Dad always said: The best gifts in life are the ones you don't ask for...

Was Marvin argumentative?
by Jerry and Toni Pollack

Marvin and I both were grad students of Professor J. R. Pellam (about which there's so much to be said) and so we shared an office in the basement of Bridge Hall at CalTech (about which there's also much to be said.) We were serious student types, but managed to talk together at least 2 hours/day. (As I remember it, we solved many problems and helped the world become the ordered place it is today.)

On one occasion, it must have been 1957, Marvin was going to go to Washington, D.C. The airplanes that flew between the coasts were graceful propeller- driven Lockheed Constellations, but they took 11 hours so it was an adventure. My then girl friend Toni Velasquez was working at N.I.H. in Bethesda. I suggested to Marvin that he call her so maybe they could meet. The end result was that they did meet and when Marvin returned I got his report of their meeting. He said: "She's awfully nice but, wow, is she ever argumentative!" I also got a letter from Toni with her impression of Marvin: She said: "He's awfully nice but wow, is he ever argumentative!"

There was a very nice sequel to this: Marvin, Victor Gilinsky, and Ian Duck were living in a kind of aerie in Eagle Rock and they made a very nice surprise party for Toni and me right after we were married. We still often recall, with pleasure, their kindness.

One last thing: Professor Pellam gave each of us a more-or-less impossible thesis problem. But Marvin's (which had to do with superconductivity of stretched Sn-whiskers) was particularly hard- even Millikan and Rutherford couldn't have done it. So Marvin, who has always been a remarkably creative physicist, invented his own thesis problem. It was much better than the one he'd been assigned- it was to measure the Bernoulli effect for electron flow in thin metal films- and he did just an excellent job with it. I've always wondered whether those guys in the Physics Department of U.C.L.A. realized what a gem they had in Marvin when he was on their faculty.

Finally then, Marvin, we're delighted that we're all still around and able to greet each other after lo these many years. Congratulations on being 70 years old and we wish you and Elfi many more decades of health and happiness.

An anthology of personal naratives regarding our beloved Marvin Chester