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Born 21 November 1932 in Lebanon, Tennessee. His parents separate during the Great Depression. From ages four to about eleven or twelve he resides at the Monroe Harding Children’s Home in Nashville, Tennessee. His mother works at Monroe Harding. He doesn’t see his father again until 1957. Older sister is a writer. Describes the Monroe Harding Children’s Home. Home is supported by the Presbyterian Church. The church turns from supporting orphans and needy institutions to the war effort in 1941. Tells of his experiences raising chickens as part of the Home’s effort to be self-sufficient.
In 1954, begins graduate education at Columbia University. Discusses his first year core classes with particular attention to Walter Bucher’ s and Alfreida Van Ardrov’s courses, teaching styles, and research. Interaction among the graduate students and the seminar series mentioned. Works with J. Lamar Worzel on a new gravimeter during the summer before the first year at Columbia. Makes his first cruise, on Vema 7, during the summer between the first and second graduate school years. His work measuring velocity and physical properties of sediment cores.
Circumnavigates South America during a yearlong cruise on Vema 15, in 1958. Begins the cruise as a gravity observer. He experiences problems with the new shipboard gravimeter, a German-built Eskania. His primary concern is with the Alidade Table. Discusses the beginning of the first worldwide cruises. By the early 1960s, instruments and measurements are integrated on the cruises as a result of new instruments being introduced and upgraded. Explains the importance of the instrument shop for the development of Lamont and names individuals who were particularly adept at modifying instruments.