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   Latest update:
October, 2008

BIRTH: Chicago, IL 1932
I give this information to prove that I had nothing to do with frightening Mrs. O'Leary's cow all those years ago since I had not "moved in" yet.

Lombard, IL
Lombard is known for the large collection of lilacs in Lilac Park and claims Harold Gray, creator of the comic strip Little Orphan Annie, as a former resident.
    When we moved there in 1942, the population sign welcoming you to town read 7,150 (from the 1940 census). I helped take the special census in 1954 just before heading out to California. The population had risen, I believe, to much more that 14,000. The census work and the fact that I had had many newspaper delivery routes during my years there meant that I really knew the town.
    My past girl-watching proved to be an additional aid when I was taking our special census where I was assigned the entire northeast end of town with more than 1000 residents. There was a section in this part of town overgrown with grass and trees where, prior to the Great Depression, a developer had put in streets and sidewalks but hadn't gotten to the houses. When I was driving by this section one day, I idly remembered Juanita, a striking girl I used to see walking near this forlorn spot. Also I seemed to remember that I always saw her walking toward this place after school. Then I began to wonder where she might have lived because I knew of no houses in those woods.
    Following my strong instincts, I parked the car and began to walk along one of those deserted sidewalks through the woods to I-knew-not-where. I came out of the patch of trees and discovered two houses hidden from the nearest main road. I stopped at the first one: it proved to be Juanita's house although she had since graduated from high school and lived somewhere else then. It was her mother who gave me all the facts about the people living in the two houses. For the purposes of that special census, whose aim was to ensure the town got enough state aid to education, it was only necessary to get the names and ages of the head of the household and other residents. The exact age was not necessary, for, if a person was reluctant, I was to guess: my guesses were wild, I'm sure. But I bet that none of the other special census workers would have found that house! You see girl-watching was worthwhile: 7 people in those two houses at $0.06/name (the going rate) meant I made $0.42 more!

High school: Glenbard High School
        (Now: Glenbard West), Glen Ellyn, IL -

Our class, the MID-CENTURY CLASS, celebrated its 50th anniversary reunion in the last year of the past century: 2000! Nearly 100 members met at the Hilton Hotel in Lisle, IL for a two-day affair on October 14-15. This would have been my first reunion except that I found out about an all-class reunion that meets every three years in Laughlin, Nevada, and I attended the reunion in February, 2000, and this one became my 1st reunion.

Some historical notes:
    I attended this school because there was not yet, as there is today, a high school in Lombard; therefore, we bussed to Glen Ellyn.

This reminds me of the time when, as a member of our cross-country squad, I decided as a change-of-pace to run home, a distance of about three miles, and then drive the car back to school, shower and dress. I arrived home fresh as a daisy but found, to my consternation, that the only car keys were in my pants in the locker room at the high school, my father being out of town. No sweat, I just ran back, dressed and hitch-hiked home. If you play our Glenbard Loyalty Song (2 paragraphs down), you will see my letter for cross-country. This is the first time I've used it!
    Outside scenes of this beautiful school and Glen Ellyn can be seen in the Hollywood film Lucas. Other views of this school were seen in the Fox network's series Yearbook airing a few years ago.

Take a nostalgia trip with me, and sing along with our school's song: GLENBARD LOYALTY (1940's version of the lyrics). Just click LOYALTY, and the song will play once. If you don't hear music within 10 or 15 seconds after the page has loaded, press your browser's "Refresh" or "Reload" button. You can, if you wish, play it again--and again.

College: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL
BS chemistry, 1954
The center of the campus is interlaced with walks (the Broadwalk) shaded in my era by majestic American Elm trees. All the elms died a few scant years later and until new trees could grow, the center of the campus looked rather bleak. I disavow any responsibility to this calamity as well.

POST GRADUATE: U. of California, Berkeley, CA
Ph. D. organic chemistry, 1958
The only admission I will make is that I knew which 24-HR NO PARKING, TOW-AWAY ZONES I could use safely in San Francisco on those limited occasions when I "did the town" on my meager Teaching-Assistant's salary. The most memorable evenings were those for which I arranged theater parties. We would go in my car ($0.25 assessment for gasoline and Bay Bridge toll) with the play being free because we had "ushering" tickets. It was so inexpensive that I even enjoyed the dogs! The cute coed (JPG: 64K) whom I married was a frequent member of this theater group.

EVEN LATER: Columbia U., New York, NY
Advanced Calculus, Differential Equations, spring 1968
Finally I decided that organic chemistry was here to stay. During 1968, there was great student unrest leading to a large group of students taking over the library and other buildings and effectively closing down the university for several weeks. Needless to say, I again disclaim any hand in these doings.

With all this free time, I attacked what, to me, was an interesting problem. I noticed that whenever a calculus text mentioned the absolute-value function ( Y = |X| ) it never gave any simple formula for the derivative that could be used in other calculations. I derived the requisite formula, and nobody to whom I showed this had seen it before. However, with more important things to do, I shelved it until later (in this case 2004). See the whole exposé in my CALCULUS feature!

Later still: Pennsylvania State U., State College, PA
School of Education, spring 1972
15 credits of Education courses to satisfy New Jersey's requirement for a secondary teaching credential in physical sciences and mathematics.
While preparing some graphs for a presentation before my "Methods of Teaching Science" class, I stumbled upon what the Dulong-Petit Law of 1819 should have been. The aforesaid law, discarded long ago, was inexact, but my new slant on it, while not totally perfect, seemed amazingly exact. But to work out the details, I had to wait until 1985 when I would have the time and good access to a modern digital computer for the first time.
    One of the reasons that nobody had corrected this law during the more than 150 years since its publication was that computers were not available until about 1950. And then there were just a vacuum-tube behemoth. By 1970, the IBM 360 mainframe computer was the standard, but really few people had access to one. I begged access to the Penn State IBM 360 to learn FORTRAN, using the fact that I was a night-school instructor; and subsequently I learned a lot.
    After we left Pennsylvania in 1972, I had to wait until 1984 when the Ridgewood Library offered free use of a donated Apple IIe. This led to my getting the IIc the next year. I really needed the Apple IIc with Applesoft Basic because my method of line-fitting (not the least-squares method) required, at the very least, a programmable digital computer using a language such as BASIC or FORTRAN. I was able to report the results of these calculations at the 191st National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in New York City, 1986. I had been very lucky! If you are comfortable in math and physical science, you can now read the approximate text of the 1986 talk: UPDATING DULONG & PETIT.

Much later: San Diego Community College District,
North City Center, Aero Drive, San Diego, CA, 1994-ca2003
The North City Center has the main computer laboratories of the college offering computer courses (Mac and PC) at no charge to adults.
I signed into the Macintosh computer classes in about November, 1994 going all morning five days per week for about two years. As a result of this, I bought my own Macintosh computer and this activity has become my most important leisure activity. After I got my own Mac, I attended special classes regularly until about 2003. But for the whole story see my COMPUTER PAGE.

The latest: Spring, 1998, 1999, 2000
ELEMADRID Spanish School, Madrid, Spain
For more about this, see my page for SPANISH STUDY.
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Exxon R & D
(Then: Esso Research & Engineering Co.), Linden, NJ - 1957-1958
Trying to make synthetic jet lubricants.

US Army, 1st Lieutenant,
Dugway Proving Ground, Dugway, Utah - 1958-1960 -
Testing Chemical Corps equipment and nerve gases in the Great Salt Lake Desert.

    Hobbies: growing prickly pear cactus with its red and white flowers and learning how to repair my big, black 1946-Oldsmobile.

Also our son Stanley was born here. There was conjecture about the reason for the rash of pregnancies on the post that year - - some attributed it to the water - - but I ask you, "What else was there to do way out there in the middle of the Great Salt Lake Desert?" Of course, the bargain hospital rates were an additional factor: roughly $7!
    I had an interesting experience on one occasion when I was working alone testing rubberized protective suits. The test involved blowing up the suit with a low-pressure air source and looking for leaks by painting soapy water on the outside and observing the bubble formation. I soon noticed a very slight tightness in my throat that seemed strange to me. Knowing where I was stationed, I went to the men's room and looked at my pupils in the mirror: they were pin-point. This is one of the first things nerve gas does.
    I had no idea where it was coming from, but I dropped everything and went quickly to my jeep to vacate the area. As I left the building, I saw men about 50 yards away wearing rubber suits and gas masks and doing something with suspicious-looking cylinders. I didn't stop to ask them anything: I just hurried to the dispensary several miles away for a blood test: a good portion of my blood choline esterase was gone.
    I had to stay home for a week as a precaution although there were no other symptoms. When my choline-esterase level had recovered, I went back to duty.

Squibb Institute for Medical Research (Now: part of Bristol-Myers), New Brunswick, NJ - 1960-67
Search for pharmaceuticals in plants, tetracycline chemistry, semi-synthetic penicillins & cephalosporins.
    Notable accomplishment: appointing myself chief of cleaning out our big cold room. This was interesting because I got to find out just what things my coworkers had been saving throughout history (for example: Jim Dutcher's curare samples). Jim was one of the world's curare experts.
    Investigation of the chemical nature of curare and of its use in medicine had begun in the 1930's from museum samples brought back from the depths of the Amazon jungle. The natives there isolated a sticky plant tar (curare) and, using curare-coated darts shot from blow-guns, were able to hunt small game such as monkeys and birds to supplement their diet. The alkaloids of curare aren't toxic if eaten, but, if the curare is injected into the blood by a sharp dart, it causes paralysis of the striated (voluntary) muscles. Death occurs through suffocation because the wounded animal cannot breathe since the diaphragm is a voluntary muscle. Ultimately, the curare was isolated, purified and the chemical structure determined. Medically it was the first muscle-relaxant drug to be used in surgery, the patient being put on a respirator for the operation. The fact that the muscles were relaxed made the surgeon' s job easier. The paralysis would wear off shortly after the surgery was completed, and the patient could be removed from the respirator safely. The use of curare stopped when an inexpensive synthetic muscle-relaxant named succinylcholine took its place.
    Continuing with the clean-up, I found an unlabeled bottle which I set aside to explore one Saturday. Fully expecting to spend the entire day finding out what it was, I was thrilled to be able to identify it in about five minutes. I put a tiny white crystal on a platinum spoon; held it in a flame (to see if an ash would remain proving it inorganic) and - - it exploded! "Aha!", I said, "Maybe it's a peroxide!" I visually compared the crystals with a labeled bottle of benzoyl peroxide (identical) and found that the infrared spectra of the two samples were identical. Case closed. I then spent the rest of the time on more productive pursuits.

Ruetgers-Nease Chemical Company
(Then: Nease Chem. Co.), State College, PA - 1968-1971.
Organic process R & D.
    We used to joke about "getting the big picture" while I was at Exxon. I surely didn't have it then, but working at Nease gave one a grass-roots view of producing organic chemicals commercially. And we did this in the picturesque Nittany Mountains of Centre County (geographic center of Pennsylvania). My boss Dr. Ian Bell was and still is an interesting and knowledgeable chemist who, by chance, I had known beforehand when we both attended the U. of California, Berkeley: he as a post-doctoral fellow and I as a graduate student.

Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA - 1969-1972 - - -
Night school instructor in chemistry and physical science courses.
    I liked to tell my classes the interesting saga of Russell Marker who had been a distinguished professor there until about 1944 when he moved to Mexico to start an enterprise to make progesterone from some of the wild yams growing there. Progesterone, the pregnancy-sustaining hormone, had only been known for a few years then, and it's price on the world market was astronomical. He was successful, and his cooperative effort with a small hormone lab there cut the world market price substantially. After about a year, he had a disagreement with his business associates and left to find a Mexican plant from which to make cortisone, again a very hot commodity.
    In the meantime, the business associates found an able Swiss chemist George Rosencranz who stepped in and was able to duplicate Marker's chemistry. This culminated with the incorporation of a new drug firm: Syntex, S. A. a corporation of Panama that held it's annual meetings in Panama City at the Pacific terminus of the Panama Canal. Syntex became the darling of investors in the 1960's, for, after G. D. Searle of Chicago made the first birth-control pill available about 1960 using ingredients they made themselves, the other drug firms stepped in with competitive pills which all had to be made from progesterone and/or it's derivatives, easily available only from Syntex, S. A.
    When Syntex built it's research laboratory in Palo Alto, CA, suddenly Stanford University acquired several brilliant new organic professors, and Syntex Research in Palo Alto became a very desirable place for an organic chemist to work. A few years ago, Syntex became a part of Hoffman La Roche of Switzerland. About the same time George Rosencranz retired as Chairman of the Board of Syntex to take up a new career as bridge expert: he has written a number of very readable treatises on contract bridge and is regarded as the leading player living in Mexico.
    I have told you this story because it is interesting, and it nicely ties together my current interests of studying Spanish (Click Spanish below to learn about this study.) and improving my bridge play with my pharmaceutical-chemistry background which finally included becoming an investor in Syntex (too late to get rich).

Teaneck High School, Teaneck, NJ - 1972-1973 -
Teaching chemistry and physical science.
    Carmen Rodríguez, a Spanish teacher, lived just two blocks from me in Ridgewood; thus, we shared rides occasionally. On one occasion when I met her at her Spanish classroom, I noticed a little pamphlet of Spanish songs. She graciously gave me a copy, and, years later, I used many of these lyrics in the Spanish song book I will tell you about if you click Spanish: below.

Pure Synthetics, Inc., Ridgewood, NJ w/ Plant in Paterson, NJ - 1973-1995 -
President, Director of R & D, and Custodian -
    Whatever I did at my company I enjoyed, for, after all, it was my thing - - to which you might add, "And he's welcome to it!" Click History: below to read about this saga.


OF |X|

Deriving and using the derivative of

New technique for distilling volatile solids!

French Scientists invent data in 1819



The 1st Great
City of the
21st Century


Story of Pure


My life and
times with
Big Mac



For chemists!
Far-out way
to make MCP!


Visit Madrid & go to Aranjuez by steam train