Saturday, March 21, 2009
Interlude: John gets a job
John had a big decision to make and then we could go on our first camping trip.
We had owned the equipment for 8 months or so, and had yet to get away and really camp.
Meanwhile Margo had been born. Then it was winter. Then the final typing (with a typewriter!) of the dissertation, all the while waiting for word about jobs and our future.
The offers trickled in over the Spring of 1968. The first was from JPL, Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, NASA's lead center for planetary exploration. A great job! We decided to go to Pasadena and see if we would thrive there as a family.
Then came an offer from two departments at MIT, back in home turf since we had both grown up in the Northeast. The Chemistry department and Geology and Geophysics put together a joint offer that would cover all his areas of expertise.
And then an offer came from the University of Oregon to found a new planetary sciences department with colleagues already established in space sciences. The offer involved the geology and chemistry departments and the Center for Vulcanology, and some involvement with the astronomy department.
Our trip to Pasadena helped us eliminate JPL right away. The smog was intense and we found ourselves lying on the floor with no energy. JPL's offer included the most money, but we rejected it for reasons having to do with our ability to stay alive in that environment.
(Smog in those days was a much bigger problem than it is now. A pall of chemicals rested over most of the major cities in those days, especially LA.)
So it came down to MIT and the University of Oregon. One established, the other growing. One with a huge reputation, the other striving for one. One with an urban/suburban flavor, the other in a big small town. One home, the other away. One without a touch of wilderness, the other right in it.
We could go camping as soon as he decided. Everything that happened in our lives after that would depend on the decision. It was a decision that would affect John's profession and who we all became over the next 60 years....
We put our heads together. And in the end, he chose MIT, and then we went on our first big camping trip.