Oral History Transcript — Dr. Stanley Harrison
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Stanley Harrison; September 19, 1997
ABSTRACT: Born April 6, 1921 in New Jersey; discusses family background during the Great Depression. Discusses joining the Civilian Conservation Corps at age 17; describes the CCC projects: logging, road blasting, machining. Comments on joining the Navy in 1944; describes the action he saw in the Pacific. Describes mechanical work on Navy ships; comments on how he found out about the machinist job at Lamont. Discusses his first year at Lamont in 1957; describes his impressions of the Lamont machine shop. Describes his first cruise aboard the Vema with Henry Kohler; discusses how became senior research assistant for Allan Be. Comments on his retirement from Lamont in1986; describes the highlights of his career with Lamont. Discusses the place of the biology program at Lamont; comments on his work at Bermuda biological station.
Doel: This is Ron Doel and this is an interview with Stanley Harrison. Today's date is the nineteenth of September, 1997 and we're recording this in Hillsdale, New Jersey. And I know that you were born on April 6, 1921 in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Doel: But I don't know much about your family. Who were your parents and what did they do?
Harrison:Well, let's see, my father, actually his father came over from England to Jersey City.
Doel: Your grandfather.
Harrison: My grandfather Harrison, yes. And he worked for — he had his own photo studio. He worked for the, on the side then, the police department in Jersey City. It wasn't even a full time job those days; for Hudson County police actually and used to be the crime photographer, beat photographer. But anyway, my father got a job with the railroad, as a clerk it was, and then from there he got a job with one of the people who made concrete products for the railroad in their construction. Cribbing, concrete pipes and all that. So then he was sent up to manage a plant up in Canada, first in Quebec and then in Ontario. In the meantime he married, and my mother used to come home whenever a kid was to be born so I'd be born in this country. She wanted to be with her mother then too, I guess. So she came home when I was to be born and then took me back when I was just a couple months old. So my first remembrances were of Montreal, around Montreal, St. Lambert, St. Johns. And then we moved to Belleville, Ontario, and at that point, I really remembered things.
Doel: How old were you roughly?
Harrison:Well, I started school there in Ontario. I first remembered Ontario when I was about four I think. And then I was in the second grade and my mother decided to go back to Jersey City. So she and all the kids, came back to Jersey City; then in 1928.
Doel: Did your father come back as well?
Harrison:No. He used to come back several times a year. Like on Christmas yearly. She didn't want to live there anymore, and he didn't want to leave the job. So eventually he was transferred down, but it was after I left. After I left home, he was transferred down.
Doel: It was in the early 1940s or so?
Harrison:Yes. He came down just about, or during the war, I guess they had to change all their systems and what not about how they manufactured things and they sent him to work in the Kearny [NJ] plant. Massey Concrete Products later was taken over by, oh gosh, by the people who took over everything else, aircraft. Well…
Doel: We can always add that to the transcript.
Doel: Was the depression particularly hard on your family?
Harrison:Yes and no. We like I said, my father always worked. And he sent the money home on a regular basis, every month. In fact, I think it came from his bank. So we were better off compared to most of the people that were around us, you know. But my mother had six children, and she was not really a good manager. Unfortunately, and it wasn't her fault, but there were times when it was a little bit, a little bit dicey about coal and what not. But it was all and all, no real problem for us as far as the depression concerned. But, one way it did affect me, when I was seventeen I just could not find a job. So I went in the CCC. You may have heard of that. Civilian Conservation —
Doel: Civilian Conservation Corps.
Harrison:Civilian Conservation Corps. Yes. And…
Doel: I want to hear about that, but I'm curious to hear first. What kind of house was it that your mother had once you all moved back to Jersey City?
Harrison:Oh that's one of the things. She didn't stay any more than a year in a house.
Doel: Is that right? [Laughter]
Harrison:I never. We kind of accepted that now, and I guess I thought everybody lived like that. But when I think, I thought back about it later years, I wondered why did she keep moving? Because one house was not that much better than the other, you know. And not only moving from house to house, it was from Jersey City to Iselin, New Jersey, down by, it's in Woodbridge Township [NJ].
Doel: So you were in different schools?
Harrison:Several houses down there. Oh yes, yes; changed schools all the time. And then back to Jersey City. And then, that was when then that was the CCC.
Doel: Do you remember magazines that you were reading regularly when you were growing up?
Harrison:Yes. When we were kids, I used to read the aviation magazines, the [?] magazines or whatever; different aviation things.
Doel: Were you getting those at home by subscription or at the library?
Harrison:Nothing. No, no, nothing. As far as books were concerned, there was hardly ever a book around. I remember borrowing a book by Eddie Rickenbacker because I was very interested in airplanes at the time. And I used to go hang out at the airports. When we lived in Iselin, there was an airport in Westfield, New Jersey, that I used to hang out at a little bit when I was fifteen in the summertime. And we used to pump gas and what not and once a guy took me up for a ride. He just circled the field and down.
Doel: Had you wanted to get a pilot's license?
Harrison:Well in a way I did. But I begin to realize that finance wise it was just an impossible thing. They were very expensive. Even then, you had to have a lot of money to get lessons, and you had to have a lot of lessons; a lot of flying hours So, I kind of lost interest in that, but I did start to get interested in ships around that time where in Jersey City, I kind of hung out at the docks a lot. But anyway, then I ended up in the CCC and went to Fort Dix [NJ] for indoctrinations and it was called Camp Dix then.
Doel: That's right.
Harrison:Then we formed a company and they sent us out to Montana.
Doel: What were you doing out there once you arrived?
Harrison:We worked, were actually cutting lodge pole pines. They used them to build all their installations for the forestry department. See we worked for the forestry department in the field, and then the War Department took care of the camps; like it was sort of the army when you were in the camp and then. So anyway, the forestry department built all their buildings out of lodge pole pines. And they needed a lot of lodge pole pine. And we spent a couple of months there cutting lodge pole pine up in the mountains, and cutting them down, cutting off the branches, and then they had a team of mules that dragged it down off, off the hill. I was asked once if I wanted to learn to skin the mules they call it. It means drive. And I kind of shy away from that, and I always was sorry that I did because I would have liked to put it down on my resume, you know. [Laughter] What I did not like about it is that they tied the mules; they tied the logs up to his harness. The two, they had a team of mules. And then the driver would run alongside the logs. And then as the trail turned, as it come snaked down the mountain, you'd have to jump over the logs, to stay on the high side and, you know, it was kind of tricky. Otherwise, the logs would jump over you. You know? So I kind of shied away from that. But anyway I got pretty good with the saw and ax, two man saw, you know. They were all double bit axes out there. You never saw a single bit ax.
Doel: And these were kind of new experiences for you at the time?
Harrison:Oh yes. Yes because like I say I worked at an airport, and that was about it really as far as, I mean, to do anything every day. So, all this is new. And I learned how to work. I was seventeen when I went. So all right, the next, then the next place that they sent us. Everything was seasonal out there. You had the, the work we were doing there could only be done in the summertime. So in the winter they sent us to Riggins, Idaho, and that's right on the Salmon River. And there, we were building roads into the hills there.
Doel: One thing I meant to ask you when you were mentioning about the ship experience and your interest in airplanes. Did you have a chance to do things mechanical as well?
Harrison:Well, oh yes. Well, I had, I think I had a feeling for mechanics. And, yes, I made model airplanes and model boats. And we didn't have a car, and very few people had cars in those days. And so we didn't have much in the way of mechanics around us so that I couldn't really get experience with mechanics.
Doel: Was there any training in mechanics offered at the schools that you were attending?
Harrison:There was. Yes, there was a vocational school that I was all set up to go to in New Brunswick, when I was in Iselin. And I applied early and took a test and passed and I was going to go. I was going to take auto mechanics. And then darn it, my mother did move during that summer to Jersey City.
Doel: That took care of that.
Harrison:That took care of that. But when I got to the CCC though, finally, I settled down into a, in a road building project, to blasting, which I liked very much. We were actually building the roads on the side of the mountain, up a valley, you know, snaking a road.
Doel: How many people were on those teams that you were on?
Harrison:Well, a CCC company was two hundred, but they broke up into work squads in different areas. So I would say we had like thirty or forty men out there in the field at once, in one group.
Doel: In other words, thirty or forty similarly trained as you, or did you have particular responsibilities that few others had?
Harrison:Well, they only picked out a couple for the blasting. Very few wanted it [Laughter] so there were only about three or four of us that did the blasting, out of about thirty or forty men. The rest of them, pick and shovel guys. Well, there was actually, a cutting crew too who cut the trees down ahead.
Doel: How long did you stay involved in?
Harrison:I was there, let's see. Oh gee. I was a year out west. And then I transferred east. I wanted to find a job back east so I thought I'd transfer to an eastern camp while I looked for a job. At the end of the, there were six month periods that you signed up for. And when I was at the end of the six months I didn't have anything yet. I'd been writing to, of all places, Hercules Powder Company, to see if I could get a job in the dynamite factory out there. Cause their address was on the dynamite.
Doel: So you had the address. That's very interesting.
How old were you; seventeen then?
Doel: Let me just note that Mrs. Harrison has joined us here in the interview itself.
Mrs. Harrison: I'll be quiet. I won't talk. [Laughter]
Doel: This is fine. I was just curious how. So you were heading back east. And how did that resolve then?
Doel: Were you able to get a position then back east?
Harrison:Oh, well, yes. Then I, my sister was working at Rockland State Hospital. She was a nurse at Rockland State Hospital. And they were trying to get me, she and her husband were trying to get me a job there, which they finally did. So from there then I went to Rockland State Hospital as an attendant.
Doel: And the war had already started by this point?
Doel: This was before then.
Harrison:Yes. No. So I went to Rockland State Hospital for eighteen months I think it was eighteen months. And it was all right there for a while, but I wanted to get out and do something different. So I went to Lederle's up in Pearl River. Oh, in fact, Rita and I were married when we were at the hospital yet.
Doel: Okay. That's good to know.
Harrison:Yeah. She worked there too. And we lived on the grounds.
Doel: So roughly calculate, you're approaching your sixtieth anniversary in not too many years.
Harrison:Now. We're approaching; we're fifty-five or what?
Mrs. Harrison: We were married in ‘41.
Harrison:‘41. That's right. And then the war, the war started at the end of that year.
Harrison:So anyway, I was at Lederle's only about six months, just a little while when the war started. So we were expecting our first daughter, who now works at Lamont. And I wasn't about to sign up in the army. So, but I did want to get into the war work. So I started taking courses in welding and that sort of thing. The government had set up schools in Nyack to train people for war work. So then I got a job as a welder.
Doel: Where were you working? Where were you actually working?
Harrison:I worked in, well I went to Englewood first, and then they moved up to. Where did I work?
Mrs. Harrison: What company?
Harrison:At Aero Muffler. They're over, oh Rockleigh. Rockleigh, New Jersey, that's right up by Lamont. And building's still there. So then I worked there and we were making tank parts. We were welding them. Then they started to do machine work. And they wanted people to work a machine so I switched over and I broke in a machine.
Doel: How did you find that work? Did you like it?
Harrison:I did like it, yes. Yes. Right from the beginning I kind of liked making the things like that from scratch. So that worked out well. I caught on to that. And I worked at that for two years as a machinist. And then I decided that, by then it was early 1944 and things were catching up so far as the home front was concerned. Things were beginning to catch up. You know what I mean? They seemed to know what they were doing, and the factories were putting out a lot of stuff. And I thought then that I, maybe it'd be a good time to get in the Navy. So that's when I volunteered for the Navy. So I went in the Navy in forty, early in ‘44, April, ‘44 and went to boot camp upstate New York, Sampson, New York.
Doel: You went to diesel school at that time didn't you?
Harrison:Yes. And then I knew that I wanted to get on a small ship, in the engine room of a small ship. So I didn't want a big ship because I didn't want to particularly work with steam. I wanted to work in a, I wanted to be the engineer in the engine room. So from boot camp then, they gave me some tests in boot camp, mechanical aptitude tests and go to school. They sent me down for basic engineering down to Gulfport, Mississippi, and from there they sent me to Richmond, Virginia for diesel. I went to two classes there, diesel then advanced diesel. And then, so then they, they were going to ship me out. So they shipped us to the west coast and shipped us out of San Francisco and we ended up at Pearl Harbor in the Seabee station there for the amphibious ships. So I knew I would be on a small ship. That's where they need a lot of diesel people.
Doel: How did you find that experience once you were out on those ships?
Harrison:Actually, I always liked the ships. Once I got over the sea sickness at the beginning of each cruise almost, I really enjoyed being on a ship, and I didn't want to be on a big ship even if it was a battle ship, where you did one job day in and day out and wasn't able to do all around work.
Doel: You liked the variety.
Harrison:Variety. Yes. So on these, these ships are so small. They were only a hundred and fifty-seven feet: LCI. The one I ended on was an LCI gun boat. It was converted to a gun boat.
Doel: Did you see much action during the war?
Harrison:Not an awful lot. From Pearl Harbor, they put us on a LST that was headed for Iwo Jima. It was loaded with marines — an engineering marine group. And they were on the way to Iwo Jima for the actual invasion. But when we got to Guam, they dropped us off evidently we were just passengers. So they dropped us off at Guam and I waited there at the Seabee station for assignment: Was there about six weeks doing odd jobs around the harbor. And then they finally needed us for a ship. They had the invasion of Iwo Jima. And this ship, LCI 449, had been badly damaged and so the whole crew that remained was given survivor's leave. So they had to put a whole new crew on. And the ship then was in Saipan being repaired. It was in the initial invasion of Iwo Jima it received all this damage. So then, all right, I settled in on this LCI, gun boat, at Saipan. They had it all repaired. They put us in the engine room, two in the engine room at once. And I was in charge of my watch. So I was responsible for the engine room at that time, and that's exactly what I wanted. So then we went back to Iwo Jima. They were just, just finishing the mopping up on shore at Iwo Jima. We could see it. Mt. Suribachi had fighting on it yet. There were still hundreds of Japanese inside the mountain that they had to get out. So we could watch from shore at the firing on the mountain. And you could see people falling down the mountain and what not. So you could see flame throwers around the shore. But by then it was under control then. They were using the airport by then. So we were there a while, and then we, then we went back to… Did I go to Guam? Yes.
Harrison:Went back to Guam for dry dock and to get ready for the next, for the next invasion. And they put radar on us. So we were all sort of organized for the next invasion which was going to be Japan. By then they had started Okinawa. So we didn't get to the first part of Okinawa, but when we got to Okinawa, the battle on shore was going well. They had them all, all the Japanese were at one end, and they had us patrolling that end so they couldn't get off but there were a lot of air raids and suicide planes.
Doel: Right. That was one of the chief dangers you had faced.
Doel: And it continued that way until the end of the Pacific theater.
Harrison:And then it continued that way until the atom, until the bomb was dropped. And we were in, in Buckner Bay was at that time. Buckner, yes, Buckner was the general who was killed there and they named the bay after him. We had air raids every day. And our job was to make smoke. And they had air raids every day, sometimes the day time, and sometimes at night and most, every night really. So eventually they, the bomb, the atom bomb was dropped. And they even were killed after a little bit, and so they dropped the second bomb on Nagasaki, I guess. And then, then that was it then.
Doel: You mustered out then in '46.
Harrison:Yes. Then while, they had this, yes. Then it was over in August, what, fifteenth I guess it was. August 15th they had the signing. I’m quite sure. And then a couple of weeks after that, they send us back to Guam for dry dock. No, not Guam, I’m sorry. The Philippines, Levte, for re-fit. So we went to a dry dock again and eventually started back to the States.
Doel: When you were in dry dock, did you have a chance to learn more about the mechanics of the ship? Or was that a separate operation from what you'd been doing?
Harrison:Well, we worked on the engine room, and we had the…
Doel: Room and the winches.
Harrison:Yes. We were responsible for the engine room and all the engines and the winches on deck. And smoke generators. Of course, that was one of our biggest jobs during air raids. So actually I knew the ship pretty well. And during dry dock we did a little chipping and painting. And we had to change the propellers, once, and the shaft. I remember having to heat the shaft, the coupling on the shaft, and have to separate it, from the tail shaft. So we knew—I knew the ship pretty well by the time I got off it. And I mean that helped a lot with my basic mechanical skills that helped to build them up. The engine, the same engine is the one. We had two shafts, four engines on each shaft, attached to the same transmission. They call them quads. And they called them six seventy-one, G.M. engines, which is an engine they use in a lot of places — then after the war used them on buses. Lamont ended up with one on the winch on the Vema. I helped Hank [Haakon] Skjerding rebuild that and install it on the ship. And —
Doel: This was, of course, after the Vema was acquired by Lamont.
Doel: That this went on. Was it one of the first major refits of the Vema or? I'm curious when it is that you're thinking of?
Doel: When that refit took place, where you worked with Hank Skjerding?
Harrison:Oh when I worked with Hank Skjerding. I'm not sure what year. It wasn't one of the first ones. The first one I can remember was in, the time they convinced. Well, the first one, my first cruise was in nineteen fifty, fifty-seven, yes, in the fall of fifty-seven.
Doel: That's interesting. And as I understand that was the same year that you joined Lamont.
Doel: And you had worked in a series of machine jobs up until that time?
Harrison:Yes. I had worked up, after the war, let's see.
Doel: You went through, and numbered it, I have some —
Harrison:All right. I went through the part where we, I worked for two years with this company learning to be a machinist. I went back to them after the war. They were doing, by that time; they were making aluminum furniture, of all things. And eventually ladders for the, for the power companies.
Doel: Utility company ladders.
Harrison:Utility company ladders that were installed on trunk bodies. Yes. That you could crank up. And they were around for many years. There was one job that I worked on. I'm kind of getting. I'm a little tired. Yes.
Doel: I'm sorry. What I'd be most interested in hearing simply is how those different jobs that you're working on prior to Lamont helped you once you got to Lamont? How much of that really seemed relevant to you?
Harrison:Actually. Just about all of it.
Doel: I figured it might.
Harrison:Both the being at sea and all the mechanics just fit together.
Doel: Who did you interview when you came to Lamont? How did you find out about Lamont in the first place?
Harrison:Oh yes. That's interesting. I really had a pretty good job down in Hackensack with a fellow. He's still there. He makes automatic machinery. And if somebody wants to manufacture something, they want it all automated. So he worked in that line of work of bottling, mainly. Capping and bottling.
Doel: This is PMC Industries.
Harrison:Where did you get that?
Doel: I had something from, yes, from Lamont that had mentioned that it was.
Harrison:Okay. So in other words, like when I did the jobs, I remember mostly. They were, they had nail polish, and this was for Revlon. They were making this stuff for Revlon. They had to take a brush that was on a cap, and it was installed in the cap. They had to take that brush and put it into the bottle automatically. You just throw all the caps and brushes into the hopper and had to pick it up one brush at a time and bring it down and screw into the, into the bottle. So I worked on that for quite a while. So that's what I was doing really. Trying to work on new things for them and then modifying the machine to fit them and so on. It was a regular machine shop. But he had a product rather than just making parts for other people. He made all his own parts. But he had, actually he assembled them and sold them as a machine. And then he sent us out in the field to install a machine or repair them. Set them up. He sent me to Chicago once. I was there a couple weeks to get a, set up a production line that they, that we had designed and had built. So I thought everything was going all right there but then one fellow who wasn't happy there. He was having trouble with everybody, and he was a terrible machinist. And he was looking for another job, and he answered an ad in the paper for this place. He showed me the ad. Lamont Geological Observatory wanted a machinist up at Palisades, New York. So he goes up for the job, but he couldn't find the place. At that time, they only had the back entrance that snakes up the hill.
Harrison:And there were no signs to direct you. And he's just going up and down, past that light. And I guess he didn't stop to ask anybody and if he did, they didn't know it was there yet. And he just, he just gave up. And he said here, if you want, you find out about it. He threw it at me, this little clipping from the paper. And so I liked the geological part of it. It didn't mention ships or anything, you know. But I was happy at the job I was doing, but I just thought I'd have to find about this, this job. And so I called them up and made an appointment. It was Angelo Ludas.
Doel: Yes. He was head of the machine shop then.
Harrison:Head of the machine shop then. And he told me how to get there. But the other guy, I guess, failed to do that. So I went up on a Saturday. And I remember it was a light snow and snaking up this hill there. And spoke to Angelo and right away he started mentioning the ship, the ship, the ship, and this and that. And the more I found out about it, the more I thought boy, hey, this is my kind of a cinch here.
Doel: The ship was very new to Lamont at that point.
Harrison:Yes. They had the ship, I think, the early 50s I guess. Well, no, they didn't own it from the beginning; they just chartered it, yes. But they had had it a couple years. So Angelo seemed to want me.
Doel: What were your impressions of the machine shop? How much did you see of it when you visited?
Harrison:It was what we call, now, the old machine shop. But actually it wasn't much different from the new one really. Inside it was not. My impression was that it was the biggest shop I was ever in because most of my work had been in little job shops. I had worked in several shops before I went to the PMC and they were mostly small places, car garages converted over. So this was a nice big shop, and I could see that most of the machines were built during the war so they weren't very old by then. They were fairly recent machines. So, in other words, it was a well- equipped shop by my standards at the time. And it looked like a place I would like to work. It seemed to be such a countrified setting there too, you know, the middle of an estate. So, although they weren't paying much, boy I did decide to go, but there was a cut in salary. But I went because I really liked the work. I really liked the set up there. All right. So then, after I gave a couple weeks’ notice in the place I was. And then I started there. And, well, let's see what else is there to.
Doel: What were the first tasks that you took on once you got to Lamont?
Harrison:Let's see. Yes, I had a book of sort, and we had to write everything down.
Doel: That would be interesting to see that.
Harrison:Yes. Let me, you want me to get it now? Or you want to take. Let's take a minute. Let's take a break. I am I'm getting a little pooped. [Interruption]
Doel: We're picking up after a brief break. And I should mention you brought out a clippings book from the time that you worked at Lamont. And we want to cover a few things that we mentioned off tape there. And you started mentioning some of the first things you were doing at Lamont, once you arrived there.
Harrison:Yes. That's when I was going to go. Remember my first job. Actually there were routine things that we had to make for the coring mostly. Like, oh, why do I get fuzzy when I cause there's just a blank spot there. Like the blocks, what do you call them, the counting sheaves ship, the ships, the big brass counting sheaves. We had to make parts for those. Everything they used in the coring. Nothing, there was very little that you could purchase for a good deal of the work because it was all so specialized. You didn't have these big companies like what, General Oceanic, is that the name? Whatever the names were I've forgotten now.
Doel: But this was the period of time in the 1950s when you needed to build all of those devices.
Harrison:Yes. Everything was built. Yes. Oceanography was not a field, except for these couple places, you know. And they all had to make their own equipment. In other words, private industry did not supply special oceanographic research tools. So they all had to be made. And a lot of the things we used on the Vema like the coring was a routine job. You took several cores a day, you see. You had to have a lot of expendable things as well. You had to have a good stock of everything on the ship, like spare sheaves and counters and the coring heads. The whole coring head itself, you know the big thing. We always had those made ahead, pouring the lead and everything.
Doel: Were these already the piston driven cores or was that being developed at the time?
Harrison:No. They were there at that time. He, [W.] Maurice Ewing had already worked those out: Called that the Ewing corer I think. Whereas the piston. Yes, there was a job. That's one of my first jobs was making the piston.
Doel: Did you meet Maurice Ewing early, early on?
Harrison:Let's see. Yes, he was there. He was there all right. I never had much to do with him. He was, I remember when I got on the ship at Rio once he was getting off. And our paths crossed then. And a couple times on the ship down in the, down at Piermont [NY] when it was in. But I never had any long conversations with him.
Doel: I'm wondering how quickly it was that you actually went out on the ship? Was it already in 1957 that you made your first cruise?
Harrison:Yes. It was, just trying to think; I think that was when I made a locking mechanism. They had trouble with the core tripping on the way down sometime. Like it was very rough and the ship was rolling. That arm would jerk up. Are you familiar with that coring apparatus?
Harrison:Yes. You had to wait; you had to lever out and a small line that hit first. When that weight was taken off, the thing tripped. Well I guess, when the ship was really rolling, that arm, that was on the end of, would jerk up and the core would release and they'd break the wire and lose the core head, see. So they wanted to lock that mechanism until they got near the bottom. So they told me to work up a lock that the pressure would release. And I didn't know where to begin really with the mathematics of the piston. We needed a piston that, that by the time we got near a deep, where the deep core, by the time it got near the bottom, that piston would have retracted a locking pin. So it started out with someone that, I think it was Walter Beckmann, said, try, he gave me the two sizes to try. So we had, we had it was sort of two pistons in one; a small one and a big one. And he was supposed to move toward the big one. And anyway it was; it worked. But because the O rings were so big, the friction factor reduced the accuracy. You couldn't pinpoint it in other words. But it worked while you were well below the surface. And I thought that was all they wanted, you know. On the surface, that it wouldn't trip. But it worked. The times they used it, it worked. But then they wanted something that would really release closer to the bottom. I think that was the one they worked up the messenger system that released a locking pin they dropped the messenger down the wire that released the thing. But anyway I went out, I was supposed to go out and test them on that cruise. I made up a couple of them, different ranges. And ‘57 there was a short cruise. The ship had just been in dry dock, had things gone over and a few pieces of new equipment on. So they wanted to do a test cruise for a couple of weeks. So I went on that.
Doel: So this was a short trip out of Piermont [NY].
Harrison:It was a short trip from to do shipyards in Hoboken out to the Gulf Stream and back. It got, it was so rough out there that they couldn't work one day so they came back and worked a little bit in Long Island Sound. That was sixteen days I think. So that was my first cruise. Interesting part about that cruise for me when I think back at it was, well that was the first time I was on a ship since I was in the navy. So it was quite, it was, this is about twelve years after the war. So it was interesting for me to get the feeling again of standing on deck and looking at the heavy waves and what not, getting my sea legs on this thing. And also the ship then still had the wooden super structure on it. The deck houses were still wood. I have the pictures laid out in a room in the cellar there of the ship if you want to look at them later. It had all wooden deck houses. And you could still see they had, the very original steering wheel way back on the fan tail, you know. But they had since put a bridge in the front, up at the bow, toward the bow. But it really looked like a sailing ship.
Doel: It did indeed. Was Henry [C.] Kohler the captain when you sailed?
Harrison:That was. Yes. That, Kohler was the, that was his first cruise, that short cruise. So it was kind of a shakedown cruise for him too. So it was mine also; as a matter of fact, if we can jump ahead a little bit.
Harrison:The very last cruise was when the ship came into Piermont, I think it was in the shipyard, I'm not sure; somewhere around, down in N.Y. harbor. The ship was going to be sold, and they were going to bring it up to Piermont and they raffled off tickets for the ride up. So my daughter won the ticket and she gave it to me. So —
Doel: So you were able to go on that.
Harrison:So I was able to go on the very last one. So there we were. My first cruise was Henry's first cruise. And his last cruise was my last cruise too.
Doel: There's quite some symmetry there.
Harrison:So I thought that was quite strange.
Doel: Who else were you getting to know at Lamont during these years?
Harrison:Yes. That's — You've spoken with Taro, Taro Takahashi. That was his first cruise too.
Doel: What was he like?
Harrison:Well, all I can say is, I don't know really. I haven't really been with him socially. So I can just, you know, see him around the lab. A funny experience I had with him. He was a student then and working on his Ph.D. And it was his first cruise, and on the way back, we were coming up the Hudson and we were going by the Dayliner dock. And there were four of my LCIs like the one I was on. Still with their camouflage paint there docked there. I spoke to the guy on the rail next to me, and said, there's the, that's the kind of ship I was on during the war. And the guy had been Taro. I said to Taro. Anyway I said something to the effect that, like how did he fare in the war or something, you know. I knew he must have been in his teens during the war. So he said, when the war ended he said he was fifteen and he was taken up, they were teaching, the navy was teaching him to fly. So, of course, right away I knew those suicide pilots were all heroes in their teens, you know. They taught them just enough to fly, to get as far as Buchner Bay, and give them enough gas to get to Buchner Bay and that was it. But in later years, I haven't heard. Wally [Wallace S.] Broecker, you know, he jokes a lot referring to Taro as, our kamikaze pilot.
Doel: That's very interesting.
Harrison:You know, he might well have been that if the war, if the war had —
Doel: Had gone on.
Harrison:— had lasted another year or something. He may have been a kamikaze pilot. He may have sunk one of those ships we were looking at in the pier there. So I thought that was a — by the way, the day line converted those ships for cruises around Manhattan. Some are still in use.
Doel: That's interesting.
Harrison:Poor Taro. So anyway, well that was my first cruise. And all, I had during that period, between the time I came and that cruise, I had designed a net for Allan Be —
Doel: How did you?
Harrison:An open and closing net.
Doel: How did you come to know Allan Be among the?
Harrison:Well that was the first. He came in and he had a towel rack like you have in the kitchen, you know the three things that swing. And he told Angelo he wanted — he wanted to make a net. He had a frame with arms on it like this. He had a cheese cloth attached to that.
Doel: Right. And you're holding your fingers out, a few fingers, at angles to one another, acute angles.
Harrison:Yes, right. They pivoted, you know, on the thing. So he said, can we make a frame with arms in so I can put nets on them and they would open and close. And he demonstrated with the cheesecloth on it. So Angelo gave it to me. And so then I spent a couple weeks on that working that out for him. That was his first opening and closing net. And it was, we had to make a mechanism where a messenger would hit it. Hit it and then, and open it. And then, but the messenger would stay where it was until another messenger go down and hit that one. And then there was enough pressure to open the next one. So I had to work out this mechanism then that would release them. As well as the whole thing, the arm, the arms and the locks and so on. So I made him a whole net there. I think that was when you made the first, when my wife made the first plankton net at that time too. So he wanted to test that on that cruise too. Allan was on that cruise too.
Doel: This is all done in the late fall ‘57 cruise.
Harrison:Fall of ‘57 cruise, yes. So we tested out that on it. And let's see, well that was, [J. Lamar] Worzel then was working on a gravity thing. I had made him, made him one of his first, first apparatus he had for holding his gravity, gravity machine. What do you call them? Gravo?
Doel: The gravimeter.
Harrison:The idea was to keep it level and so on. So I made a gimbaled platform according to his specifications. And he was testing it out on that cruise. So I kept pretty busy out there.
Doel: Indeed. The one thing that I was also very curious to know is how you saw the development of the biology program? Once you started making this set of instruments for Allen Be, did you concentrate primarily with the biology group, or did you keep working on different. And let me just pause.
Harrison:Allan. Are we on now?
Doel: We're on.
Harrison:Allan didn't seem to want to think of the reasoning now, but I know, I feel he was right. He didn't want to be tied in. Oh, first of all, he didn't want to be tied in with, too much, with biology, because it was not really. His work was only so that we could directly interpret the cores. And he, he was actually a micro paleontologist. He was not really a biologist. But he did his thesis on the distribution of foraminifera around the world. So he, in other words, he didn't want to work under [Ostwald] Roels. I mean, he didn't want to be biology so to speak.
Harrison:I know there was a time when they tried, someone wanted to move his lab down into the biology building and he didn't want to go.
Doel: That's interesting. When you had first come, and you mentioned this off tape, you had also known Paul Burkholder and had briefly met Bob [Robert] Menzies.
Harrison:I never worked with them. I just, when I went down to the building there, I mean, he was there. And we used to have seminars together where we would all go. And he had talked a few times. Yes. We're not; you got to get me from the shop into Allan's lab.
Doel: Yes. I want to make sure we haven't missed anything in covering the work that you were doing in the shop in those early years.
Harrison:Okay. The next Vema cruise I was on was to test a new type corer.
Doel: The piston corer.
Harrison:It was a new thing. The standard Ewing corer is a piston corer. He put the piston on it.
Doel: It was?
Harrison:There was a piston in it, yeah, but it was a pressure actually coring rig. In other words the trick was to try to get longer cores. As it was now, the gravity core, the length was determined by the sediments, of course, the softness of sediment, but also by how much weight you were driving it in with. And we got so you couldn't handle, they could just barely handle the weight they had, you know.
Doel: Yes. You mean putting it on the winch and getting it loaded.
Harrison:Yes. Someone had made a, did anyone mention Archie Roberts before?
Doel: I've heard the name.
Harrison:Yes. He hadn't been at Lamont for quite a while. But he made a — I'm quite sure it was him — that made a gigantic coring head. And they put it over, but they never could get it back. [Laughter] Over the rail this was before we had the cherry picker aboard. And so there was no point in just making a heavier coring ring. So there was this young man that started in the shop. He had, I know he had a couple years of engineering. I'm not sure if he had a degree or not. But he came up with the idea of a coring apparatus that would pressure activated. In other words, you got all this pressure down there. You can use that. Use that to drive in the core. So he designed this thing. And at the time, you know, I understood this coring rig well. But sometimes when I think about it, I don't quite, I can't quite see. But I did all the machine work on it. He made up drawings. And I did all the machine work on it. And that was the first time I ever used that big lathe. You know that big long lathe?
Doel: I've heard of it.
Harrison:We had twenty-foot lengths of core pipe that we had to put O ring grooves and threads in the ends. So it was a core pipe that fit into a larger pipe that you saw in that snapshot before, a large aluminum pipe assembly.
Doel: I should say the snapshot was of you outside in front of the old machine shop with the long extension of the core.
Harrison:Yes. And that was, the core pipe would fit in that but the core pipe had O rings. Or the, it fit into this big aluminum thing that had the O rings that sealed against the core pipe. So, in other words, the core pipe is going to act like the piston itself. So, and then it was going to be triggered like the other one with the weight that we release. It was going to be locked in place with a pin, and that pin would be released when, through the trigger weight. But, there was more to it than just that it had to be really driven out. So anyway, that part Steve, the young engineer's name was. Steve. He is the fellow that owns Bolt Associates. They make the air-guns that Lamont uses.
Doel: If it doesn't come to my mind either, we’ll.
Harrison:Oh, oh, of course, Chelemski. The C is silent.
Doel: M sky.
Harrison:Right. His brother Rudy wrote for Life Magazine. In fact, when we went on this cruise Steve planned to take a lot of pictures. Rudy was going to publish them.
Doel: That's interesting.
Harrison:All right. So I did all the machine work on that except where he had worked on the little release mechanism. But you still have to have some sort of a weight to oppose it. So they knew they couldn't put any more weight on it. So they wanted to build an umbrella like thing that would open and make contact with the sediment. It was about eight or ten foot in diameter. It was sail cloth, and when the thing went down, it was going to open up and lay in the sand, in the sediment. [?] is the term I was thinking of I referred to. So he had decided, that was one of the last things we did on it. He had thrown that together and had one of the fellows round it up. And it was a bad mistake. But anyway.
Doel: What? I do want to hear what had happened.
Harrison:Yes. You'll find out. It'll come later. Oh, what we forgot to do. You know everything you put in the water we had to figure it had to be able to stand the pressure. It was made of pipes. So if you put a pipe in the water, you have to know whether it's going to collapse or not. Well this was just, just the structures to hold that thing, the umbrella thing out, like the ribs in a umbrella. They were an inch and a half pipe. But what he forgot to do, when he had the fellow make them up was to tell him to drill holes in it so the water could flow in.
Doel: Equalize the pressure.
Harrison:Right so the pipe wouldn't crush, you know. So you see coming already what happened to that. This is when we got on the ship to Rio: Had all this heavy equipment, great big pipe. Even the core pipe was bigger than the average core pipe, fatter anyway. So all this big apparatus was shipped all the way down to Rio and loaded on the ship. And we got on in Rio. And so we went out. It came time to take the first core. It worked fine. We filled the whole thing up. We took in eighty foot of sediment but without the umbrella thing. We knew that would be very hard to handle. So we put it down without it. And we were so happy. We got eighty foot core, you know. But when they looked at it, it had flow-in. There must have been, oh, about eight inches. In other words, I don't know if you've seen flow-in or not.
Doel: You would get a disturbed sediment column.
Harrison:You'd get disturbed sediment. And it was disturbed up about eight inches from where it originated on the side. But normally horizontal lines went like that.
Doel: They were converging. You're holding your hands up. Yes.
Harrison:So we had decided then to try the other thing.
Doel: With the umbrella.
Harrison:We'd have to try the thing with the umbrella. So, okay, there's a hassle getting it over. See, the umbrella was to be closed, and then when it got to the bottom, it was supposed to open. So it was such a hassle getting it over, that by the time it got to the bottom, the line with the weight on it that was supposed to release that lock mechanism had got wrapped around the umbrella. And it didn't release. And the reason it got wrapped was because the pipe collapses and it was all distorted. It got where it shouldn't, got where it shouldn't be. So that was the problem with that. So when we pulled it up, there was no. It didn't trigger at all, so Steve seemed to lose his, he could have really rebuilt it and tried it again. But Steve, I'm not sure what happened then. He couldn't get along well with the captain and he just wanted off the ship. So I went and worked with other people. There was always plenty to do.
Doel: I'm sure. What were your relationships like with Henry Kohler? This is the captain you're referring to?
Harrison:I made sure that it stayed. See I was only going to be on a month. I had the feeling I could take anything, you know. He was. Well, I don't want. He's a character. But I guess he's okay. That was a funny thing. Just before, before I started on that leg, we used to watch this program called, what was the name of it, when they called people in?
Mrs. Harrison: This Is Your Life?
Harrison:Yes. This was your life or something.
Mrs. Harrison: This was your life I think.
Harrison:This was your life doesn't sound right.
Mrs. Harrison: You know they look at the people.
Harrison:Yes. And they bring in old friends that people hadn't seen. Anyway, we were watching that and on comes Kohler's mother.
Doel: Had you met her?
Harrison:Oh no, no. You know what it was. It was, Count von Lueckner. Do you know of him?
Harrison:The sea wolf.
Harrison:He was on it. It was his life they were going over. During World War I, you know how he would capture ships and take the passengers aboard his ship. So anyway, in that program, on comes Captain Kohler's mother. So she tells how von Lueckner captured her husband's ship. And I thought she said that time her husband was first mate, but that was just an impression. And the name of von Lueckner’s ship was Sea Adler. It was a, you know, a merchant ship that looked like a merchant ship and then when they got near another ship, the deck house opened up and there was a big canon there. And they captured ships and sunk them. So anyway, they got his ship. They were running out of Halifax with a sailing schooner. I don't know if it was the Caribbean or what, but and I think even she was aboard. I'm not sure of that now. So anyway, there I was going out the cruise a week or so later with Captain Kohler. So I couldn't wait to tell him. So the first chance I got I told him about it. And he said he was not the first mate. He was the captain. That was all he wanted to know about it. He never asked me anything else about it. I don't know. Maybe he saw the program before or something, you know. But no, everything was always live then. He couldn't have. But he must have known about it.
Doel: He wasn't asking anything else about it.
Harrison:Wasn't asking anything else except he wanted to make sure that I knew that he was not the first mate, his father was the captain.
Doel: That's very interesting. How was it that?
Harrison:So anyway, but I made it a point to get along with him. That’s what you asked me.
Doel: Now I wanted to know too how it was that you came to be much more closely associated with Allan Be while you were at Lamont.
Harrison:Okay. Then in 1965, regarding that letter I showed you. I had been working often with Allan. He needed more of those open and closing nets. And the first one was activated by messenger. And then we decided to do it with pressure. I did a lot of work, developing out these little pistons that released under certain pressures. To do that and we had to test them. And we had, we had half meter square nets, as well as meter nets too. We took them down to Bermuda and tested them. But I was still working for the shop. But we worked together quite well. In fact, we got to be friends. We visited, the families visited back and forth.
Doel: And I should say just so that it's on tape, when you mention the 1965 letter that's in your scrapbook from those years, which concerned an offer that you had from your former employer to bring you back.
Harrison:Yes. That precipitated the charge. Just at that time. The fellow that Allan had was leaving. And he's going to have to replace him. He had several people before and they'd just stay a while and leave. So he wanted somebody that could really stay in his lab and work for him directly and take care all of his designing of equipment. He could have the machine shop make it, but I would be designing it and running the lab. He had three or four people picking plankton there. Some were like part-time housewives. And then he wanted someone to take care of the cruises. He had a man on the Vema continually that would take samples for him all over the world. He wanted somebody to make sure this man was always supplied and what not. So he decided he needed me in the lab full time. So that sounded all right with me.
Doel: Was this a common arrangement at Lamont that one person in the machine shop would work more or less regularly with one member of the scientific group or was it unusual?
Harrison:Well I think it, I think it was more or less unusual. When Angelo got a job to do, the next guy open would get that job. But I know there were cases though when, oh I can't think of any right now, oh yeah, like the fellow that worked for geochemistry. He worked only for geochemistry. They had so much work. They had enough to keep one man busy all the time, although he was still working for the shop. But all his work was for geochemists. So I think it was sort of half and half. So where were we then?
Doel: You were mentioning the…
Harrison:Oh, how I went to Allan's lab.
Doel: Yes. And you had had the offer from PMC Industries.
Harrison:Yes. From PMC to come back and it would be a lot more money, so…
Doel: Lamont was not very generous in salary as I recall from those years.
Doel: And Rita, you're shaking your head no.
Harrison:In fact, this is something I should mention because it was policy there. And Ewing had a lot to do with it. He actually made a statement I saw in print. I think even from a newspaper. And this statement said, we're not interested in people who are interested in money. We want people interested in getting the science done. Or something, words to that effect you know? And that's exactly how it was. Angelo had all these machinists there who could be making a lot more money on the outside. He had an assistant supervisor and then there was another fellow that was sort of an assistant. So they were making a little more than us. But all the other guys were making the same amount. So if he gave one of those a raise, you had to raise them all. So we were all lumped together. And it would be all right if the salary was good, but it was not good to start with. So it was hard to see, where while the work was very interesting. It was hard to see if you are really going to be able to make a living at it. So, that's why I thought of just getting out of the shop. Even then it turned out; Allan could not give me a raise when he took me out. I had to wait for the annual raise. But then I was able to jump up higher than the guys in the shop. And I did. I'm not sure whether I ever did or not.
Doel: This is when you became the, recall the title senior research or senior member of the —
Harrison:Yes. I think he used the term senior research assistant then I think.
Doel: Yes. I think that's exactly right.
Harrison:And I. Yes. Research assistant. And he wanted me to be in charge of all those people in the lab, with the exception of a couple who were working on Ph.Ds. and doing thesis for him. But the routine work like the girls he had picking the plankton, identifying them and counting them and so on. He wanted me in charge of all of that.
Doel: How did you feel about that?
Harrison:I was a little bit apprehensive to start with, but I had been. I was, I had been the supervisor in a shop before. And I had a little bit of a, little bit experience guiding people like that so I wasn't too doubtful. He would talk about the writing. I told him I'm not sure about the writing, but everything else I'm sure I could handle. Turned out I had to write a little bit too.
Doel: Indeed. And again, you showed me off tape from 1971 through '76 you did four joint publications with members of, Allan Be and members of his team. And I want to get to those in a moment. One thing that I was curious about: Salaries as you say were not competitive with other machining opportunities. Did you have enough funds to build the instruments that you were assigned to do or was that also a challenge?
Harrison:They're. Yes. See I was not really concerned with funding. Allan and Angelo took care of all that.
Doel: Did you have, I suppose to put it another way, did you, could you get all that you asked for in order to do the jobs at hand?
Harrison:I think that — I don't remember anybody not getting a job done because they didn't have enough money. It's just that the actual salaries that they had to put out every week, twice a month, were low. So that was a problem. But you see it picked up. Let's see, he was still there, Ewing was still there. But it became obvious after a while that in order for Lamont to keep its people. I know there was a point when I think — I had heard this kind of indirectly — that the people who ran Lamont besides Ewing were at odds I think over the core of the people who do the everyday work, should they be students or should they be employees, you know. And I think possibly Ewing was the one that wanted students cause they would be cheaper, you know. But it became obvious that you have got to have people who are really familiar with the job. You needed technicians. And salaries did start to go up at a much faster rate than originally.
Doel: Were there funding problems for the machine shop generally in the 1960s? Did you notice a change in the way that funds came into the lab or didn't you see much of a difference?
Doel: Sure. That's okay. That's okay.
Harrison:I haven't thought about it in so long. But it was different. Like I say, there was a change. And it became. They didn't have to account for the money so much. They could take funds from one place and put it in another. I remember Angelo saying, I'm paying this guy, someone else other than me, from Allan Be's money and he doesn't even know it. But they must have taken lump sums and put it in the shop.
Doel: Was this early or later that Angelo said that to you?
Doel: Early on.
Harrison:Early on. But then it was later on that everything had to be accounted for.
Doel: Yes, that things got generally tighter.
Harrison:You had to keep track of your hours and you were charged. The investigator who wanted the work done was charged by the hour. And the last I knew it was forty-five dollars an hour for the work: Would be the man's salary plus an overhead; besides there was a Columbia overhead on it too. I know they complained about that, that it was much too high. And that's one reason people stopped using the shop, I understand. So anyway, I got into Allen's lab and learned some new lines of work.
Doel: What was Allan like? Allan Be.
Harrison:Well, he had good points, like anyone, he had good points and bad points. I got on with him really quite well for a number of years. And I'm not sure what was, what was one of the first things that happened then. Well. It's hard to say. But he had, he had some funny ways. But like I say, I've lived long enough so I know there are a lot of good people with funny ways.
Doel: Sure. But it became more difficult to work with Allan Be as time went on?
Harrison:Not really. I couldn't say. He was no worse than anyone else. Angelo was kind of difficult in his own right. And I am probably difficult. But it just got to the point though where, one of the reasons I left there was that his work, the work had changed so drastically. There was no more developing of that sort. And I, you know, one of the times. When I went to Roels, I was with Roels around nine months in 1970, I think it was in the year 1970. And like I say, Allan was cutting down on expenses, and he wasn't doing any developing to speak of on the arthritis anymore.
Doel: And that had been the challenge that you had really enjoyed. That particular work.
Doel: And that work had also, and I want to make sure we get, we include what had been mentioned off tape: That that had brought you down to the Bermuda biological station during the time that you worked for him.
Harrison:Yes. Right from the time, well the last time I was there was around 1970-71, I guess. So there was a period like through the sixties that I was there several times. Sometimes it was just getting off a ship at Bermuda and then flying home. But other times it was actually working at the lab. The longest period I was there I think was about two weeks.
Doel: And what sort of things were you doing when you were down Bermuda?
Harrison:Well, one of the times was when we were testing, our ship, was away somewhere in the other part of the world. So when we needed a good depth of water to test our equipment in the pressure activated opening and closing nets, we went down there and used their ship, the Panuliris. They had two, Panuliris One, which they replaced later on with a little more modern ship called Panuliris Two. So that was one of the things we did. The other thing was that, so he had wanted, he had decided to culture forams too. And he wanted to go down there and sample. He wanted to pick live forams of the water, capture them. And then grow them in a tank or something and watch them, see how they thickened up and what not. So he had us doing, let's see, we made a big net in a frame. Although I didn't get down to deploy that thing. Made a net to hold the, to put his live forams in and keep it anchored right in the sea water and keep them captured.
Harrison:And then observe them from time to time. And so that was a big project. But I didn't go down for that. Mainly I was down when there was equipment testing. Oh yeah and there was the other project we had: The deep scattering layer.
Doel: That was the nephelometer studies that you were doing?
Harrison:Well that was, that was a layer too. We wondered whether that tied in with the deep scattered layer or not. But it was a layer like, mostly myctophid fish, deeper living animals, and shrimp, that kind that actually stayed down. You had your migrating layer and they came up to the surface at night and went down during the day time, yes. But then you had a deep scattering layer that never came up, it seemed to stay at the same layer. And they kept finding that on the Precision Depth Recorder. So the Navy was interested in that that layer, because submarines could use it to hide behind.
Harrison:So he had a contract with them to sample that and find out all he could about it. So we made special apparatus for that.
Doel: Did you have a security clearance, by the way, during this time?
Harrison:Oh yes. Yes. I did. I'm not sure of the classification on it. But I did have it. And then when I, just before retiring, they, you know, they took it away again. But I did have to have it. Did have security for that. So I don't know how any of that stands now, but we didn't get very far on that. We made the apparatus, we got down to where it was, we sampled it, and that it was it. Sometimes it was, sometimes we got a good sample, sometimes we didn't. But there wasn't much to learn about it really. What they really had to know where it was in different parts of the world, I suppose. But —
Doel: In terms of the contract you mean.
Harrison:Yes. Then they did use it on the Vema, when we had a fellow getting a regular sample and he tended to sample that too. But that kind of petered out. You know what the problem with that one was; Allan hired a Ph.D. to run that program. But I was supposed to run it until the guy came. He was still working on his thesis out at Scripps [Institution of Oceanography]. Dale Brown, an ichthyologist.
Mrs. Harrison: Brown.
Harrison:The same name as a guy who writes, an author that writes novels and so he was just finishing up, supposedly just finishing up his thesis. And Allan had hired him and he was going to take over all that, responsibility. At the same time Allan saw a way he might be able to save a little money and have the guy work with the Museum of Natural History, half time at the Museum of Natural History in New York and half time with him. The department down there was interested in deep sea fish. But the guy, when he came, was still working on his thesis. And it was, he kept going from week to week that he was going to be finished, and he spent more time on the phone with Scripps than he did working. The first cruise got along and he had the flu. Well I had to do that one too.
Doel: You went out on the cruise?
Harrison:Yes, I had to. Yes, I had to take charge of the, I had to do that sampling too. And so we never really got the guy, you know. So that's why they never got any results.
Doel: Because there wasn't one person you feel who was really leading and responsible for.
Harrison:Yes. I had to do another work to his regular plankton distribution as well as that part. And that work was not getting anywhere, see. So we had some problems with the apparatus. We lost, lost a whole net once, twice and almost for the same reason, just through poor communication and the thing got lost. We had a bad swivel and it let go. And so we made up a new swivel and sent it down on the ship, sent it to the Conrad, and they had a net then. And there was a misunderstanding, and our man got one of the old swivels and put it on. He was just hired and it was the first cruise he was on, he was seasick and not up to par. But he put on the wrong swivel and he lost that sampler.
Doel: It sounds like there was a problem in, in very young or fresh personnel going out having responsibility for these types of and not.
Harrison:Yes. That could be. Yes. It was hard to find someone who would really go out and stay out there.
Doel: Yes. I was wondering if it was more.
Harrison:Because it was hard living. It wasn't a big ship, you know. It was only two hundred feet. And the captain was hard for somebody to get along with, day in and day out.
Doel: Yes. You're talking about Henry Kohler, rather than [Captain Allen] Jorgensen.
Harrison:Yes. I was never on the Conrad. You see the chief scientist they had, the couple times I was out, I was always happy with the chief scientist.
Doel: Who did you like particularly among the chief scientists; those who regularly served?
Harrison:Well, like I say, I only had a couple cruises. But Sam —
Harrison:Sam Gerard was one. I got along well with him. And George, who, you would remember him. Oh gosh.
Doel: Again, we can add that.
Harrison:The sound, the sound.
Doel: Sound channel.
Harrison:Yes, the sound guy. In fact, he was working with us on the scattering layer thing. He was doing the sound part and we were doing the sampling. George Bryan. He was a chief scientist on the Rio [de Janeiro], no on the, from Hawaii to Midway through the Caroline’s there.
Doel: It was the third cruise then that you were.
Harrison:Yes. The third Vema cruise I was on, Vema 24, 1969. One of the periods I really enjoyed was the scanning when we started using the electron microscope.
Doel: I wanted to hear about that. How did you get involved in?
Harrison:About 1970. Well, like I say, when I went to Roels, Allan had decided to keep this other because he had a Bachelor of Science degree in bio.
Doel: And you had mentioned off tape that there was a point at which a decision had to be made between retaining one of two people.
Harrison:Yes. And he decided to keep him then. And I went with Roels. Roels needed my kind of work and cruise experience at that time.
Doel: And the antecedent was being Allen Be. Needed to keep the other fellow. And you went then with Roels? I wanted to understand that.
Harrison:I went with Roels. I mean, it was Allen's choice that I go with Roels. And I tried it for nine months. But this other fellow he kept, Joe Forns. And, what annoyed me was that I knew at the time he had applied for another job. He was sure of getting it.
Doel: And you couldn't say anything.
Harrison:And he was just waiting momentarily. You know. And yet he wouldn't say, he didn't want to say to Allen, well, you better let Stan have it because I'm going to go soon. So anyway, by that ninth month, that was told anyway he was going with the other guy. And Allen wanted me back. And by then Roels, I really couldn't get along with Roels that well. Oh boy, I thought I was going to be an instructor, but he was very difficult.
Doel: What, just what sort of things come to mind when you say that he was difficult?
Harrison:Well, he was an authoritarian. He had worked a good deal of his life in the Belgian Congo. He was a Belgian. And he had a lot of sort of slave types working for him. And I don't think it ever wore off. He, his orders, he would arbitrarily tell you to do something and it just wasn't. It's hard to explain, but he was just a hard man to get along with.
Mrs. Harrison: Well I know he was hard to make nets for…
Harrison:This is hard. I think I am getting a little fatigued again.
Doel: We might want to take a break at some point soon, but you've made it clear. How did you get involved then in the scanning electron microscope?
Harrison:Allan was expecting it. He had ordered it. And Forns then was going to be the one that would work with it. But Forns had just got started with it and they said it kind of blew up. It had gotten a short. Early on the people who installed it from the company that he bought it from did not tighten a water fitting, a cooling apparatus that was within the machine. It was in the electronics. They were cooling the bases of, some parts of the machine that had to be cooled. This, even though they had, what am I thinking of, instead of tubes. Anyway, they kept the old fashioned tubes rather than change lifters because they were supposed to be more accurate so far as maintaining —
Doel: Smaller tolerances you mean.
Harrison:Yes smaller tolerances. So it was a lot involved there, and they had to cool parts of it. So one of these joints sprung a leak and soaked all the electronics. So it was down for a long time while the company was overhauling the thing. So that was when Forns had left.
Mrs. Harrison: You ought to get up and walk around a little bit.
Harrison:No. Not to worry. So that was when Forns then. So by the time I came, it was just getting back again. So I was the first one to do any work for Allan on it. They have a little training course there that half a dozen people or so from Lamont took it. Dee Berger among them and so Allan had plenty of work for it, more than most people. Most people wanted it, just wanted a couple of pictures to illustrate a paper or something, you know. But his work was going to be with it. He wanted to look at the forams from different depths nearly and cross sections that were shown. He wanted to get into the real shell structure of the things. How they grew layer upon layer. So I learned the machine quite well. It had to be taken down and cleaned periodically and I was able to do that. And we got into some routine maintenance. We did some alignment of the boards that had to be trimmed and tuned, and I could do that. You know, just like on the old TVs, you had to check, realign your pictures. We had to do that often with the microscope and got into the photography end of it. We had to photograph everything we took. But we worked with the photographs, not just for publication. You actually worked with them. So I worked on that quite a while. And if anyone else wanted to use it, I trained them on it. And I couldn't really spend time, much time with other people, because I was always on Allan's time. And he didn't have special funds for teaching other people. So that was kind of hairy. So that, again, I was busy quite a while with that shell structure work. Most of the papers were.
Doel: These were the four papers you mentioned that you contributed to.
Harrison:Yes. And they were actually, most of the work and there's a lot of photos of the shell structure in them.
Doel: And you were responsible for —
Harrison:I was responsible for the SEM [scanning electron microscope] then. If it needed to be repaired, I called the people in. And anybody needed to use it, had to see me first. Had to be sure they could use it. Of course, this was in addition to my responsibilities in the lab.
Doel: How well integrated was Allen Be's group into Lamont? Did you sense that it worked well within Lamont in general?
Harrison:Hard to say. A lot of people didn't have much patience with Allen. Actually this is where I don't want to get in too much in this sort of stuff because, you know.
Doel: You're welcome to keep parts of the interview closed if you wish.
Harrison:Yes. Anything like this I wouldn't want to — What is your interest in wanting to know? Just for the history? Or?
Doel: So that some of that, those in the future understand what makes an institution like Lamont work well and the sorts of things that also keep it from working well when those things happen.
Harrison:Well, that's sort of the whole thing in itself. [Laughter] Just go into sociology rather than science.
Doel: The interviews, I think, contribute to both.
Harrison:But, no, I can't really. There's not much I can really say about that. Some people he got along with well, some people he didn't.
Doel: Do you feel he had support from Ewing?
Doel: Did you feel he had support from Maurice Ewing?
Harrison:Well, it wasn't so much non-support for Allen as much as Ewing. A lot of people, a lot of the geophysicists they were not really interested in biology. It was underfoot and they didn't want it there.
Doel: That's what I was thinking about that those tensions.
Harrison:It was hard to get ship time sometimes, see. But Ewing, I think, tolerated him in one way. Allen got more people involved in ship work so the more the Navy gave money to support it, you know. The navy was also interested in biology too. So Ewing had to keep the biology going on the ship. And so far as Lamont is concerned, Allen himself didn't want to get mixed up with the biology department itself because he wasn't that interested at all. At the same time though, he started to culture the forams. You see, the idea of studying the living foram was just so you could tie it in, so you could better interpret the fossil forams and the cores. That was the whole reason for it: Allen's thesis on all his work after that. Now I'm not sure how the culture part did fit into that. He got into working with Roger Anderson, who was strictly the biologist. But they did get funds for it. But it probably came from a different source than it would have for the distribution and shell structure.
Doel: You mentioned — and I wanted just to make sure again that we had this on tape –- that one of the other persons that you interacted with a lot at Lamont was Walter Beckmann. How well did you?
Harrison:Yes, for a short period while he was there. That was early on, see before I went with Allen.
Doel: Yes. right. Then he had left Lamont during the time that you were there as I understand.
Harrison:Yes. I'm still in the shop. I thought Walter was really a regular guy, and he, you knew right where you stood all the time. He knew what he was doing. So.
Doel: You trusted him and his engineering.
Harrison:There was one project he was on that I worked on for quite a while. I told you about drilling in estuaries and what not, you can't rely just on the weight. It doesn’t go.
Doel: And again, this was off tape, and you were saying then there was a particular problem with doing the drilling in very shallow water.
Harrison:Yes. You can't really drill into sand. I mean [cross talk]. So you have to sort of drill. So Beckmann had worked this out, this drill. He saw it somewhere else on a smaller scale. [Side talk] Where you pump water against, in fact, they just resemble just about that size. And they were many-bladed propellers about 4 inches in diameter.
Doel: Like and you're pointing at a tablecloth to a starfish like pattern.
Harrison:Angle to it. Star shape thing that when the water hit it it would cause it to turn like a water mill. So you had a whole series of these in, we called it a hydro drill. It must have been twelve foot long. And it was alternating so that one star would be fastened on the shaft and the next star would be fastened to the housing. See. And that, let's see, then the pitch then was reversed alternately too so that you were always pushing. You were using the pitch of the, the one that's fastened to the housing to push the one that's fastened to the shaft — If you can visualize that?
Doel: Yes I can.
Harrison:And there were, let's see, maybe seventy-five of these things all in a row there. And you pump water down them, very high pressure from. And then the shaft turns. It was a hollow shaft with a drill bit on the end. So the water, the, that you displaced then would come up through the shaft with sediment and you could catch it and analyze what you're pumping right at that at that level. You could take samples and then you know right where it came from. So that's what Beckmann was trying to do in the Hudson and elsewhere. I'm not sure how far he got with them after that. I made two complete drills, all the brass parts and everything. That was quite a job.
Doel: I'm sure it was.
Harrison:In the shop. John has one of the impellers sitting out in the shop, right down the hall; you'll see this star, star thing sitting on the bench. Well right on the hall when you walk in the main entrance, there's a long table. Sitting on that bench somewhere you'll find one of these things. There are a couple of them around. So Walt did that. He got, they got a hold of a little ship, and the Charles Goldberger was the name. I have a picture of it. It was from the Health Department, and it was a ship that the Health Department would go out to the ships and check on the health of the passengers before they were allowed in or what not. And the pilot I guess went along on the same ship. It resembled a small tugboat. It was named after the Health Department doctor who found a cure for pellagra during an epidemic, years ago.
Harrison:So somebody gave Lamont one of those. That little ship. It was quite old. And I think they took everything that was on the Vema almost and put it a duplicate on this little ship. Beckmann was the captain of it, because they had to put it, they had to build a sort of like pontoons on the sides of it, but built in. I forget what they call them now. In other words, they had to make the ship more stable because they were so loaded up. He got a big fire pump and installed that to run the drills. So, I'm not sure how successful they were. I never saw anything written on that project. There is a fellow who worked for him who is not at Lamont now, but he has his own shop and he does work for Lamont. He worked for Beckmann on that ship if you want to go back that far. His name is Arthur Church.
Doel: And you mention that Beckmann after he left Lamont also worked on the first investigation for what became the Chunnel development: Looking at the structure in the English Channel.
Harrison:Okay. He found a layer of chalk with impervious layers of rock above and below the chalk. And then he ran the Eltanin. His company, Alpine —
Doel: Alpine Geophysical [Associates].
Harrison:Alpine Geophysics. They were over in Norwood. In fact, I did a little work for them in the cellar one time.
Doel: Did you?
Harrison:I have a little machine shop in the cellar. I wonder if I could have some water, Rita, please.
Mrs. Harrison: You want Coke? Would you like a Coke?
Doel: That would be fine. Thank you. Yes, I just wanted to make sure we had covered a few things on tape that you had mentioned to me off tape.
Harrison:Beckmann, one time then he had a little shipyard, building ships up in Massachusetts. Might have been Falls River, I'm not sure. You have any idea what he's doing now?
Doel: I don't.
Harrison:I often wonder.
Mrs. Harrison: Ron, do you want a glass? Stan takes it from the can. [Side talk]
Harrison:Under the Alpine Geophysics name he ran Eltanin. You know Eltanin?
Harrison:And he also ran.
Doel: He ran a number of ships didn't he?
Harrison:Yes. I'm not sure whether. It seems to me he ran the ex-Williamsburg, presidential yacht. What they call, Anton Brun. He worked on the, he did a lot of work on the, what geophysical year?
Doel: International Geophysical Year?
Harrison:International. I don't.
Doel: Or the subsequent ones.
Harrison:It was during, during the sixties I think.
Doel: That would have been. There was the International Decade of Ocean Exploration.
Harrison:International Decade I think. Yes. Anton Brun worked on that. Now I don't know whether he ran the, I think he ran the Anton Brun then. I'm not sure.
Doel: You'd also mentioned Chuck Drake off tape. That he was one of the persons that you trusted to go to for advice.
Harrison:I don't remember actually going to him. I wrote to him. I wrote a note to him once, just about the time when I was fed up with the shop because I felt I was at a dead end.
Doel: In terms of the kind of work you were doing and the salary?
Harrison:I knew he was on the payroll committee. And you know, I had three kids, you know. In fact, I adopted two more later. But I'm not sure if this was before that or not. But at that time, things were picking up because our space program began to take off. Matter of fact, when we heard Sputnik went up, I was on that first cruise.
Doel: I was thinking about that earlier. The timing was.
Harrison:‘57. And we heard about it when we were on that cruise. And I remember looking up and saying gee. Here we had sails running, all sailing ship.
Doel: The romantic sailing ship with the.
Harrison:And they are, they are sending things up in orbit, and we're doing oceanographic work with an old sailing ship built in 1926.
Doel: It must have seemed like quite a contrast.
Harrison:So it was after that that the space program took off, of course. And things began to pick up at Lamont. A lot more interest in science and they began to get a lot more money. So that was ‘57. But things were pretty slow at that time.
Doel: You had mentioned that you had written to Chuck Drake and this was later when you felt that the work that you were doing was coming to a head.
Harrison:He was working over on the Goldberger and I worked a little bit on it ripping out the old fumigating machinery. They used to fumigate ships with it. If a ship came in with a disease, they could take all the people off and fumigate the ship. So they took that out. Anyway, the guy they had for the engineer on that, is the guy that worked with Walt and he has his own shop over there. He must be available if you want to talk to him. Artie Church.
Doel: Don't be concerned with names right now because you will be getting a transcript. We can add the names there. Did you have a chance to compare Lamont to the other oceanographic institutions like Scripps and Woods Hole [Oceanographic Institution]? Did you have a chance to visit them?
Harrison:Yes. I've been to, I think all of them. Not much, but. Maybe Woods Hole more than any of them; so handy just to go up to. Certain seminars they had. They had one on submersibles once. Allen sent me up to that one. I think I met, I think I saw Bob [Robert] Ballard up there, but he wasn't famous enough for me to remember. Cause I think he was the pilot on their, whatever they called their first little submarine.
Doel: I recall that, the Alvyn.
Harrison:The Alvyn. Yes, named after Allyn Vine.
Harrison:Yes. Okay. I think I probably met Allyn Vine then too. In fact, I know I did.
Doel: How did Lamont compare to them? Did you have a sense for the things that were different about those institutions?
Harrison:It seems to me that we were always told that our work was different from theirs. At the time I think we were more into the geological end of it. What's the topography and structure of the bottom and so on: The mid-Atlantic Ridge? You must have talked to Marie Tharp.
Doel: Yes. Did you know her fairly well or, when you were at Lamont?
Harrison:Oh I just, you know, run into her once in a while. Yeah, you met Marie and Marie and Bruce [Heezen] were at one of Andy [Andrew] McIntyre's parties once. Remember when we sat on the veranda overlooking the Hudson that night.
Doel: Again, you can close parts of the interviews if you wanted to. Where, as you look back on your career at Lamont, and I should ask you while we're talking about it, when did you actually retire from Lamont? You stayed with them, didn’t you until?
Harrison:‘86. When I was, just turned sixty-five. I was there twenty-nine years.
Doel: As you look back over that, the nearly thirty years, were there favorite instruments that you developed or favorite programs out of the ones that we've been talking about, which ones that for you were most satisfying?
Harrison:I wish I could say I was really satisfied with everything I did. But I can't really say that because when Allen died, his work, they just put it all away, and that was it. Nothing carried on. Although the opening and closing net, GM took that up and they did manufacturing. And in fact they're still making it. Yes, that's right. That's the thing that carried on; even the piston arrangement.
Doel: GM took on.
Harrison:GM. Not General Motors now. We call it GM. They're called GMMFG and Instrument Corp. Part of Kahl Scientific Instrument Corp. El Cajon, California.
Mrs. Harrison: Yeah, Kahl Seco. They're in California.
Harrison:And his son. I bet the old man must be dead by now. They still send us a calendar every year. So the company is still there. But they, they made quite a few of the opening and closing nets. And it wasn't long ago that they asked me, again, they asked me something about them, which indicated they were still making them. So, let's see you ask me about…
Mrs. Harrison:And he still sends me a calendar every year.
Harrison:There was, let's see Kahl Seco. Well it was scientific. Kahl Scientific Company. They were in La Jolla [CA] was it or?
Doel: In the vicinity of Scripps.
Harrison:In the vicinity of Scripps. Anybody at Scripps would know. Yes, I went out to Scripps once with Allen. We went to a meeting about the dissolution of forams. And they had it near Scripps. But we visited Scripps too. I met some of the people whose names I'd been seeing in the bibliographies, papers over and over again and never met the people. I met quite a few of them out there. I can't remember any of them right now.
Doel: I imagine that was an interesting experience.
Harrison:Yes. Yes. And there was something I wanted to say about that. San Diego. And then I know we ended up in San Diego. Well, Scripps, see, La Jolla is. Is La Jolla above LA or San Diego?
Doel: It's above San Diego.
Harrison:San Diego, yes. Okay. So, coming back from the Navy, we came into San Diego. And I remember spending a lot of time in that Star of India. Have you ever been there?
Harrison:The Star of India museum ship.
Doel: Yes. I've seen it at last.
Harrison:And it was still there. I didn't get over to visit it. But I understand they rebuilt it all. And it actually sails now.
Doel: I believe that's right.
Harrison:I belong to that organization that's interested in historical ships, whose name is National Maritime Historical Society. Anyway the publications. I get a publication every couple of months and they mention that Star of India.
Doel: You also mentioned off tape, and I want to just cover a few important points that you had raised. That you were also working, at least you had gone out on the one cruise with the Canadian hydrographic.
Harrison:Yes. That was interesting. Yes. It was the C. S. Hudson.
Doel: What was particularly interesting about that?
Harrison:Well, they had an open bar. [Laughter]
Doel: Which was unusual?
Harrison:No, but it was a big ship, over three hundred foot. It was much more comfortable than anything we had. I hadn't sailed on the Ewing. But I know the Ewing is not much over two hundred feet. We sailed from Halifax to the West Indies. I flew home from Trinidad.
Harrison:But it was a very comfortable ship. And the food was great, really. Every weekend we stopped at some islands. I was on it about 30 days.
Doel: When was it that you were sailing with them?
Harrison:Let's see. I think 1970 Allen went with me. And we were going to take Isaacs Kidd trawls, the big trawl, for the deep scattering layer. And, yes, we took a lot of tows on that cruise. Every day we had a sample. So it was a very well equipped ship. They had a lab, had the microscopes all set up in the lab. You could take a sample and look at it right away. And everything was very well and orderly. You didn't have to do any of the work yourself. They had a crew that put everything over the side. You just tell them put that net over now.
Doel: Is that right?
Harrison:And then they did it all.
Doel: Were there favorite scientists that you came to know at Lamont?
Harrison:At Lamont. Let's see. I always liked Walter [C.] Pitman [III]. I see him now at the dinners, the twenty-five year club dinner; always liked him. Although I never worked with him I don't think. I just met him from time to time. Let me see. I mean so many of them are gone now. Well, of course, you know my mind's sort of a blank right now. I can't remember anybody.
Doel: Sure. No, that's fine. I was wondering too.
Harrison:You ask me that again some time when we're first starting. I know there were a lot of nice people there. I worked a little with John Ewing. I liked him. Ken Hunkins is a likable chap.
Doel: Were there any people, any scientists that you and others in the engineering end found particularly to work with?
Harrison:Besides Roels, let's see. I don't know. There are people who didn't like Maurice Ewing at all.
Mrs. Harrison: Does this have to all be done in one session? I think he's tired.
Doel: We can bring this to. I just had a few more questions. We could either bring it to a close or resume again on another day.
Harrison:Oh you can finish. No finish up.
Doel: Okay. So we spend maybe ten minutes more.
Harrison:Take it to a stopping point.
Doel: Okay. One of the other things that I was curious about. You mention that there was a 3 p.m. coffee break. Was that? Did that tend to be always in the machine shop?
Harrison:Well, that's an interesting thing. The shop always had that, ten o'clock and three o'clock, about fifteen minute coffee break. And it got so popular, people used to come from, a lot of the scientists used to make sure they were there at that time. But when Allen brought me up to his lab, he wasn't happy, see, with his people. They weren't organized enough. People stood around talking a lot. When he started it off in '65, see, in his lab, he wanted me to get more work out of those people. Well, the obvious thing. See, they had a coffee pot that was on most of the time. Andy McIntyre’s lab was next door and he had a couple girls in there too. And they used to share our coffee pot. So at any one time there was always somebody, cup of coffee in the hand or having their coffee, talking to somebody who was working. So I said to Allen, why don't you get everybody together like they do in the shop, take ten or fifteen minutes, have coffee, let them talk, and then that's it. You know. And then let them go back to work and do this twice a day. And so we started that.
Harrison:But. And everybody seemed to like it. But then I noticed Allen seemed to be. He stopped going in. And this is not really a complaint about Allen, but I mean, I just find it kind of funny because a lot of places don't have any coffee break.
Doel: Sure. Exactly.
Harrison:But it was his prerogative. Then first thing you know, he stopped coming in for coffee. And then I noticed, every time we had coffee, he would come in, paper in his hand and want to know this and that. In other words, he would sort of force us to keep working because he had. So I took the hint, and I just disbanded the coffee.
Doel: When was that roughly? How long did the coffee breaks last?
Harrison:I doubt whether it was a year.
Harrison:But then I was pleased to find out when we got on the, on the Canadian ship, they had coffee break every ten o'clock and every three o'clock. And they stopped for tea, they call it.
Doel: So that was quite familiar.
Harrison:They had a big coffee pot. They put on a big coffee pot and a big tea pot. And I swear sometimes they had half tea and half. I got so I couldn't tell them apart. They made their tea very strong, but they put a lot of milk in it anyway. And I had trouble telling the tea from the coffee sometime. I think when the steward refilled them sometimes he mixed them up. But that was funny.
Doel: When you look back through the nearly three decades that you were at Lamont, what stands out in your mind as the major changes in the way that Lamont operated or the way the machine shop operated? What was different by the time that you left?
Harrison:Well, see, there must be something. Well, of course, the camaraderie but was just not there at the end.
Doel: At the end.
Harrison:Everybody was, everything was much more informal originally. We used to have parties in the shop, and everybody from Lamont would come there. That's where they held their Christmas party in the early days. Although one day someone got so drunk, he tore a phone off the wall, and Angelo said no more parties in the shop.
Doel: That's what ended them. Interesting.
Harrison:Oh let's see. The change like in thirty years. It was many more people, many more buildings. That has to change it somewhat. They had added the new machine shop, oceanography; must have doubled the size of the geochem building.
Doel: Did you found it was getting harder to know the individual scientists at Lamont?
Harrison:Yes. Oh yes definitely. There were all these people there I just never saw. Five hundred people working there when I left. And I know there wasn't anywhere near that much when I started.
Doel: Indeed. I wanted to ask one specific question and one general before we close today. You had mentioned off tape that there were a number of people that you became, that you worked with or came to know during the time that you were at the Bermuda biological station, including William Beebe if I recall.
Harrison:Yes. I never met him. Of course, I just saw that he had signed in the guest book kept in the lounge at the bio station. And I, of course, I read his book Half Mile Down. Did you ever read that? And I had looked it up after I worked with Otis Barton. I looked it up to see how much Otis really had to do with it. He had a lot to do with it and there were quite a few pictures of him in the book.
Doel: And this was with regard to the coring work. He worked with.
Harrison:Yes. Well, he had built, designed and built the bathysphere that Beebe used. But anyway, after I worked with him on that coring apparatus. Oh, there is a funny anecdote there. He must be dead now, but he was pretty old at the time. But he was kind of a character and he was his own man, you know. He had quite a bit of money. The equipment, some of the equipment he needed for the coring project like big pieces of steel, he lived in Central Park West in New York City. You know where that is; in one of the hotels there. And he would order the steel and have it sent down there. [Laughter] We're speaking to the driver from Frasse Steel when he saw Otis was there at the shop. He said, gee this guy, I have to take steel down to his place, 30 Central Park West. And that the doorman wouldn't take it.
Doel: That's interesting.
Harrison:I thought that was quite funny. What was the other? Oh yeah. He had a big aluminum frame this whole, this apparatus was going to sit it. And at the time, we didn't do much aluminum welding at Lamont; although John [Sindt] is very good at it now.
Doel: John Sindt.
Harrison:Yes. John. He wanted to weld a few pieces to it. And he put it on the back of a truck, a rack truck, and he was going to take it down to a place on Route 4 to weld. And I had, oh at lunchtime I guess it was, I went out. We were using the back way then, but it was just a little winding road that went out — directly on to 9W, roughly where the main entrance is now.
Doel: That went out behind the back of, Ludlow Lane.
Harrison:Behind the gate. And you can still see, you could still see parts of it there. Anyway there was an apple tree there that had quite low branches. So I went out there at noon, I was going to go downtown. And I see his rack hanging from the apple tree. He didn't know he lost it. And then so I went back to the lab to see if we heard from him at all. And just then the phone rang and it's him, and he says, you know, Stan, I lost that thing somewhere on the road and I can't find it. I have to go looking for it along Route 4. So I told him, well, don't worry. It's up here. It's hanging from the apple tree. Meantime, I had taken it back to the shop. [Laughter] I don't know how he could lose it and not realize it. Filled the whole back of the rack.
Doel: I'm sure it did.
Harrison:But he was a nice, nice old guy.
Doel: I wanted to ask you one final question which was whether, as you look back, there were any particular strong beliefs that you felt that throughout your career or your life that have been very important to you?
Doel: Beliefs or convictions of any sort.
Harrison:Well. I am a Catholic. I feel like that helps a bit, for me. I wasn't always a Catholic. My wife was Catholic and then I became a Catholic after we married. But sociologically speaking, well I do know one thing; you really have to like what you're doing. And that's one reason I was so happy at Lamont. Life can be awfully different if you're, at least eight hours a day, doing something you don't like. I don't know how you can survive. I have had a couple of those jobs, not many. I always liked the machine work, and some sort of designing. But parts of it were difficult, like the last job. They sent me out to Chicago once, I told you. Boy, I went into a canning factory. It was Crown Cork and Seal. They used to be well known around here. They had, they were making aerosol cans. And, the apparatus we made was an automatic hopper thing that fed the top of the aerosol can into that thing. They said, at the office, two things were wrong with the thing. It won't feed the things in. And if you put them in by hand, it still doesn't, it still doesn't push in the plastic insert. So I walked out to the production line and the din that those people worked under. The cans were rolling on conveyors all over the place. I stood there and looked at the machine. It took me a couple of minutes, really, for my head to get together in the noise to know what was wrong with the machine. I realized they had the hopper rotating backwards. That whole week was very unpleasant for me. I couldn't find immediately what was wrong with the other part of the operation.
Chicago is no place to spend your time. It was the south side. The work was in the south side. I think the hotel was in the west side. So I had to go home every night on the bus. And I was there ten days. But that was something I would not want to do that on a regular basis. They used to send us out quite a bit. To repair the different machines they were having trouble with. So I don't know how people can do that on a regular basis.
Doel: It's clear that made quite an impression on you. And it sounds as if that was one of the reasons that the Lamont opportunity looked as good as it did once you received it.
Doel: It was clear your interest in geology and in related fields played a role in that too. You mentioned off tape you had taken classes at the local schools.
Harrison:Yes. Now, let's see. Was that after? No I was already taking mineralogy, yes, at one of the local schools. At a high school. Adult education. So I was interested in minerals. And so that was. So once I started at Lamont then, the shop, the same guy that ran these courses actually taught physical geology too. So I took that and then paleontology. And I took that. It all fit, seemed to fit in. Gave me an interest in it. So then I decided, I decided that I'd take some biology courses at Fairleigh Dickinson [University] which I did, nights. So that was all while I was still in the shop. And I was telling Allen about it, and that's one of the reasons he started thinking about having me in his lab.
Doel: That's very interesting. Did you find that what you were learning helped once you began working for Allen?
Harrison:Oh yes very much so. That's about it. The engineering thing is kind of funny too. Oh that was one of Allen's old traits. He was quite secretive, you know, by nature, you know. If he gave me a raise, normally they sent a notice, you know, that someone's raise to so and so, and the boss would Xerox it and give you a copy or something. So you know you got a raise and how much it is. With Allen, he never mentioned it. You just noticed your check was different. You would sit down and calculate it out and find out you got a raise and you'd figure out how much you had. So then, and then I would thank him, you know, thanks for the raise. But he would never send me; give me a copy of that slip. So it was the same thing when it came to, when they reclassified everybody. They gave everybody a classification.
Doel: Was this in the 1960s?
Harrison:Yes. It was after I started with Allen. So it was after '65. Probably a couple years. They decide everybody has to have a classification of some sort. So you had to make out a form telling what you did and what you thought your classification. So, Allen was away at that time. And your boss was supposed to make out part of it. You were supposed to make out part and he was supposed to make out part. So I couldn't confer with him, Andy McIntyre was his co-investigator at the time. I don't know whether you know Andy McIntyre.
Doel: I know of him.
Harrison:And he said, oh, I’ll take care of that part. So I had just put down research assistant, at least that’s what I wanted. Whether it was a part that asked that or not. Anyway, he said something about just put your name on it, I’ll take care of the rest. So he's the one that put down engineer, which I never would have, see. I felt that research assistant, more of a technician, you know. When Allen came back, he never said anything about it. And never gave me a notice or anything of what I was. So I later found out that I was an engineer. Oh a couple of years later that was.
Doel: Did Allen Be seem more secretive than most Lamont people that you knew?
Harrison:Oh yes. Well, he was by nature. I mean, he came from a different world than us. He was Chinese brought up and then in Indonesia, speaking Dutch. And then he went, after the uprising in Indonesia, he went to Holland. But he was different, that's all. And you had to learn to be different with him.
Doel: I think you put that well. And I do want to thank you very much for this long session. We have gone for quite a while now. It's probably a good time.
Harrison:I hope I didn't step on anybody's toes.
Doel: Let me thank you very, very much, and you will be getting a transcript of this interview from Columbia University. Thank you again.