually doing a little bit of biology work.
Layton:I know that rather well because I was doing that for a while. I was doing bottom photography trying to identify them by tracks. Most of the cruises I went on that was my chief thing was doing bottom photographs.
Levin:So how innovative were Heezen and Hollisterís work when they put that out?
Layton:I think it was, it was reasonably innovative because people really didnít know how to handle a lot of this stuff. And the thing is that itís all one process. This bottom photography. I mean, youíve got to know how the pictures are taken to know how to interpret them. You just canít interpret a picture until youíve thrown a camera over the side a few times. And you realize, you know, at least this is the old. Bruce is using the same camera that I used a lot. Iím pretty sure he was or roughly. If youíre using one of these cameras thatís got a trip wire on it which is about 2 meters long and is going to stir up the bottom in some cases, not stir it up in other cases, and things like that. That youíve got to, that makes a big different in interpretation. Or if the camera leaves a mark in the bottom, is that a camera mark and things like that. And no I think they were good at this. Although I looked at that without even thinking about, much about, the work that I had done or was doing. I canít remember when that came out. I know, I have the book right up here. Iíll have to take another look at it.
Levin:So at this time was Menzies going over to Bruce and Marieís house to look at data or was Bruce still at Lamont? Did you hear about the controversy between Ewing and Bruce?
Layton:No. Oh there was one? I know that we used to go over to. But that might explain part of the problem between Bob and Doc.
Levin:And you think he might have been involved?
Layton:I guess so. I didnít even realize it existed. As I say, Bob didnít say much about relationships of other people. He was, I knew how he felt. Or I think I knew how he felt about Doc Ewing, but I never heard him talk about anybody else or anything else. Bob used to talk a lot about a guy I just met once named Joe [J. Lamar] Worzel. I canít remember what he said, but he used to talk a lot about Worzel.
Levin:And did you ever meet Worzel?
Layton:I met him, but I canít even remember it. I remember meeting, you know, this is sort of Worzel thing. The name is so different that I think I just remember the name.
Levin:Do you remember, well, do you remember hearing about what was happening in other institutions, say Woods Hole [Oceanographic Institution], different organizations, Scripps [Oceanographic Institute]?
Layton:No. Well at Scripps, I used to hear what was happening because Bob had feelers in Scripps. But it was only through Bob that I would hear about Scripps. And also Joel Hedgepeth from out there was a friend of Bobís, who. I think I first met him at the International Oceanographic Congress at the UN sometime during that period. But I can remember the time that Hedgepeth and Bob came over to our house, both wildly drunk, and Hedgepeth sat down to play the piano. Hedgepethís hands were interesting. He has no ends of his fingers, he blew them off as a kid. Dynamite cap or something. That didnít stop him from pounding the hell out of the piano. And also I heard him play the Irish harp too I think. Hedgepeth is quite a character. Heís a very bright guy. Expert on pycnogonids.
Levin:Was he working on anything that he or Menzies were collaborating on?
Layton:I donít think so. You see Menzies was a Californian and Hedgepeth. And I think Hedgepeth had been one of his teachers or something, Iím not sure. Hedgepeth is that age. And Hedgepeth is quite a guy.
Levin:So you never heard of Herbert Sanders there?
Layton:Sanders. Sanders. No. Iím thinking of another marine guy John Sanders whoís at Woods Hole.
Levin:There was a Herbert Sanders that was also at Woods Hole. Tell me about the cruises that you took. How did you get involved in going on cruises?
I didnít go on any. I was aboard the Vema, but I was never on any cruises out of Lamont. But then when I went to, in the summer of Ď63 is the first time I went down there. Bob got me a summer fellowship of some type from NSF. So they picked up. They used to do that. If NSF picked up my salary, the agreement was theyíd just keep paying me whatever Lederle was paying me and Lederle would quit paying me. And that worked for quite a while. And in those days you could do anything with grants. You know, theyíd ask you donít you want more money. But at any rate, no I went down to, letís see in Ď61 I went to Copenhagen to work with uceopolina because thatís where most of the neopolinas were in the Institute of Comparative Anatomy there. So I, and then when I came back, I wanted to finish that work and so I got an NSF grant, or Bob got it for me, to go to the Duke lab. And Bob was relatively new there. As I say, I donít remember exactly when he came in. But Bob was busy designing the Eastward which is about a two hundred foot ocean going vessel. And we both sort of, I had a bit of a hand in it and a foot in it. And this was built up in Sturgeon Bay Boatworks, the Eastward, and this must have been.
Letís see, I was down there in Ď63 and I think it was launched in Ď64 from the Sturgeon Boatworks and then they sailed it around. That in itself is a story. It has to do a little bit with Lamont, because Bob was coming up. As I say, he and Lucille would come up and stay at our place quite often. And Bob would come up. And he came up one time and he had these marvelous, this film of the launching of the Eastward. Now in that boatworks they launch a boat sideways. And some, and a whole gang, people used to come from Lamont to see this. And somebody found out you could show it backwards. But Iíll never get over one day, Mary and I had been out. The kids were someplace else. I donít know where they were. Mary and I came out and there were a bunch of cars in front of our house. We werenít there. And we went in and some friends of ours, heís a marine biologist type, Carl Hammen and Sue Hammen, were, weíd known them at Duke. Heís at, was at University of Rhode Island, that oceanographic place. But Carl and Sue were up in our living room and all this noise was coming from the recreation room that was downstairs. And we said, whatís doing. And they said, arenít you down there. They said we were sort of scared to go down. All these drunk people down there. Then the guys were, all of them, about six or eight Lamonters and everybody, and they kept playing this over and over again. Theyíd launch it backwards and took a while before Carl and Sue realized it was really harmless. But theyíd just come in. I donít know how they got in. He had a key to our house, I think. They just came in and started showing, because he had this marvelous thing.
Levin:Do you remember who was there?
Layton:Dave was one who was there.
Yes. I think Bruce might have been. There was. I donít know whether one of our neighbors was there. Our neighbors were usually afraid of these people. You see, we lived in a real classical development. I mean, the real, you know, Rockland County new stuff. And quite a few of the people there had beards, and nobody had beards in those days. And a guy across the street from me was the, used to always make fun with all those weirdos. We count the silverware after they leave. But at any rate, but no how I got. And we sort of designed this ship. He did, most of it, and that included a few errors. And then they built it and sailed it around. And because of that I guess I was invited on the first voyage, and I went on quite a few of them after that. Doing, you know, I had now picked up enough invert stuff I can sort of superficially classify. At least I can do sort of a triage of the animals that weíd get. So I used to go around, and I was usually the assistant chief scientist on these things. I never will forget that first voyage though. Because it was amazing. Because the ship had started out at Sturgeon Bay and then gone, you know, through St. Lawrence through the seaway and out down to New York.
When they left they had a cook, but after they left, they figured he deserted, and cause you know he jumped ship. He was gone. And they werenít worried because they were still tied up. I mean, the guy wasnít a jumper. So they got all the way to New York and the weather was moderately rough. Not too bad, but it was moderately rough enough to make some difference. When they got to New York, they got into a rather quiet place and tied up. And there was this horrible noise coming from it. Somebody had put the door on the head, the john, down in the below decks backwards, or inside out or something, so that if you got in it, it locked you in instead of locking you out. And the cook had been in there. [Laughter] Of course there was water to drink. I think it was only two days. He left the ship. But, and the first day we took it out, it was one of the roughest days theyíd had. But we had some adventures. But after that, I used to go on Christmas vacation Iíd just go out, and weíd go down on the Eastward. And the North Atlantic in the winter is great, of course. And, with Bob. Then we had a, we wanted to get some more neopolina, so we managed to put in a grant and get the Anton Brunn, which is a very nice ship. It was the presidential yacht to Williamsburg. And we took that to the Peru/Chile trench and got some more neopolina. And among doing other things.
Levin:Was the neopolina the main reason for going down there, or was it just a happenstance?
Layton:Well, it wasnít the main reason. I think this was a combined. The thing is the one that the bathymetry of that had never been really well worked out and we had a precision depth recorder. There are all kinds of reasons to work the Peru/Chile trench. And the other thing there are isopods, etc., etc. So thatís a. I think it was a. But as I remember the grant, the neopolina was in it. And we had a guy on it from Kansas who was an expert in protein, in various proteins as a way of, that is, looking at relationships, that is phylogenetic relationships. And we had another guy who was interested in shell structures. So there were enough people there to look at. And we got some. And we also had, Bob had the idea that in one bottom picture somebody took, I donít think it was one I took, he saw something that looked like a trilobite. And he was sure there were trilobites down there. And so set all kind of cages for trilobites, traps for it. But we never got anything. And we lost a lot of gear, but thatís all right. But you know you can make these traps that are too heavy to put down in the wire. The wire in the trap is too heavy. And so you can, youíd drop it over and youíd put these links in it that are fusible, that will dissolve and let the trap bob up to the top. And itís got a radar reflector on it so you can find it, you think, but you never find it. And we spent our time doing that. I got a marvelous picture of a giant squid taking its own picture by pulling my camera thing. Iíve got it someplace around here, but I donít know quite where it is.
Levin:Do you remember what the other scientists on board were trying to do?
Layton:Well, itís the usual kind of thing. Somebody was working on C14, the levels and various things. But, you see, the ways these things go is you get a cruise, in those days. This is a long time ago. You get a cruise set up. Youíre the chief scientist. And then you know other people who are in other specialties and they write their own sub-grant, part of it. And so, a lot of times youíll pick up a guy who may be interested in cumucious. Actually Bacesu was a cummation specialist and he was along that. And he proved to be a problem. Iíll tell you why in a minute. And then we had somebody working with C14. We had somebody working with amphipods. That was Eric Mills. And Eric knows all of the birds down there. Eric published a shipís paper every day on a new species of bird. I gave mine away unfortunately. And with a picture. You know he would do it on the duplicating machine. And, but he was an expert. Heís up at Nova Scotia now at the Dalhousie U., but Eric was an expert on amphipods which are a kind of crustacean. It went like that.
Levin:Really. And so, a lot of times it was, the biologist would be invited just so that they would bring the money?
Layton:Thatís right. In other words, and also so they could get a paper out of it. You know, things like measuring C14 concentrations is good, and a lot of people, you know, a lot of these things theyíre trying to fill in maps and things like that. And thatís how it worked. And a lot of times what happens at sea is youíll cruise along until youíll get a place that you want, and record a station that is for some reason. And then a full station would consist of starting out with a hydrographic survey, putting a quarter inch wire over. Probably putting a camera over so youíd know what youíve got. And then after that, you might put the big wire over and take a core. Or take a deep dredge or a grab sample. But all of that. There are two sizes of wire. The quarter inch wire and the half inch wire. The quarter inch is the one I used to drive. I was, one reason I went along I was good at running winches for that. Because I could tell when I was on the bottom. Itís interesting in that business. Now itís no problem. But in those days, there were no good electronic means, and the only, youíd run a wire over the side. By the time you got, you know, four thousand meters of wire over, it weighed so much itís very hard to tell when that weight changes when you touch the bottom. Youíve got a thing in front of you that bounces up and down. But I was, I had a knack for it. And thatís one reason they used to take me is I could run that winch. But also my camera was tied on. But I did lose two cameras.
Levin:Was it difficult to coordinate all the different plans?
Layton:Very hard. The problem is it turns out that you can only have one wire over at a time. And so that does make for some competition as it were. But if the chief scientists has got any gonads at all, he can usually keep things pretty straight. The problem is that occasionally. Youíve got to change your. You have a schedule but youíve got to change it. Either you canít get something working. The camera wonít work, or something else. So, the chief scientist really has an interesting problem. And also if you stop a.
Levin:Iíll stop right here.
Layton:The point is that everybodyís got to sort of take a turn if theyíre there. And youíve got to work twenty-four hours a day, in other words, so that can get to be sort of interesting doing things in the dark when itís icy and things like that. But itís, it works out. But now, the technique, I mean Iím talking about the Paleozoic era as it were. Because now they can have underwater television cameras. We used to take these things along, but they never used to work. Now these things work.
Layton:Yes. Weíd have all kinds of things. And they were a pain because some nice guy would say will you take this along and see how it is. And usually it didnít.
Levin:They were just beginning to come out.
Layton:Yes, thatís right. I mean, this is a very difficult environment to work in. Youíve got high pressure water thatís corrosive and everything else. And temperatures that are. Itís mean.
Levin:So equipment tended to fail.
Layton:And the simpler something was the more reliable it was. But simple stuff can be hard to use.
Levin:Were most scientists able to fix their own equipment or patch them up?
Layton:Well, no usually we had a whole, we had technicians on board. You see, for instance, Alpine Geophysical used to run some of these. And they had electronics technicians. They had people who could analyze sea water. Some of them could run hydrocasts. In other words, these were experts at a lot of things. It depended on what you were doing. And they could, once in a while a camera would leak, they could fix it. But you need spares, and sometimes you can have all kinds of problems. And also, usually on the ship itself there is a, depending on the size of the ship, usually one of the engineers is pretty adept at fixing things.
Levin:You mentioned before too just how you felt that a lot of the experiments were harming the environment or what you were trying to study? Do you have specific instances? Of how, say the coring or?
Layton:Oh no what I was. It wasnít the environment. Itís the fact that youíve got wire. In other words, if you put down a coring wire over the side. And then you put, even over the opposite side. Letís say I put a camera. Theyíre both going to the bottom, right? Thereís a chance that these two will meet each other and tie each other up. And there you are. I mean, one, you not only lose your specimen, you can lose your equipment. You see? And people have found out that if youíve only got. In any kind of a, out at sea at all, donít put more than one wire over at a time because itís hard enough with one wire. Because if you let one out too far and itíll make a horrible tangle on the bottom of the ocean, if you only just touch it. And you pull it up, and you have to throw that wire away. Itís all kinked up. So, Iím sorry. So that itís. Half of this is going to be ruined, which is very good. So thatís what I meant. Not the environment. Itís the competition between wires.
Levin:And you mentioned the problem with Bacesu.
Layton:Yes. Oh yeah. No, this was a U.S., interesting U.S. government snafu. Bacesu came to a UN meeting of some kind. He was admitted to the country because of that. He cleared through Florida all right. We flew out of Florida to Panama City and went on down to Guayaquil I think to join the. Coming back, they wouldnít let him back into the country even know the NSF had subsidized his travel. No. Now I wasnít with the ship. I had already, I had to leave the ship before it came back. But he came back with Bob on the ship and they wouldnít let him into Miami. So I forget how. They fixed it somehow but he couldnít come into the country.
Levin:That would have been a problem.
Layton:Yes. But see that was iron curtain in those days on the other side of it.
Levin:You had also mentioned about Ericson and you said weíd come back to it.
Yes. Well, just talking about Ericsonís work. And this, I knew a little bit about. Because we talked about it. It all comes back to, now whatís the organism? [Pause] Has to do with David and forams. I became interested in Davidís work, and he knew that I was interested in this kind of thing when he found out that, depending on, there was several kinds of foraminifirans[?] that had a shell which was actually a helicospiral shell, you might call it spiral, but it was actually a helical spiral shell. So that the shell would either, would either have a dextral or a sinistral spiral. And he found out that this seemed to be correlated with the temperature at which the shell was formed. And so he was using these to try to show paleotemperatures. And in this he was in competition with an investigator I think in Florida named Cesare Emiliano. And Cesare had data that, or ideas, I shouldnít say data, about paleotemperatures which were in disagreement with Daveís. And David felt very vehemently about this. And, but it was very interesting because in my own work I got into right and left handed helices and that kind of business having to do with biological asymmetry. And it was fun to talk to David about this. And I might say that I donít know how this came out. I should have kept up with it, but I sort of lost track of who really won this argument. And on it depended upon the two things.
The length of the plaistocene and I think also on the distance or the time distances if you will between the various glaciations. But I got to know David reasonably well there and at one time actually when I was working in Copenhagen, I came home, Mary and I came home, and there was David sitting in our kitchen. We had an apartment there. Drinking my beer. Somehow heíd talked the landlord, lived in the floor above us, into getting into our place. But David was an interesting guy. He had a very nice place, not very far from Lamont. I canít remember exactly where it was. But it had been a silversmithís shop. And there was a beautiful corner where there was a forge or oven or whatever youíd call it with all the silversmith stuff there. He was a very nice guy. Also one day, David and Bob and I donít know whether Lucille was there or not, and Mary and I went out sailing. He had a nice sailboat about thirty feet called the Abbey he was keeping that year on the Hudson. And the breeze was pretty good. And Menzies decided heíd like to go over the side and have us tow him with a rope. And I donít think heíd ever done that before, but he almost drowned. He learned very fast you donít do that in fast moving boat. But, you know, David was a lot of fun and got along quite well with us and Bruce. It was sort of a triumvirate. I think thatís about all I have to say.
Levin:Were Menzies and Ericson and —
Levin:Heezen. It sounded like your house was the place to go.
Layton:Yes. Yes it was. It was sort of a collection place. And we were in Nanuet. Which was sort of far away. But the thing is, see when Bob was at Lamont, it wasnít that much of a center. But whenever he was at Duke, then they. Bob said when they, when he first got there, I think Lucille wasnít around yet. That he, that the three of those guys lived together. And that they had the habit that when they would walk into the entrance hail, they would take all the money out of their pockets and throw it on a table there. And it was complete communism. I mean, everything was in common. And so I think thatís about it.
Levin:Right. You say complete communism just because they shared everything?
Layton:Yes. I mean money. Everybodyís money was everybody elseís. But they were a group.
Levin:Interesting. And I know you also went on another expedition that.
Yes. The purpose of the Antarctic expedition. This was on the Eltanin. This was Dirk, no Larry [Pomeroy], an ecologist. I canít think of his name, but I know. An ecologist from the University of Georgia was running this one. And along was, the reason I was along was that Dirk Frankenberg who was the head of the marine biology program at North Carolina, I think at that time, was there. And weíve worked together a lot, and he wanted me running the bottom camera. And so I went along to run the bottom camera on that expedition. And also to do general classifying of organisms. The purpose of this was to try to find an isothermal column in the water down there. All the way down to the bottom. In other words, a place where the water temperature was about constant. Because if you can find columns like that, you can answer all kind of interesting questions having to do with temperature and pressure and their relationships. And so we went, flew to, not without adventure to Australia. In part taking military airlift and all that kind of stuff. And going from Melbourne south.
We went south along a hundred and fifty east, I believe it is. I always get east and west mixed up. As far down as we could go to Antarctica without getting caught in the pack ice. And when we got, from the Antarctic convergence on south, we had regular stations. And these stations included the usual ones, the hydrocasts, bottom photography, which I did, and the a lot of C14 work, there were two people who were doing that. And a lot of primary productivity. Because. Larry Pomeroy thatís who it was. Larry Pomeroy was the chief scientist, and heís an ecologist, a plant ecologist actually from the University of Georgia. And so we did a lot of primary productivity work using C14, which is sort of interesting down there. Because youíre not allowed to release the smallest amount of radioactivity due to international treaty into the water. And I donít think we did, but we couldnít have prevented it if something had broken. We were using the classical methods for that. Doing a lot of bathythermography for obvious reasons. We wanted to demonstrate that our columns really were isothermal and that. And this is about what we did. The Eltanin is an interesting ship. She was designed as a freighter for the Dew Line. Supplying the preparation of the Dew Line. And sheís reinforced for ice but doesnít have the power of an ice breaker. And so we could have been trapped, but it would have been reasonably harmless, but sort of wasteful of our time. And it was a boat of interesting kind. It was a U.S. naval ship, USNS. This is not a man of war or anything like that. This has a civilian crew, ordinary union type labor, same categories as any other merchantman. But at least one officer, the captain and usually sometimes more than one officer, are navy. And the captain that we had was not used to research vessels. The Brunn that Iíd been on before sort of floated south on a sea of gin. And the captain didnít like that. But we had, Bill Wiebe from the University of Georgia, a microbiologist, had brought everything down including all the tremendous big carboys. To study primary productivity, no, we made something called Eltanin Brown. All of the, most of the fruit, that particularly when the fruit started to go sort of old that they wanted to throw away in the kitchen, we put into these big things and fermented. And made some very nice stuff with it. The captain didnít like it. But there was nothing he could do about it.