Commentary on Poem: "Memories of Miriam Scheraga"|
Confucius said "Honor your parents & teachers".
Miriam was my Cornell Professor Scheraga's
wife for 76 years, so it is great sadness
I learned of her passing a month ago.
Confucius (551 BC-479 BC) is considered a great sage in China. His Lun Yu
is composed of a collection of sayings
compiled by his disciples. It is recognized as the
Four Books selected by
Chu Hsi (1130-1200),
and used for civil service examinations.
Beside his "Golden Rule" , Confucius' core teaching
is to honor & respect one's parents
and teachers. While doing my doctoral research at Cornell (1963-1970),
Miriam Scheraga were like parents to me. That's
why I am so saddened in learning
of her passing a month
ago. I've written this poem on my memories of Miriam.
Photo Sources: China 741 Confucius
(colnect.com) (issued 8-27-1947);
Miriam K. Scheraga (bangsfuneralhome.com)
Scheraga didn't have a TV at home|
till their three children left for college,
then he bought a TV and invited the lab
of 40 scientists to his home (11-3-1964) to watch
the 1964 Presidential Elections in the basement;
Miriam tells me to come upstairs to bring down
the coffee, and I fainted going up the stairs.
|When Prof. Scheraga invited the lab researchers to his home at 212 Homestead Terrace,|
we were surprised that he had no TV at home. He told us it's important for their children
Judith, Deborah, and Daniel to focus more on their studies than waste time
However, when his kids all left for college,
he bought a TV and invited us to his home
(11-3-1084) to watch the 1964 Presidential Election.
LBJ defeated Barry Goldwater,
winning 61.1% popular vote (485-52 Electoral College). My memory
that day was
fainting on the stairs when Miriam asked me to come
upstairs to bring down the coffee.
I had two cups of white wine
on an empty stomach, and was feeling dizzy. After losing
consciousness on the staircase, postdoc
told me to keep my head down
so blood could go to my brain.
Miriam offered me to sleep on the bed,
but I just
relaxed on their reclining couch.
She was so caring about my well-being.
Photos: 212 Homestead Terrace, Ithaca
1964 Presidential Election (youtube.com).
Scheraga was going to Israel for six months|
and wanted to see my doctorate thesis (1970)
but a huge snow storm dumped 40 inches of snow,
his car was buried and couldn't come to the lab.
Miriam phoned and wondered if I had food
and drink with me to weather the blizzard
I had a tuna sandwich & juice, will trudge
home when they bulldozed away the snow.
Snow storm covered Cornell campus
|Scheraga was going to the Weizman Institute, Israel for six months|
(January-June 1970), and wished to see the progress made on my
doctorate thesis. Since I worked in the lab at night (11 pm to 7 am),
I was totally oblivious of the huge snow storm raging outdoors.
Miriam phoned telling me that Harold's car is buried in snow
and won't be able to meet me in the lab. She was concerned if
I had enough food & drink in the mean time. When they cleared
away the snow, I trudged home for a good morning sleep & rest.
Photo Sources: Cornell covered by snow (garyfouse.blogspot.com);
Miriam shouted "Peter" when they drove|
by my apartment at 11 Walnut Ave, they
brought daughter Deborah to Brandeis
and she wanted me to phone her.
Was too busy doing post-doc research
experiments with Professor Fasman,
and had no chance to contact her.
|After Cornell, went to work with Prof. Gerald D. Fasman at Brandeis University (1970-1977).|
Lived at 11 Walnut Ave, Cambridge, MA, and walked a block on Upland Road to the
& Maine Railway for the 15-minutes ride to Brandeis in Waltham.
When Miriam shouted at me
on Upland Road while Professor Scheraga
was driving by my apartment, I didn't know that after
their daughter Deborah at Brandeis, he was visiting his friend
Alex Rich of MIT,
who I learned later lived on my block.
While hitchhiking on Massachusetts Ave, I was surprised
to be picked up by Alex Rich. He asked me where I was going.
When I said "11 Walnut Ave",
he said "We live on the same block."
Just noticed that Prof. Scheraga's publication list shows his
6th paper was with J.T. Edsall & A. Rich (April 1951).
While experiementing in calorimetry on
poly-L-lysine in Scheraga's Cornell lab (1970), he brought over Ephraim
Katchalski for a chat.
I told him that when I was doing my
senior research at Columbia with
Jon Applequist, my bible
was Polyamino Acids,
Polypeptides and Proteins where
Katchalski had written several chapters.
Katchalski told me they've manufactured poly-L-lysine shirts in Israel.
While walking home on
Upland Road (1975), the police won't let me through
as the whole block is cordoned off. I tell
them that I live at 11 Walnut Ave,
and had a letter with that address. The Israeli Secret Police
told me that
Israel's President Ephraim Katchalski is visiting. I told them that
me as Scheraga's grad student. He must be visiting
Alex Rich. The police finally let me through.
They had to be
extra careful as Ephraim's brother
Aharon Katzir was
among 26 killed and 80
injured in the Lod Airport
massacre in 1972 by Palestinian terrorists with Japanese Red Army.
Photo Sources: 11 Walnut Ave (bsnscb.com);
Alexander Rich (youtube);
Ephraim Katzir (colnect.com);
Polyamino Acid book (ebay.com)
At Scheraga's 65th Birthday Symposium|
(10-18-1986), they took two group photos
one on all the attendees, and the other just
Scheraga's grad students & post-docs; Miriam
seeing me in the second row said "Why are you
up there" and dragged me to the front row
next to her, thanking me for the poem written
honoring Scheraga's protein research. Just found
this 1986 photo I'm in the center of Baker Lab!
Attendees at Prof. Harold A. Scheraga's
65th Birthday Symposium (10-18-1986)
Scheraga's Grad Students & Postdocs
at 65th Birthday Symposium (10-18-1986)
Closeup of Group Photo:
Scheraga, Miriam, & Peter
|Scheraga's 65th Birthday Symposium was held on October 18-20, 1986.
Before the Cornell Symposium,|
presented my first non-scientific paper at
20th Anniversary of CEMERS
(October 13-17 1986) at SUNY
Binghamton, on the symbolism of
Giotto's Adoration of the Magi
the Star of Bethelehem as
Halley's Comet of 1301.
Just found a manila envelope from
C. Hadley Smith, 543 Elm St., Ithaca, NY,
postmarked 1987. Sandwiched between two heavy cardboards were two photographs of
65th Birthday Celebration gathering.
I've scanned both photos at 96 dpi (950x776 pixels) as shown above.
The first photo shows me in the second row to the left of Prof. Fasman.
With Prof. Scheraga in front of us,
there is a triangular formation of my
two scientific research mentors at Brandeis and Cornell. The second
photo shows Scheraga's former & current grad students & postdocs. Since
Miriam dragged me to the front
row next to her, I'm now in the center
of Baker Lab. What an unexpected honor! I've made a closeup of
Harold Scheraga, Miriam, and me together, reminding me of the wonderful times at Cornell in Ithaca.
Photo Sources: Attendees at Scheraga's 65th Birthday Symposium
Scheraga's Grad Students & Potdocs
Scheraga, Miriam, & Peter (wisdomportal.com)
At Tompkins County Book Sale (1968),|
Miriam bought Garcia Lorca's Poems
for 25¢ as I recommended this book
with a beautiful sunburst on the cover.
|While browsing at a Tompkins County Library Book Sale (1968), I ran across Miriam Scheraga,|
wife of my thesis professor Harold A. Scheraga. She had Lorca's paperback in her hand, with
the same sunburst cover that I had bought. Miriam asked me, "Peter, do you know anything
about Lorca? Is this a good buy?" I told her that Lorca was killed at a young age by Franco's
militia at the start of the Spanish Civil War. But he wrote beautiful
poetry like the "Green"
poem in the book. It was the last day of the Book Sale
Hardcovers for $1. Paperbacks
for 25¢. I told Miriam "For a quarter, you can't go wrong."
She took my advice and
bought the book. I've told this story in
on our favorite poets.