I was pleased to receive your letter in response to my E-Mail regarding your grandfather. I think it is great that you are developing his biography, and I am happy to provide any information which might be helpful to you in this endeavor.
I will try to respond to your questions
I feel certain that the "Green Block" referred
to by Louis Rowe and the Schmidt Plate mold are one and the same. I remember
the 'green block' well, and worked with the Schmidt Corrector Plates.
As to anecdotes, let me give this one some
thought and I'll get back to you in another letter.
I knew Dr.
A. Estelle Glancy very well. In
fact, she was the head of the Lens Design Dept. when I joined AO in March
of 1947. John Davis was her assistant, and took a more active role in the
management of the department than he otherwise might have because Dr. Glancy
was extremely hard of hearing. Through close associates at the Zenith Corporation,
Doc arranged for Dr. Glancy to be a sort of guinea pig in trying out new
advances in hearing aids.
Dr. Glancy was a wonderful person, and
made an enormous contribution during her long tenure at AO. She did the
lion's share of the computing behind the Tillyer Lens Series. That was
quite a task, involving many years of work, because it was before the days
of mechanical calculators (to say nothing of computers). That meant all
her computing had to be done using logarithms. I don't mean to imply that
she did it all alone (she had help), but I think it is probably true that
she never got as much credit as she deserved.
During the period from the mid - 1950's
until 1973, Doc was certainly much more than a figurehead. He was, in a
sense, put out to pasture by the new regime, but that far from ended his
contribution to AO. During this period he didn't do much, if any, lab work,
but he was there for us, always ready to listen to our technical problems
and contribute ideas toward their solution. His range of scientific knowledge
was truly amazing, and he was more than anxious to share it. I, personally,
spent countless hours during this period learning science through sessions
with Doc. While a lot of it related to optics, much it did not. I remember,
for example, his explaining the inner workings of Buick's new Dynaflow
transmission, and how a fan-jet engine worked. He was a great teacher.
Doc's wife, your grandmother, became mentally
ill which is why she was hospitalized in Vermont. In these times, I suspect
her illness would be diagnosed as Alzheimer's.
Doc's routine during the period consisted
of discussing science in his office, and walking around the Research Laboratory,
looking over the shoulders of the scientists and technicians. His office
was small and cluttered, but there was always enough room on his desk for
him to climb up and sit. The atmosphere was informal, and anything but
The flood of 1955 nearly brought down AO,
both literally and figuratively. It shut the plant down for nearly 3 months.
For a brief period, there was serious consideration given to shutting the
plant down for good. I don't remember what Doc did during that period,
but I was given the responsibility of seeing to the supply of safe drinking
water to the crew putting things back together. It was a challenge.
If you haven't already done so, you should
contact John Davis. John can fill you in on the earlier years, before I
came along, and can expand on any information I might provide. Any biography
of Doc would be incomplete without the involvement of John.
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