I will start this with an article my father’s colleague and longtime friend John Shorter wrote about him.
That’s a basic biography and discussion of his work.
Notice the absent minded professor look. I cannot tell a lie, I sometimes have it too. 🙂
OK, you get the idea, he was a major figure in his area of Chemistry. I wanted to help anyone interested find his works. The following is what Dad meant to me and the funny stuff about our time together.
Now! That was how he started a new point when he was teaching. I got to sit in on some of his classes when I was off from school as a kid. One day, he decided to try and break himself of the habit of saying “Now!” When he said it, his right arm would shoot up like fireworks heading for the sky, culminating in his arm being out in the air, like the Statue of Liberty, holding up her torch.
He struggled in that class, holding his right arm down, then near the end of the class, his left arm shot up instead. His students laughed; I didn’t as I had to go home with him.
If it weren’t for him, you wouldn’t be reading this. Not what you’re thinking. When I was a young child, I was diagnosed with Autism. This was 1959. The psychologist my parents brought me to said I should be institutionalized. My father said no! He took time out of teaching and working on his PhD to pull a child in a shell out. I owe him. That’s why he is my hero. I have other heroes, but you get the point.
There were days though, when he may have regretted saving me. Remember Bill Cosby talking about his father. “I brought you in this world, I will take you out and make another one just like you!”
I have two stories that involved his colleague and friend John McClarnon.
I was six years old for the first one. I pilfered one of J.J.’s big cigars and went into one of the bathrooms to smoke it. I was caught and they decided to make me smoke it all the way hoping I would get sick (I didn’t).
The second involved me firing my toy air rifle out the window and someone calling the police, who came to the apartment door to a baffled J.J. and Dad looking for the gun. When the cops realized what happened, they laughed and called in the troops could be called off. I only later realized how much trouble I had caused. This involved closing off the Brooklyn Queens Expressway outside the apartment building I grew up in. Hmmmmm.
When I was thirteen years old, I was sent home from school with a note (Obviously, it wasn’t for a good reason). Dad thought over my punishment, wondering what it should be. I said, I should get off lightly, after all, I was honest enough to bring the note home. Dad was a pillar of honesty. He looked at me and you could see the calculations and number crunching in his head, wondering what sort of criminal career his son was headed for, even thinking of such a thing. Dad was that upright and honorable.
He fed my love of baseball, learning and reading. Let me take you back to a time five years before I was born. All will be clear in a moment. The day is October 3rd, 1951. If you are a baseball fan it is known as the Shot Heard Round The World.
Twenty years ago, my wife Elaine and I were with Dad at the Fifth Avenue Book Fair in Manhattan. The man who hit the home run and broke my Dad’s heart, Bobby Thomson was signing his book. Quick thinking was needed to prevent a diplomatic incident. Elaine quickly took over. (Come to think of it, she takes over my life, thus in many cases saving me…from me). “Marvin, let’s cross the street, there are antiquarian books over there.” Diplomatic crisis Brooklyn Dodgers vs. New York Giants averted. By a Boston Red Sox fan, no less.
Dad loved opera. Sometimes, I think for Dad, the day the music died was in 1929, when opera composer Giacomo Puccini died. For modern things, we would tease him. “Dad, it’s after the Maestro died, you wont know this.”
“What is that?” Dad said looking stunned. “They are En Vogue,” I responded. Dad didn’t miss a beat. He shook his head and said, “No they’re not.”
He went to my graduations we went places together, and I want to close by saying, if I could be one tenth the man my Dad Marvin Charton was, I will be doing well.