Dear family and special friends,
Suddenly the perspective is different. All at once — there was, of course, lots of warning, but the event was by definition instantaneous — I am (exist) (cogito) in a different HALF CENTURY. Different from the one in which I spent all of my life up to now. Different, for the first time in existence, from the one inhabited by my wife, by my siblings, by all my brothers- and sisters-in-law. Different from the one in which dwell my children, my nephews, my nieces, my great-niece; indeed, for all of these not only is the HC different, but we are no longer even in adjoining Quarter C’s. There are, of course other viewpoints. For the first time in many a moon I am in the same HC as my parents and parents-in-law and aunts and uncles. So I AM NOT ALONE. And, in two years, or three years, or five years many of you to whom I write will join me on this lofty plateau. And, at least on this clear crisp November day, it’s a nice place to be. From here on it’s all down hill? Maybe so, maybe so. But the slope is so gentle; the view back is so clear and so full of good times and good people; and the view ahead is so exciting — somehow I can’t seem to be concerned about whether I’m heading downhill or uphill or sideways or into an unknown dimension.
However, a new HC is a special time and should be marked by a special event. Now is the time to do something different, something new. But what? I thought of becoming a sports celebrity. But Hoyt Wilhelm at 47 is already called ageless in baseball, and George Blanda at 43 is known as the grand old man of football, so I must realistically conclude that I waited a little too long for that route. Even winning the Boston marathon seems impractical since last year’s winner ran the 26+ miles in just over two hours and it takes me that long or longer to run 14 miles; a 65 year old man who finished about 80th did it in 3 hours, and I’ve never been able to keep running that long; and anyhow, if I run much more than 5 miles at a time I get tired.
So sports are out. Now some folk might say (at least so I’ve heard — I don’t personally know (or wish to know) anyone who would) that a new HC is an opportunity to turn over a new leaf, to become a Better Person, to give up one’s Vices. But I never did go in heavily for chewing gum or using bad language or even making graven images. And for years my drinking has been limited to a beer or two (or three, but who’s counting). And I’ve stopped smoking. And I DON’T INTEND TO GIVE UP ONE MORE VICE.
Anyhow, I don’t want to give something up. I want to start something. Drugs? It’s a thought, but I don’t find it appealing yet. I put it aside for the NEXT HC.
I thought about changing to a different woman. Or, alternatively, of adding a woman. But my graduate students are so YOUNG. I mean they are all lovely girls and I wouldn’t mind a bit if one were my niece or daughter-in-law or something like that. But an affair? It would not only be indecent, but it would be ridiculous, preposterous, and absurd. (Help stamp out and eliminate redundancy). And women in or approaching my own HC are very nice, individually or collectively, at parties and theaters and such places but I can’t (and if I can I’d usually rather not) imagine anything more intimate. Besides, damn it, I’m so indecently happy with the woman I’ve got that even to contemplate any other arrangement would be a sure sign of senility.
So, what’s left? Work! Work? Yes, work (job, employment, career, profession). To commemorate my new HC, on and after September 15, 1971, my business address will be
Professor of Mechanics
Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics
107 Aeronautical Engineering
Building Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455
(new home address to be announced later).
FURTHER, although the details are still to be worked out and the event is not absolutely certain, there is a strong possibility that I will become the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Applied Mechanics, starting next June.
There were, of course, other factors than the new HC involved in the decision. It was not the job itself. Teaching and research will be much the same as at IIT, both departments have lots of good people whom I like and who seem to like me, the salaries are entirely comparable. Nor was it Thea’s job. She apparently has an exciting and challenging job opportunity at the U. of Minn., but she already had a exciting and challenging one here at Northwestern. No, it was primarily that we are tired of living in Chicago. Tired of the big city with its big city problems, with its noise, with its dirt, with its lake that’s too polluted to swim in, with its long distances away from good “outdoor country.” Will Minneapolis – St. Paul be all that much better? Time will tell. It is cleaner, by an order of magnitude. One of our very good friends there lives on a lake in which one can enjoy a swim before breakfast. National forests and canoe country are within easy driving distance. Small things? I’m not so sure. Anyhow, we’re going to give it a whirl. Wish us luck.