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Uphill Both Ways

Volume 9 - Boston 1956


Remember. This room was on the 3rd or 4th floor. Of a hundred old building. Constructed primarily of bricks with reinforcements. And lots of big old trees growing up around it. And no parking lot on the outside wall. Etc. This was not a simple matter of changing the blueprint during construction. It was a wholesale modification of the entire structure that had to be worked out by structural engineers first, and then set out in blueprints, with the proper materials selected, with a competent general contractor and equally competent subcontractors. It would not do for a Harvard Museum to collapse. Which is precisely what was likely to happen if the whole thing was not properly analyzed and blueprinted and implemented.

I obviously don’t know the sequence of the steps involved here nor does it ultimately matter I suppose. Just offends my sense of propriety to not be able to nail it down. Be that as it may, we will all of us admit that there was a relationship between the studies and blueprints and estimates and the final figure that Dr. Romer had to work with. Then Dr. Romer had to come up with a likely deep-pocket to underwrite this hair-brained scheme. Did he really understand the length to which dad would push him when he allowed dad free rein to design the mount? I have no way of knowing. Regardless, the fact remains that whatever the deal was in this regard, Al and the powers that be at Harvard did find a deep pocket to pay for this extravagance. And it was pure extravagance, indulging dad. No one else. Arnie was part of it. I wasn’t present, but I suspect it was his vision of (1) what he wanted to do and (2) his confidence that he could do it, with Arnie’s assurance to Dr. Romer that dad could do what he said he could do that drove the whole thing.

Al and the money diggers at Harvard had a few lunches at the Harvard Club I suppose to plot and to lay out their plan of action to scrounge the dough needed to do the deed. This is what the deed entailed in general terms:

  • 1.

    Go out and buy a real heavy, real big, real long I-beam and lay it on the ground outside the museum to excite the students.

  • 2.

    Move heavy equipment of the right kind up to the wall.

  • 3.

    Locate the right floor. And locate the right spot in the wall for that floor.

  • 4.

    Knock a hole through the wall - without bringing the building down- about where the beam will have to go in

  • 5.

    Knock another hole through the wall on the other side of the room and try to make them line up.

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