Uphill Both Ways
Volume 9 - Boston 1956
first of all an artist. He was not a paleontologist, he was not a welder or machinist. He was an artist, a lover of beauty. His whole life revolved around appreciation of beauty. That’s where I inherited my own love of beauty and dedication of my life to it. Painting, sculpting, photography. Those are all expressions of love of beauty. Nothing he did was done in any other frame of reference. It was genetically and constitutionally impossible for him to do ANYTHING with his hands that was done without lengthy consideration of the elements of beauty embodied in the project.
You’ve seen a few of his paintings of Indians so know his love of art. He painted them because he loved the novelty of their faces and costumes, yet I believe it was the process of creation first, and second, the satisfaction of a lovely final product that compelled him to paint. He loved beauty anywhere.
When Dr. Romer and Arnie involved dad in mounting Kronosaurus, it was inevitable that he would take over the design and layout of this monster. It is 50 feet long and 6 feet high. Dr. Romer was doubtless envisioning the traditional-for- that-era mount that had various straps holding things in place, a set of vertical supports holding the whole skeleton in place, and a few strategically placed guy wires. That’s how it was done up to the time dad embarked on his mount. Romer was trained at Amherst there in New England and had doubtless spent time at the Smithsonian, American Museum of Natural History, US National Museum, etc.
I wasn’t present when it started and I don’t have him to talk to, but I don’t need to talk to anyone to figure out what happened. Nor do you need to talk to any one else after you think about how every dinosaur mount was done up to the time that dad entered the scene. Romer is dead and I doubt I could get Arnie to talk to me, the only one of the three left who could tell me how dad persuaded them to go in the direction they did. It was not trivial, it was not expected. Indeed, for his vision to become real, a rather extraordinary change had to be made to the building itself. I’ll tell you about it in a bit.
Look at dad’s qualifications a bit more. True, he was an artist. Everything he did was done from that perspective. In addition, he was familiar with dinosaur bones and had studied their mounts. He knew how it was done, and I expect that his study automatically resulted in novel ideas about how it should be done. That’s how it was in a machine shop. He looked around and automatically came up with new ways to do things. He did that with the principles of dinosaur mounting that had been used up to that time. This was an innate characteristic. He did not tell himself to find things that could be improved. He just looked at things from that vantage point.