Corrections or additions?

This column was prepared for the April 13, 2005 issue of U.S. 1

Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Between the Lines

We have been waiting for the right moment to do an issue on Albert

Einstein and his "Miracle Year," the 100th anniversary of the

publication of his four most important papers. When we learned that

the long-awaited memorial to Einstein would be dedicated on the 50th

anniversary of Einstein’s death (Monday, April 18), we realized our

time had come.

For help we turned to one of U.S. 1’s earliest contributors, Sally

Davidson. Sally has worn many hats over the years but we like to

remember that she was among the small band that worked at Rich Rein’s

house on Park Place when U.S. 1 was a young and struggling monthly

tabloid.

Among her other accomplishments, Sally Davidson is a photographer, and

we asked her to help report the story and shoot the photos. (We also

thank the Institute for Advanced Study, which provided the archival

photo on page 40, taken by Alan Richards, and the Historical Society

of Princeton for the first three photos on page 41, taken by Peter C.

Cook. Henry Landau provided a copy of the photo of Einstein on a

bicycle that is visible on the cover.)

The format of our story also hearkens back to our early years, when

Barbara Fox was writing various "Gossip’s Guides to Princeton." The

best of these was a 20-minute driving tour of the town, annotated with

facts and folklore.

The Gossip’s Guides changed as new information came to light, and

Fox’s guide to the people, places, and objects related to Einstein is

also a work in progress; we welcome readers’ comments and additions.

We are indebted to the work of Alice Calaprice, formerly an editor at

Princeton University Press, who has spent the last 20 years sorting

out bits and pieces of information pertaining to the great man. We

took comments from Alvin Goldblatt (who as a young man was recruited

to play chamber music with Einstein), Maureen Smyth (who is the

Historical Society of Princeton’s Einstein expert), Robert Landau (who

opened a storefront museum), and Stephen Levy (the reporter who

tracked down Einstein’s brain). But we, and the Princeton community,

owe the most thanks to Gillett Griffin, who can not only share

experiences he had with Einstein in his last years, but also has a

valuable collection of Einstein artifacts.

In the 1950s Griffin had been invited to be a regular dinner guest in

the Einstein household. An affable fellow prone to puns and

interesting stories, Griffin performed the court jester’s function –

offering entertaining diversion but keeping mum to the outside world.

Now he is able to talk.

Einstein myths die hard. We defused a couple of them as we reported

this story. Einstein did not work at Princeton University; he had his

office there from 1933 to 1939 and then moved to the just constructed

Fuld Hall at the Institute for Advanced Study. And though Einstein was

alternately bemused and amused by the antics of a worshipping public,

he was not shy about tapping that enthusiasm to support his favorite

causes. It was his heirs who decreed that the Mercer Street house

should not be turned into a museum. Einstein’s own will did not give

instructions that there be no memorial to him in Princeton.


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