A Couple of Memories - Grad School at Cornell, en route to Begin at York

Created by William 2 years ago

Ron and I started grad school at Cornell at the same  time, and were graduate lab assistants in the same course. We had some good times together; a lot of evening beers at Jim’s Place, a nearby bar. But one of my strongest memories of graduate school is of the two of us, hotshot chem lab instructors, standing at the side of our lab, safety glasses in hand, being publicly berated by one of the old dinosaurs in the Cornell department for not wearing those glasses. We were both angry - Ron as angry as I have ever seen him - because, of course, we were completely in the wrong.

When Ron was appointed as a lecturer at York - he was at Cornell at the time - he wrote and asked me if I would like to come and spend a year in his lab. Of course I said yes. We applied for and received an NIH fellowship for me, and with Jim Matthew, who was also at Cornell then and had been hired in the York Physics Department, booked passage on the SS France. Training in absent-mindedness for my future professorial career, I left my passport at home on the day of departure. My father promised to air mail it to the French Line offices in London, and they let me board the ship. Ron, Jim, and I had a very enjoyable five-day trip, but of course there was no passport when we arrived at Southampton. Ron, however, was equal to the situation, and with Jim’s help (young, clean-cut British scientists! Reversing the Brain Drain!) persuaded the immigration authorities to let me into England. So Ron’s first postdoc was an illegal alien, or wetback.

It’s hard to express how enormously important Ron’s friendship has been to me - he’s been kind, supportive, and fun to be with. I owe Ron a lot, and I'm very sad indeed to lose him, a wonderful friend for many years.

Bill Grossman