Two readers of last week’s U.S. 1 — one from the heart of Princeton, and another from Ulm, Germany, who just happened to be visiting in Princeton — have weighed in on Richard K. Rein’s column on the mini-Einstein museum in the back of Landau’s clothing store on Nassau Street and its serendipitous connection with the proposed new Albert Einstein discovery center in Ulm, the town of his birth.
As Rein reported last week, the Einstein mini-museum dates back to 1994 and memorabilia collected by various townspeople for possible use as props in the Walter Matthau movie, “I.Q.” Landau’s later displayed several models of a proposed Einstein bust for which funds were being raised. While window shopping on Nassau Street, the wife of a Princeton alumnus, in town for Reunions, noticed the models, and alerted her husband, Stanley Levy, Class of 1944, who once sat next to Einstein at a dinner in Princeton and has been a devotee of the man and his legacy ever since.
Levy underwrote much of the project that led to the Einstein statue now in Monument Park in Princeton. Within the last year the mini-museum came to the attention of a physicist based in Ulm who is also leading an effort to establish a learning center there. At the Landau clothing store the physicist discovered Levy, who lives in the same suburb of Detroit as the physicist’s parents. She looked him up, and now Levy and Landau have become boosters of the project in Ulm.
Enter the readers. Jim Floyd Jr., the son of the former Princeton Township mayor, wrote to say that a Princeton High School friend of his, sculptor Rob Harvey, was hired in 1978 by Robert Berks to work on one of Berks’ Einstein sculptures. Harvey invited Floyd to visit Berks’ studio on Long Island and pitch in on the project.
The interesting twist, as Floyd points out, is that Harvey is the son of Dr. Thomas Harvey, the Princeton Hospital pathologist who had removed Einstein’s brain for analysis (later the subject of several books and originally reporting in 1978 by Steven Levy of New Jersey Monthly).
The second reader is Halit Unver, a University of Ulm researcher attending a Princeton conference on information technology policy. When he told another attendee he was from Ulm, Germany, he was surprised when the person said they had heard of the town. “Usually no one knows Ulm,” Unver said. “It’s a very small town.” But the fellow attendee had just read about the town in U.S. 1. So Unver added Landau’s store to his must-see list in Princeton.
One final bit of serendipity. Unver was staying at a private residence a few doors from Einstein’s old house at 112 Mercer Street. On a previous visit Unver had visited the house, attempted to get a selfie in front of it, and was assisted by a passerby. He and the passerby struck up an acquaintance, and the neighbor invited him to stay over in the neighborhood on his next visit. Einstein and his enduring energy.