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Interview of Babette Whipple by David DeVorkin on 2007 October 29, Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics, College Park, MD USA, www.aip.org/history-programs/niels-bohr-library/oral-histories/37898
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Biographical profile of Babette Whipple, widow of Fred Whipple, concentrating on her marriage and life. Early home life, parent's divorce, peripatetic existence. Growing up in Memphis. Extended visits to New York City. Move to Europe with mother at age 12. Schooling in Cannes and experiences in Europe. Mother's personality. Visiting father in New York City. Momentary estrangement from mother, move to New York, and eventual return to Europe to stay in Brussels. Choice of Wellesley and major in philosophy. Graduate yaer at Radcliffe in philosophy and switch to psychology. PhD in psychology in 1945. Discussion of Harvard faculty in psychology - Allport, Boring and Stevens. Meeting Fred Whippe and their courtship. Contact with Earle Whipple. Fred's personality, importance of her training in psychology, his sense of denial about infirmities. State of the Harvard department in the early 1950s and Fred's role. Management style. Relations with Leo Goldberg. Recollections of how Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) started at Harvard. Reactions to Sputnik and increased visibility.
I’m David DeVorkin, and I am in Belmont, Massachusetts at 35 Elizabeth Road. And I am sitting in the dining room?
Thank you, okay — yes of course the formal dining room is out there — with Babette Samelson Whipple. The auspices is The Smithsonian, the National Science Foundation and NASA. They’ve all contributed to supporting this work, and so we put that in. Can I call you Babette?
Whatever you want.
For the record, okay. What I’d like to do is start with your life and spend the first portion of this interview getting to know you. So when and where were you born?
I was born in Memphis, Tennessee on July 22nd, 1918. I was born in the Baptist Hospital. My father was in the Army. He was a private. His name was Monroe Goldstein. He had a law degree, New York, even though he had not gone to college. He went from high school to law school. And he and my mother met at a social work conference in Milwaukee, I think. She was a graduate of Wellesley College. And he came down, got leave to be present when I was born. But unfortunately, I wasn’t born during the course of his leave; he left two days before I was born.
Thereafter, I lived in my grandfather’s house on Harbert Avenue. The first year of my life had its ups and downs, because that was 1918, the year of the pandemic flu. My mother caught it, and after a few days of my birth, she was not able to breastfeed me. It was difficult to find somebody available. As she said in her notes, “I’ll take anybody — black, white, green, or yellow, no matter what color — if they’ll be able to nurse my baby.”
What was your mother’s full name?
Dorothy Janet Samelson, and at that point in her life, Goldstein.
So her maiden name?
Was Dorothy Janet Samelson.
And you took her name.
There was no choice on my part. I was born as Babette for my aunt, my mother’s older sister, whose name was Babette, and her grandmother, whose name was Babette. They had come from Alsace-Lorraine, where Babette is a diminutive for Elizabeth. After my birth, there was a nurse by the name of Grace who came on the scene, and Grace and my mother were up in Wisconsin when I was about a year old. Mother always left Memphis in May, if she could, and returned in October, because she hated the heat. When we were in Wisconsin, two things happened. One is, sometime either before I was one year old or slightly after, she divorced my father, and then she took her maiden name back so that I became Babette Frances Samelson. And I was named Frances after a very dear friend of my mother’s when she was at college, and I got to know her when I was at Wellesley — a remarkable woman.
How old were you when your parents divorced?
About a year old.
Oh, that early?
So he was still in the war?
No, by then the war had stopped.
1918, right. So he had leave, and then he went back?
He was a private, and the only rationale that I was ever given for the divorce was the fact that after I was born and mother recovered her health, she went to live with my father’s stepmother in New York City, and that was intolerable — not only from her point of view, but my father’s younger sister, who talked to me about her many years later, obviously. Mother wanted to stay in New York, but she didn’t have enough money, so she had to get a job. And she had resented the fact that my father would refuse to go to officer’s training. He stayed a private so that he didn’t have enough money to support her. I don’t know how much of that is rationalization, how much of that is truth.
But in any case, the first few years of my life, I lived in New York. Mother was working as a secretary to a dentist, and he wanted to take her out, so she quit the job so she could ride horseback in Central Park West with the dentist. But basically, she made good friends with friends of my father’s, who I got to know many years later. Then, my mother’s mother in Memphis became ill, when I was about three or four years old. We were in Atlantic City, and mother had to go back home to take care of her father, run the household, because she was the next-oldest sibling. The oldest, Babette (Aunt Bob, we called her) had gotten married, so mother had to take care of her father and the younger ones. Mother then got sick with TB and had to go to Lake Saranac. I was about six years old, five or six. So there was a lot of back-and-forthing during those early years. At one time, when mother was hospitalized for about three weeks or four weeks, I lived with the Binswanger family. Emmie Sue was slightly older than I was, just about six months, and my best friend. She lived very close to the old house I was in on Harbert Avenue, so that it was easy for me to bicycle up there two or three blocks. And I lived with the Binswangers for about a month, and this was an extraordinarily wonderful experience for me to be with that family. I get very emotional about this because Emmie Sue died a few years ago, and we were very close friends for all those years.
Oh, that’s a real loss.
Her husband died shortly afterwards. She and her husband lived in Dallas, Texas, and there were many, many occasions on which we interacted.
Yeah, that’s certainly a loss, a terrible loss.
So then, to go back to Memphis, when her mother had died, a year or so after that, or maybe closely after she came back from Saranac, we moved to the Parkview Hotel in Memphis, which was on the opposite side of the city from my old neighborhood, and we lived there in the wintertime until I was 12 years old. The outstanding memories I have of that time were going past the neighboring orphanage and seeing all the kids playing behind the iron fence and wishing that I was inside, because I didn’t have a big family; I was the only child. I wanted siblings, and these kids were playing and having fun.
But you had a mother.
I had a mother, but at the same time, my mother was a difficult person, because I remember walking along the sidewalk there, and mother pushing me down against the grass, playfully. She thought it was fun — a game. I didn’t like it. I was, what, six years old, and I could walk straight, and I didn’t want to be pushed down, and I was very angry. So that memory of that orphanage is combined with insult from my mother.
So you took that as an insult?
Oh, yes. I didn’t think it was funny at all. I asked her not to, “Please don’t push me down.”
After she did it?
And did she ever do it again?
Yes, immediately afterwards.
What was she trying to do?
To toughen me. She believed in independence, and she encouraged me to do things by myself. I was kind of wild in many ways. We had a chauffeur and a car that her younger brother had given to us — the car, anyhow, not the chauffeur — and Parkview Hotel was right on Overton Park, which was a large park, and I used to go horseback riding there, but I also hung onto the car on my bicycle, and I enjoyed doing that very much, but this was reported to my mother, and that was the end of that.
Yeah, I could imagine.
And various other things that I did that she encouraged me to be. I was scared underneath, I guess, but I did these things that were, I guess, verboten, you know. And when I was older, she encouraged me to do things on my own, and I followed that same pattern with my kids, I think, to their detriment, such as insisting that they ride on the back of a bicycle when Fred and I were bicycling, one on one bike and the other on the other bike, and they didn’t like it, and I pushed them to do it.
They were scared.
They were scared, yeah. And I didn’t relinquish my control in that sense.
Plenty of people have their children ride on the back.
But maybe their kids aren’t scared. But when they pleaded not to, you see…
Both of them? Laura and…
No, not Laura. Laura just seemed to sit.
Okay. Did you go to the public schools?
I went to so many schools. I counted them up once. Including summer school after I had graduated from college. 21 all together. Nursery schools…
Sure, but in Memphis, up to about the age of 12?
Well, when I started school, we were living on Harbert Avenue, and I went to the same school that Emmie Sue went to, which was a private school called Lausanne, and it wasn’t far from the house. And there was a lovely headmistress there, and I remember enjoying the maypole, where you have different colored strings or ropes, and then you go in and out around the maypole. I was there for about two years. And then my mother’s younger sister got married in New York and was expecting her baby, so we left Memphis and went to New York and lived in New York for at least one term. That was at PS number nine. I started out in the classroom on the back row, because where you sat depended on how good you were in the arithmetic. And they moved me up to the front row at the end of the term, and then I never went back to that school again because we went back to Memphis. So then I went to a public school from the Parkview, and there I was promoted a grade because I had learned so much in my schooling in New York. So they skipped me a grade.
So the New York schools were more advanced at the elementary grades?
At least in math. I don’t know what else, why they jumped me, but they did. So when I was ready for college, I entered college just as I turned 16 — not 17.
Wow, that’s quick.
No, because I hadn’t skipped any other grades, but they skipped me.
Sure. So you were in Memphis until 12, and then your mother moved?
She moved to Europe. We had been going to Europe every summer, almost. The summers she took off for vacations. Sometimes, she went off without me and put me in camp — two different camps. One camp Emmie Sue and I both went to, and one camp my first cousin on my father’s side — the only relation on that side that was my age — and I went to a different camp. And during those summers, mother went traveling off West with her younger brother.
How did you feel about that?
Well, how do you think I felt?
Well, it’s hard to say. If your mother was very stern with you or competitive with you, pushing you down and stuff…
She was very generous. She gave me absolutely everything I wanted. I had an amazing number of things. I had a gorgeous boy’s bicycle — because that’s what I wanted to be, a boy; you could get away with more stuff. I had chaps that were leather with fur on them. Can you imagine? Really high-class chaps.
That’s high class, I should say.
I had an erector set, which is still in the basement, which was an extraordinarily good erector set. I had all the things that she could give me.
But what about the intimacy that a mother could give?
She depended on me in one very important way. I have an excellent sense of direction. Can’t remember words for the heck of it. I can’t remember so-and-so’s name; I can’t remember a word I need. I have to look it up on the Internet now. It used to be a dictionary. One time, when I was writing the one and only book I ever wrote, I would flail my arms like this in order to get a word, and then somehow or other, that produced the word. Anyhow, I had an excellent sense of direction. So she would take me along with her so that I could find our way home. And this was characteristic of our trips around Paris, which I got to know very well, because I knew how to get us back home.
So you moved to Paris.
Yes, we had started going to Europe when I was, I guess, six years old, after her mother had died and she had gotten her health back, and we went almost every summer to Europe, except for one summer, which was when we went to California and she studied at Berkeley. I have memories from that period. We met Luther Burbank. I have a picture of me with him. My friend Emmie Sue and her family had come out, and we joined them on a trip to Alaska with my mother and my mother’s sister Carolyn, and they stopped where the boat went, which was Skagway, I think, and we went on the train and got to the Yukon and went down to, what was it, Dawson City? It was in Canada. I have visual memories from all of that trip.
These kinds of things, the travel and everything, they take considerable resources. Now you said your mother did not have enough money.
So how did all this work?
That’s a good question. She inherited money from her father when he died. I’m not sure of those dates; I’ve got them written down. Sandy is the one who knows the family dates, and I can dig them up somewhere. So at that point, she skimped on lots of things in order to have the money to do what she wanted to do, and going to Europe was, to a large extent, because the dollar, in those days, made her a millionaire in Europe.
Oh, in the ‘20s.
In the ‘20s. She was able to shop at Gallerie Lafayette and all the fancy places.
Did she know French and other languages?
She pretended not to know it when accosted by a policeman walking around at night going to the opera without her carte d'identité, and she said she didn’t understand French, but she understood it. She couldn’t speak it very well. I could. We lived in — oh, gosh. Now I can’t think of the name. Where Monet lived. [Giverny - 80 km west of Paris] Anyhow, she put me in school there with a priest to learn French. And I had a blue cahier, and I learned French, and we spent the summer there.
This was when you were 12, or earlier?
No, when I was about six.
Well, I had had a French governess when I was two or three, when she was working and living in New York. She wanted me to learn French, so she exposed me to French. She did a lot of good things for me that I’m very grateful for, but the relationship was never a close one. I was dating Fred for about six months before I introduced her to him, because she was so critical of everybody. Extremely critical.
Of you, too?
Yes, and of the grandchildren. If I got an A, why didn’t you get an A plus?
So you actually lived in Europe year round starting at age 12?
So where in Europe did you live? Paris, certainly?
No. The first year, we lived in Cannes. Her very close friend, Babette Becker and her mother and my mother and I lived in a pension, and I commuted to school. By the end of the first term, I had begged to be allowed to be a pensionaire.
What is pension?
A pension is a house where you pay for your room and your board. So I then became a student at this school called Cours Maintenon. I really learned French at grade level then. The next year, the Binswangers come in again. That summer, the Binswangers had engaged a Belgian by the name of Leon Villmont to arrange a tour of Europe for them, and we joined them, and so did this Monsieur Villmont. And eventually he and my mother got married. So the next year, after my first year in Cannes, she was living in Cagnes Sur Mer, and that was an artist colony. So on Thursday afternoon, I would take the bus from Cannes, from my school (now I was in the public school there, no longer in a private school) and there, I met one of my closest friends for many years, a Yugoslavian girl whom I later visited in Yugoslavia. I would go from Cannes to Cagnes Sur Mer on Thursday, and on Saturday afternoon and Sunday I would spend with Dossie and Leon. Her nickname was Dossie.
How did you feel about her remarriage?
Oh, he was absolutely charming — so charming. I thought he was fabulous.
Did he adopt you as his daughter?
They didn’t get married yet. This was an artist colony. People didn’t get married.
How did you feel about that? You must have been how old by then?
I was 13, 14. Everybody was living with somebody or other.
So you sort of adopted the French artist colony persona at that time?
Well, I think I had been open to it earlier than that time. My mother was a very unconventional woman, as you, I think, are beginning to hear.
I’m learning, yes.
Very unconventional. But in some ways, she hadn’t changed. When you ask me about that, I remember that one Easter vacation, we all went to Corsica, and we put the car on the boat, and I didn’t see the process of putting the car on the boat, but when we went to Corsica, and the cars were unloaded, our car wasn’t there, and Dossie and Leon said, “Oh, well, this car doesn’t have a driver; let’s take it.” So we got in that car, and I was really upset. We went all day long in somebody else’s car. And finally, they told me that they had bought a new car.
And you were 13?
Probably 14 at that point.
That’s a mind game!
That’s what I’m saying. She was very, very giving, materially. I wanted a violin; I could have a violin — whatever. She had all kinds of tricks.
Fascinating, just fascinating. When did you, as a child, realize that you had to protect yourself against this, somewhat? I would imagine you did, at some point.
Well, I read a lot, and I got into trouble a lot.
Oh, for doing what?
Well, when we were living on Harbert Avenue, there were some nasty boys who lived across the street. I was forbidden to play with them, because they were mean boys. But we had, next to our house, a piece of property that had nothing on it, and so we played tag, and I got hurt, and I didn’t dare go home. I went to the next-door neighbor, Mrs. Skippwith, who had a granddaughter who was my best friend, who was totally deaf, and in those days, we called them deaf and dumb, and whenever they wanted her to do something, they would tell me, and I would get her to do it. So I went to her house after I had broken my leg, because I didn’t dare —
You broke your leg?
Yeah, okay. How did you get there? You must have been in terrible pain.
I don’t remember getting there; I just remember where I went, and that I had broken my leg.
Did the boys help you?
I don’t remember any more than what I said.
That’s really severe.
Well, I was unconventional. I was the unconventional daughter of an unconventional mother.
So this is how you were protecting yourself, in a way.
I guess so.
Well, let’s move on. How long did you stay in Europe?
Well, the summer after my second year in school in Cannes, we drove up toward Germany, and by the time we got to Switzerland I had made such a nuisance of myself that they had decided to put me in school there. So they put me in school in a school for girls right near Vevey, and ten years later, Madame Albright went to that school — same school.
Oh, Madeline Albright.
Yeah. So I was at that school for one year. Then my father and I had begun a correspondence. Every time we would go to New York to visit my Aunt Caroline, and her husband, which was frequent, I would get to spend a few days with my cousin Rae, who was my father’s niece, and then my father would pick me up at her house and I would spend a day or two with my father, and I had some crazy experiences with him. He belonged to the Friars Club in New York — famous for actors. He had long since gotten rid of his interest in social work and had become a lawyer for actors and prize fighters and so forth. His closest friend was Eddy Robinson and Primo Carnera. He brought a troop of midgets over from Germany. He had me spend the night at the Friars Club without telling me where the bathroom was. So fortunately, the room in which he put me had a window that led onto an adjacent roof, and I made that my bathroom. There was a midget there, and I couldn’t understand why the midget could smoke a cigar and I couldn’t.
You were what age then, 13, 14?
No, I was five or six.
Oh, so you stayed in contact with your father periodically throughout.
Yes, once or twice a year. And my father was a brilliant, brilliant lawyer, who unfortunately was doomed to always get the low end of the deal.
Why was that?
And he lived in New York?
Until his friends moved to LA. And he bought a property in Beverly Hills. I guess it’s Beverly Hills, that was not too far from where the Robinsons lived. I remember going there. It was a cul de sac. His house was right by the road, and right next to his house was public property. He had a barn with a horse in it, and I could ride that horse into this public area. His property went all the way up to Mulholland Drive. He had a big acreage, but the floods came. He had to pave it, and eventually he had to sell some of the property on the top because he was impoverished. He lost money very easily.
In the ‘30s, yes.
No, by going to the races and taking me and encouraging me to bet. I won enough money to buy myself a winter coat—a beautiful, blue, camel’s hair coat.
That’s wonderful. Between your mother and your father, I’m telling you, this is quite something. But did you actually leave Vevey, or did you leave Europe and live with your father after a while?
After I was there for one year, by correspondence with my father, he said, “Why don’t you come over and visit me,” so I said, “Fine.” Mother put me on the boat, and my father greeted me, and it was quite a boat ride. I enjoyed it tremendously. My father didn’t know what to do with this. By then I was about 14, 15 years old. My mother said I could come back if I did what I was supposed to do — go to bed at 10:00 at night and so forth and so on. Well, I couldn’t do that with my father. He would call me up and say, “Put your evening dress on; we’re going up to Harlem,” and I would have to walk from the hotel on one side of Broadway over to his office in the Rockefeller Center, and then we would go with Eddy and his friends up to Harlem.
He took you along?
And did you prefer that to going to bed at ten?
I was scared walking that street by myself. I got hoots and everything.
Oh, in your evening dress?
Yes, and high heels.
But did you stay, then, in New York?
Well, he farmed me out. He couldn’t stand it, either. He asked friends of his who were on Long Island to take me in for two weeks, which was absolutely heaven. And then he asked another friend who was a friend of my mother’s, who lived in Connecticut, to take me, and she had a daughter who was a year older than I was. This was in Greenwich. The daughter taught me how to drive. I wasn’t 16 yet, and the only accident I had for many, many years was when I parked in the rotary thing. I parked head in, and then I backed out without looking, and a car bumped into me.
The car bumped into you?
Yes, right. Well, I had backed out; I shouldn’t have without looking.
But this was a car in motion, or just a parked car?
A car in motion. I wasn’t looking. But I learned to drive on the four-way highway there that summer. My friend’s daughter had no right to teach me to drive on that. What was it, Route One?
No, it wasn’t the Parkway; it was the road that Parkway superseded. So that was that summer.
But did you stay in the United States?
Well, obviously, I couldn’t go back to my mother.
I had not done what she had told me to do. We were no longer on speaking terms.
So I went to my father’s uncle-in-law and his wife and their daughter, Morris Rayfield Cohen. You may have heard of him — a famous philosopher at City College. His daughter had gone to Smith. So she suggested that I go to a girls’ school that she knew of in Northampton. So I went up and interviewed the headmistress and said, “I’m coming here, thank you,” and went to school there.
What was the name of the school?
Northampton School for Girls. So just before Christmas, she called me in and said that my father wasn’t paying the bill.
I was going to ask.
And at that point, my Aunt Caroline, my mother’s younger sister, persuaded my mother to come from Europe to visit her, and make up with me, pay my bill. Actually, her younger brother, Ira Samelson, paid the bill. And I stayed there for the rest of the year, and I went back to Europe to be with my mother for my senior year at high school and lived in Brussels with her and Leon. The when the war came in ‘39 or ‘38, I guess they decided to move to the states and moved to Wellesley, where I was in college, and rented a house around the corner from me. And at that point, they got married, and the marriage contract signed had a big financial clause to it so that — Mother was afraid that he was after her money.
So your mother did inherit a good bit of money.
Not much, no. Enough to live on.
And enough to worry that Leon might abscond with it.
Was he that kind of a person?
No. But he couldn’t take her for many years, and he was a traveling salesman for a furniture company, which I have much of the furniture here. I can show you which pieces came from the company he was working for, which is a leftover from the friends that mother made in college, because when she came back here, it was to be with all these friends.
Now, did your mother choose Wellesley because she had gone to Wellesley?
Yes. I chose Wellesley because I only knew Wellesley and Smith, and I liked Wellesley better. This is before she moved over. Her friends were here for overnights and that sort of thing, and it was a beautiful campus and so forth. So then he was traveling, and I guess after a few years of this, he couldn’t put up with her and got divorced, and married the woman he had found, moved to California, and became extremely wealthy, because he bought up cheap real estate, and he was a salesman. So he ended up very wealthy. Crazy story?
Crazy story. Crazy, but fascinating. Absolutely fascinating.
Okay, let’s put you at Wellesley. What were your interests? Did you have any interests — career interests, life interests?
What were they?
I was a major in philosophy and minor in Greek, because I wanted to read Plato in the original.
And where did you get that idea?
Well, my first year, my freshman year, I studied with a charismatic teacher, and there’s a Greek phrase, “Know thyself” — Socrates. I didn’t know myself, but I thought I had better learn. And what better way to learn than to study philosophy? And since I knew some German and some French, I thought, you know, I’ll take another language on, but I’m not a good linguist; I’m not good with words. And I studied with this absolutely fabulous teacher, Mary McCarthy. She was the teacher of Greek, and I was in that class with one other student. There were two of us. The other student was good with language. I had a horrible time, but I persevered for the three years of studying Greek. Now, I don’t think I could read it. So I majored in philosophy.
Was your choice for philosophy anything to do with the fact that you stayed with Morris Cohen?
Okay. That was just coincidental.
No, it had to do with my other professor, Tom Proctor. He got me interested in Whitehead’s work. So when I was a senior, I had gone through all of the courses in philosophy that were available at Wellesley, and my father had given me a car the summer before so I could drive out with my friends and spend the summer with him. So I commuted from Wellesley to Cambridge to take courses at Harvard. It was Radcliff, but the teaching was at Harvard, but the exams were at Radcliff. So I took courses with the leading philosophers there. So then I did well at Wellesley; I was a Durant Scholar and got fellowship to go of $750, which paid both my tuition and my apartment living with other students. It was quite an apartment: 53 Mt. Auburn Street. The women had rooms on the second floor, and the men had rooms on the third floor. We had joint dinners. We hired a cook to do the shopping, give us the dinners, cook the dinners, and clean up after us. We invited visiting scholars and professors to join us. And it was right opposite where I was studying, namely, Murray Center, and that was my second year of graduate school.
Were you in Radcliff in grad school?
Yes. Let’s see. I’m skipping the first year. The first year in graduate school, the first term, I was still going to be a philosopher, but the people I was studying with were so much more brilliant that I could never achieve anything novel in philosophy or contribute anything other than regurgitating what I had learned and be a teacher that I became quite depressed with it. One of my friends said, “Well, why don’t you try psychology?” So the second term of my first year of graduate school I tried psychology, and switched the next year to be a psychology major. And so then eventually, in 1945, I got my degree — PhD in psychology — having had very little exposure to courses in psychology because of the requirements for distribution that Harvard had at that time. I had to take statistics, take sociology, anthropology, you name it. And since I had coursework in philosophy, that counted. So by the end of my second year in graduate school, I had had very little exposure to psychology.
Were you interested in it as an academic pursuit or clinical pursuit?
Academic at that point, but since I was exposed to Murray, it was all clinical, except you could do what people did who worked with him — research using measurement tools, thematic apperception test, for example.
The way that you described your entry into philosophy, initially, was the Socratic “know thyself”. Did you see psychology as another way?
Okay, the answer’s yes.
The answer is definitely yes. And I learned one hell of a lot, but I felt very inferior to the men who were in those courses, because they had had so much more exposure to psychology and to people than I had. I really didn’t know anything about people, much less myself.
Which psychologists were most interesting to you, or writers of psychology?
I had an intense interest in Freudian psychology, but that was not what was relevant in my coursework, because nobody at Harvard at that point was interested in Freud. But I had had a couple of years of psychoanalysis — starving, I guess, in my second year of graduate work. I had become deeply depressed and had found a wonderful, wonderful analyst, and thought that that was the way to go. I was learning an awful lot in those years.
So this was a lot of self-knowledge work as well as intellectual.
I don’t know to what extent I learned about myself. I began to learn about other people. I don’t know to what extent I learned about myself.
At that time?
At that time, yes.
Now Harvard, as far as psychology was concerned, was adhering to what particular flavor?
Harvard was an amalgam of brilliant men who disagreed completely, and [Gordon] Allport, who was the man who anonymously helped me enormously, and [Edwin] Boring. One had offices at one end of the hall, and Boring had offices at the other end of the hall. They never spoke to each other, but they corresponded daily — one end of the hall to the other end of the hall. Smitty Stevens was in another part of the building, and he disapproved 100% of the thesis that I proposed to do because it wasn’t scientific enough. Allport managed to get me funds to go to Colorado to get the data from the National Opinion Research Center on attitudes of white people towards negroes — a countrywide poll, which I did. I eventually found out that Allport had made that possible for me.
Oh, you didn’t know at the time, but this is something you had proposed to do?
He suggested it?
Yes. I had proposed to do something which was very interesting, but Smitty Stevens said no.
What did you propose, initially?
I proposed to make up cards, and actually, the wife of one of the members of the psychology student group that I was with, who subsequently became very famous and a good friend of ours, I proposed to use the TAT cards that she drew up for me for children to respond to, having white children, black children, and yellow Asiatic children as the people in these cards instead of the TAT cards, which were made for adults, and to show children these cards in kindergarten, first grade, second grade to see when prejudice developed in children, and it was something that was not quantifiable enough for Smitty Stevens. The year I got my PhD, which was in 1945, was the last year that these three men shared that same floor. Smitty Stevens took his group over to the basement of Memorial Hall. That became the Psychology Department at Harvard. The others became a Social Relations Department. So the enmity, and it was almost time for Boring to retire. I had close relations with Smitty later, because he and Fred enjoyed each other so much at the American Philosophical Society meetings, that we became good friends.
Oh, that’s interesting. Did he ever say to you…?
Never brought it up.
Never brought it up. Okay.
I, in those days, was not a feminist. I felt inferior to men and didn’t stand up for myself.
So you didn’t adopt your mother’s — did she feel inferior to men?
Oh, okay. I see. Even though she certainly acted independently?
Finances were totally in the hands of her brother-in-law who had married her sister Carolyn in New York. He was brilliant. He took care of her finances. She always thought that men were, well, they were more creative; they were more…
Yes. I don’t remember her encouraging me to read anything because it was written by a woman.
When you got the boys’ bicycle, partly you said, in a beautiful way there, because boys get away with things. You had this feeling all through your life, I take it.
But you didn’t feel there was a way you could transcend that?
No, absolutely not.
At this time — at least ‘45. Okay, you’re getting your degree; you’re defending your PhD, and certainly, if there’s something to talk about that, I would be interested.
Okay, but then…
Yes, there is. It was brilliant. I didn’t go anywhere with it. If I had been a man, I would have had a fantastic career. In those days, opinion polls did not differentiate between beliefs and attitudes. And I thought that that was a very important distinction. So I was the first one to bring that to the fore.
Yes. And this was in 1945, discussing honestly what prejudice against blacks meant, even though people thought they weren’t prejudiced. I wrote one little article on taking one woman’s answers to these questions — which are yes-and-no questions, practically — and made a case for showing that even the most intelligent, warm-hearted people in the South were basically very prejudiced. So this was a clarion call that had I been more confident of myself, more engaged in speaking out, could have helped when the case came to the Supreme Court.
Brown versus [Board of Education]…
That was a number of years later. That would have been a good study.
I had data which were relevant. I could have gone on, made a career of myself for this. I was quoted in those days.
So what were you planning to do with your life?
I don’t know. I really, really, really was planning to find a husband. I was planning to get married.
So you were in your late 20s or mid-to-late 20s.
And how did you manage to do that?
How did I manage to get married?
Well, I almost married the wrong man because I was so eager to get married, but I realized I just simply couldn’t marry him, and he realized he couldn’t marry me, so that was a parting that took no pain.
What was the mechanism of meeting men, then?
In the classroom.
In class, okay. So these were other students, then? Or faculty?
Or meetings. You would go to professional meetings.
But not mixers — social mixers and things like that?
I had plenty of dates. I was always invited on Saturdays to the football games, and sometimes, oh, one Saturday, I had dates with three different men. I didn’t have a problem finding people, but they weren’t right.
What was right? What were you looking for?
Somebody who was smarter than me [chuckles]. And I could find them, but at the wrong [times].
But then there would have to be other characteristics, I would imagine.
I think sure of themselves, and I think wanting to take the lead that I could follow.
You wanted that?
I think so.
How did you meet Fred?
Well, that’s because of Florence Menzel. She insisted that Fred go to a New Year’s Eve party. Or was it a Christmas party? I got mixed up now as to which it was, because I was sure of which it was, and Fred thought it was a different one, and then I would have to look it up, or ask Liz Menzel.
Liz Menzel’s the daughter, right?
One of my closest friends. She insisted that Fred go with them to this party on Beacon Hill, and I was living at 9 Ware Street in Cambridge, which probably belongs to Harvard at this point. It’s right next block over from Quincy Street, so it’s probably a Harvard property. I was living there with a roommate, and my mother knew the host and hostess, and they had a son who had just come out of the Army, so they thought that I should go to that party. So I went to that party with my friend, and I had a car.
What year was this, ‘46?
Well, it was ‘45. It was either Christmas or the 31st.
Sure, okay. So you were about 27, 26?
I was either 26 and half or 25 and a half. It doesn’t matter; my arithmetic’s no good.
So you went there ostensibly to meet the son of the host.
Exactly. We had a few dates, but he wasn’t for me and I wasn’t for him. But their parents had a game. You send two people out of the room, and you decide what they’re going to do when they come back in. And he has a big drum. And he bangs on the drum very, very fast if you’re hot and slow if you’re going the wrong direction.
Hot and cold? Okay.
They sent Fred and me out.
Oh, just random choice?
I don’t know. I’m telling you, they sent Fred and me out.
They being the hosts?
I don’t know. Fred and I went out. We didn’t do it by choice. We came back in, and in no time, flat, we solved the puzzle. I was to sit on his lap. He was to take out a comb and comb his hair. Or I was to comb his hair.
And you had to figure that out?
And we did it very quickly.
So then at the end of the party, he asked my friend (I can’t think of her name now, but it will come back to me) to give him a lift home, because he didn’t have car. Then when he got out, he said, “May I call on you two weeks from now?” And I said, “With pleasure.” And Liz Davis told me (that’s the Menzel’s daughter) told me many years later how she and her sister had gone down in the elevator with us when we left, and had been twittering that this was a match.
Ah, but you still went out with the son of the host?
A couple of times. Maybe I had gone out with him earlier. I don’t remember.
Sure, sure. Okay, so you met Fred, and he said two weeks?
Why two weeks?
He said two weeks, and I said fine. And then he called me up a few days later and said, “How about this weekend?” So he said Saturday. I said, “Well, I’m going out for dinner with my friends,” and that was — oh, gosh, her name. This is the husband and the wife who had drawn the pictures for me for the children’s TAT. They had one little boy at that time. He was housemaster or taking care of a [dorm] complex way down at the other end of Cambridge, toward the river, if you go along Mass Avenue. Well, I guess not Mass Avenue. It’s Cambridge Street or something. It upsets me when I can’t think of names of people I know so well, but I can’t. So Fred said, “Well, I’ll tell you what; I’ll come pick you up there after dinner.” And I said, “Fine.” So he picked me up, and he said, “Shall we walk home?” And I said, “Fine.” So we walked from way down at the river up to where I was living, and that was the beginning of it.
Do you remember what you talked about?
Of course not.
How about your growing impression of him? How did he appear to you and appeal to you?
Well, he appealed to me because he knew a hell of a lot about an area I knew nothing about, even though I had taken one half course in astronomy at Wellesley.
Oh, okay. From Sarah Hill?
Oh, no, long before her. It was a man, and I had forgotten his name. He had a habit of putting his hand on the students’ knees when they were looking [through] the telescope. He was a slime. Anyhow, I just never was any good with numbers. The only course I took at college in which I got anything below a B was math. I got a C in math. I don’t like numbers.
Okay. So Fred knew about something that you knew nothing about.
And vice versa.
And he married me because I was a psychologist and I could get rid of his nightmares.
When did you learn this? When did he talk about this?
He never said anything about it.
Well, how did you know he had nightmares?
Well, because he told me his nightmares, and I got rid of them.
Well, when did he start telling you these things — during your courtship?
I don’t remember.
Okay. But let’s not quite go there yet. Okay, what appealed to you, other than the fact that he knew a whole lot about something you knew nothing about?
He knew where he was going.
He was confident?
Yes. He knew what he was interested in, and this is his field. But he was interested in lots of other things. I don’t know what appealed to me. He was completely different from anybody I had ever met.
How so? What were the unique characteristics?
Well, I remember three or four of the other men I dated, and they just didn’t have the strength of character, I guess, the sense of mission that he did. And I felt that this was somebody — I don’t think I realized it at the time, but this was somebody I could help to achieve his goal by being the good little wife.
And that was not a disappointment for you?
No, because he was perfectly happy to have me continue in my professional career.
You certainly did.
Were you happy to continue your professional career, or was that a new idea for you?
Yes. No, I was doing what I enjoyed doing.
So how long did the courtship last before you knew you were going to get married?
Until he proposed.
Ah, so that formal. When did that happen?
He took off sometime in July to go to California to work at RAND. He did that the summer he came out with the protective device for satellites — the thin skin.
The satellite bumper?
Yeah. Now something funny. He looked up my father and asked my father for permission to marry me.
Did you know about this at the time?
I don’t know when I learned about it.
Okay. So you weren’t there with him.
No. So he came home and proposed. And I said, “Fine.” So my mother, then, was notified that she was going to be giving us a wedding the next week or two weeks afterwards. I don’t know exactly the time.
Where was she at this time?
Hotel Beaconsfield on Brookline.
Oh, okay, so she was in Boston.
Yes. She had been living there. So we had a justice of the peace and about ten friends, ten guests, and the hotel justice of the peace left after the ceremony, and people said, “Are you going to have a honeymoon? Where are you going?” I said, “Oh, we’re going to Nantasket.”
Nantasket, which is equivalent to Coney Island. And we were really going to Nantucket. But I didn’t know the difference.
Oh, okay [chuckles].
I get names confused.
Well, there’s definitely a difference, I would imagine.
In other words, Fred made the choice. He made choices.
And you liked that?
The answer is yes.
Okay. Did that have an astronomy flavor to it, the fact that you were going to go to Nantucket in the summer for a honeymoon?
I have no idea.
No idea. You know the Maria Mitchell Observatory is there?
Yes, but I have no idea why he chose it.
Okay. And you did have a real honeymoon.
We did. We went there; we got bicycles; we bicycled all over the island. It was ideal. In those days, it was a glorious place.
Wow. I thought it still was.
I don’t think so in comparison. It was a big difference, ‘46…
Well, there are so many types of questions to ask. When did you start really becoming familiar with who Fred was and what he was doing, and this whole world of astronomy? I mean, was it before you were married?
I think probably he introduced me to some of his friends before we were married. I remember that he belonged to an eating group that met once a month, and there were 12 members. Twice a year, one pair would prepare the dinner for everybody else, and it would be exotic — really exotic. It was called the Gourmet Club. I think that was the name.
That sounds kind of neat.
He took me to one of those dinners.
Do you remember who else was in this group?
Oh, yeah. The Boyds were, and oh, I can’t think of the name of the man who started it and his wife. I was thinking about them a couple of days ago. I had the name then.
It’s okay. It’s all right. Any other astronomers?
Okay. When you and Fred were the host for this group, what did you cook?
We did a pressed duck on one, and that was getting [involved]. Fred really took the time off. It took two days of preparation.
Wow. And he participated?
This was the idea, that you both would do it?
Oh, yes. He participated. And another time, we had Anguilles au vert. That’s eels with green [herb] sauce.
Don’t ask me.
Okay, but it sounds great.
I don’t remember cooking that one, but he made a contraption to press the duck.
Yeah. He made contraptions for everything. They were never very beautiful, but they were always functional — always functional.
Okay. What other sorts of things did he make? Well, we’ll come up with them. So where did you move to? Where was your first home?
He moved in with me in Cambridge on Ware Street, because my apartment mate had gone off to Florida for school, so that there was an empty room. We had a two-bedroom apartment — very convenient to Harvard. And then we moved to Belmont, to a different address than this.
What was that address? Do you remember?
12 Randolph Street. And we moved there. I don’t know how long we stayed in the apartment; I can’t remember.
It was an apartment?
Yes; at 9 Ware Street. And then we bought a house.
Oh, at Randolph.
That’s a house.
And is this the third place?
35 Elizabeth Road.
Okay. Let me start with the fact that Fred was, what, was he 15 years older than you, ten years older, at least?
12, I think.
12 years. Was this ever an issue for you, the age difference, the fact that he was previously married, he had a child? Was Earle with him at the time?
Earle came to Cambridge (I think we were still in Cambridge, yes) at Christmastime. He was a senior in high school in California. And he came to meet me at Christmas. And he was very short. He was my height or shorter — 5’2” in those days. And I did some research and found that they did X-rays to see whether the bones had fused or not, and his had not, so growth was still an option with medication. Took him to a doctor at Mass General who gave him some sort of medication which enabled him to grow, and he spurted up to Fred’s height, which is 5’8” 10, something like that.
Wow. He was already 18.
But they hadn’t fused. Wow.
They hadn’t fused. I read an article — that was not last night, because last night I stayed up to watch the Patriots. It was the night before, I read an article in Harvard Graduate Magazine by this very famous Harvard ethicist, and I disagreed with him 100% on his statement that it is immoral — it is not moral — to take enhancing drugs other than for medical purposes. And he specifically mentions growth hormones. And I intend — I hope I will carry it through — to write him a letter saying that I disagree with him, unless I mistake his use of the term “medical”. It didn’t occur to him that there could be psychological reasons which — psychologists, now, many of them, have permission to administer drugs. Is that medical or not medical? But for psychological reasons, a man who is 5’2” could have his career wrecked from lack of self-esteem unless he is of average height. That’s why I felt it was so important to give Earle this chance of growing up taller.
How did Fred feel about that?
I have no idea.
But you must have talked with him.
I have no idea. He must have agreed; otherwise, I wouldn’t have done it.
What about Earle?
He must have agreed, or he wouldn’t have taken it.
Okay. I’m trying to get an idea of the dynamic between the three of you.
I don’t remember. You can’t get it from me. All I know is that that was my idea, that there was agreement. I don’t know who discussed it with whom first, whether I asked Earle, “Would you like me to investigate?” Fred certainly would have gone along with it. I see no reason whatsoever that he would have had any objections.
And how quickly did the spurt take place? Within a year or two?
Again, you have to ask Earle that. I don’t think you should, but I mean, he might remember. I think you could get at it.
Well, anything else about your first meeting, or about his being with you when he was in high school? He must have been a graduating senior, at least, by then.
And where was he planning to go to college?
He applied for Harvard and got in. He was brilliant. And in those days, having a professor at the college — he wasn’t a professor then, he was an instructor, I think Fred was; he didn’t get to be an assistant for quite a while.
He was already chairman of the department, the teaching department.
Yeah, or within a very few years.
Yes, not at that stage. Because he had just come back from doing war work. And I think he was still an instructor.
He had gotten one raise, I know, certainly, because he had been there quite a long time by then.
I know, but they were slow.
With everyone, just about. That’s quite right.
I’m not good on the numbers. The date, that’s a number.
I’m pretty sure by the end of the ‘40s, by —
Yes, but this was ‘46, Christmas. We were married in the summer of ‘46.
Okay, that makes much more sense, then.
And he had just finished his war work.
Right, exactly. That’s right. When did he start talking to you about his own history, who he was, and where he came from?
I don’t remember.
Well, do you remember how you learned about his history — what his history actually was? Can you relate it to me?
His history was being born on a farm in Iowa and having parents who were very religious and conventional. His father was a deacon of the church, and his father had no fear whatsoever of heights. So he would always climb up and repair the church roof and do things like that, and later when we met them in Mexico and traveled around together, he would just go zip up those steep, old Mexican monuments and look down and not have any fears whatsoever of heights. They were both very conventional people. His mother played at the piano and was a whiz at cooking. She was used to what a farmer’s wife in those days did, which is cook an enormous breakfast for the hired help and the neighbors who came to bring in the harvest. She could just whip up a pie without any doubt whatsoever that it would be perfect, and that she could do it quickly. She was just efficient — really a wonderful farmer’s wife.
But they had moved to California?
Yes, but Fred was born and brought up on the farm. And these were his early memories. There are two outstanding things that he kept repeating, and one was that when his little brother was two years old, that he had died from Scarlet Fever, and that his mother had said he was too good to live, so that’s why God took him back — something equivalent to that. That’s not Fred’s phrase, but it’s the meaning, that he was so good that God wanted him back. So Fred thought, “That means I’m not good enough, because I’m alive.” And he disliked his brother, because his memory of his brother is that he built up a nice, big tower of blocks, and his brother had knocked it over. So he didn’t like the brother that much, and yet he was so good in his parents’ eyes. The other thing is that he did extremely well in school when he was, I don’t know, very young still, and he told his mother and father how well he had done that day, that he had gotten the half day off, and they put him to work. So he decided not to tell him anything anymore.
In other words, put him to work on the farm.
And he saw that as a punishment?
He saw that as not recognizing that he had done so well and complimenting him and saying, “Gee, that’s great.” They said, “Okay, now you can get to work on the farm.” It didn’t have the same meaning to them that it had to him. He felt misunderstood. And so he decided not to communicate to them anything that was important. So I think they were very surprised when he announced to them that he was getting married on August 20th to someone they had never met.
Well, he had been away from the family for so long.
Yes. But most people want their parents at their wedding. They would have come if they were invited.
Oh, they weren’t invited?
I don’t think so, or they would have come. I don’t know.
He was more interested in not associating with them in a way than I was in not introducing him to Dossie. So I don’t know.
Interesting. About the religion. Were you raised Jewish?
Was your mother a practicing Jew?
Okay. So then being raised Jewish means what, in your context?
It means that when we lived in the Parkview Hotel, the Rabbi lived at the Parkview Hotel, and who took me to temple on Sundays? The Rabbi. Mother didn’t go anymore. She taught Sunday school, I think, when I was younger. I don’t remember anything about that, but that was about the extent of it. And so for that year or several years — I don’t know how long — I had to go to Sunday school with the rabbi.
Did it mean anything to you as you were growing up that you were Jewish?
No, because for the most part I traveled with Jewish kids at the country club and the parties, and all my friends were Jewish, and they were leading citizens of the city. My grandfather on my mother’s side, on her mother’s side, was a leading citizen of the town, and his glorious home was out of this world. I have pictures of it and so on.
But through Wellesley, at least?
Well, in Europe, I was called la Americaine, the American.
Of course, yes.
And when I got to college, for the first time I learned in detail the New and Old Testaments. It was a compulsory course of one year when I was there — two years when my mother was there — and the class was taught by an anthropologist, not by a religious person. I enjoyed that very much. It filled in a lot of information that I knew nothing about.
But when you met Fred, at least, you were not a practicing Jew?
No, I never was. When I went to visit my cousin in New York, who’s more or less my same age, her family was kosher, so I knew what it meant.
But I’m asking these questions to see if religion was an issue at all between you and Fred.
Yes, it was one that we agreed on. We were very happy that neither of us was religious.
Okay. That’s what I’m trying to get at.
And it was really the fact that you were culturally Jewish didn’t affect his decision at all?
I don’t think so. He was not a man of prejudices, with one exception, I think: he really disliked Catholicism for its efforts to do things that he didn’t think were right — Galileo and so forth. So I think that he wanted to hire blacks who were interested in astronomy.
Did he, actually?
Oh, yes. There was one male who was a scientist, and there was several in the administration, and he had a black secretary who was the death of him. She was so poor as a secretary, she never could file his stuff properly. And after a long time, I don’t know how long, tried to get rid of her, and she filed suit against him. And you can probably get the papers and information on that from the observatory.
When was that, approximately?
I’m asking now about his first marriage. What do you know about his first marriage?
That his wife was brilliant — very good in mathematics.
What was her first name?
Do you know how they met?
I think they were both in the same class at UCLA.
Oh, at UCLA? Okay.
And I think that she was, if not a card-carrying Communist, a Communist. And shortly after Earle was born, she decided that she didn’t want him to call her mother “mom” or “mother”, and really didn’t want to take responsibility for him.
For the child, Earle?
For the child. And then at some point fairly early in the marriage, she went off and they got divorced.
She went off?
Well, she left. And I think they were up on the mountain.
At Lick Observatory?
At Lick, at that point. And I don’t know why she left, but she left. Before she left, she had gotten Fred involved in working with a friend of hers who was a medium who said that she had contact with people in the hereafter, and in Fred’s paper that he wrote, “Why I Became an Atheist”, he goes into this. [“My conversion to atheism,” manuscript copy in biographical file]
He decided, since she had contact with people on the other side, that he would ask a famous scientist a scientific question, and the answer came out garbled. And so Fred said, “Not for me.” But this was a contact that I think was made because his wife, at that point, was interested, and he became interested. I can’t — that’s a deduction on my part.
So Fred never talked to you about their relationship or anything like that — their life? Because he was still a graduate student at Berkeley, so as you say, they met at UCLA, but then he went to Berkeley.
I think she went, too.
Oh, okay. It’s only if, in your talking with him and getting to know him as a person, that…
He was very secretive.
About that sort of thing?
About an awful lot of things.
How did you feel about that?
I don’t know. I don’t think I realized how secretive he was until I started going through his papers. It’s not that they were things he shouldn’t or couldn’t talk about; he just didn’t talk about them. He kept them to himself. I mean, in going through his papers, I learned about an awful lot of things that I didn’t know before.
That’s extremely helpful. This is very helpful to me, to better understand him. Now, do you know when his wife committed suicide?
Earle would know that.
Earle felt very sad about that, because he felt that he could have saved her.
Did it happen after you were married or before?
Oh, yes. I think she married again. I’m not sure. She had been traveling. She just couldn’t find any pleasure in life. She must have been deeply depressed.
Do you have any idea whether they had contact in the ‘30s, and where did Earle live?
Oh, I knew a little bit about where Earle lived. He was sent off to live, when he was a toddler I think, with these old relatives who went out to the country. And then after that, he lived in a boarding school here in Massachusetts for a number of years, and Fred would go out, take the bus or street car or whatever it was, because you didn’t have a car, on every single Sunday to go out and visit Earle during the years, the number of years that he was at that school. And the people at that school contacted Fred not too many years before he died to give them a contribution. And I have no idea what Earle’s feelings were about being at that school — it’s a boys’ school –- versus — after that, he went to live with Fred’s parents in LA, in Long Beach. I don’t know how many years he lived with them.
So he did live with the grand parents?
Two or three years, minimum. And it was from their house that he came here, and then the next year, went to Harvard. And then he wasn’t doing well enough at Harvard at the end of his first or second year, and so he came to live here at home with us — not here at this house, but at the other house.
At Randolph Street, and got a job, did very well on the job, and then eventually moved out to this house on, I think, Longwood Avenue in Brookline. And it’s there that he met Carmen, whom he married, and then he got a divorce from Carmen and married another woman, got divorced from her, and then took up again with Carmen, and is living with Carmen in a fabulous apartment in Barcelona which she inherited from her parents, in which they can’t kick her out. I don’t know what happens to him if she dies, whether he — because they’re not married. I once asked him, “Do you think you’ll marry her?” And he said, “No.”
Oh, my. Well, I will be talking with him.
What I would like to ask is a very direct question. When did Fred realize that you had background and training in psychology, and were you doing any clinical work at the time that you met him? And do you feel it factored into your marriage at all?
Oh, I’m sure. When did he learn I was a psychologist? I suppose the night we met.
You each talked about what you did. Yeah.
That’s my assumption. I don’t remember the conversations.
No, no, no, but I think it’s more important to simply ask you to relate how you feel your background and training became important in his life. Because you were talking about the fact that you were looking for someone who you could help, or you felt that Fred was someone who you could help.
Well, he was looking for someone who could help him exorcise his demons.
You didn’t learn that the first night.
No, but I think most people, when you tell them — at least that’s my assumption, again, you tell them you’re a psychologist, they think you’re a clinical psychologist. And if you happen to be any other kind, they have to find out the slow way. So he had demons, and he wanted some help with them. He would wake up in the middle of the night seeing this red eye, which was frightening.
A visual hallucination?
I don’t know; he said it’s a red eye. I don’t know whether he saw it as red. He must have seen it as red, like a wolf in the dark, and you put a shining light on it. He never said that, but the red eye was frightening. He talked to me about his dreams, and I would do the psychoanalytic thing and have him associate to them.
What can you tell me about those dreams?
He said they were frightening. Oh yes, one thing, later — they weren’t so much frightening as frequent, that he would dream he was at a conference and he was in charge of the conference. I think that the table had a green — like they have in Russia, the green tablecloth, and he had no idea what the conference was about, and he was the conference leader.
That’s one of the things that seemed to me to go on not just once, but — [telephone interruption]
Back to this recording. The demons, in getting him to associate, what did he associate the demons with? Or you can’t tell me?
No, I can’t remember. I have capital F forgetter — a forgetter which is unbelievable.
Well, the fact that there was a conference involved as one of the motifs seemed interesting to me. Did he have any other motifs that you can recall?
His mother or father, ever?
Come in his dreams?
Not that I remember, no.
My DSB biography includes mention of his breakdown in 1942, and the fact that it was at a conference, and during his very long convalescence at this sanitarium in Milwaukee.
I’ve never heard about that before, until I read it in your biography.
Okay, so that’s a first time.
Well, he had never mentioned it.
He never mentioned it to you?
Oh no, never.
How do you feel about that?
He was secretive.
That was huge, a huge thing in his life.
He did talk about being at McLean and getting electroshock.
Now McLean is where?
Oh, tell me about that. So the electroshock continued after he came here, came back.
Whether it continued, or whether he…
Well, I can say for sure from what I’ve sent you, and I can send you the actual letters other people wrote.
I would enjoy seeing them.
I apologize, because I told you I was going to do it and then I forgot all about it.
Well, I forgot you told me.
Okay. But yes, he was engaged in electroshock and talk — combination, back and forth, back and forth — in Milwaukee in a sanitarium.
Well, this is part of his denial, then, because when he talked about his stay at McLean, he claimed that — and it’s just a couple of miles from here.
Yeah, I’m sure it’s a well-known hospital.
Yes, it is. It used to be part of Mass General. Whether it still is or not, I don’t know. [McLean is part of the Harvard Medical School and is an affiliate of Mass General]
Okay, so what did he used to say?
He said that he was afraid that the electroshock had affected his brain, on the one hand, that he was just pretending to do what they claimed he was doing. I’m not saying this right. In other words, that he was there voluntarily and just putting on a show — that he wasn’t sick; there was nothing sick about him, nothing mentally wrong. And yet he was afraid that it had damaged his brain. And I think that this is an area that you might possibly get more input on by talking to Sandy’s husband, Rob Garfield, who, every time he would visit here with Sandy, would talk to Fred. I hardly got a chance to talk to Rob because Fred lassoed him. They would go for walks together, and Rob would talk with him. Rob is a psychiatrist.
That, I didn’t know.
Well, now you do.
I do now.
And I’ve never asked Rob what they talked about. I don’t like to pry. I mean, if people want to tell me things, I’m delighted to hear it, and I know what is told to me in confidence, and I keep it in confidence, but I don’t know what he told Rob. But I always got the impression that he was totally unwilling to talk about himself in terms of having had a deficit. I know he spoke very openly and very frequently about wanting to be seen as normal — not a limping man — and that when he spent a lot of time in trouble taking something off of the heel of one shoe and adding something in the other shoe, so that this stopped his back problems, he walked smoothly instead of limping. When I first knew him for years, I could tell who was coming off the airplane, because I could see this limp, and I said, “That’s Fred.”
Yeah, because of the polio. It was very mild.
It was very mild, but he was very, very conscious, and I think the kids were aware of this, of not wanting to be called an invalid. But I mean, the degree of invalidity was so slight that one wonders whether it was due to the limp or due to what he did not share or what he persuaded himself not to believe was his mental breakdown. And so I don’t know whether he didn’t believe it, or — he acted as though he had not had a breakdown.
So the shock treatments, they weren’t ongoing when you married?
Oh, no. That was the past.
This was probably the end of ‘42, ‘43.
He was in this sanitarium for at least, let’s see, it was June, July, August of ‘42. The breakdown was early June, late May, in Chicago. Bart Bok finally went and picked him up, brought him back. And there was an issue at that time as to where Earle would live. So that’s what made me wonder, was Earle actually living with Fred?
He never lived with him. He might have spent a vacation with him.
Okay. That might have just been coincidental, then, that he might have been there.
He lived at the school here, and then he went to live with the grandparents. Maybe that’s when he went to live with the grandparents.
There was a question as to whether Fred could live on his own when he came back, and of course he wanted to very much. Okay, so he never opened up to you about any of this.
I think he could have denied it. He was good at denying. The week before he died, he was sitting here and telling me that there was something wrong with the machine.
Yeah, he was testing his blood sugar or blood pressure or some test that was important to know the value of, and I said, “Oh? I’m going to test it.” And there wasn’t anything wrong with the machine. And I told him — I don’t know, this isn’t straight, because he must have told me that when he was upstairs and getting up, not when he was sitting here. This is where he sat to take the measurement. I came down and measured the machine, and there was nothing wrong with it, and I told him not to get dressed. Or maybe he was dressed. I said, “Just stay where you are,” and I called the ambulance, and then he was admitted to the hospital. He died a week later. So he was good at denial.
I see what that means.
He just didn’t want to know the truth. And I don’t think it would have saved him if he had gotten to the hospital earlier, because the hospital is what poisoned him.
What do you mean?
Well, it gave him that staph infection. He had to go in before Christmas to have a stent in his carotid. One was almost 100% blocked; it was 90 something. The other was 82 or 88. I don’t know; it was blocked. For about until spring, he was on oxygen. He had this oxygen tank he had to carry around. Then, he had to go in for another stent, a replacement of that, because they wouldn’t last very long. Again, he got the staph infection, and then he had to go in again in August for another replacement, and that’s why he was denying. He didn’t want to go into the hospital. So it was total denial. And I think that that was one of the psychological mechanisms that he made great use of.
Throughout his life.
Major things were happening to him in his career at various times. Did he share them with you? Is there any insight that you might be able to provide?
When Shapley retired — I see you rolling… were you rolling your eyes there?
Yes, I was rolling my eyes.
It was a very difficult time at the observatory.
And I know that at one point, all of the senior staff were interviewed by a committee that Conant had convened — not to choose a new director, but to figure out what the state of Harvard astronomy was. And this was partly to get at Shapley possibly, but also because the place was in a certain state of disrepair.
To put it mildly.
When Fred was interviewed, and this included people like J. Robert Oppenheimer interviewing Fred, and others, astronomers mainly, but physicists and astronomers — Ira Bowen, Bink Stromberg, Donald Schoen. They were all here.
I knew nothing about that.
Well, they were asking each of the senior staff what they thought should be done, but more what they wanted to do with their own careers. And Fred, of course, had been building up the meteor network and doing a lot of that. Oppenheimer’s notes indicate that Fred seemed not despondent, but certainly discouraged, and wanting to not so much leave his work in meteor astronomy and all of that, but to leave all of the building of it — the tracking stations, the infrastructure — and get back to analysis. Did he ever talk to you, or what is your sense about his level of comfort building these networks and things as opposed to doing the science itself in the early ‘50s? Can you actually situate Fred’s state of mind about choosing a career path, in other words?
I think that Fred was extremely good at delegating authority and recognizing competence, that he, time and again, said there was no point in trying to put a square peg in a round hole. People should be doing what they’re good at. So he would turn very quickly to help, and he got marvelous help from Jim Baker, and he got marvelous help from a lot of people to do that for him. He had a wonderful sense of magnitude — whether something’s right, in the right order of magnitude. So he could tell whether he’s delegated to somebody who’s doing a good job or not. And that’s how he got it done. And occasionally, he had faith and confidence in somebody who was no good.
Can you give me an example or two?
Yeah, there was somebody who was running the things down at the MMT who was no good.
Oh, that’s much, much later.
But that’s an example. Fred did not recognize that person (I had forgotten his name) for doing what he was doing improperly. He trusted people to be doing what they should be doing, and didn’t keep the kind of supervision over what was going on in the observatory to a minute control of dotting every I and crossing every T. His technique was ingenious. What he would do is go through the expenditures of each person, each department, stamp FLW on it, FLW on it, go like that, and then look at this one in detail, and ask the person in charge to give him a report. “Okay, you’re doing a good job. Thank you.”
Stamping, “Okay, okay.” So people had the impression. They didn’t know that it was haphazard. They thought he knew what was going on all the way to the bottom of the hierarchy.
Every so often, though, he would sample?
And if that one turned out okay, he would let everything else through. Is that what you’re saying?
Yes. But he would just do it at random. And consequently, they felt they were in touch with the head and that he approved of them, because they hadn’t gotten any nasty cracks. What he did do to make his administration much, much easier on him was to hire an extraordinarily wonderful man to be the ombudsman, Leon Campbell, Jr.
For the moon-watch period?
For as long as Leon was alive.
I know that name. He was very important in the AAVSO and all sorts of places like that.
He was important to the observatory, to Fred. What he did was he listened to every complaint everybody had and made them feel better. He was a journalist by trade. His father had worked at the observatory.
Oh, this may be somebody else then, because maybe it was the father who was AAVSO. Do you think this fellow is still alive?
Leon listened to complaints, and when he saw a structural problem, he’d hand it on to Fred. And what Fred would do, when somebody was clearly not doing a good job, he would try to find them a job somewhere else. He didn’t want to fire them. But another offer would come which was better — more suited to that person. Because Fred felt that you don’t put a square peg in a round hole, and he’s in the wrong place. Get him out, but don’t fire him.
That’s interesting. It’s in a way, a benevolent management style.
But he couldn’t have done that without Leon, who listened to the crying and the pleading and the complaints and so forth. Fred didn’t want to have anything to do with that — nothing.
Okay, let’s go back, then, to that period of Shapley’s departure. Can you give me a sense of what life was like at that time and how Fred took it all?
Fred had been very, very fond of Bart Bok and his wife, Priscilla. They were at our wedding. The Menzels were not.
Bart Bok went to South Africa.
Fred went to South Africa. On a visit. I was with him. And Fred did this to Bart.
Aside, in his heart, like that.
Because Bart was a defender of Apartheid. Bart rationalized that it was good. And that was what Fred was upset about when Shapley’s successor was being named. He did not want Bart Bok to be named.
And that’s not in the records. It’s interesting.
Bart was Shapley’s heir. Shapley wanted Bart to be the next director. That, you knew.
But Fred was violently against it. He hardly spoke to the guy.
So he found out on this trip to South Africa — because Bart was the guy who went and got Fred from the sanitarium.
I know. And he was at our wedding.
And they came to your wedding. Now the Menzels not coming to your wedding, did that mean anything? Because they were very close, too. Were they not?
I don’t think so.
But Whipple sided with Menzel completely.
I know. They worked beautifully together. But what this meant — I mean, Fred was paranoid to a large extent.
I don’t know what the facts were. I know Fred was paranoid.
About Menzel? Didn’t trust Menzel?
Yeah, and I don’t know why.
But he sure did support Menzel.
I know, and Menzel supported him. They made a great team. And when Goldberg came in. That is a long story that I can summarize very quickly.
Well, I want to hear the whole story.
Well, it was not easy on Fred in many ways, and I’ll go into that another time. Should I?
I would appreciate it if you would.
Leo, from my point of view, was a very domineering, ambitious man, and he was an unkind person in his ambition to take control at the observatory. First of all, he instructed his wife that there would be no more… I don’t know whether there would be no more or that she would not be allowed to go to the Ladies’ Tea Organization — the Old Ladies’ Tea Organization, the Observatory’s Ladies’ Tea Organization. We called it the Old Ladies’. It was officially the observatory’s tea, which Florence Menzel and I started, and graciously had on a monthly basis.
You said that, again, rolling your eyes, “graciously”.
Well, Florence is an extremely gracious person — unbelievably wonderful hostess — and I tried my best to imitate her and couldn’t.
Florence is a marvelous, marvelous person.
Can I tell you one story about Florence? The only way Donald Menzel was tolerated at Lick Observatory was because of Florence.
I can believe it.
Of course at Lick, they interviewed not only the astronomer but the wife. They wanted Florence. Now that could be apocryphal, but I think even…
No, I don’t think so.
But even Donald Menzel, I think, said that.
Yes. He was kind. He was good to children.
Oh, he sure was. Andrea Dupree told me that he was known as Donald Duck to her kids and that sort of thing.
Right, quack, quack.
Exactly, wonderful. So back to Leo…
So Leo said this discriminated against the people who were secretaries and not at the upper level of the observatory, and he was agin’ it.
He was very, very progressive — very liberal.
Yes. The other thing is that he said that since Fred was not teaching, he didn’t need as much salary as he was getting, and he cut his salary, his Harvard salary.
Wow. See, I’m not privy to salaries. There’s no way I can get at Harvard salaries. I can get at Smithsonian salaries, but not Harvard salaries. That’s absolutely forbidden. I don’t need to know amounts, but that’s very interesting, the fact that he actually did that.
He did that, and he did other nasty things to Fred. There was real enmity between them. And consequently, when Leo left for Arizona, the people who were deciding on his replacement decided that they could not have two people — one head of Smithsonian, and one head of Harvard. And so they got George Field to come in. This was a big blow to Fred. He knew that his predecessor at Smithsonian had stayed until he was over 100.
Oh yes, Abbot. [Abbot was retired as Secretary of the Smithsonian and Director of the APO at age 72 in 1946, but stayed on at the Smithsonian until his death at 101 in 1973]
Abbot. Fred was being dismissed at 70, or something like 70. He was still a young man and very competent and very active, and the reason he was being dismissed was because of the enmity between Leo and him.
Leo resigned in protest, and it was in protest of the relationship between the Smithsonian and Harvard.
Yes, he wanted to take control of both. He wanted to control it, and he went on and became president of the IAU. He was a control freak. I know from his relationship between him and his wife and his son and his daughter.
His first wife?
Because that was before he married B. D. Lynds. But how did Fred take this? I mean, did he come home and talk about it? Did he confide in you about his fears, his concerns?
He did tell me that he was very angry that he learned about his demotion from someone else — not directly. He was angry at being demoted.
Oh, wait a minute, you mean when Goldberg left. You don’t mean the salary business, when Goldberg came — because Goldberg became chair in ‘66.
No, I mean that when the decision was made to have one unified head—namely, George—instead of continuing on as he had anticipated he would do, as head of the SAO. That was a major blow, major blow.
How did he react to it?
He told me how he felt, and I think his reaction was to have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with administration. He and George were very good friends, and he just said hands off, "that’s not my responsibility", administration.
But he didn’t go hands off as far as planning and professional things. He continued to work and do his research, but also continued to play a role, a rather powerful role…
…in developing new instrumentation. There was a radio astronomy project. You’re aware of that?
Yes. Well, I’m aware of a lot of things he did, but they were not administrative.
I see. Yes.
And it’s a good thing for Fred’s sake that he was able to withdraw so apparently unharmed from that exposure to Leo Goldberg and to stay at the observatory and do what he wanted to do and accomplish what he wanted to accomplish.
I know that Fred wrote a position paper arguing that the single directorship would not work. So from your facial expression…
That makes sense.
It makes sense, but he didn’t discuss it with you?
No, never saw it. It’s probably downstairs.
Okay. Well, it’s also in David Challinor’s papers. I do have access to Challinor’s papers, and some of what I know comes from that.
And it’s a good thing that he did this, because he certainly could not have survived otherwise under Shapiro’s management style, which was to go into every, every, every minor — most minor — detail at the observatory. Enough to drive anybody crazy.
So I take it George Field didn’t have that kind of style?
Now, there was an interim acting director. Alex Dalgarno was in for a year. You’re shrugging your shoulders. That means…?
I didn’t know a thing about it.
Okay. It was not consequential?
No, I don’t think he and Dalgarno ever became friends. They worked together, apart. Dalgarno is here; Fred’s here. [hands outstretched] They said hello to each other. I think it was an unemotional…
Just professional, yeah. With whom did he have very close relations on the staff?
But earlier than that, before Field came?
And the one who is so ill now, the one who brought the telescope to Israel.
Is he very ill?
I was hoping to talk to him in the spring.
I wouldn’t wait.
Oh, jeez. Does he have cancer or something?
I don’t know. I know this because I was talking with Kalkofen (what’s her first name? — Wolfgang Kalkofen's wife) the other day, and she said that they were going away for a week, and that then they would be back, and that we could then get together, because I haven’t seen her for — I’ve been sick for a long time. I haven’t seen these people, and she’s a good friend, and I wanted to see her, and she wanted to see me, so next week or the week after, because she was going away this week, and that it would be hard on Mike, because she has been helping him to stay alive. He comes to dinner there once or twice a week, and he lives here in Belmont. They would be away for a week, which would be hard on Mike, and he was ill. But he goes to the observatory for a few hours, and that’s as much as he can take, and then he comes home.
Yes, thanks for the heads up on that. Let me ask about a few others. David Layzer?
Nope, nope, nope.
I don’t know, but I think David was very critical of Fred, and I don’t know why. But there was a parting of the ways, and Fred didn’t trust him. I don’t know why. I think he felt David was on the other camp with Bok. I don’t know why.
Oh, with Bok? Well, no.
I don’t know. I don’t know why.
Because Dave Layzer did also argue that the directorship should not be combined into one.
Oh, maybe that’s why.
That would have agreed with Fred.
Oh, I’m sorry. Whitney was one of his friends.
Chuck Whitney, sure.
Oh, what was his name? He played recorder — tall, thin man who often drove Fred home.
No. I can’t think of it. I can get a visual image of him. He’s not married, but he has a very, very long-term girlfriend whose main interest centers around literature of Iceland. I can’t think of his name.
Let’s go a little earlier. When he was building up SAO, what can you tell me about the process through which Fred became the director of SAO?
Oh, that’s all written down. I don’t know anything other than what’s in print, I think. Donald was talking with Carmichael, and then Donald made a suggestion that they have a separate office, and then it suddenly occurred to Donald to say, “Why not in Cambridge? Why does it have to be in Washington? And if it’s in Cambridge, Fred could be the head of it.”
Well, there was another person before Fred.
Oh? I didn’t know.
Okay, I mean momentarily, there was a more junior person who, in fact, worked partly with Fred, and I’m not sure who that was.
Don saw bringing it to Cambridge as a way to get money for his solar projects, and he didn’t care about the rest, and so he thought Fred did, so that would be a good thing for the two of us; we could both do our own thing and have it handy, is the picture I got. Don came up with the idea of having a separate organization, and then — oh, it comes to Cambridge, and let’s get Fred to do it in Cambridge, and Don was doing it for his wish to get solar work supported, and Fred was happy to have him do that. Don was happy to have Fred pursue the meteor stuff.
And this was a way to do it?
This was the way both of them could do it. Well, they only had four people in the [observatory in Washington].
Right, and they really weren’t doing anything.
So it was a little bit of an odd move to bring something up here in name only, and there was a strategy.
Oh, yes. Don knew what he wanted to do with the money, and Fred knew what he wanted to do.
Tell me, then, about the building up of SAO. To what degree did you take it on as a family project?
I took it on very seriously, because there were new people coming to town, and they didn’t know where to live, what doctors to… what schools to… where grocery stores were. And so that was very important, and I started soon after. There were, later on, stations around the world. A letter, which would tell them what was going on around here, and that then got taken over, thank the Lord, by the news people at the observatory. But I was very active in helping newcomers — taking them to teas, Harvard university teas. In those days, they were a once-a-month sort of thing. I think they were once a month. It seemed like once a month. Maybe it was just several times a year, to introduce the new wives to community. Then we gave dinners all the time I had made.
Now, did Fred ask you to do these things, or did you anticipate these needs?
Oh, he didn’t ask me at all. This is what I did.
And he certainly was happy you were doing it.
Did he ever thank you?
I assume so, but I don’t remember. I mean, I don’t know.
What about some of the early hires, some of the staff? I’m particularly interested in J. Allan Hynek.
Do you know how and why Fred found Allan Hynek and hired him?
I have no idea. I tell you, one of the things that — this may seem crazy to you, but when I was a kid, there was a book called Mind Your Ps and Qs, handwriting Analysis.
Mind Your Ps and Qs?
I think that was the name of it.
That’s a famous, like, aphorism or something.
I think that was the name. I don’t know. Anyhow, I began, as a young child, being very interested in people’s handwritings as related to character. So when Fred was thinking of hiring somebody, he would show me the handwriting.
And do you remember anybody in particular like Hynek?
No. I remember doing it.
Did it ever influence Fred?
I don’t know.
Okay. But that’s very interesting.
So the Hyneks came, and I think that things went very well for quite a while, until Hynek went out to California and started making money helping the movies with astronomical things, and went, as I feel it was, off the deep end and became a believer in UFOs. Maybe he didn’t, but he certainly did things that made Fred feel that he had lost his… whatever you lose, and no longer felt any respect for him. And I had been very close to his wife and to his kids and felt sad that we were no longer in contact.
Did you stay in contact at all with them?
No. I think I saw the daughter many years later at a funeral.
Okay. Another name from the past, who stayed, I think, in many different capacities, was Bob Davis — Robert Davis. What can you tell me about him? He became a very important figure in the years of the SAO, especially in Celescope.
I can’t tell you much about him. I know more about his wife because of her interaction with the ladies’ tea organization. She was a very staunch member — came to all the parties, interested in everybody. But she had a simpering demeanor, and that made me feel uncomfortable. Her whole body language was simpering, and that made me feel uncomfortable. They were very devoted to us, as expressed in their behavior, and respectful. I know nothing whatsoever about his astronomical contributions.
Did Fred ever express to you, or do you have an impression of how Fred felt the Celescope program was going? Does that ring any bells?
No, even the name of the program, Celescope, doesn’t mean anything to me. No, Fred did not tell me how he thought programs were going. I was just amazed from looking through his papers how much contact he had with various people, and part of it could be my forgetter — capital F — because I was absolutely positive that Fred had not told me anything about a letter that Zeta had who was taking care of his mother in Long Beach had written to him saying that she felt she needed help.
That Zeta needed help, or his mother?
Zeta needed help, because she was totally, day and night, in charge of his mother. She needed a vacation; she needed money. The bank was taking the money and not giving it to her. It was a very detailed, plaintive letter. I said to Laura, “I don’t remember Fred’s ever telling me about that.” And when I went through the correspondence, I saw that I had asked Fred, “Do you want to dictate a letter to me about this so that you can sign it before you go on the trip that you’re leaving for?” So I knew about it; Laura knew about it. She said, “I knew about it. Why didn’t you?” I said, “I don’t remember having heard about it.” That’s my forgetter. I can’t say for sure whether he talked to me about something or not.
Fair enough. What about big events like Sputnik?
What do you remember from those times and how that changed your lives?
A lot. Well, first of all, they had to go to MIT to use the computer there, and it was a 24-hour-a-day business, tracking it, and as a very recent connection with that, the man who was in charge of the computers at MIT’s son got in touch with me, and he wanted to — this was the anniversary. He wanted to make a big splash about that, so I invited him over, and I met his wife, and she was a charming woman, and he ended up getting I think it was Sky and Telescope or some publication to print this occasion and a picture of his father and Fred together. The whole thing was about his father, because Fred wasn’t mentioned in it at all — just in the picture. I mean, Laura and I had a big laugh on that one.
Laura remembers family exposure to the media, especially after Fred was on the [cover of Life].
Oh, there was one that was impossible.
Oh, tell me about it.
The two girls were dressed up in their finest and sitting at the desk. You saw that picture?
Yes, Laura showed it to me.
Well, they both said that that never happened, that other than the occasion when the picture was taken, and there probably was a party at the Shapleys and they had gotten dressed up from the party, and then they had been lugged in, and they objected strenuously to the bottom line, that family came first, and that astronomy came second. They said, “No way.” No way, they both really… Sandy more than Laura, even though I think that Fred felt more identified with Sandy than he did with Laura, because it was hard for him to identify, I think, with a second child in the family, his little brother. That’s my [theory]…
Laura is the younger.
Wow, that’s a tough one.
Well, Sandy, he absolutely adored. And Sandy felt he didn’t. Or still feels that. I don’t know. I don’t talk about those things with her, so we shouldn’t have that published.
Okay. Well, we’ll leave it at that point. But the fact that Fred was becoming very visible and a public figure, I would say.
Oh, he was.
…how did that change family life?
He was having fun. He was happy. How did it change? I don’t know that it did.
Well, you would go places together. Was he usually recognized?
He did a lot of traveling alone. He traveled to Washington a lot alone, and I would say that the major, major thing which family was involved was when he got the presidential medal from Kennedy just a few months before Kennedy’s death. That was major, major. His family came; his father was just [beaming]. I’ve never seen his father look so happy.
Unbelievable. And Sandy had on a little white dress. She was about 12 years old, and she was studying Russian. She said something in Russian to President Kennedy.
That’s marvelous. It must have scared him.
No, she just said hello or something.
When Sputnik went up, and in its aftermath, I know that Fred testified before Congress and had a particular vision on how the nation should respond in a space program. Are you aware of what hopes and dreams were at that time?
Yes, his hopes and dreams were that we would be the first to go up, and was absolutely furious. We were on our way to Europe on a boat when he heard that Vanguard [failed].
The one that failed?
What’s the German’s name?
Von Braun’s was not allowed to be first, because he was German, and that it was the competitors who were not sufficiently knowledgeable who were given the job. And we were on the boat when we heard this as news. We were going to Europe [???].
This is back in ‘55, actually.
Exactly. We were going to an IAU meeting, and it was on the boat that he learned this, and he was very disappointed.
Was this maybe one of the rare times that he let his feelings be visible?
I would say it’s one of the rare times I remember his reacting that way. We were in close contact with Alla Masevitch and Luen(?) in Russia, and he got into trouble with the stupid government authorities for giving them one of these things that Hynek’s group would use to watch the skies, the Moonwatch telescope.
He gave the Russians a Moonwatch telescope and he got into trouble for this? You’re kidding.
No, I think there’s probably something written about that.