Richard K. Rein’s very good story about John McPhee (October 18) reminds me of my own encounter with his father when I was a sophomore at Princeton. His father was one of the physicians for the athletic department then (1948) and proposed using what was the new “diathermy” treatment (heating the area by applying an electric current to it) to treat a pulled muscle I had developed while running on the uneven ground underneath the Palmer Stadium stands.
The track coach, Matty Geis, was skeptical at first, but eventually believed that what Dr. McPhee was suggesting might work. It did, and I was able to run OK after a few days of treatment. It was many years later that I first heard of his son, John McPhee the writer, and I became a big fan.
One of my favorites is “The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed.” One of its main characters is a former colleague of mine, Jack Olcott. We both worked for Aeronautical Research Associates of Princeton. It was at 50 Washington Road for over 20 years and I worked there the whole time, starting in 1957. The guy that started it was Coleman duPont Donaldson, one of the smartest people I have ever known. He got his PhD at Princeton, and built a staff of scientists and engineers who could handle almost any technical problem. We had some of the first “electronic” computers, both digital and analog types. A number of our staff members were also on the faculty at Princeton.
— Dick Snedeker