Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Meeting Harold


In my recent geek post, I mentioned a brush with fame that I had earlier in my life. In the summer of 1978, I was preparing to enter my senior year in college and working a summer job at EG&G. EG&G stands for Edgerton, Germeshausen, and Grier, and Edgerton was Harold Edgerton, the famous pioneer of ultra high-speed photography. I was working as a machine operator at the time, stamping glass bits to become parts of flash tubes of the sort found in copying machines. It was a pretty good job. The work was very repetetive, but otherwise not unpleasant and I was making reasonable money.

One afternoon in August a whole bunch of the company was off on vacation. I had been asked to spend the day manually injecting resin into the ends of the flash tubes so that the company could complete an order on time. The head of the department walked through with three guys in suits. He paused at my work station and said "This man is adding a stiffening agent to xenon tubes." It was a bit of a thrill for me. I was a lad of 20 at the time and looked about 14 (I'm not exaggerating). It was one of the first times that someone had referred to me as a man rather than a boy. One of the guys in suits handed me a postcard. It was a copy of the photograph Making Applesauce at MIT (shown above). I thanked him and they walked on. Someone later told me that it was Edgerton. I was both elated and crushed. Harold Edgerton! And I hadn't even realized it. I still deeply regret that I did not know at the time. I absolutely would have asked him to sign the postcard. I still have it.

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8 Comments:

At 14:21, Blogger Doug said...

Send him a note and tell him this story. I'd bet you'd get a second postcard from him, or he'd even offer to sign it if you sent it to him.

 
At 14:38, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Doug - Great idea, except for one small detail. Harold Edgerton died in 1990. That's now part of what I value about the story.

 
At 16:04, Blogger robin andrea said...

What a great story. I wish you had known and gotten that autograph. But still you met him, and that's so cool. I think it would make a great meme, even though I don't like memes at all, for bloggers to write of their brushes with famous people. The stories are so interesting.

 
At 18:20, Anonymous Jyoti said...

Whoa! You met Harold Edgerton!!!

Whoa again, you didnt know who he was! I can image that feeling you explained!
But then you did meet him.

 
At 21:31, Blogger Ur-spo said...

and you still look 14, but for the whiskers....

 
At 08:42, Blogger Doug Taron said...

robin - well, I might be stretching it in the post title to say that we met. But it was an interesting interaction.

Jyoti- I'm not surprised that a photographer would resonate with the idea of meeting him.

Spo- I'm more concerned that I still act 14.

 
At 20:31, Blogger steve'swhirlyworld said...

I like Doug's idea...

 
At 22:54, Blogger Tony said...

The closest I've gotten to fame is Sean Austin (from Lord of the Rings fame and also Patty Austin's son). LOL Hope all has been well with you!

 

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