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The Joshua Lederberg Papers

Letter from Karl Paul Link to Joshua Lederberg pdf (370,885 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Karl Paul Link to Joshua Lederberg
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
5 (370,885 Bytes)
1959-01-25 (January 25, 1959)
Link, Karl Paul
Lederberg, Joshua
Reproduced with permission of Paul K. Link.
Lederberg Grouping: Correspondence C
Box Number: 12
Folder Number: 54
Unique Identifier:
Accession Number:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Correspondence, 1935-2002
SubSeries: 1953-1960
Folder: Link, Karl Paul
P.S. Dear Esther:
This is also for you.
January 25 -- 1959 at 600 AM.
Dear Joshua: Since 1-16 when your letter came I have been wanting to write you. But the pressure of other matters like (a) reading the folk-lore of tuberculosis in the Am. Rev. Tuberculosis (b) reading Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain (which incidentally I have read some 6 times before) (c) writing to our eldest son John K. at Antioch College (d) re-reading Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough. (e) wondering why my generation were so in-expert in making scientific propaganda. f. re-studying Marris Jastrow's The Book of Job. (Job you know in addition to all usual troubles -- also needed a special antibiotic for he had boils resistant to prayer -- moldy bread -- extracts of onion and the soothing dressings applied by his mistress. and (g) reading Nature and The Sunday New York Times. There are other diversions like Schlessingers [sic] The Coming of the New Deal, Conants [sic] Harvard Case Histories in Experimental Science and Sigmund Freud's Collected Papers Vol 1. sent to me by a friend (the complete works -- 4 volumes -- will be offered for sale in the U.S. around March 1-15.
Whilst I am still interested in matters that go on "down below" (this is terminology from Mann's The Magic Mountain) I am quite amazed at times at my growing indifference.
This is without cynicism and without regret. I have so to speak played my small part -- and "re-entry" will not occur. I do not wish to infer that I will spend the rest of my days here at Lakeview. Quite the contrary -- I am getting on top of this re-currence [sic] -- and I definitely feel that I can still be useful. But not here (at U.W.)
I had no intent to use your answer on the C.A.E. quotation in any way.* [* At times I have just plain curiosity.] What C.A.E. said to the Governor struck me as being at variance with what one of the most truthful -- if not the most truthful men on the campus told me. When Bob Irwin visited me about Thanksgiving time he told me that your Wisconsin salary was not a determinant /use[?].
Now we can move "within" what C.A.E. said. You must realize that your exit -- at this time -- was a real blow to our Brass. (I am not including Bob Irwin in The Brass) The Brass has had its money on other losses. To loose its Nobel Winner just before the citation -- that indeed is a kind of ironic "poetic" justice.
After you get settled -- I propose to have a copy made of a letter that came to me recently
from one of my former associates. I will not send you a copy of the whole letter -- for I wouldnt [sic] want you to think that I hold myself up as a prophet. But Im [sic] sure you will be able to read between the empty spaces -- on what was deleted in making the copy.
What do you know about the Physics Dept at Stanford? Our eldest son John at Antioch (incidentally he's well endowed from his mother) is majoring in Mathematical Physics. He was recommended by Antioch for several fellowships -- and Stanford is among the first three in terms of choice. Since I know nothing about Stanford -- let alone the subject -- I'm just a spectator. I do know Wigener at Princeton and also know what kind of a man he is. You see I do believe in Academic Freedom within my family up to a certain point. I would not approve of my son John working with a guy like Teller. If he insisted on working with a guy like Teller I would regard him as an enemy of the human race -- and dis-en herit [sic] him at once. I also know Dub[ . . . ]. He started here. Son John has CalTech on his triangle.
As to the speech (or talk) by Dub[ . . . ]. I must say its amazing how these modest and shy lads of the 1930's have blossomed out. My conviction with them was rather
a loose one scientifically speaking -- but intimate on the emotional basis. Wigeners first wife Amelia Frank stayed at the home of my mother in law. Amelia Frank was from Baltimore Md -- a graduate of a quite good girl's school there (Goucher College) -- and a major in Physics and Math. Amelia and Wigener were married only a short time -- for a rapidly developing cancer took her six months after the marriage. I was out walking one time with Amelia, Wigener, Dirac and Mrs Link in Vilas Park right after dusk.* [* Mrs. Link's folks lived 2 blocks from Vilas Park] The 2 physicists were ahead of us. I had my arms around both girls. All of a sudden the 2 men disappeared. They had fallen into a lagoon. This is a TRUE STORY.
Dirac married Wigeners [sic] sister.
In the Dec 27 1958 issue of Nature Vol 182, pages 1769-1770 there is an account of the Second Royaumount Colloquium on Bacteriophage Research. As I glanced through page 1770 I saw Lederberg -- and seeing your name reminded me of the fact that I owe a Nobel Prize Winner a lunch. Well l conclude that
its [sic] better to have picked Lederberg for a luncheon engagement before the award -- than to aspire for a luncheon engagement after the award. But I hasten to add -- give me time. Like some elephants I wont [sic] forget.
I must close lest you not get to Stanford on time. On Saturday the 31st. I will be 58 and now I pose a problem to you -- linked to my t.b. cycle. This will be the third birthday that I have celebrated in a t.b. San.
1926 DaVos Switzerland
1946 Lake View
1958 Lake View
In the winter of 1919 -- right after the flu epidemic that swept around the world after War 1 -- I walked the campus for 3 months spitting blood. Most likely I had t.b. then. When I was 2 or 3 years old I had double pneumonia and most likely got the primary infection. Now I want you to tell me when I will go down again due to the Koch bacillus. With best wishes and all good cheer.
Karl Paul (Mechta) Link
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