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Linus Pauling Interview, July 26, 1990

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THOMAS HAGER: The fact is that there's no other evidence that that ever happened.

LINUS PAULING: Well, it'd surely be in the court records somewhere.

TH: Well, I checked the court records, and if it was a case of self-defense...

LP: Yes.

TH: ...which it appears it was, he wouldn't have gone to trial.

LP: Yes.

TH: And so, there wouldn't be court records. The sheriff's department doesn't have any records. There are no - in Baker.

LP: They could decide whether...

TH: Yeah. At that point in time, things were a lot less formal. And I talked to the historians in that part of the country and they said that it was likely that if it was a case of self-defense, it wouldn't have gone to trial. There's no record in the sheriff's department and there's no record of any land transactions at that time with your grandfather's name.

LP: Well. Uh-huh.

TH: And so... and there's no Bedrock Democrat paper for that date available 00:01:00anymore to check against, and the Boise paper doesn't mention L. W. Darling at all. So, I'm not sure that-

LP: March 2nd, 1877.

TH: Yeah. I'm not sure that they might not have confused that story. This appeared in The Oregonian and was picked up from another paper, and they may have just confused the story, I think. And in fact, it may not be as they said.

LP: Uh-huh.

TH: You father - I mean your grandfather - at that time was working for the newspaper in Pendleton as a sort of correspondent, and he went around the country getting subscriptions. And he was writing descriptions of various parts of the area around Pendleton for the Pendleton newspaper, and they had hired him 00:02:00for just two months to do that, and then they ran out of money at the newspaper and they had to let him go. And that's when he left Pendleton and went over to the Willamette Valley again and started teaching school and met your grandmother over there. So, the - I'm just not sure that that event ever happened that way. It's a mystery.

LP: No, when was he born, the...

TH: 1855. So, he was 22...

LP: 1855, yes. That's my memory, too, 1855. So, he would have been 22, yes.

TH: Yeah, and it's certain that he was in Pendleton around that time. Pendleton is 120 miles away from where this supposedly happened, and I'm just not sure that it ever actually took place. And I can't pin it down because there's no more primary records to go to.

LP: Yeah. He wasn't keeping his diary yet, at that time.

TH: Not at that-well actually, no, he was but he kept it for a couple of years in there but then stopped and started it up again after he was in Condon.


LP: I guess.

TH: So, it's just a blank period, almost [unintelligible].

LP: I should think he would have noted it in his diary [laughs].

TH: Had it - in fact, unless he didn't - my only thinking about it might have been that he didn't want that to follow him around. He didn't want that information to...

LP: No.

TH: ...come with him, and so, in fact, he may not have wanted people to know, if in fact it happened. I think since that's the only piece of evidence that that ever happened, [unintelligible] pretty slimsy.

LP: Yes. I know he sometimes carried a riffle around, because he mentioned in his diary shooting a salmon in the creek.

TH: [Laughs] that's right, I remember that. Yeah, when he wasn't spearing them with a pitchfork, that was the other...

LP: Yes, yes.

TH: ...taking a pitchfork and pitching them up. Anyway, I hope you find those interesting.

LP: Well, this just - I'm surely glad to have this information.


TH: Good. Yeah.

LP: Especially about my burn. It seems to me odd that I shouldn't remember that at all, that episode.

TH: It seems to me that when you're six or seven or eight years old - your memory is probably better than mine - but there are many, many things that I don't think I remember.

LP: Well, this was a pretty serious matter.

TH: Yeah.

LP: It may be that the trauma was such that I was caused to forget about it.

TH: That happens, yeah. Sure, in serious - in cases of serious injury. Do you remember how they treated burns like that? I mean, you obviously knew you had the scars, and you knew that you were burned.

LP: Oh I knew, yes. I thought that I was sitting in my highchair, that my mother told me, and got leaned over and fell out and pulled the coffee pot over on me.


TH: Oh.

LP: I can remember, at about that time, running into a hot stove in the living room in Condon on a winter day. Winter look - I was looking out of the window and something happened that caused me to turn and run, and I burned my belly by bumping into a good hot stove, which was not a cookstove. But that... I must have been six or seven then.

TH: Well, that might have been the cause for the newspaper item.

LP: No, I don't think so.

TH: Oh.

LP: Well, maybe.

TH: Yeah, it might have been that burn because I don't think it mentioned where 00:06:00the burn happened.

LP: That, I put it on my desk over there, well that... they don't say where it happened or...

TH: Right, right.

LP: Or the extent to which I was burned. And I think this burn occurred in Oswego, rather than Condon.

TH: Yeah, I expect if it was that age, that would have been there.

LP: But I didn't remember that my bumping into the stove and burning my stomach was a serious enough matter to have made the newspaper, but I think that's probably the explanation. If I had got this bad burn when I was five, nearly six, just turning six, I surely would have remembered that. But I remember this 00:07:00other burn.

TH: Yeah. Well, I'll bet that that was it. The Condon paper picked up many, many minor items of interest.

LP: Yes.

TH: It was a-

LP: This burn extends the scar, extends all the way up my arm. And especially around the elbow, you can see that it's scar tissue because it wrinkles the wrong way, the same as my other arm.

TH: Oh, well then that was a very serious burn.

LP: So, I think that occurred probably in Oswego.

TH: And I remember reading in your dairy, you wrote that the - the diary you kept when you were a teenager for a short period of time - you had burned - there was some burn that you gave yourself on your fingers when you were working on something down in the basement and there was some kind of hot surface or something. You burned your fingers then, too.

LP: Maybe. I don't...Well, that wasn't very serious. Lots of things happened 00:08:00when I was down, working in the basement.

TH: [Laughs].

LP: Once - you may know the story - I had got chemicals, bottles of chemicals, from the laboratory of the Oregon Iron and Steel Company's smelter, which was falling - the roof had fallen in, in this laboratory, and the smelter had been abandoned by that time, 1912, say, '14; 1913, '14 - and the bottle of concentrated sulfuric acid, a so-called Winchester Bottle, two and a half liters, the sulfuric acid was black. Apparently, there had been a little bit of 00:09:00organic matter in it and as it dehydrated, the organic matter, carbohy-leaving carbon which made the sulfuric acid black.

Well, it was perfectly good for my purpose to do experiments with, and I had built a laboratory in the basement of our house at 1189 Hawthorne Avenue and had a table there, and I had taken some of the acid out of a bottle and as I pushed the bottle, put it back at the back end of the table, it hit the concrete wall and broke. So, the couple of liters of sulfuric acid fell, splashed out, and I ran down the length of the basement and jumped into the laundry tub, and washed myself out. I suppose my pants were destroyed, but I don't remember, at any rate. I washed off the acid.


Then I got a broom and started sweeping the sulfuric acid for about 25 feet, the length of the basement, nearly, or two-quarters the length, to a down drain. And I just swept away and swept much of the acid down, and then I got the hose and started watering down. Well, up to this time, the concrete seemed not to be affected. I didn't see any bubbles, but as soon as I started watering it, it started fizzing. There was apparently some carbonate in that concrete. And for a long time, I was puzzled by that, and finally, I decided, perhaps when I took high school chemistry, that the concentrate sulfuric acid didn't contain any 00:11:00hydrogen ions, but when you add water to it, it ionized into hydrogen ions and began attacking the carbonate.

TH: How did you know that the laboratory was there? I mean, were you just poking around and found the-

LP: Oh, of course. I...you know, I never was much for having - for fooling around with other boys. I was usually around by myself. I saw something of Lynn Anderson when we were around Hawthorne. He lived at 39th and Hawthorne. His father was the barber there and then he ran a drugstore at 39th and Hawthorne where his house had been, after many years later. I saw that he had gone to 00:12:00Oregon State and got his pharmacy license. Lynn Anderson I saw a moderate amount when I was around 12, 13, 14, and Lloyd Simon lived about four blocks away, and Lloyd Jeffress.

And I was with Lloyd Jeffress a reasonable amount of time from when I was 13 to 17, perhaps, and he was my best friend. But we didn't play baseball together or anything of that sort. We explored the Clackamas, the bed of the Clackamas River. His parents had a country place out three or four miles north of Oregon 00:13:00City, and I stayed with Lloyd a few days. And he took me on an expedition in the bed of the Clackamas. There was a cavern, a tunnel sort of, in the bed, and he got down in this and started working his way along. I did too and it was rather long, perhaps 80 feet long. At one place, I could hardly scrape through I got rather frightened before I got out of that experience.

TH: Did you and Lloyd discover this abandoned lab in the smelter together, or was that-

LP: No, I know he was at Oswego with me at least once because of the episode 00:14:00with my grandmother about my career.

TH: Tell me about that.

LP: When I was about 15 and was there with Lloyd - or perhaps I was even 16 - my grandmother said to me "Liney, what are you going to be when you grow up?" And I said, "I'm going to be a chemical engineer." And Lloyd said, "No, he isn't. He's going to be a professor." [Both chuckle]. Lloyd came to Oregon State to Corvallis, OAC, and was there for one year, my freshman year I think, when he was perhaps a freshman. He was studying electrical engineering at Oregon 00:15:00Agricultural College.

What he did was to borrow apparatus from the physics department, take it to his room, and carry out experiments in physics. And I don't know just what he did. He decided he didn't want to be an electrical engineer, but a physicist, and went to Berkeley. And I think he decided while he was in Berkeley that year that he would go to medical school. He stayed out of college, out of Berkeley for a year studying anatomy, I think, or physiology, by himself, and then went back. And instead of taking a pre-med course, or perhaps started to, but decided to major in psychology, and that was, of course, a sensible thing for him to do.


Later, he was the Chairman of the Psychology Department in the University of Texas. And when I was a member of the Hixon Committee of Caltech, the Hixon committee handled a grant of money that had been given to study cerebral mechanisms. The committee, Mrs. Tolman was a member - and I don't remember who the other members were - the committee decided to hold a symposium on cerebral mechanisms. Johnny von Neumann was one of the speakers, and there were distinguished psychologists who were brought in. I was able to participate.


The symposium was arranged during the year 1947, '48. Lloyd and I suggested that Lloyd be hired to arrange it. He got leave of absence from Texas, perhaps for a year, starting December 1947 which is when we left for England, the year I was at Oxford as the visiting professor. The Eastman Professor. So, he lived in our home at 3500 Fairpoint Street, Pasadena. Lloyd and his wife Sylvia and arranged the symposium. And then he edited the papers and got out the book, Cerebral Mechanisms.


The members of the Hixon fund then decided that there should be a Hixon fund professor and hired a man, Sperry, who was doing experiments on the brain. He got the Nobel Prize later on, so the members of the committee were pretty smart to have picked him out and hired him away from Chicago at that time.

TH: I know that you and Lloyd spent a lot of time together and you were both interested in science when you were boys, when you were teenagers. Tell me, do you remember how you met Lloyd? Was it at school, or...?

LP: Yes, at Washington High School. His home was about halfway between our place 00:19:00on Hawthorne Avenue and Washington High School. And perhaps sort of by accident, we walked back together toward his home from Washington High, perhaps more than once. At any rate, once, he asked if I'd like to stop and see some chemical experiments. And so, I went with him into his home, his bedroom on the second floor, and he mixed some...well, I think he mixed some potassium chlorate, which kids always like, that's a- you can't get it in the chemical sets because it's too dangerous. But fortunately, chemical sets didn't exist then. So, he mixed some potassium chlorate and sugar and put a drop of concentrated sulfuric acid 00:20:00on it, and it started fizzing and emitting light, as well as sound and heat, and the sugar became oxidized. And I think there was a reside of carbon left.

I don't remember what other experiments he showed me, but I just remember that one, and that when I got home half an hour later, I got my mother's spirit lamp, alcohol lamp, and boiled some water. That was about the only thing I could do. And I got out my father's book on chemistry, which I don't seem to have anymore. I think it was written by an author named Williams. So, I read in it. This was when I was 13. It was two years, a year and a half before I took high school 00:21:00chemistry. So, then I started carrying out experiments. And we had started with a sulfuric acid that I got from the old, abandoned smelter. The smelter is down towards a river from the cement plant, which is I think no longer there.

TH: Yeah, I think they toppled it, the cement plant. I think they destroyed it.

LP: Yes. Well, and the foundry where my grandfather worked was perhaps half a mile, roughly, north of the old smelter. And on the bank there, you probably can still see deposits of slag from the smelter. Slag was produced and they just 00:22:00dumped it out on the hillside. Well, on the ground there, this side of the Willamette. The smelter had perhaps three big stoves, as they're called. They're described in my book, General Chemistry, and College Chemistry. Structures perhaps 40 feet high in which the iron ore is smelted. And I think that it was smelted with coke that had been imported, rather than with charcoal. Have you ever seen the old smelter?

TH: No, I haven't.

LP: As you go from the end of Oswego Lake toward the Willamette River, the road 00:23:00that runs to Oregon City crosses a little bridge over Sucker Creek. I don't think they use that name, Sucker Creek, anymore but they call it Lake Oswego Creek or something like that. Sucker Creek is the outlet from Oswego Lake to the Willamette. My father- my grandmother said my father had broken his arm by climbing around in Sucker Creek, and almost always she would say to me, "Don't go to Sucker Creek or the lake." She was worried that I'd break my arm or would drown.

So, what I did when I was wandering around by myself was to go down to this old smelter and look around. And there was still iron ore there, and there was the 00:24:00smokestack, 100 feet high. And it originally had been lined with firebrick, or the base anyway, but that had been removed. So, it was just the steel structure, cylindrical chimney, 100 feet high and perhaps 15 feet in diameter, and with a ladder with iron rungs. So, a number of times, just to be doing something, I climbed to the top of this stack.

At the top, there was a flange. The steel came up but there was a flange on the inside about a foot wide so that it was sort of flat there, and I would sit on 00:25:00that and inch my way around the top of this stack. I never told my grandmother what I was doing [both laugh], inch my way around the top of that stack, and then climb back down and go back to my grandparents' house. I was 13, perhaps 14 when I was doing this.

I also saw the laboratory, and there were hundreds of bottles, specimen bottles like this, containing iron ore. I think I took some of them and threw the iron ore out and washed them out and took them to my home in Portland, going on the steam train, seven miles from Oswego to Portland, and then taking the streetcar two miles up Hawthorne Avenue to 40th Street. But I also took bottles of 00:26:00chemicals. These big bottles of concentrated nitric acid and sulfuric acids, which I put in the suitcase that I had brought for this purpose and got on the train and the streetcar and got them home. And a nice, big bottle, a couple of pounds, I think, of potassium permanganate. That was a great find because you can do so many things with potassium permanganate.

TH: Was that the substance that you used to make volcanoes to entertain your sisters?

LP: Is that what?

TH: You had mentioned when we spoke before that you remembered lighting off sort of a chemical volcano to entertain your sisters.

LP: Well, I did that long- when I was nine years old, you see.

TH: Oh, that was long before, then.

LP: My father died I think four or five months after we went from Condon to 00:27:00Portland in 1909, and... he died in August, perhaps, and-

TH: It was June.

LP: June, June. And it was March I think when he wrote that letter to the Portland Oregonian.

TH: Yeah, that's right.

LP: And we lived for a month perhaps at 3rd and Clay on the west side. And I went, for a month or two, perhaps until- well, a month or two, to a school which I think was called Clay School, on the west side there, near 3rd and Clay. And it was there that I had built a little mountain of dust in the back of the apartment house, the flat, two-story building of flats - and we were on the 00:28:00second floor - and put some calcium carbide in it and poured some water on it and lighted the acetylene that was coming off.

TH: So you were interested- I mean there's a chemical experience from an earlier age.

LP: That's right. And how I knew enough to do that, I don't know.

TH: Where did you get the-

LP: The calcium carbide was available anywhere because bicyclists used acetylene lamps at night. You had carbide and dripped water on it to produce the acetylene and then lighted it. So acetylene, there's quite a lot of acetylene around, that's the calcium carbide that you could make acetylene with.

TH: Oh, I see.

LP: And I may have invented this experiment just from knowing that acetylene 00:29:00would burn and that it was used in these acetylene lamps. I don't remember how I happened to know enough to do that.

TH: How many- did you just make one trip to the abandoned foundry to get those chemicals with your suitcase?

LP: Oh, I must have made a dozen trips, or 20 trips perhaps.

TH: And what did you get besides the acids and the bottles?

LP: Well, permanganate, I remember.

TH: Now, what did you use that for?

LP: Potassium permanganate?

TH: Mm-hmm.

LP: Well, you use it for all sorts of things. Permanganate is a magenta color, the permanganate ion. If you reduce it a little bit, it becomes green, the manganate ion. And then you can reduce it down to manganese dioxide as a precipitate, or else all the way down to a manganous chloride, a soluble 00:30:00material. I don't remember all of the things I did with that potassium permanganate.

TH: And what else did you pick up from the lab there? What other sorts of reagents or chemicals?

LP: Well... There was a still for making distilled water in the laboratory. A block tin condenser, a block tin - which just means pure metallic tin - pipe in a can which you filled with water to keep it cool. And then you boiled water and the steam went into this. And so, you got distilled water. I took that and Lloyd Simon and I distilled water and sold it to garages to put in batteries. It 00:31:00wasn't a profitable business, even though we didn't- I don't know, we may have used wood from my mother's stockpile of wood in the basement for burning in the furnace to keep warm in the wintertime.

TH: So you took a whole distilled water apparatus and large bottles of acid, all on the train.

LP: Yes.

TH: Do you remember what else? Any other sort of major equipment, or...?

LP: The... Well, there was some sort of furnace lined with fireclay that we, 00:32:00Lloyd Simon and I, carted. We took it down to a canoe. We paddled up in a canoe from Portland, paddled upstream seven miles, and put this furnace that had a fireclay lining in the canoe and paddled down, and then put it in a wheelbarrow and wheeled it up two miles to our house. But we never succeeded in doing anything worthwhile with that piece of apparatus. And as I say, this place had just been abandoned, and...

TH: You got other equipment-

LP: There was a balance, an analytical balance that had been there. What they 00:33:00had done when the smelter was abandoned was to take the analytical balance and put it, or take it to the foundry, which the company owned, and it was kept in the sort of superintendent's building. A little room, small room at the foundry. So that balance, I sometimes weighed things on that balance. Well, at any rate, once.

I went with my grandfather. My grandfather, who had been a workman in the foundry, became the nightwatchman so that even if the workmen were not employed 00:34:00during a select time and didn't have employment, he had the job as nightwatchman. When I was a boy, the foundry operated sometimes and didn't operate sometimes. So, I went with my grandfather to the foundry one night when he was to appear, to serve as a nightwatchman. He had a clock, a timeclock, and made regular rounds every hour. I'm not sure what there was at the foundry that justified having a night watchman, but at least it-

TH: A lot of chemicals and equipment, apparently [laughs].

LP: Well, that was over- there wasn't anything in the way of chemicals at the foundry.

TH: Oh.

LP: They didn't have a chemist, and didn't- they just, after the smelter stopped, they I think imported pig iron from somewhere and melted it off in the 00:35:00smelt. Well, I don't know- melted it in the furnace, and I can remember seeing the molten iron being poured to produce cast iron pipes perhaps eight or 10 inches, six, eight, 10 inches diameter, outside diameter. Standard pipes that were used in sewer connections.

TH: So you went around with him on his rounds one night, with your grandfather?

LP: Well, I stayed there all night. He made a little pellet for me at about midnight perhaps. He put down his overcoat, or put his overcoat over me, and I slept for a while. I did that only once. But I had visited the foundry too, when 00:36:00it was operating in the daytime, and seen how they made the molds out of clay, into which the molten iron is poured, or cast the cast iron pipe. That's all gone. I'd sort of like to go down and look over that site and see if I can find the slag, the great bends of slag.

TH: Well, I would imagine, unless they built a condominium development on top of it, it's probably still there.

LP: Yeah. Of course, Oregon Iron & Steel Company had large amounts of land in that region. And my grandfather told me that he had worked I think at the old smelter as a coke burner. That is, you cut down the trees and pile up wood, set 00:37:00fire to the wood, cover it over with the earth so that it just smolders, and the heat of combustion of the volatiles converts the wood into charcoal. So, he had worked as a charcoal burner for a while. And that probably was for the old smelter. The old smelter I think is described as the first smelter west of the Mississippi.

TH: And the largest, yeah. I have seen some of the old advertising material that Oregon Iron & Steel used to put out, and they described themselves as the largest. I don't know if it was the only one, but they described themselves as the largest smelter west of the Rockies, I think is the way they put it.


LP: Yes. But that was the one that I was talking about where they had the laboratory and had three stoves and this big smokestack. The only smelter may have been the start of Oregon Iron & Steel.

TH: Oh, okay.

LP: And the old smelter is quite different. It's not built of steel. The stoves are not built of steel. There's only one, and it looks like, looks something like that wall. It's a little larger than that at the base. It's made of stone and about 30-feet high. There's a park if you go along this road near...

TH: Oh, okay.

LP: You've never seen this...?

TH: I haven't been down there.

LP: ...park and that old smelter?

TH: Nope, haven't [inaudible].

LP: So, I think they may still have operated that old smelter up to the time my grandfather showed up in Oregon, which was about 1990 [sic, 1882], and perhaps 00:39:00it was about that time that they built the new smelter, which might well have been the largest smelter west of the Mississippi.

TH: Now, is it your understanding that your grandfather came specifically in order to work at the foundry? I know that a lot of people came to this area because the iron and steelworks was advertising all the way south to California for workers.

LP: I don't know. They came- they left Missouri when my father was two years old I think and came to California. My grandfather told the story of his being in a- his hitching a ride on the railroad train and being in the car, a streetcar loaded with lumbar, and the train stopped suddenly perhaps, and the lumber 00:40:00crashed against him and it damaged his leg. He had an accident. So, he was riding the rails from California to Oregon perhaps, looking for work. I'm not sure how long they stayed in California. He was probably looking for work and someway found that he could go to Oswego. And Oregon Iron & Steel Company provided the house for him, that my grandparents lived in all their lives.

TH: Did they have a little farm outside of Oswego? Pauline kept mentioned that she thought your grandparents had a little farm west of Lake Oswego, away from the river a little bit. Does that ring a bell at all?

LP: Never have heard of it, no. They had a cow, but the cow- see I think they 00:41:00had two lots, each about 50-feet, 40 feet wide, and extending back to the alley. And there was a barn. They had cherry trees and a barn and a backhouse and a chicken coup and had a cow. And the cow was just let wander around Oswego eating the grass along the road, and then came back to the barn at night and got milked. I remember my grandfather milking the cow.

TH: I know that both he and your grandmother spoke German.

LP: Yeah, so true.

TH: And did they have a heavy German accent? Do you remember if they spoke accented English, or was it...?

LP: I don't think so. I wasn't familiar with or conscious very much of accents 00:42:00at that time. I just don't remember. My father, grandfather died in 1919 perhaps. And I was there, I saw him die.

TH: Oh, really? You were brought to the deathbed?

LP: My mother had me come up from Corvallis, and so I was there during his last hours. And overnight, I was supposed to stay up while other people, my mother and grandmother, went to bed in the other room. There were two bedrooms in that house. But I sat up with the corpse.

TH: What did he die from?

LP: Well, I'd say he died from cardiac insufficiency.


TH: Was this the first death that you'd experienced? The first time you'd actually watched someone pass away?

LP: Yes. Yeah.

TH: Did it make much of an effect upon you? Do you remember being particularly interested in that process?

LP: Well, I was observant. My grandfather was sort of propped up in bed and breathing what's called labored breathing, and finally, he just stopped. But his circulation had ceased too so that his forehead had turned- part of his forehead had turned black before his death. I think it may have taken two or three days for him to die after he perhaps suffered some sort of heart attack. I don't 00:44:00remember any special...philosophical feelings that I-

TH: Well, do you remember being shaken by the experience?

LP: I don't think so. I don't know. The one time I was sort of shaken by death was when I was about 15, I guess. Fourteen, 15. Mr. Yokum, the friend who lived around the corner- I've had some correspondence recently with Mr. Yokum's niece, I believe. She had read in the paper a statement, read somewhere that I had known Mr. Yokum and that he had been good to me. He had the job of sort of curator at North Pacific Dental College and he gave me pieces of apparatus. They 00:45:00were mainly chipped beakers or test tubes that you couldn't release from the stock room to a student. The student was responsible. You couldn't give him a chipped piece of glass. So he, instead of just throwing away these pieces of apparatus, gave them to me.

And for some reason, he may have asked me to come over to North Pacific Dental College, perhaps to pick up some stuff that he had for me. And he was at work in the anatomy laboratory with some cadavers that had been used by the students in their courses for dissection. And he had a big cauldron in which he was boiling 00:46:00them to produce the skeletons. That upset me considerably [chuckles].

TH: I would imagine so. I mean, that would make some people pass out or get sick [inaudible 00:46:22]. Did you have that kind of reaction?

LP: I can remember feeling pretty sick as I walked home from this place. So that gave me some indication of what it was to die, I suppose [laughs].

TH: Mr. Yokum, he was just around the corner from you in your house on Hawthorne, right?

LP: Yes.

TH: He, in addition to providing you with some equipment for your experiments, did he know other things about chemistry that he told you about, or-?


LP: Well, he was a photographer, a professional photographer, in a sense. I think he took photographs of people who climbed Mount Hood. He was also a guide on Mount Hood. And perhaps he was a guide and that may have been too strenuous for him as he got older and so he became the Mount Hood photographer. But he had just- he had retired except that he had a job as stockroom keeper at North Pacific Dental College. He gave me my first bicycle. An old-[tape cut].

TH: Well, it sounds like he liked you.

LP: When I was 15, my mother managed to- my mother knew the postmaster and managed to get him to get the man in charge of special delivery letters to take 00:48:00me on, delivering special delivery letters. And this old, fat fellow got two cents for every special delivery letter, and the person who delivered it got eight cents. It cost ten cents in addition to the regular postage. And he perhaps was a sort of contractor with the post office department. And he didn't realize that I was only going to work during the summer. He was sort of angry when, after a couple of months, I quit to go back to high school.

So, I suppose my mother lent me enough money to get the bicycle, $45, I think, and I made about $45 during the two or three months I was at the post office. 00:49:00Other people who delivered special delivery letters made a lot of money because, for example, one, there were several who delivered special delivery letters in downtown Portland, the business area. They perhaps delivered 100 and got $8, or they may even have made more than that. But I was given the letters out in the boondocks.

TH: Where you had to do a lot of riding.

LP: Yes. I had a cap, a postman's cap. I could ride on the streetcars free. I don't know who arranged me this arrangement, but apparently, the electric company kept in with the post office by letting postmen ride free.


TH: You later had this little business developing photographs.

LP: Well, that wasn't- it was hardly a little business. We did it perhaps a couple of times for a drug store.

TH: Now, that was with Lloyd Simon?

LP: With Lloyd Simon. He was a sort of entrepreneur. He was looking for ways to make money, and none of them worked out. But we didn't do a professional job, and so the drugstores didn't give us anymore [laughs], didn't give us a business anymore.

TH: Did Yokum get you interested in that line of chemistry, developing photographs? Was there any connection there?

LP: I don't think that... You know, everybody had a camera then.

TH: You know, one other person was- Billy Ziegler helped you get- I remember in 00:51:00your diary you mentioned-

LP: Yes.

TH: He worked at a drugstore, I guess?

LP: Yes.

TH: Yeah, and that he- did he help you get chemicals and equipment too?

LP: Oh, yes. He gave me chemicals. Even before I became a chemist, at 13.

TH: [Chuckles].

LP: At 11, I was an entomologist. I just for some reason became interested in insects and I got books on entomology and read them. And I got a butterfly, what do you call these things?

TH: A big net?

LP: A net, yes, with a handle and two- a handle and a loop and a net to catch butterflies and other insects. But the books said that you should have a killing bottle. So, I made a killing bottle. I got, from my mother, a quart jar with a 00:52:00cap. And from Mr. Ziegler, I got potassium cyanide and plaster of Paris. I was 11, you see. So, he gave me the potassium cyanide, and I remember on the back porch, at 1189 Hawthorne Avenue, making my killing bottle. I mixed the plaster of Paris with water to make a sort of slurry and took the potassium cyanide, perhaps 50 grams, 60, a couple of ounces, or perhaps only an ounce, and I went out on the back porch because I knew that potassium cyanide was dangerous, and you could smell it too. It liberates HCN.

I put it in the bottle of this mason jar and poured the slurry on top of it, and 00:53:00there was enough water so the cyanide absorbed it and became liquid underneath the plaster of Paris. After a while, after a day or two, the plaster of Paris had set and there was always some HCN, hydrogen cyanide, in the bottle. So, you just popped your butterfly in it, and it was dead.

TH: Lucky that you weren't dead when [laughs]-

LP: I collected a lot of insects, and I got the regular pins that you use for mounting them and got some cork, put in the bottom of cigar boxes. And I think when my mother died and my sisters left and sold the house, this stuff in the basement was just left there, my insect collection. Worse than that, my 00:54:00grandfather had collected perhaps a couple of thousand Indian arrowheads.

TH: Oh, really?

LP: A great collection, and had mounted a number of them on cards, but most of them were just in two or three cigar boxes, loose. In a toolbox, a good size toolbox, 30 inches, you know, good size with saw and hammer and various things that my grandfather had had which were in the basement. And there was an Indian weapon, a stone, basalt, in the shape of an ellipsoid with a ring cut around the middle which of course had been used initially to hold the handle so you could 00:55:00bop the enemy in the head.

TH: Yeah. Kind of a primitive tomahawk.

LP: Yes. And then, I had been looking for crawfish in the bed of the creek that runs by Wilsonia. If you went from my grandfather's home straight down the hill, there was a station there where the train stopped. Sometimes, instead of going another half-mile to the Oswego - or not even a half-mile - I would get on and off there. And it drove over a trestle. The creek underneath that, perhaps it's called Wilson Creek - I'm not sure about its name - I used to go there to catch crawfish to eat, take home to Grandma's house and boil and-


TH: Sure. Great delicacy.

LP: Yes. And I was looking for crawfish there when I found a remarkable pestle, a grinding stone. It was a good size, about a foot, perhaps 10 or 11 inches long. And it had a handle and a round head, and Indian grinding pestle. Well, it was in this toolbox too. A man wrote to me two or three years ago saying that his aunt, I think, had bought the Hawthorne Avenue house from my sisters, and he wanted me to say that I thought it ought to be preserved as a historic building. 00:57:00I wrote saying I thought that was nonsense, but one thing I was interested in, did his aunt find that toolbox? He had never heard of it.

TH: Yeah. The house wasn't really sold. It was foreclosed upon. When Lucile was taking care of your mother, Lucile I don't think was a very good money manager, and your mother was quite ill. And they took out- in order to keep the house going, they took out a promissory note from a woman whose name escapes me right now. Maybe the same woman. And the promissory note came due and they couldn't pay it, and essentially sold the house to her for a dollar, or $10, as collateral for the note that was due.

LP: Well, well. Mm-hmm.

TH: Yeah, so that happened of course when you were at Caltech as a student, I 00:58:00think. It was 1926 or so.

LP: Well, I was in Europe, I think, when my mother died. She died in about the middle of 1926. And we went to Europe. We left California in February, left Portland the 25th of February in 1926. Yes.

TH: But you weren't aware of any of the financial problems around that time.

LP: No.

TH: Lucile said she didn't tell you about it.

LP: No.

TH: Can you describe- when you set up your laboratory down in the basement, did you actually block in a space? Give me a description of what your homemade space looked like.

LP: Well, the basement was rectangular. A staircase from the first floor came down. There was a door opening to that side halfway down the stairway, and there 00:59:00was a space about 10 feet between this stairway and the south wall. And the stairway's on the west side, the south wall. So, I got some lumber - lumber was cheap then - one-by-twelves, plus some two-by-fours, and built two walls. A wall by the stairway and another wall with a door in it.

TH: So you actually blocked off the-

LP: And I built a table too.

TH: Okay. So the room itself was about what, 10 by 12, roughly?

LP: About 10, yes, 10 by 10 perhaps.

TH: And did you have shelves in there?

LP: I just had a table that I built. I don't think I had any shelves. On the walls, when I was interested in minerals- see, I built this apparently before I 01:00:00became interested in chemistry, because it was when I was 12 that I was interested in minerals. And I got books on mineralogy, read them and copied out tables of properties of minerals, and pasted them on the walls of this room.

TH: Your sister said that sometimes the most awful smells would come up from down there [laughs], later on when you were in chemistry.

LP: Yes. Maybe. Well, awful smells, I perhaps- I don't remember, but I may have made some hydrogen sulfide. That would be the awful smell.

TH: Anything, besides spilling the sulfuric acid all over the floor and yourself, were there any other major accidents down there? Fires, explosions?

LP: No, not there. We carried out some experiments in Lloyd Simon's basement. 01:01:00One of them was sort of dangerous. I had read about phosphene, and especially about an experiment in which you produce phosphene and lead the gas and the tube underwater so that it bubbles out, and when it strikes the air, it bursts into flame spontaneously, producing phosphorus trioxide, or phosphorus pentoxide. And if the air is still, it makes little smoke rings.

So I thought why don't we do that experiment? I had phosphorus. I don't know where I got the phosphorus, who I got, perhaps Mr. Ziegler had given me some 01:02:00phosphorus. And since it's spontaneously combustible, the flask that I put it in, a round-bottomed flask with a pipe leading off, I had an entry tube and ran gas from the gas line into the flask which had phosphorus and sodium hydroxide solution in it, which would generate phosphene. So, when I had run the illuminating gas through it long enough to have swept out all of the air, I thought, I then started heating the flask, and the phosphorus melted, and pretty soon some bubbles of phosphene came up.

But the air hadn't all been eliminated, so there was some of it mixed with 01:03:00illuminating gas, which exploded and blew concentrated sodium hydroxide and molten phosphorus all around the room. And of course, phosphorus burns are very bad. And fortunately, neither Lloyd Simon nor I suffered from phosphorus burns. So, we put out the fires. The chunks of phosphorus had set fire to some- I think that in this, Lloyd's laboratory in the basement of his home, the walls were wallboard. So, we put out the fires that were caused by the phosphorus and decided to do some other experiment instead.

TH: [Laughs]. Now, what was the direction- when you were just first starting to get involved when you were 13, 14, 15 years old, before you actually started 01:04:00taking chemistry classes in high school, did you mainly just do this for fun? Was there any- I mean the kinds of experiments that you chose to do and the kinds of things that you played around with, was there anything that you were trying to find out, or were you just doing the sorts of things that you thought might be-?

LP: Well, I wasn't carrying on research.

TH: No, no.

LP: I was adding to my body of knowledge, and often I wasn't satisfied just to have read about an experiment. I wanted to see it instead.

TH: Where were you reading about them? Do you remember what sorts of books or magazines were you looking at to get ideas for experiments?

LP: Just chemistry books. Yes.

TH: From the library, or...?

LP: Well, I don't remember. Of course, I had a couple of high school books. I 01:05:00think the high school book we used may have been McPherson and Henderson. I met both McPherson and Henderson. I'm not sure. I think McPherson may already have been in a sanitarium when I visited Ohio State, so I may not have met him, but Henderson was still there. And Alexander Smith, I had Alexander Smith's book, and that may have been used as a freshman text at OAC, so perhaps I got it at a later time. This experiment of making phosphene, it may be in my own books, I'm not sure.

TH: The one anecdote that's often related about you is going out on the streetcar tracks and setting off a small explosive device.

LP: Well, I used to mix - perhaps I did this once or twice, a couple of times - 01:06:00potassium chlorate and sulfur. Just mix the powders together and wad them up in a little piece of paper, and when you put it on the streetcar track, it explodes when the streetcar runs over it [laughs], with a loud bang. Well, I may have done that once or twice, just through devilishness, you know.

TH: Did you play any other practical jokes like that? Do you remember any other...?

LP: I don't-well, yes, in a sense. I read about nitrogen iodide. Nitrogen triiodide. And what I read was that if you take crystals of iodine and put them in ammonia, ammonium hydroxide solution, they are converted to an iodide of 01:07:00nitrogen which is very sensitive and explodes. As the material gets dry, it's apt to explode with the slightest disturbance. So, I made quite a lot of it and spread it around so that it would go popping off [laughs], surprise my sisters. I think it even took some to school and... Well, I was checking up on the properties of nitrogen triiodide too.

TH: [Laughs] and having some fun, too.

LP: Yes.

TH: Tell me a little bit- I want to talk about the people who were influential to you in terms of your thinking about chemistry, from the time when you were 01:08:00first getting involved in your sort of toying around with it in your basement, up through the time when you ended up in Roscoe Dickinson's lab at Caltech. Was the first real direction that you got in terms of chemical teaching, did that come from Mr. Green at Washington High?

LP: Yes.

TH: And what sorts of- I know you had a warm relationship with him to an extent. I mean, he let you stay after hours and recognized that you had some talent. Tell me a little bit about him.

LP: William V. Green, I think it's spelled with an E at the end, and my wife and I saw him I think after he had retired, not long before he died. On one of our trips to Portland, we went to his home and I saw him. William V. Green, he was a rather small man. Dapper. Well...a good teacher. He lectured well to the 01:09:00students, and he was good to me in that he allowed me to work in the laboratory a second year, and I think gave me credit for second-year chemistry, which doesn't exist in the high school curriculum.

And I did some experiments in organic chemistry, in one of which I spilled some sulfuric acid, in this case on the textbook. The textbook was written by a man who had been president, later, of Johns Hopkins University. He was from the University of California. They have Gilman Hall in Berkeley. I think he was president at Berkeley and then president at Johns Hopkins and wrote a textbook 01:10:00of organic chemistry and discovered saccharin, too. Well, I may still have that book with the pages that are charred with sulfuric acid, concentrated sulfuric acid.

And he, William Green, also asked me if I would like to stay - this happened several times - stay for an hour in the later afternoon and help him to determine the heat value of samples of oil and coal. He was given these samples by the school board, the purchasing agent for the school, and the price they paid was determined by the calorific value. He had a bomb calorimeter. He, one 01:11:00statement he made to me seems to have impressed me. There was a teacher of physics with whom I had I think only one semester of physics, my last semester at Washington High. He was a remarkable teacher, I felt. Much energy in his presentation of material about physics to high school students. Just to the class, not a big lecture. Just a class of 20 students, perhaps.

I remember once we used, as a high school text, Millikan and Gale. Physics, elementary physics. This teacher of physics once said, "Here is this problem 01:12:00that Millikan and Gale present in their book. It says, "If you were out in the mountains and came across a chunk of gold, a cube one-foot on edge, would you try to carry it home?" And he said, "Anybody would answer 'yes,' anybody would try to carry it home. They ought to say could you carry it home."

TH: [Laughs].

LP: So, he was critical of the use of the English language by some writers. And Perhaps in a way similar to Dirac. You know Dirac?

TH: Mm-hm.

LP: Dirac wasn't very talkative. He was a very logical person. He gave a lecture, according to this story. I wasn't there, but this is a direct anecdote. At the end of his lecture, the chairman said, "Before I ask somebody to vote, to 01:13:00move a vote of thanks, does anyone in the audience have a question?" So, one man said, "I didn't understand how you got from your first equation to your second equation." Nothing happened. After a while, a chairman said, "Professor Dirac, aren't you going to answer the question?" He said, "That wasn't a question. That was a statement."

TH: [Laughs]. Any other high school- now, Pauline Geballe? Gaballe?

LP: Pauline Geballe.

TH: Geballe.

LP: Yes.

TH: She was a teacher at Washington, too. And what did she teach?

LP: Well, she taught, I think it was called physiography. But it was a sort of general science course.

TH: Yeah. And did she impress you as a teacher?


LP: Yes, indeed. I don't think I impressed her as a student because I think the first time, after 10 years or so, 30, when I met her at a function at Reed, she said she didn't remember me as a student. But later on, she kept commenting on what she remembered about me as a student [both laugh]. She was an aunt of two men that I know, both professors of physics, one in Seattle and one at Stanford. Well-known physicists. I don't think they knew their aunt very well. Well, they no doubt knew her, but... She was quite lively, this old woman, 25 perhaps. I was 12 when I first went to class with her, and then 13. My birthday came along. 01:15:00I was just almost 13, I think, when I started with her.

This class was- all I can remember is she talked about flint and other minerals, other rocks. And I remember an experiment she carried out to show the pressure of the atmosphere. It consist- she had a little tin can in which you got by log cabin syrup. It was built like a little log cabin and the chimney had a cover, a screwcap. So, she put some water in it and heated the water to boiling so that steam was coming out. And then she screwed the cap on and then waited. And 01:16:00pretty soon, it collapsed from the atmospheric pressure.

TH: That's the-

LP: I think she perhaps taught us how to measure atmospheric pressure with a barometer. And what else there was in this class, I don't know.

TH: Well, obviously it's interesting, the fact that she used a visual aid of a sort to illustrate a more abstract concept, and it made an impression.

LP: Yes, yes.

TH: Something that you're well-known for using in your own lectures.

LP: Yes.

TH: Is using models and visual aids to make your point.

LP: I think at this time my English teacher was [Ms. Hill?]. Getting along in years, I guess, because... I remember it turned out that she had taught my 01:17:00father. I'm not sure how she could have done that, but I told the kids that she had taught my grandfather [laughs].

TH: Oh, really? That doesn't seem likely.

LP: [Laughs]. I was amplifying the story. But she asked me, and perhaps she asked others too, to write a story. So, I started writing a story, which was about a young man who was digging for oil, and the various adventures. And she read the first chapter to the class and then said, "Next week we'll have the second chapter."

So, I wrote away a second chapter about the oil well catching fire and how much 01:18:00trouble they had putting it out, and I don't know what all was in this. Week after week she would read an installment of the story I was writing.

TH: Huh. Did that-

LP: And I don't think she did this with any other student. I was the only one whom she encouraged to write a novel [laughs].

TH: Do you remember what happened to that novel? Did that disappear?

LP: Oh, yeah. I don't think I saved it, and I don't think she saved it either.

TH: Was that your first experience that you- you have a strong interest in English language and the use of language yourself, right?

LP: Yes.

TH: And was that, would you say that was the first experience where someone had actually encouraged you, in terms of the written word, to express yourself? I'm trying to think-

LP: I think so.

TH: -where it was that you developed this interest.

LP: In grammar school, I had good teachers in grammar school too. And... I'm not 01:19:00sure I can remember their names... The principal may have been named Taft, but I have a picture of him, Linda has. I gave it to her. The graduating class from the ninth grade, from grammar school. He looks like William H. Taft, so this memory of him as Taft is perhaps wrong. I think the mathematics teachers in the high school, well, in grammar school, were good. I was probably good in 01:20:00mathematics. I just can't remember the names of the teachers.

TH: No, the names aren't important. What I'm interested in is if you remember being- how early on do you remember becoming interested in the use of language and-

LP: I don't know. I think I just was interested in learning things, and I had the feeling- I've mentioned several times recently that 70% is a passing grade, may be all right in history or such subjects where later semesters don't depend upon the earlier semesters, but in mathematics, it ought to be 100%. And I had the feeling that I should learn whatever I was supposed to learn 100%.


TH: When you got to Oregon State, Oregon Agricultural College, the head of the department was a man named Fulton, John Fulton. Tell me a little bit about your first impressions of your professors there. I don't know who you actually took classes from, but do you have an impression of John Fulton, what sort of person he was?

LP: Yes. I think he taught sophomore chemistry, quantitative analysis. I'm not sure whether the course I took was from him, but that was the course that I taught the following year. John Fulton was a short, tubby sort of fellow. The... 01:22:00There were complaints from members of the staff, younger members of the staff, that he used the money that he had for apparatus to buy pieces of apparatus that he then locked up in a cabinet so that none of them could use them.

And there was another complaint that I heard about in 1933. I went back in 1933 to receive my first honorary doctorate, and I met and talked with a man who had been professor of organic chemistry in University of Oregon and had been forced to move to Corvallis.

TH: That's right. They took all the science departments and moved to Corvallis.

LP: That's right. They allowed only freshman chemistry to be taught at 01:23:00University of Oregon in order to save money during the depression. He resented this, and he moved after a few years. He moved to Texas and became one of my good friends. He died a few years ago. He and his brother, R. R. Williams - he was Roger J. Williams, his brother was R. R. Williams - had both been born in India to missionary parents. And each of them became interested in nutrition, vitamins. R. R. Williams was the first person to isolate thiamine, vitamin B1. 01:24:00And he and his son-in-law and another man named [Bookman?], who was a good friend of mine later, Bookman determined the structure of the substance they had isolated and developed methods of synthesis. So, Bookman lived at CIT, in our department, without ever receiving a salary. He lived on royalties from vitamin B1. So, R. R. Williams did that, but Roger J. Williams discovered pantothenic acid, another B vitamin just as important as thiamine. As B1.

TH: And so, he was there at OAC when you were there?

LP: Yes. And he gave me some pantothenic acid to study, but I never got any 01:25:00results with it. The story that he told me was that in the catalog, old Johny Fulton was down as bachelor's Degree from someplace, I don't know, Master's degree Harvard University. And he checked up and found that he didn't have a master's degree from Harvard [laughs]. He was upset by this fellow. Well, Roger with his missionary background, this was heretical to him, this sort of unethical behavior.

TH: Which chemistry professors did make a positive impression on you, besides the Williams, the...?

LP: Well, I should go on to say that old Johnny Fulton loaned me some money to help me get through, before I finished my senior year, too.


TH: Oh, he did?

LP: So, I paid him back during my first year as a graduate student, or maybe even second year.

TH: Was the money just for living expenses, or was it for travel?

LP: A few hundred dollars, $300 perhaps, that he had loaned me. And he, I remember once his giving me a brochure about Caltech, saying apply for- this was in 1919.

TH: Oh, when it was just starting out.

LP: Until 1921. I did apply to Caltech, as well as Berkeley and other places. Other teachers, first-year chemistry, freshman chemistry, there was a remarkable teacher named Renton Kirkwood Brodie. He left after that year, I believe. He spoke, he lectured with much enthusiasm. I was scheduled along with other 01:27:00chemical engineers and mining engineers to take a freshman chemistry course involving lectures by somebody else. But I attended, I shopped around, and I asked permission to go to Brodie's lectures. Brodie left, and later on, he was Vice President of Proctor & Gamble. I met him once later on when I was lecturing at Cincinnati, or wherever Proctor & Gamble is. He came to the lecture. He seemed, well, he seemed, to me, quite different. I couldn't see, in this old industrialist, any trace of the enthusiastic young teacher that I had heard at 01:28:00Oregon Agricultural College.

TH: Now, when you say an enthusiastic lecturer, you've mentioned that a couple times about teachers that you've liked. Tell me what you mean by enthusiastic. How do they display their enthusiasm?

LP: I think by emphasizing important aspects of the subject to the students and expressing some of the excitement of scientific discovery, or scientific knowledge.

TH: Okay, there's Brodie and Williams, and let's see. I've got a couple of names here. Well, there was Floyd Rowland, was the head of Chemical Engineering.

LP: Floyd Rowland, yes. He wasn't very smart, and I think he recognized that he 01:29:00wasn't, but he was a great enthusiast for graduate work. Very few people at Oregon Agricultural College had Ph.D. degrees, and Rowland, Floyd Rowland had managed to get his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois. I think that there were 12 graduates in Chemical Engineering in 1922 and that nine of them went on to graduate school. This was a remarkable...

TH: Indeed.

LP: ... result of Rowland's activity in proselytizing for graduate work. Well, I think I would have gone on anyway, and perhaps Paul Emmett perhaps, too. Others, there's more doubt about. Floyd, so that was one thing that Floyd Rowland did. I 01:30:00didn't ever see him after leaving, I think, but I know that he was at one time working at Picatinny Arsenal, or some other government plant. And there was a- I heard that he was responsible for a well-known, famous commentator on television, that he had picked up this young fellow and encouraged him to study hard and make something of himself. Maybe the man on 60 Minutes? Let's see. I think I was on his show once, too, this fellow that Floyd Rowland had encouraged to pull himself out of the depths and make something of himself.


Charlie Johnson was teaching calculus, Charlie Johnson. His daughter has corresponded with me about her father because of something that she had read about my saying that I thought he was an excellent teacher.

TH: Well, you certainly, yeah, you certainly made good use of your mathematical, whoever it was that taught.

LP: Yes, yes. Well, in high school I had good mathematics teachers too. Fenstermacher taught me scientific Latin or medical Latin. I had a course in, after going through three years of- or three and a- I think I even had four 01:32:00years of Latin in my three and a half years, but I'm not sure about that. Because I know I studied Virgil, and I think Virgil was supposed to be fourth-year Latin, Cicero third-year, and Caesar second-year. Fenstermacher... Well, another man who taught me mathematics third, fourth-year, or fourth-year mathematics, and then went on and I think was also the coach of the football team. Then went to the University of Oregon. Left the high school, had a job at University of Oregon, not teaching mathematics, which I thought was a shame. And 01:33:00I can't remember, can't think of his name at the moment.

TH: So, Fenstermacher was at Washington High, this fellow, Fenstermacher?

LP: Mm-hmm.

TH: A J. Shirley Jones was another name that I had from Oregon State. He was a chemistry teacher. One of the only people who had a real professorship there.

LP: Well, I didn't have any courses from him. I think he ran the Experiment Station, rather than being a professor.

TH: Oh, okay.

LP: I remember seeing him, but I didn't have much contact with him.

TH: Of all of those people that we've talked about, who would you say - I mean, in high school and in college - who would you say is the single one who you think might have been the most important teacher you had, prior to going to 01:34:00Caltech, in terms of either being an inspiration to you or in terms of your development as a budding scientist at that time? Is there anyone that stands out?

LP: ...Well, it's hard for me to say. I think Willy Green and Floyd Rowland probably, because of his enthusiasm... I think probably several of them may have 01:35:00thought that it would be good if I were to go ahead with my education. There's was one man who taught there with whom I kept in touch until his death. He taught the course in physical-[tape cut].

LP: -and then the vitamin C itself.

TH: Oh, is that right?

LP: If you take less than 150 milligrams a day, you don't produce any metabolites. Or at least not very much. It's only when you take large amounts of ascorbic that you build up those enzymes that catalyze the oxidation of ascorbic.


TH: I want to bring - I want to make sure that we pick this up clearly. If you don't mind, can I bring this box over here so I can point my mic at you a little better? Is that all right, to-?

LP: Yes, it's all right, if nothing falls off here.

TH: There's that much. So, now do you know where everything is here, in all of these piles of papers and books and so forth? Do you have a clear idea about where everything is at?

LP: Well, not exactly a clear idea, but I have an idea. They refer, the papers refer to investigations that I want to carry out. And so, when I decide that the time has come to work on something else, I look in the different collections of papers to find the references that I've saved, that I need.


TH: Does anybody cl-do you, do you have someone come in and clean, or do you take care of the house yourself?

LP: Well, my caretaker or his wife. My ranch hand or his wife do the cleaning. Just recently, they waxed the floors all over the house and moved my things around so that things looked a little differently to me [laughs] afterward, but they tried to remember. [Steve?] tried to remember where each pile of stuff was, but he didn't remember exactly right, so I had to reorient myself a bit.

TH: Was the last time that I was here, five years ago, was there a piano in this room?

LP: Yes. My wife's piano that I'd given to her years ago, and I gave it to my 01:38:00son-in-law, who plays the piano. So, it was taken away.

TH: Okay. Yeah, it seemed more open in here.

LP: It was over in the corner there.

TH: Right, right. The letters were very, very interesting. Nothing indiscreet that you should know about. Your father was a very loving person. He was- judging from those letters, he was one of the warmest individuals, and always thinking of the children.

LP: Yes. Well, wasn't I the only child at the time? I haven't looked at those letters for a long time.

TH: Well, some of them - they cover quite a period of time.

LP: Oh, yes. I see.

TH: They started in 1899, prior to their marriage.

LP: Oh, yes.

TH: And they go on after Lucile and Pauline's birth.

LP: I remember that we were living in Salem. That's the only evidence I have, and that was perhaps for a short time after I was born because Pauline, born 16 01:39:00months later, was born in Portland again. So, there must have been a short period in-between February 1901 and August 1902 when we lived in Salem, while Papa was out with the horse and buggy, going from town to town.

TH: He describes that in detail, through mud three feet deep and through the rain, trying to get all the little towns in the valley.

LP: Yes. And I suppose that that's what he was doing in Condon when he met my mother.

TH: Well you know, actually the-looking backing at the newspapers from that time, he was-what had happened was that he had come to Condon in 1899 to manage a drugstore. He was part of a group of people that bought a Condon drugstore at 01:40:00that time. And he was living in town. A few weeks after he arrived and started work, he met your mother, and apparently it was a case of love at first sight, judging from the letters. And he, he came that fall of 1899 and they had a romance through the fall, and then the next spring they were married.

And then, soon after that, the drug company was sold out. The owners sold it to another individual. And your father tried to find another place to set up a drugstore in the area. He looked at the town of Monument, Oregon, which hardly exists anymore, and some other little towns around there. And then they decided to go back to Portland and moved back.

LP: Well, yeah.

TH: The other thing that I gathered from the letters between your father and 01:41:00your mother was that your mother seemed to worry a lot about things, judging-all of these letters are from your father to your mother, and very, very often he is reassuring her about things.

LP: Oh, yes. Well, I suppose her early life with my grandfather having problems and the four girls to look after caused her to be somewhat apprehensive. I was trying to think what boyhood memories I could haul up. You know about my chaps, of course. You've seen...

TH: I've seen that picture, and I heard that your father used that photo of you in cowboy garb as a sort of postcard.

LP: Well, it was a postcard. The only postcard that I've seen is one with a tall fellow with bushy black mustaches wearing a pair of chaps, and I was about this 01:42:00high, with my chaps. I think I was four years old when the chapmaker made that pair for me. And I judge my son Linus has- I asked him about the chaps, whether he had given them to his son, Linus, and he thinks that he hadn't, but he couldn't - this was only recently - he couldn't remember where they were. But they're probably tucked away someplace at his home in Honolulu.

TH: Condon was mainly a wheat farming area, but there was stock raising too. Do you remember cowboys being around in town? We've talked about Indians before. What about men on horseback with cowboy hats and-

LP: Oh, yes. Oh yes, surely.

TH: Yeah?

LP: Well, you know the story about my new rubber boots when I was about four, five.


TH: Well, tell me now.

LP: This was in front of P. H. Stephenson's store. Perhaps it was, at the time, a short period when the family lived above P. H. Stephenson's store. There was a big room, may have been used as a dancehall at one time, and a smaller room behind it. At any rate, I can remember that we lived there when I was four or five years old. And I had a new pair of rubber boots, and I was out walking around in a mud puddle in front of the store. And Main Street wasn't paved. There were no paved streets in Condon. It was just dust in the summertime and mud in the wintertime.

So, I was walking around, trying out my new rubber boots, and there were three 01:44:00or four cowboys lounging around in front of the store. And every once in a while, one would say to me, "What's that across the street?" And I said, "It's a meal." And they would laugh, and after a while, one would say, "What's that across the street?" and I would say, "It's a meal." I was getting a little- beginning to wonder what this was all about. I discovered later it was, of course, a mule.

TH: Oh! [Laughs].

LP: But I couldn't say mule, so I said meal. It was a meal. And they thought that was very funny. There were wooden sidewalks along Main Street too, and I think some wooden sidewalks elsewhere, I recall. I think I usually walked from school down to the center of town and then up to our house along wooden 01:45:00sidewalks. Then it was a cowboy who taught me how to sharpen a pencil. That story has been published. I've forgotten where it's been.

TH: I think I saw that actually in Dr. Paradowski's dissertation. He mentioned something about that.

LP: Well, but it's been published elsewhere too.

TH: Yeah.

LP: I was trying to sharpen a pencil. I had a knife which pleased me, and a pencil. And I was perhaps five or six years old, and a cowboy said, "Here, you're not doing it right. I'll show you how," and he said, "See, you want to cut off a little slice of wood, so you must hold-first you must grab the knife hard in your hand and hold it tightly so that it's rigid. Then you set the angle of the knife at just the angle where you want to cut the wood." And then you 01:46:00would just slice off the wood that way. And I had been holding the knife rather loosely and it would bend in, you know. So, I thought - I've said this - it stuck in my mind, and I think I thought, you know if you have a problem, if you need to do something, the thing to do is to think about it and see what the principles are that are involved in it and then apply them. And I think that was-that's why this episode has stuck in my mind for 95 years. Eighty-five, 85 years.

TH: Well, you actually saw sort of the connection between a theoretical work and practical results.

LP: Yes, yes. That's right, it would-demonstrated to me the value of theory or 01:47:00the value of thinking.

TH: Do you remember going at a-of course, your uncle, P. H. Stephenson, had a wheat farm.

LP: Yeah, he had one about 20 miles away in the valley. Let's see, what's that called? Not the Bull Run River, but another river that runs along there.

TH: Well, there's the John Day, and then there's-

LP: The John Day. Yes, it was near the John Day. And I remember our going out in a wagon when I was about five, I guess, when they were harvesting. And I think they went so that my mother could help with the cooking for the harvesters. There was a combination harvester pulled by horses, and a thrasher, and the 01:48:00grain ran into bags and there was a fellow who sewed up the bags, and then they were tossed onto a wagon, the bags of wheat. Condon was described about that time as the largest primary wheat shipping center from the Condon Railroad, you see, in the country.

TH: Right. It-

LP: Because it served a big area of perhaps 5,000 square miles or some-that area. Twenty-five miles to the north, halfway to Arlington, they'd come into Condon. Above that, they'd go into Arlington. But sideways they may have gone 50 miles to each side, or 40 miles, and south too, before there was a railhead.


TH: And so you remember going out while they were doing the harvesting then?

LP: Yes, yeah. And one thing I remember about it is that - see, I was apparently gullible as a boy; I just swallowed everything - we were eating dinner, the ranch hands and I, and perhaps Pauline and Lucile were there too. I don't remember it, but I believe that they probably were. And one of the ranch hands said, one of the harvesters, said that we were having porcupine that day and that I was eating the porcupine's gizzard. I judge that I had the chicken's gizzard, but-so, I swallowed that. I swallowed the gizzard, but also the gizzard 01:50:00story [both laugh], and later on, realized that it was likely that I hadn't been having porcupine.

TH: [Laughs].

LP: I'd seen porcupines at some time, of course, but...

TH: Well, you never know. I mean, they are edible [laughs]. There was a lot of wild animals actually out in the Condon area. They had, you know, people got wildcats and coyotes and bear and all kinds of stuff.

LP: Yes. Fifty years later or more, my wife and I were driving through Oregon and we drove down to Condon and looked around a little, and I think stayed overnight and then drove down south to Fossil, and down another 10 miles to a forest area. And it was getting dark, so we got out our sleeping bag and put it down on the ground, and well, we had something to eat. I don't remember. Went to 01:51:00sleep. In the middle of the night, I felt something pulling on my foot, and I got the flashlight and shined-here's a great big porcupine. And I shined the light on him for a while and he turned around and went over to a rotten log and started digging there, and I went back to sleep. I'm not sure that I woke my wife up. I think this may-it was a great big fellow, too, this big porcupine.

TH: Do you remember, also from Condon, do you have any memory of a 4th of July parade where your parents were-rode in, in a coach? There was one year that your father was sort of the main organizer of the 4th of July celebration in Condon, and he got to ride in a coach with the grand marshal in the 4th of July parade.

LP: I can't say that I do remember. I don't-I have a dim memory of 4th of July 01:52:00celebrations, but nothing specific. I remember once my father took my mother and the two girls and me for a buggy ride up to [Cleo?] or somewhere a few, 10 miles perhaps, north of Condon. I think there was a picnic there. There was a creek and a pond in the creek, and I went swimming in that pond. So, I remember very clearly that ride in a buggy. It didn't happen very often.

TH: I want to try and track a couple of lines of thought. And just back as far 01:53:00as you can remember. There are several traits, I guess, and abilities that you are well-known for in addition to science. One is, we talked a little bit about the other day, one is your ability to use language and your knowledge of both the written and the spoken word. I wanted to ask you a little bit on that line about how you first got interested in oratory. When you were at Oregon State, you-

LP: Well, the... They hadn't yet discovered in the fraternity, Gamma Tau Beta, that I could run fast. It wasn't until I was a senior that this episode occurred. We were fooling around one Sunday in the street outside the Gamma Tau Beta house, which became Delta Upsilon that spring, the spring I graduated. I 01:54:00had written the petition and put it through the press, the petition to Delta Upsilon. That was not the first one, it was about the third I think, and it was successful in getting the chapter. Well, the boys in the house were sort of playing touch tag or running around in the streets. I was with them. And we had a sprinter, Guy Butler, who was on the college track team. He started after me and they discovered that I could run faster than Guy Butler could [both laugh]. But it was too late by that time. It was close to graduation. I, as a freshman, I had thought to- instead of the required physical education course, I would go out for track in the spring. So, I tried. There's a photograph around of me 01:55:00going over a high hurdle.

TH: Oh, really?

LP: Yes. Linda probably has a copy of that photograph. At any rate-also, there was this postcard I've told you about, me in the chaps with this big fellow. I wasn't very good at this, a high hurdler. You need to be taller to be a high hurdler and to have longer legs. The... So, the assistant coach clocked me once, and I didn't finish the race. I ran-I knocked over a hurdle before I got to the end of it and gave up on high hurdling. I tried high jumping, too. I could get 01:56:00about 5'4" or 5'6", I don't remember. In those days, high jumping was a little different. The rules were a little different from now. You had to go over the bar with your back to the bar.

TH: Oh, really?

LP: They don't do that now. They allow you to sort of dive over. Well, I wasn't good at - good enough - at high jumping either, so I gave up on my track career. Now, the question you asked was-

TH: Well, I was talking about why you decided to take oratory.

LP: So then at the house, of course, I was a valuable member of the house because my grades were so high, and one of the fraternities engaged in competitions for grades. I don't think they were happy about it, but the 01:57:00university, the college sort of required that they be listed, the average grades. And I helped to raise the grade point average. I saw, in the DU quarterly, that Oregon State was fourth out of 22.

TH: Oh, is that right?

LP: This last term, 1989, 1990 I guess was fourth out of 22. But they-the feeling was that everyone should do something, compete, and if you couldn't get on college teams on intramural athletics, and so I thought what should I do? Well, I knew Paul Emmett was on the debate team.

TH: Right, right.

LP: Every year, he was a debater. Debating didn't interest me so much because a 01:58:00debater prepares to discuss some subject and then there's a sort of flip of the coin as to which of the two competing sides will take the affirmative, and which the negative. My feelings about most subjects were such that I wanted to be on one side but not on the other, so temperamentally I think I wasn't suited to that sort of formal debating. But I thought there's one thing that I can do - this is when I was a junior - I can try out for a junior orator. I think in each class they had a competition for class orator, and then you had competition to be college orator.


So, I became the junior orator and lost agai-for a fellow about 35 years old I think, who was a preacher and back here to earn his degree. He was a senior who became the college orator. In preparation for this contest, or these two contests, maybe that there wasn't any contest for junior orator, probably. There weren't enough people interested. I can't remember a contest. But to contest with the senior orator, I had some instruction from a professor of philosophy - English and philosophy - who also had been a preacher, who had me present my oration to him several times, and who then coached me on the accent. The only 02:00:00thing I can remember is that I say "we canNOT stand for this," or something like that. He said that you shouldn't say "we canNOT," you should say "we CANnot stand." Well, I'm not sure that he was right, but I followed his recommendations about pronunciation. Well, I may well have been interested in the English language. I never was enthusiastic about Latin, but you know that - probably - that Mr. Yokum said that I should learn Greek too, and that I studied Greek just by myself. I bought White's Elementary Greek Grammar or Introductory Greek and just studied it by myself for some time. And when we were married, my wife too 02:01:00began studying Greek from that same book, to learn some Greek. So, I think I had an interest in language perhaps from a very early time, perhaps accentuated to some extent by my being the junior orator and then being the class orator at graduation. I spoke at graduation, as the class orator.

TH: Right. Yeah, I've got copies of both those speeches, your junior class piece, and your final piece. The-

LP: I've wondered about my-my class speech was pretty conventional, I think, the class...

TH: Inspirational.

LP: Yes. But my junior oration was essentially on the theory of evolution.


TH: It was a progression of man sort of speech, yeah.

LP: Yes. Yes, and what we could hope for, for the future.

TH: Yeah. Actually, it was quite interesting. And that was something else I was going to ask you about. You made-

LP: Of course, I think that the professor who was giving me instructions may have felt that it was a sort of improper presentation for the college orator to be presenting at the state oratorical contest because of its support of the theory of evolution and, in a sense, rejection of what's now called...what is it called?

TH: Creationism.

LP: Creation, creation science, yes.

TH: Yes.

LP: [Laughs] yes, what they call creation science.


TH: Well, of course, that would have been right around the time of the Sparks - oh, no - the Scopes Monkey Trial, and all of that would have been going on fairly close to that time. I can't remember what year.

LP: Well, five years later, perhaps.

TH: Yeah. But it would have been a subject of debate at that point.

LP: Yes.

TH: In your speeches, in those speeches that you gave at that time, you made some reference to some of the thoughts of Lord Snowdon and, who else? I thought I had written that down here. A couple of people that were philosophers more than scientists, that apparently you found-a fella named Fiske, I believe, was another person that you made a reference to. I wondered, outside of your studying science at Oregon State, were there humanist thinkers that impressed you? Were there classes that you took in the humanities?


LP: Well, I had to earn a living, so much of my time was taken up on jobs and studying for my courses, and of course I learned fast so that I didn't have to spend too much time boning up for something. Do you know the story about the young woman who went to the professor of physics and said, "Tomorrow I have the examination in physics to take and I just have to pass that examination; I won't be admitted as a member of the sorority if I don't pass that examination. I'd do anything to pass that examination, just anything"? And the professor said, "You'd do anything?" and she said, "Yes, I'd do anything." And he said, "Well, let me see. What are you doing tonight?" She said, "Oh, I'm free. I don't have 02:05:00anything on." He said, "Fine, why don't you go home and study for the examination?" [both laugh].

Well, I didn't have to study very hard on most subjects, and my wife, my future wife, was sort of irritated in the spring of 1922 when, as a result of our going out for a walk in the woods, I got poison oak and my eyes were swollen shut. And I couldn't take the final examinations, and I got A's in all or most of my subjects without taking the examinations.

TH: [Laughs].

LP: She thought that showed favoritism on the part of the teachers [laughs], that I could get away with that.


TH: But do you remember - you know, college is [stumbles] - I think going to Oregon State was an important time in your life because I think you-it seems to me that you really found just sort of the level of skill that you had in terms of science and chemistry.

LP: Yes.

TH: Yeah, but what I'm thinking about is that usually, the college experience for most students involves a lot of thinking on a lot of different fronts, not just in one area. And what I'm trying to ask is, were there outside things beyond science that impressed you at that time? Were there thinkers that impressed you?

LP: Well, the teachers-I can't say the teachers, other than those in science and mathematics impressed me very much. I had a course in economics from the fellow who became the dean of...I'm not sure. Business, or something. I've forgotten 02:07:00his name, who had come about when I was a junior. And I could just read the book by Richard T. Ely and read it, read half of the book, or a quarter of the book, and then rattle off an article.

I could type in those days. When I was an assistant instructor, my office in the Chemistry Department was also the office of the Department secretary. She didn't have much work to do because nobody wrote papers for publication, or not many letters. She had to work sometimes for Prof Fulton, but she spent part of her time teaching me the touch system for typing on the typewriter. And I'd never had a typewriter in my life, but at the house, the Gamma Tau Beta house, there 02:08:00was a typewriter that anybody could use. So, I'd type out my reports that I was supposed to write in classes. And in economics, I could just read through some pages of Ely's book and then type an article. Almost as readily, perhaps even more readily than I now sometimes dictate a paper.

TH: Uh-huh. But no particular-I mean, say in philosophy or-

LP: So, what did I do? Well, apparently, I had some spare time and had a great resource there in the college library. A beautiful, big building. The old library, it's called now. It was a new library then, of course, full of books. 02:09:00Every few days I'd get a book or two out of the library to read, and then take it back. And I apparently read a book on philosophy by Snowdon, perhaps. I'm not sure that's his name, the fellow that I quote in my junior oration. I can remember that I read all the plays of Shaw, including the prefaces and introductions. I probably learned quite a lot from reading those books, the plays by Shaw. I can remember I read the short stories of Maupassant.

Of course, I read some books in French too. I had two years of French. My first 02:10:00two years, freshman and sophomore, I studied French, I think perhaps both years with Miss French, who taught French. Then, a few years later, I met Miss French again, perhaps about 1930. She was teaching French at Oxy, Occidental, and I came to give a talk at their weekly...the weekly meeting of all of the students, I think convocation. And so, I was able to talk a little with Miss French. I became curious about Miss French a few years ago, not long ago, and asked someone about her and found that she had retired and was living in Pasadena and had been killed, murdered by a burglar.

TH: Oh, dear.


LP: She was about 70 then. Well, it was a good number of years ago because she, I suppose, was 10 years or 15 years older than I. She may have been 80 when she was killed. I don't remember. So, Miss French gave me a book, a book that was written in phonetics. A French book written in phonetics. I read it, and of course, I would read it aloud and then try to refer each word back to the French words I knew. It's a way of getting a better understanding of French pronunciation.

TH: Pronunciation, sure.

LP: But it was interesting enough as a story for me to read it. I can't remember 02:12:00reading books on philosophy. When I was a boy, 11, 10, 11 years old, every once in a while, two or three times a year perhaps, I went to Oregon City on the streetcar to spend the day with Uncle Jim, but really to help entertain Mary, little Mary.

TH: Now, Uncle Jim was the judge?

LP: Yes, he became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He was a circuit judge for years.

TH: Right.

LP: One thing that impressed me was that I learned that his salary was $4,000 a year as circuit judge. That seemed like a lot of money. Well, it was a good 02:13:00salary. Would be $60,000 now, I guess. Fifteen-fold inflation from that period. And then we visited him once when he was Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court. He was living in a little house near a creek on the east side of Salem, not far from where I was married out on State Street where the Spaldings lived. And this must have been about 1935 because I told him that I had been offered a job as professor in the University of London, University College Chemistry Department. He was quite impressed by that, but he said, "What salary did they 02:14:00offer you?" And I said...I'm not sure what I might have said. A thousand pounds, perhaps. A thousand pounds per year, which would be $5,000. The pound was $5. He said, "Well, that's great. Why didn't you accept it?" And I said, "Well, I was getting $7,000 a year as a professor at Caltech." And this was quite unusual, of course, that my salary went up rapidly in the early thirties because they got worried about-well, I had been offered professorship of Harvard, which I had turned down, but they got worried about the possibility of my leaving. And I succeeded at making quite an international reputation already.


TH: Well, yes. Yeah.

LP: In the early thirties. Oxford sent a man to visit me then, and in fact from Oxford that was. But then from London, Hill, A. V. Hill, a great physiologist, famous physiologist, came to Pasadena to talk with me about becoming professor at the University of London. Well, I read novels when I was 11, I think. We spent a month, Mama and the two girls and I, at Gearhart on the beach. The first 02:16:00time I had been on the coast. And I worked setting up pins in a bowling alley there in Seaside. And I was present when smelt were being washed on the shore, a great school of smelt, and you could just pick them up when the waves receded. So, I came home with a sack-full, or a bucketful, of smelt. I smashed my thumb too, by letting a rock fall back on my thumb. I was pretty worried when a man looked at it and said, "That nail, you're going to lose that nail."

TH: Ooh.

LP: Because I didn't know that I would grow another nail under it. So, I was able to observe the phenomenon of a new nail growing under it, out under the old 02:17:00smashed nail, which finally came loose. At Seaside, Gearhart, I remember reading a novel, The Girl of the Limberlost. And I read a good number of novels that I was able to get hold of. I also read the predecessors of the present-day science fiction magazines. I think Argosy was the name, whenever I could get hold of it, if I had-well, there were some penny dreadfuls that you could buy for five cents. And when I went to Oswego, I often bought one of those to read.

TH: And those were some adventure-

LP: Adventure stories.

TH: Adventure stories basically, yeah. And you enjoyed that a great deal?


LP: Yes.

TH: Was there...

LP: And...what other books did I get from the library?

TH: Just that you remember had an-that made an impression on you. I, for instance, when I was eight years old, I went through a period of time where I was fascinated with the crusades, and I read everything that I could get about the crusades for-

LP: About what?

TH: About the crusades and the-you know, in medieval times. Do you remember any particular fascinations that you had with areas of-?

LP: You remember my father, in the letter to The Oregonian, said I was especially interested in ancient history.

TH: Yes. Yeah.

LP: And I can remember when I was 12, three years later, or four years later, my first history course at Washington High School was Ancient History. Well, I read 02:19:00through the book [laughs] the first week, perhaps, very much interested in it. I mentioned going to Oregon City to entertain little Mary, and my... We had very few books. Papa and Mama didn't have many, and Grandma and Grandpa had only a few. But Uncle Jim had the Encyclopedia Britannica, the 1911 edition, I...the...well, I can remember that I have a copy of that edition here. So, I spent the day with little Mary, reading the encyclopedia to myself. And she would lie on the floor beside me. I was lying on the floor reading the encyclopedia. She would lie there beside me, and that was the way I entertained 02:20:00her [both laugh]. I didn't read aloud. I just read the articles to myself.

TH: [Laughs]. And you had an interest in dictionaries as well. Was that from an early age? Or when did that...?

LP: I don't... Well, I can remember looking words up in the dictionary when I was in grammar school, but... And I think I had respect for dictionaries, but I am not sure that my interest in dictionaries developed at that time.

TH: Mm-hmm.

LP: May be that it did. My interest in encyclopedias was apparently strong at that time. My grandparents had a book - how they got it I don't know - The Page 02:21:00of the Duke of Savoy, a romance, romantic novel from the 19th century. And I enjoyed reading that. I may have read it more than once. And my parents apparently had fallen for a salesman who had sold them a set of volumes, about 10 rather thick volumes, of excerpts from writings of many people. So, I read those.

I can only remember moderately clearly the article on Father Prout. I don't know who Father Prout was except that he wrote poems in Latin, and I memorized some 02:22:00of them. [Recites in Latin]. Well, you see, it's so long I have difficulty...

TH: [Laughs] I'm surprised you're remembering at all.

LP: ...remembering about... I might be able to dig up "To Remember," that poem, and perhaps another one, but it's so long since I've thought of it that I'd have trouble. Well, I judge that I had some interest in the articles that were in those volumes. I wonder if Lucile has them. They were green, pale green, about 10 books of that sort.


TH: You know, I looked at the books in her bookcase when I was at her house. I don't remember seeing a set. She had a number of individual books that I think belonged to your parents.

LP: Yes. So, I read almost every, anything I could get hold of-[tape cut].

LP: Oregon City. It's a resort. The mineral water is sulfurous water. You could buy it bottled, or get it bottled. It was supposed to be good for you. This was a time of the spas when everyone was drinking mineral water, including radioactive waters.

TH: Yeah. [Inaudible].

LP: So, I drink a lot of that mineral water too. And I took little Mary fishing 02:24:00once. I caught a trout, a couple of trout, with a fish line in a creek there, by Wilhoit Springs, and I guess had the trout for breakfast, although I'm not sure about that. I can remember catching them. On the way to the Wilhoit Spring in a bus, the tire blew out on the bus and the driver wrapped some rope around the wheel and drove the rest of the way...

TH: Ha!

LP: ...on this improvised tire.

TH: You seem to-it seems like you had an enjoyment for popular literature. Adventure stories especially, and that sort of stuff. You also had an interest in movies, at least when you were a teenager, when you were working at the Echo theater.


LP: Yes.

TH: Tell me, what-You worked your way up to being a projectionist, apparently.

LP: Well, I think the only job I had was as a projectionist when the regular projectionist had his day off, which I think was Saturday. I got a dollar for being the projectionist, non-union projectionist of course [laughs].

TH: According to your diary, that was one job that you really seemed to enjoy.

LP: Yes. I didn't get to watch the movies very much. There were interruptions when, well, I was changing reels. But still, I could-I had to rewind the reels to-which interfered with my seeing the movies. But I liked going to the movies too. We went, we walked 10 blocks perhaps, south from 40th and Hawthorne to about 40th and Division to a movie theater to see Tillie's Punctured Romance 02:26:00[laughs]. And of The Perils of Pauline I saw, and Pauline saw too. I've seen some of The Perils of Pauline recently. They were showing what movies were like 70, 80 years ago.

TH: Another strain of thought, or I guess characteristic of yours that people mention quite often, and is clearly important, is your ability to - and again, I mentioned this yesterday - but your ability to treat people equally, regardless of their station in life. You have made a great impression on a number of 02:27:00formerly young chemistry students for your ability to talk with them as equals rather than as - this being when you were at Caltech, say.

LP: Yes, yes.

TH: Tell me about that character trait. Do you-?

LP: By the way, on going to Wilhoit Springs, this was leading up to a point.

TH: Oh, I'm sorry.

LP: My uncle asked, said he was going into town, was there something I wanted, and so I said a copy of Judge. Judge was a humorist magazine. There was one called Life, and Judge. Of course, Life Magazine got the copyright to Life later on when they started their picture magazine. So, I was interested in humor, too, the cartoons and the jokes.

TH: Okay. Did you read - before we get back to the other question - did you also 02:28:00read newspapers? Were you a fan of current events and news when you were younger, or not?

LP: Well, we subscribed to Time Magazine when it appeared in 1926, perhaps, and also to The New Yorker. And for years we read - well, I read - Time from beginning to end. And my wife probably did too, reading every word except the advertisements, and The New Yorker, too, I enjoyed reading very much.

TH: So, you were then exposed to a lot of politics, economics, those sorts of things then?

LP: That's right. And probably exposed also by just listening to what my wife had to say, but never until 1944, '45, with the idea of my getting involved. 02:29:00About 1938, was it, that Caltech, the presidential race was going on...that man from the Midwest was running against Roosevelt-

TH: Yeah, was it Alf Landon?

LP: Landon. And as a Republican, Landon had the support of most people at Caltech, a conservative place. Somebody decided to arrange a debate in Culbertson Hall where we had our convocations. The professor of Economics was 02:30:00going to debate in support of Landon. They couldn't find anybody to debate in support of Roosevelt except me, so I agreed to do it. I ran across the cards that I used - I think I've sent them up to Oregon State - where I had wrote out my various arguments to present at this debate. That I think was the first and essentially only time that I took any public stand in the field of politics until 1945, '46, so far as I can remember.

TH: Well, you yourself were a Republican. Didn't you vote for Hoover?

LP: Yes, I voted for Hoover at his last election, and then I became a Democrat thereafter.

TH: And Ava Helen was an important factor in that change?

LP: Yes. Her family of course had been Democrats, just as mine had been 02:31:00Republicans. And so, I was just going along with the family habit and being a Republican. And so it was rather late in the thirties before I began thinking about politics seriously enough to make a decision as to which political party I supported. Later, of course, I spoke to 10,000 people in Gilmore Park, I think it's called, in Los Angeles, together with the Progressive Party candidate for the presidency, Henry Wallace. That's the only time that I had met Henry 02:32:00Wallace. After my speech, he came in, walking across to the podium, and presented his speech, and left.

TH: Were you a Progressive at that time? Would you have-did you vote for Wallace?

LP: Yes, I voted for Wallace. My wife said that I shouldn't vote for Wallace, I should vote for Truman; that it was just wasting a vote for me to vote for Wallace. He had no chance of winning. And I probably said well, I didn't think Truman had any chance of winning either.

TH: [Laughs].

LP: I mean, we were up there being exposed to radioactivity in Hanford on election day.

TH: Oh, yeah.

LP: I had voted by absentee ballot, and my wife had too. And at about two 02:33:00o'clock in the morning, after we had gone to bed with the news that Dewey had won, about two o'clock in the morning I had got up, and in my pajamas, went down from the second story of this sort of guest house in Hanford to my automobile and turned on the radio and found that Truman had won [laughs].

TH: Uh-huh. Back to the question of treating people equally, I'll tell you why I'm interested in that. The growing up in Condon, as was common at that time, there was a lot of very casual racism in Condon, especially about black people in town. In fact, I just remember reading in one of your father's letters about how people in Condon had stopped eating at one restaurant because they'd gotten negro cooks in there.


LP: Well, yes. I don't know to what extent I was aware of these things. The one episode that I remember is that next door to Mr. Yokum's house on 40th street, the next house to the north, were two women named Sikorsky, the Sikorsky sisters. And I was talking to them one day when I was perhaps 13 years old. They were giving me advice about buying something, and I can't remember what it was. I needed to buy something and they said, "Don't pay them, don't pay the men, the people, the price that they ask, but offer them a lower price and bargain with 02:35:00them." And so, I said, "Why? Are they Jews?" Well, you see I didn't know any Jews. Actually, I did know some, but I didn't know that they were Jews, and I didn't know the Sikorsky girls were Jews either.

So, they gave me a little talking-to about the popular conception about Jews. Well, I suppose there's some basis for it, that the Jews, anybody in the Middle East is accustomed to bargaining, so that it wasn't unreasonable that I should have the idea that if these people would bargain about the price, they were Jews. Most people that I knew, most stores that I had contact with had just fixed prices. So, this episode is really the one that I remember. And after a 02:36:00while, I realized that one of the boys that I knew at high school was a Jew. It took me some time to recognize that there were a few Jews in Portland.

TH: Uh-huh. Yeah.

LP: I don't think there were any black people at Washington High School. I don't remember that there were any black students.

TH: But just along the lines of not-people develop a degree of snobbishness about their position in life, and it's true in the sciences as well as elsewhere. What-

LP: Yes, well I might have, I suppose. Here in 1931, there was, for the first 02:37:00time, a prize offered for the best young chemist not yet having reached his 31st birthday. So-

TH: It was the Langmuir prize?

LP: The Langmuir prize, given for the first time. And I think it was the first prize that the American Chemical Society ever had sponsored. They have about 20 now, but I think this was the first one. And, of course, I received it. And the newspapers, The New York Times quoted someone, Dr. Noyes I think, as saying "probably a future Nobel laureate." I might well have become egotistic as a result of this, and I think that earlier I had developed a feeling of 02:38:00self-confidence in regard to science, but... I may have felt well, it's fortunate I've had good luck and I have a good memory, and perhaps I don't think that I just said I shouldn't let this go to my head. I shouldn't think I'm really better than the other people, even though I do this one thing better than other people do.

TH: Mm-hmm.

LP: So, perhaps I was fortunate in escaping that trap.

TH: Yeah. It's hard to know- I mean I'm just- when you think about a person's character development, it's hard to know where that sort of feeling would come from, the sort of where you would say to yourself, even though I have these 02:39:00skills, I'm really, you know, I'm really not better than other people.

LP: Yes, well now if I talk to someone about some scientific matter, my feeling that I talk to this person as an equal. Consider his ideas, or her ideas, and...

TH: Do you think that comes from- One thesis that I'm toying around with here as I do my research is about the importance of having grown up in the west, as opposed to a more established, more hierarchical culture that you may find in the east, or in Europe. The fact that you were raised in an area where people made their own way, basically. Your father, for instance, worked his way up to where he was fairly successful pretty much on his own, without a great deal of education or family wealth, and that that regionality, that there's a regional 02:40:00quality to that attitude, or at least the chance to develop that. What do you think about having grown up in the west?

LP: Well, when I went back to Harvard in 1928, or '29 - I guess it was 1929 when I was 28 years old - and ultimately turned down the job as Professor of Physical Chemistry as successor to the man who had been the first American Nobel laureate in science - perhaps even the first American Nobel laureate in any field, I'm not sure - Theodore William Richards, I'm pretty sure one of the factors that I considered was that here was a society where there were a lot of important 02:41:00people who were important just because of birth. They had money and a stature not based on their own abilities. I would be a sort of second-class citizen at Harvard, I thought. But I wasn't a second-class citizen in Pasadena.

TH: So you were aware of that stratification existing more on the east coast, say, or at Harvard.

LP: Yes. Yeah, yeah.

TH: Did you see the same thing in Europe when you were in Munich, and you were there for your first trip? Did you sense the same sort of...

LP: No, I don't think so because I didn't really have contact with any people in 02:42:00Munich except people at the universities. And while some of these people may have had family background and money, it wasn't evident from their style of life.

TH: Yeah. You actually fit in quite well then when you were in Europe, didn't you?

LP: Yes.

TH: Was there an incident- was there ever an incident in your early career where you felt you were not given proper due, or you were rebuffed, or you were looked down upon by anyone in particular? I mean, I get a hint of that when you were talking about the possibility of going to Harvard and feeling like you would have been a second-class citizen.

LP: The... I don't think so... I'm trying to think if there were an episode of 02:43:00that sort.

TH: Well, I'm just thinking you were a young phenomenon. You came out of nowhere, essentially, in terms of the scientific world. You came out of a- Oregon Agricultural College had never produced any great scientists of note, prior to your coming. And you came into Caltech and went on your year in Europe. And I would think that, to the established scientific world, that you appeared like a sort of a zephyr out of nowhere, as opposed to the established routines of coming into science where you might have come from a scientific family or 02:44:00something like that.

You didn't have any of that kind of background and I'm just wondering, when you were first making a name for yourself, if there was ever an occasion where people took you less seriously than you should have been, simply because of that background.

LP: I don't think so. Science, as a whole, is a pretty good field in that you can be reasonably sure, at least after a passage of a little time, as to whether what someone has done or proposed is worthwhile or isn't worthwhile. In other fields, in economics, and perhaps history, philosophy, I don't know, it's hard to know whether the thesis presented in a book is really sound or not. It may 02:45:00take generations before a decision is made. But in science, science is a pretty hard subject. Mathematics even harder, in that a mathematician may present a proof and some other mathematicians feel there's a fallacy in it. Science isn't quite so hard as that, that it's so definite as that, but it still, it's pretty definite.

There were controversies about my ideas, starting pretty early. The 1931, my paper on the nature of the chemical bond, had some ideas that some people wanted 02:46:00to reject. And even now I have a copy of an article published in a journal of chemical education which is sort of an attack on me, on my ideas of 60 years ago [laughs].

TH: [Laughs] is that right?

LP: I'm thinking - I haven't read the article yet, just the first page - but I'm thinking about writing a reply to it. It seems to me that probably much of this article is just nonsense and that I ought to reply to it. I've even written a letter to the editor saying I can't understand why he should have accepted this article for publication. That hasn't been sent yet. I'll send it when I - or if I - write a reply to this.

Nevertheless, in general, people who make scientific discoveries are recognized 02:47:00as having done something worthwhile. When we were in Munich in 1926 and '27, my wife and I read an article about Wegener. Wegener was a German geologist who published some papers in which he said that there was, several hundred million years ago, a single continent on earth and that it broke up and split into the present-day continents. Wegener's hypothesis. And everybody laughed at him. The scientists rejected this. I thought that Wegener must truly be right. How else could you explain the fit between South America and Africa? And, of course, 02:48:00everybody recognizes now that he was right. So, here's one scientific idea which was rejected by the establishment for 40 years or more. But it's rare to have that happen, and geology is not so hard a science as chemistry or physics, or mathematics, so that it's perhaps understandable.

And, of course, in biology, Darwin had to be accepted. He had worked so hard for so long, gathering the evidence to support his ideas. If Darwin hadn't existed, 02:49:00Wallace might have published his paper, and it might well have been ignored for another 40 years until some Darwin came along to do the job of proving that Wallace was right. But here too, biology is not so hard a science, so definite a science, or wasn't in Darwin's time, 120 years ago. About 130, as it is now.

TH: And medicine even less so.

LP: Medicine even less so, yes. Well, I went through these periods when my ideas about chemistry were being criticized. It didn't bother me too much that they were criticizing, but... But for the most part, I think chemists accepted my 02:50:00contributions to knowledge in a way that seemed to me to be quite satisfactory. I had a letter a few days, well, a few months ago from a man - may have a been a year or two ago - from a man who said that he happened to be looking something up in the Journal of the American Chemical Society when he came across my 1931 paper. What astonished him was that it said they communicated January 27th, they published April 7th with February, March... or perhaps I ought to look it up, but-


TH: But it was a short lag time between receiving and pr-

LP: Of perhaps six weeks.

TH: Oh, yeah. Right, yeah.

LP: And someone said, perhaps he had said, or someone else that I was telling the story, said, "Well, this is what happened. You sent the paper to Lamb, Editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. He thought who is there that I could send this paper to, to referee, express an opinion on it? He couldn't think of anybody who knew enough to [both laugh], to be a referee, so he said, 'Well, I'd better just publish the paper."

TH: [Laughs].

LP: And so...

TH: So much for a juried journal [laughs].

LP: So this... I quoted this to the editor of Proceedings of the National 02:52:00Academy of Sciences and mentioned some early publications of mine in PNAS that had come out in two months, saying that the present lag of four or five months lag time, you ought to be able to cut that down [both laugh].

TH: Well, things have changed. I think that six months is common now.

LP: Yes. Well, someone said, "Why don't you publish your papers in Proceedings of the Royal Society? You're a foreign member, you have the right to publish there." And I have in fact had two papers in PNA, in Proceedings of the Royal Society. I published one - or three papers. I published one in 1927 when I was in Munich - it was sent in by Sommerfeld - published one in 1948 when I was at 02:53:00Oxford, and I sent one in 10 years ago, perhaps, commenting on a biographical memoir that I thought was improper. I told this person, "Well, I've checked. It takes them eight months to publish a paper. The shortest publication time is eight months. So at my age, I'm..."

TH: [Laughs].

LP: "I don't want to have to wait eight months to see one of my valuable contributions" [both laugh] "of the knowledge appear in print." So, I'm doing something like the patent office. Do you know that if you apply for a patent and you are over 65 years of age you can ask that they expedite the examination?


TH: Oh, is that right? Yeah?

LP: Yeah. And presumably - I don't know how long they've had this regulation - presumably, they say well, here's an old inventor. He'd like to have the pleasure of seeing that his patent is approved and perhaps would like to have the money, the royalties that he might get from it. So, we ought to give him expedited consideration.

TH: Yeah.

LP: Well, I think that's pretty remarkable, that the patent office should have that much humanity [laughs]. I can't think of any other reason. It must be this...

TH: I can't think of any other government office that would have such sympathy.

LP: No.


TH: What do you want to finish? What do you want to... As time goes on and you get older, what are the projects that you would like to see come to completion now?

LP: Well, first there are two reasons why I work pretty hard instead of just reading science fiction or novels. Or perhaps there are three reasons, one of them being that if I try reading science fiction or I try reading especially a novel, it all seems like old stuff to me. I've read this before, but with different names for the characters and the plots. So, that's- I have difficulty 02:56:00finding light reading now. I've read it all [both laugh] in the past. So, I resort to going back and reading Shaw again.

Recently, I've been reading Shaw's plays or reading Shakespeare again. I've been reading some Shakespeare's plays or reading old detective stories in the hope that I've forgotten the plot now. The ones that I've marked good. I might throw away or burn or give away the ones that I didn't mark good. Don't bother to read them again.

The two reasons are that I'm just in the habit of enjoying myself, solving puzzles. Scientific puzzles. I'm sort of interested in solving ordinary puzzles 02:57:00too, such as crossword puzzles. Mild interest, anagrams, and things of that sort, but when I solve a scientific problem I can not only have the satisfaction of having solved it, but also the satisfaction of knowing there's something new in the world. And for this reason, I've always been eager to publish my work.

Some people find it difficult to bring themselves to the point of publication of work. I've had students of that sort, that I had to browbeat into publishing their work. But I have felt until I have published a paper on one of these 02:58:00scientific problems, it's still a problem with me. When I publish it, I feel satisfied that now I can think about something else. Then, here I worked not only on some really interesting scientific problems, interesting to me where I think there's still something to be learned, but also on others that I find rather boring.

And in this category, I put the work on vitamins, vitamin C, and other vitamins in relation to disease. And applied molecular biology, applied to health from a scientific point of view, I'm not so interested, for the most part, as in other 02:59:00problems on nuclear structure and molecular structure and so on. But here, just as with world affairs, the peace movement and the nuclear fallout, Carbon-14 damage, there's another reason for my thinking that I should devote time to this, and that is that I can cut down on the amount of human suffering. Make life better for people. So, I'm willing to devote part of my time to that.

But here I have the job of finishing the new book with Dr. Hoffer on- I've put down a tentative title: How to Control Cancer with Vitamins. And Dr. Hoffer 03:00:00hasn't objected to that title, so that may be the title we'll come up with. I've spent - I shall have spent about three years, half my time perhaps, working on that problem. I have a chapter left to write, which I thought I would do on this trip to the ranch, but here I've been here now for three days and what have I done? [Laughs] I couldn't bring myself- I've worked on that problem on nuclear structure instead because it interests me more. It's a job now, to finish that book, and I'll have to do it because I never have shirked jobs. If there's something that I felt I had to do, I've done it. So, I'll get that done.

There was a period of about a year when that problem really interested me, other 03:01:00than from the humanistic point of view. Two years ago, when Hoffer first wrote to me asking if I would write a book with him on cancer, I said that I would. And he sent me his data originally for 95 subjects, but then it became for 134 because I worked the first year, it took me a year to get to the feeling that I understood how to handle his data. By that time, he had 39 more patients registered with him and it went up to 134. And then, after another eight months, 03:02:00we had a cut-off time. We had two cut-off times, one for registration of patients with him, and one for ceasing to consider the data about longevity, how many had died.

The problem was that about half of his patients who received his treatment were still alive at the termination of the project, and I discovered that the conventional methods of biostatisticians shortchanged the survivors in that one standard method is that when you bring the project to an end, you consider that all the surviving patients died on that day. Well, obviously they were still living for some time. And other people had tried to guess how long these 03:03:00patients would live and correct for them, and I thought their methods were too conservative, probably.

After a while, I realized that I had a way of handling the biostatistics that was different from what anyone had ever argued about before. It hadn't been completely ignored. Some biostatisticians- they hadn't bothered to correct for the survivors, but they had used the biostatistical method that I felt was the right one to use for cancer patients.

And I was pretty pleased with this. It involved some interesting mathematics, 03:04:00and it represented, in my opinion, a real discovery in the field of the biostatistics of cancer. So, from my point of view of being interested in solving problems, here I have managed to make the biostatistics of cancer into an interesting problem.

TH: Now, has that been published?

LP: Yes.

TH: Yeah. And where was that published?


TH: Okay.

LP: I can give you a copy of two papers... I think. One thing that amused me was that I managed to bring into the treatment a quantity, a number that Euler had 03:05:00discovered 200 years ago called Euler's constant, or Euler's second constant.

TH: I have a vague memory of that from back in...

LP: What?

TH: I have a vague memory of Euler's constant, but that wasn't applied to biostatistics at all.

LP: No, no. So... Well, this is the paper, the [inaudible]- I'll give it to you.

TH: Oh, okay. There's an extra one, that's great.

LP: And Euler, I think Euler discovered his first constant, which is e, the 03:06:00basis of natural logarithm.

TH: Right, right. That's what I'm thinking.

LP: But his-and it's 2.718, and so on. But then his second constant... I'm not sure how it's defined except by an integral. An infinite integral. But its value is .577, dot dot dot dot. And... [unable to find second paper] well, I'll give you that paper.

TH: Sure. No, this'll set it up. This is what I was interested in.

LP: So, I managed to bring Euler's second constant [both chuckle] into the 03:07:00biostatistics of cancer. So far as I'm aware, this is limited to biostatistics of cancer. And the... Solving the infinite integrals, well that means just looking them up in tables, but to bring some of these infinite integrals into the biostatistics of cancer pleased me, as well as the thought that from now on, if these biostatisticians have any sense, they'll be able to handle the data, mortality of cancer patients, better than they have in the best.

TH: Yeah.

LP: I suggested to... Zelek Herman, my associate, Dr. Herman, that-Oh, is that...?


TH: Yeah, this is. That's the paper with Herman.

LP: Oh, yeah. Well, I'd better... Yeah, this is one in which we said that there's something fishy about the Mayo Clinic study.

TH: Yeah [laughs].

LP: But I'd better look for the first paper for you, which is by me alone. So, I do manage to find some puzzles to work on, even in this work on vitamins and health. I was rather surprised to have made that discovery, that you can do a better job than the biostatisticians have been doing, in discussing-in mortality data for cohorts of cancer patients.

TH: Now, you have said in interviews that if you could do what you really wanted 03:09:00to do all the time, that what you would do would be to sit down and work on quantum mechanical equations. I've seen that in interviews. Is that-does that strike you still as being correct? If you had, in terms of what would bring you the greatest pleasure?

LP: Well, I may have said that at a time when I was doing-well, just yesterday after you left, I got out my book Introduction to Quantum Mechanics, a book that I wrote in 1935 with Bright Wilson, to lookup an equation and apply it to this problem on nuclear structure. This is essentially a quantum mechanical problem, of course, because in a sense everything is quantum. Everything is quantum mechanics. But it's my own brand of quantum mechanics that I'm applying.

So, the-someone asked me did I have hope for the future of the world, keeping 03:10:00the human race from annihilation in a nuclear war. And this is only a couple of years ago, I think. I said, "Of course I have hope. If I didn't have hope, I'd just be enjoying myself, solving the [Werdinger?] equation, working on quantum mechanics, solving problems of this sort instead of putting in time on world peace activities.

TH: If you were to rate your- say you took fields like mathematics, chemistry, biology, or molecular biology, your peace work, medicine. If you took all of those things together and had to rank what your first love would be among all of those...


LP: The sort of work that I like to do I think can be put somewhere in be-[tape ends]