50th Reunion

My first stop after leaving Amherst was Harvard, for graduate study. The next three years were fairly strenuous because I worked half time as a teaching assistant while doing the course work and research required fora Ph.D. My recollection of the time is summed up in the comment that it was rather like swimming under water - it is possible for a while but you couldn't live that way.

Thomas P. Wilson I collected my Ph.D. in Chemical Physics in January, 1943, and took a job, first with M.W. Kellogg Co. and then with a subsidiary of theirs called the Kellex Corp. That turned out to be a Manhattan Project operation. They had the assignment of designing a plant to separate the fissionable uranium isotope for use in the atom bomb. The secrecy concerning how our jobs fit into the overall project was very tight, but we did get a few hints about what was going on. The objective was to beat the Germans to a bomb capable of wiping out New York City and rendering New York State uninhabitable for centuries. It led to some fairly vivid nightmares, especially since I was living in NYC at the time.

After the Manhattan Project folded, rather than going to Oak Ridge with the operating company, Carbide and Carbon Chemicals Co., the predecessor of Union Carbide Corporation, I transferred to their main research and development laboratory in South Charleston, WV. I'm basically not a big city person and both the type of work and the small town atmosphere appealed to me and to my wife, Judy, whom I had married in 1944. I have lived in the neighboring city of Charleston ever since, and never regretted iL

At Carbide we started searching for raw materials which might be substituted for natural gas and oil as sources of petro-chemicals. Forecasters were predicting we would run out of both in the 50's, remember? We achieved some technical successes, but no significant commercial results, largely be­ cause the premises on which the project was based were wrong. Probably the most practically useful thing I did there was to suggest and then help direct the development of what is Carbide's UCAR process for making polyethylene.

Thomas P. Wilson The past few years have been too eventful. Judy died of lung cancer in 1979.Iwas married again in 1980to Peg Hutchinson Goodwin, a Skidmore graduate and a divorcee with five children (only one of them was at home). My son, Mark, was in law school from 1978 to 1982, compiling a very distinguished academic record to my considerable pleasure.  I retired in 1983, taking advantage of one of the special retirement incentive programs that have become so common in the past few years. Peg and I moved in 1981 and again in 1985, the last time into an old house that has cost us more than it should have for repair and remodeling. Mark died in 1985. We went to China later that year and l spent a month as visiting scholar at Jilin University. We are now into do-it-yourself home remodeling. I am becoming a jack-of-all-trades by necessity, with all that implies about expertise in any one craft.

I also have been doing a little consulting at Kentucky's Institute for Mining and Minerals Research, which has been fun but Islip farther and farther behind on current research elsewhere.

I do hope things settle down in the 90's so Peg and I can travel a little, can try to reduce the rate of increase of my handicap and we can enjoy Peg's grandchildren. You should be so lucky, too.