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History of the Forest Products Laboratory

Interview #933: Springer, Edward L. (June, 2009)

View all of First Interview Session (June 17, 2008)

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01:04:26 - 01:13:04 Social Activities

Social activities; colleagues, memories; Harris, Jack; Hajny, George; Saeman, Jerome F.; Tarkow, Harold; Minor, Jim; Locke, Edward G.; Nichols, Bill

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01:04:26

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AP

Well just to kind of change gears maybe, we could talk a little bit about some of the other colleagues that you worked with and if maybe activities that you took part in. Were there any activities, non work related available at the Lab?

ES

Oh there were all sorts but I really didn't participate in much of that. You know there was a baseball team of course and bowling. Oh what else was there? There were other activities. I didn't much participate in that stuff.

01:05:04

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AP

Do you have any memories of particular people that you worked with on an ongoing basis here?

ES

Sure, sure.

AP

Any interesting characters?

ES

Well I told you about Jack who was from Saskatchewan. His father had been an Englishman, I don't know why he came to Canada but eventually he married a woman from New York City and for some reason they settled down in the middle of Saskatchewan. His father ran a hotel up there. As I said Jack was a good student he went to Queens at Kingston and then eventually came down here.

One of my project leaders, a fellow by the name of George Hajny, George's father had been an immigrant from I think the Czech Republic and had ended up on a farm at Cobleskill, New York. You know Cobleskill, New York is well maybe in the Mohawk valley, I forget which valley it is out there, we had driven past Cobleskill. He eventually ended up at UW and got a degree in chemistry from UW and worked his career here.

Oh, let me see who else. Well Jerry of course, Jerry Saeman. Jerry was from Cross Plains. His father actually was deaf but he was a---ran the lumber mill or lumber yard up in Cross Plains and a shareholder in the bank and all this, the Saemans were pretty big in Cross Plains. He sent Jerry to Pious IX High School down in Milwaukee and Jerry eventually came to the University of Wisconsin and got a degree in chemistry. I think he worked as a student out here.

Oh there was Harold Tarkow. Harold was a Jewish boy from Milwaukee, I think his father had been a kosher butcher in Milwaukee, and I think Harold---I don't know where Harold's degree was from, it might have been the UW here---but Harold worked down as a professor or at least an instructor, I think it was a professor, down at Bradley in Peoria. Bradley---I don't know what they call a university these days, probably college in those days---Harold met his wife down there, his wife Liesl had fled Austria maybe even before the Anschluss before Germany acquired Austria, eventually taking it over. She was from a Jewish family, a rather well to do Jewish family, somehow she and her mother ended up down in Peoria and she was a student of Harold's. So they got together, were married. Liesl was, and Harold were quite---well they were members of the democratic party here and fairly influential, not all that influential but Liesl would have a picture of Hubert Humphrey on her wall. Oh let's see who else. Harold is still living, Harold is about 95 years old now, he lives down in what used to be Meriter retirement center.

Jerry Saeman, who I was talking about just now is in Oakwood West. I don't know if you know Oakwood or not. Oh let me see who else. Well Necmi I told you about, he was a Turk, a Turkish fellow that married a Scandinavian. Oh what was his wife's name? Martha, Marta. Marta for some reason came over here from Scandinavia, you know, to study I think and somehow---probably up at McGill---she met Necmi and they got married---Necmi had worked for a Mead Corporation in Chillicothe for a while. Now I had interviewed the Mead Corporation after I got my bachelors degree and I was going around the country sort of thing. Chillicothe was the headquarters of the Mead Corporation and during the interview they brought in the president and several vice presidents to interview me [laughs]. I don't know why. But Mead wasn't all that big---well Mead had several mills but Mead has since been incorporated into Westvaco, which has been incorporated into a Finnish company, there's been great consolidation in the pulp and paper industry.

Oh let me see who besides Necmi and Jack. Well Jim Minor was an organic chemist. Where did Jim get his degree? Jim got his degree from Purdue and he was the project leader after Necmi and as I say Jim was not too happy with the project leadership but he was a good chemist and friendly guy, nice guy.

Not a particular friend but acquaintance you know Jack Rowe, I don't know if anybody ever told you about Jack Rowe. Jack Rowe was---oh I got bunch of other characters that I can think of---Jack Row was the son of a banker, who had been a banker in Shanghai and this banker made his fortune in Shanghai so Jack was wealthy. Jack had gone to Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zurich, the famous technical college in Zurch, Switzerland. I think he went as a grad student there, I think Jack got his PhD out of University of Colorado and then he went as a grad student over at the technical high school in Zurich. The Swiss students called him the rich man essentially because he was. He would throw parties for them. Jack was an organic chemist, he was hired just about the time I was a student, Locke hired him, Ed Locke. Ed Locke was quite impressed because he had this European, you know, background sort of thing. Jack was a little difficult to get along with, he was sort of---well he was not easy to get on with. He had a graduate student, Bill Nickels. Bill Nickels was the son of the chief engineer up at Manitowoc Crane, I don't know if you've heard of Manitowoc Crane or not, Manitowoc Crane is still in business, makes a lot of cranes. These crane you see around are Manitowoc cranes. He was building them, Bill's father was a chief engineer at Manitowoc Crane. I had an office across the hall from Jack's lab and Jack's office, Jack Rowe's office. Bill, well he might have been sort of a goof-off, not too bad but in a way. Bill would be over talking to me sometimes, Jack would yell "Bill!" [laughs]. Bill would curse and trot over to Jack. Bill and Jack did not get on too well. I don't know if you want stories like this or not [laughs].

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