David S. Heeschen, interviewed by Kenneth I. Kellermann on 31 May 2011

Creator

Papers of Kenneth I. Kellermann

Relation

See also Woodruff T. Sullivan's 1973 interview with Heeschen and the Papers of David S. Heeschen.

Type

Oral History

Interviewer

Kellermann, Kenneth I.

Interviewee

Heeschen, David S.

Location

Charlottesville, VA

Duration

1 hour, 18 minutes

Start Date

2011-05-31

Notes

Transcribed by Sierra Smith in 2012-2013.

In addition to Kellermann and Heeschen, David E. Hogg and Ellen Bouton were also present during the interview. The transcription was read and edited for clarity by Kellermann and Bouton, with clarifications on specific points by Hogg, and prepared for the web by Ellen Bouton in 2014.

Please bear in mind that: 1) this material is a transcript of the spoken word rather than a literary product; 2) an interview must be read with the awareness that different people's memories about an event will often differ, and that memories can change with time for many reasons including subsequent experiences, interactions with others, and one's feelings about an event.

Series

Oral Histories Series

Transcription

Kellermann:

This is May 31st 2011 and we’re at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory [in Charlottesville VA] with Ellen Bouton [NRAO Archivist], Dave [David E.] Hogg [retired NRAO scientist], Ken [Kenneth I.] Kellermann [NRAO Senior Scientist], and we are going to be talking with Dave Heeschen [retired NRAO Director] about the early years of NRAO and even the years earlier than when NRAO was NRAO. So Dave we were talking last week about the start of the VLA. I went back and looked at some stuff. It’s often said in the literature that the VLA grew out of the Whitford Report but, in fact, the Whitford Report was 1964 and it looked like there was earlier activity at NRAO

Heeschen:

We did start earlier.

Kellermann:

Was it the Pierce Committee Report, was that the first discussion? Heeschen: I don’t think so. I don’t remember what the results of the first committee report were but I don’t think it had any particular influence.

Kellermann:

They talked about a minute of arc resolution.

Heeschen:

Well, ok, but a minute of arc was what we started with too, if I remember rightly, and then realized that it was not nearly ambitious enough.

Kellermann:

So when were the first discussions? You were here, weren’t you Dave [Hogg]?

Heeschen:

Yeah, Dave was here, [Frank D.] Drake was here. I think they started in ’61 because in ’61, [John W.] Findlay had the job of designing the largest feasible steerable telescope and I had the job of getting going with some kind of an array thing. We divided up the activity that way. That’s what I remember and I think that was in ’61. And Findlay went on and did the LFST [Largest Feasible Steerable Telescope] with Sebastian [von Hoerner] and, of course, nothing ever came of that. And I don’t know when we formed the first little group. Do you remember, Dave?

Hogg:

No, I don’t remember. In 1961 I was just a student and so I think I was busy doing my own thing. But after I came to the staff in late ’61, ’62, I remember we then formed... I would have guessed 1962, Wade and I... [5 March 1962 memo about seeking funds from NSF shown to Heeschen.]

Heeschen:

Ok. Well, apparently in ’62 according to this, which is a note saying we are hunting for money for what we were calling then the VLT, very largest... What were we calling it then? Very Large Telescope. But that’s different than the LFST.

Kellermann:

That was in your papers that you gave us a few years ago and there are a few more pages where you actually outline. But it was called very large telescope in small letters.

Heeschen:

Yeah, ok.

Kellermann:

When was the term VLA first used?

Heeschen:

I don’t remember. I don’t remember when the VLA began. It must have been when we decided it was going to be an array. We looked at a lot of different kinds of telescopes. We looked at all the Australian style telescopes...

Kellermann:

The Cross.

Heeschen:

The crosses, Mills Cross and Chris Cross and so on and so forth. And we decided we didn’t want any of those, and then we went to the VLA. And we already had some ideas about this when [Joseph L.] Pawsey visited in ’61, I think. Or was it ’62? It was ’61. And I remember he wrote a letter to [I. I.] Rabi or somebody saying that he had heard our ideas and we should go ahead with them. But he also wanted to talk to Peter Scheuer and the guys who had these ways of doing things. And he never got around to doing that of course.

Kellermann:

He did, he did write to them.

Heeschen:

He wrote to Scheuer? Probably to organize a little meeting or something.

Kellermann:

He wrote to Scheuer and [William C.] Erickson. But those letters were just taken from the memo that he also sent to the NRAO staff. It was the same words. He didn’t have... [2014 note: See Pawsey’s 4 July 1962 letter to Scheuer, 27 June 1962 letter to Erickson, and 17 July 1962 memo outlining a vision for NRAO.

Heeschen:

The style at that time was to design an instrument to solve a problem. And the VLA, of course, was totally different from that.

Kellermann:

We’ve gone back to that unfortunately. That’s the current paradigm. You have to have enough of a scientific justification. You almost don’t have to do the observations. The same thing with observing proposals and new instruments.

Hogg:

You’ve got some rose colored glasses. We had to say that the VLA was going to do something. It was going to study extra-galactic radio sources, to resolve Cygnus A. You can’t just build a telescope saying, "I’m going to build a telescope and then I’ll figure out what to do with it later." Even back in the glory days you couldn’t do that. So don’t romanticize this.

Heeschen:

That’s true. On the other hand, we didn’t restrict the telescope to solve what we thought was the problem of radio galaxies, which other people were doing. Pawsey thought galaxies were doubles or triples and so he wanted to design a telescope which would handle double and triple objects. And we didn’t want to do that. That much I remember. I also remember the VLA was met with great disdain by all the people who were doing it Pawsey’s way.

Kellermann:

Jesse Greenstein told me once what convinced him was source counts, the source counts, which is described at some length in the proposal.

Heeschen:

I’m surprised he was convinced. I think Bernie [Bernard F.] Burke eventually convinced him at a meeting that I didn’t attend of the Greenstein Committee, and that Burke did attend. And it came out of that committee that the VLA was the number one proposal. But Jesse [Greenstein] was so upset at that. My understanding is that he was so upset at that that he didn’t attend the last meeting or something, which was out in Boulder somewhere, and I didn’t attend many of them. But Burke talked Jesse into accepting it. Jesse was ready to resign or something. He was very much against it.

Kellermann:

You say you didn’t attend many of them?

Heeschen:

I didn’t attend that one.

Kellermann:

On purpose?

Heeschen:

Yeah, on purpose because this was going to be the discussion and I thought I’d be better off. I knew we had some strong supporters in the group, Burke being one. Burke was opposed to it for a while but eventually he became a very strong supporter of it. And another strong supporter of it was Alan Moffet, who had been against it for a while, but he became a..., and he told a Caltech guy, your buddy...

Kellermann:

Gordon [Stanley].

Heeschen:

No.

Kellermann:

John Bolton?

Heeschen:

No.

Kellermann:

Marshall [Cohen]?

Heeschen:

Marshall. He told Marshall to lay off and accept it. And then Marshall did.

Kellermann:

You said last week that Caltech administration wasn’t particularly behind the Owens Valley Array.

Heeschen:

Yeah. The Caltech administration had several projects and I remember attending a meeting where the President of Caltech was there, Murphy.

Kellermann:

No, I said that last week but I think it was Tom Everhart [Thomas E. Everhart].

Heeschen:

Was the president?

Kellermann:

Of Caltech.

Heeschen:

Who?

Kellermann:

Everhart.

Heeschen:

Not then.

Kellermann:

This was during the Greenstein Committee.

Heeschen:

But this was after the Greenstein Committee, I think.

Kellermann:

Then it was Goldhaber.

Heeschen:

Goldhaber. Not Goldhaber, that’s Maurice. Goldberger [Marvin L. Goldberger], I think.

Kellermann:

Goldberger, that’s right.

Heeschen:

There was a meeting somewhere at Caltech, a big meeting, and Goldberger was there. And Goldberger stood up and said, "We’re going to do the VLA." Said so at the meeting.

Kellermann:

Wait a minute...

Heeschen:

He said they were going to do the Caltech version of the VLA, which, of course, was constrained by the width of the valley. But what they actually did, I think, was Willy [William A.] Fowler’s lab or something. Because they had several projects and they had to choose between them as far as pushing real hard. Isn’t that correct? I think.

Kellermann:

I always wondered why. Because Fowler and the radio observatory were supported by ONR [Office of Naval Research] and then all of a sudden the radio people went to the NSF [National Science Foundation].

Heeschen:

I don’t know about that. I don’t know why that happened.

Kellermann:

Maybe to avoid the competition.

Heeschen:

That’s a good point, that’s true.

Kellermann:

But I don’t understand. You said, "Goldberger said, ‘We’re going to build the VLA,’" and you also said that they weren’t really behind it because of the competition.

Heeschen:

Yeah. He said this publicly at a dinner and I was sitting beside him at the time at the dinner. He stood up and said, "We’re committed to the radio project." But then, of course, they weren’t committed to the radio project. They were, in fact, committed to Willy Fowler’s project, I think.

Kellermann:

So when do you think this was? You said it was after the Greenstein Committee.

Heeschen:

Yeah, I think it was after the Greenstein Committee. You just said somebody else was President at the time of the Greenstein Committee.

Kellermann:

Well, Everhart. Yeah, I looked it up.

Heeschen:

Well, maybe it was before. Look up the sequence between Everhart and Goldberger.

Kellermann:

Well, Goldberger was the next -

Heeschen:

After Everhart? I don’t know whether it was after the Greenstein Committee or not. I don’t know.

Kellermann:

So you are saying they were still pushing it?

Heeschen:

They were giving lip service to it but they were apparently giving lip service to at least three big projects and I can’t remember the third one.

Kellermann:

But the decision had essentially been made very soon after the Greenstein Committee.

Heeschen:

Do you mean the Caltech decision?

Kellermann:

No, the NSF and government decision. Tell us about that because somewhere you’ve written or it has been written that you went to see various people.

Heeschen:

Ok, yes. After the Greenstein Committee, we went to Washington and Greenstein came on some occasions, not all, but in particular, he came to a PSAC [President’s Science Advisory Committee] meeting with me. And I gave a long presentation to PSAC, which, in fact, was pretty good. It was one of my better efforts.

Kellermann:

Obviously it worked.

Heeschen:

And he sat there the whole time. He was supportive of it. We also went once to see the President’s Science Advisor. I can’t remember his name at that time.

Kellermann:

David. Ed David [Edward E. David, Jr].

Heeschen:

Yes, Ed David. And the people who went to that were the radio sub-committee of the Greenstein Committee. So Marshall Cohen was there and I was there and I forget who else. And I gave a presentation to him, which all these guys agreed with. Yeah. So those were the two sort of political things that I remember happening with regard to the VLA.

Kellermann:

Somewhere I read or got the impression that you actually did that before the full committee report was available.

Heeschen:

Well, now you are reminding me -

Kellermann:

Nowadays that wouldn’t be allowed.

Heeschen:

Now you are reminding me of things, because somebody kept pushing the radio subpanel to come out with a report early. And I don’t remember now why they wanted it and I don’t remember who was pushing it. It might have been Harvey Brooks but I’m not sure. But somebody wanted us to do an early one and Greenstein was ok with that. So we were supposed to come up with a priority list prior to the full committee. And we did.

Kellermann:

Of course, the Academy would never allow that now.

Heeschen:

No, I guess not, and rightly so.

Hogg:

When was the Greenstein Committee? What year?

Kellermann:

‘71ish.

Heeschen:

The VLA started in ’72 or so. It must have been in the late ‘60s sometime? It must have been in the late ‘60s. The report would have come out about 1970, so it was a decade review.

Hogg:

Because I was doing the site stuff in 1965.

Heeschen:

Oh, we were working hard on the VLA.

Hogg:

When we went to Owens Valley for a peace mission, I can’t remember when that was.

Heeschen:

I can’t either, but I do remember now that you mention it.

Hogg:

I remember we were parked at a hotel in the northwest part of Los Angeles, not far from the airport. And we were sitting there eating breakfast. Moffet came rushing in, "Come out. Come out." And we said, "Why?" "Because you can see the mountains today!"

Heeschen:

One thing I remember, I think Barry Clark was at that meeting, and he came out strongly in favor of the VLA, which was a big help, being a Caltech guy and a prominent ex-Caltech guy that they all respected, and nobody respected me or the rest of us, so that Barry was in favor of it, he was a big help in that particular meeting.

Kellermann:

Because he had been working on it already for some years but he had also worked on the Owens Valley Array before he came to NRAO.

Heeschen:

Yes. Barry came to NRAO saying he wanted to do hydrogen line work because he’d never done it, single dish hydrogen line work. I guess he’d done some -

Kellermann:

Interferometry, he’d pioneered that.

Heeschen:

But he hadn’t done any single dish hydrogen line work. I still think he hasn’t.

Hogg:

But he’s young yet.

Kellermann:

Going back before the Greenstein Committee, the first Dicke Committee ranked the VLA sort of fourth out of four and the Owens Valley Array first. What was the reaction to that here?

Heeschen:

Disappointment, I guess. I don’t know. It’s been a long time ago, but other than disappointment.... Obviously that wasn’t the end and we must have realized at the time that it wasn’t the end. Although why we knew it wasn’t the end, I don’t know.

Kellermann:

At some point you declared a halt to all the internal activities.

Heeschen:

Yes.

Kellermann:

When was that?

Heeschen:

It was in the late ‘60s and we didn’t know whether it was going to get funded or not and we were sort of at a stopping point and we just quit. When we started up again, the original electronics had been designed by, who was the guy who quit and designed little cans to drink juice out of?

Hogg:

Oh, Warren Tyler.

Heeschen:

Warren Tyler. The original electronics had been designed by Warren Tyler and it included delay lines that were miles and miles of cable. And so then we quit for a while and then when things looked like they might start again, we started up again. And Sandy took over and the design changed radically at that point in many respects, but the specs, as I recall, didn’t change. That is, we were set for whatever it was, 10 seconds at 10 centimeters.

Hogg:

At some point, we made the jump from 1 minute to 10 seconds. After that, that set everything. It was 10 seconds at 10 centimeters.

Heeschen:

Yeah. Something that couldn’t be achieved because of the width of Owens Valley. But that wasn’t what did it, actually.

Hogg:

That seemed to be intuitively the kind of power you needed to match the optical counterparts.

Heeschen:

Yeah. And it also seemed to be achievable.

Hogg:

Yeah, although Mr. [Martin] Ryle didn’t think so.

Kellermann:

There was also the change from 30 dB sidelobes to 20 dB. That was forced, I think, by costs. And 36 antennas to 27.

Heeschen:

By who?

Kellermann:

And 36 antennas to 27.

Heeschen:

Oh, yeah. That’s right, we did go down in number of antennas.

Kellermann:

100 to 1 dynamic range.

Hogg:

That was good at that time. Pre Self Cal [Calibration], pre CLEAN.

Heeschen:

But we didn’t know about Self Cal yet, did we?

Hogg:

No, right, we did not.

Kellermann:

But you knew about CLEAN. You didn’t quite trust it, or -

Heeschen:

Yeah, yeah.

Hogg:

We knew about CLEAN?

Kellermann:

Not for the proposal.

Hogg:

Not for the proposal. Now, the 100 to 1, that was brute force, tracking with 27 antennas.

Heeschen:

Yeah, that’s right Dave.

Kellermann:

But one could have argued before construction started you could have achieved the goals at much lower cost knowing what had been learned about image processing.

Heeschen:

Oh, you could argue that. We overachieved.

Kellermann:

I wonder if it was. Was it?

Hogg:

Who would have argued it?

Heeschen:

Good point. People were very much against the VLA. But not on that kind of grounds, they were just against it. Some people thought it wouldn’t work at all. Martin Ryle was one. He thought you couldn’t maintain phase stability over any length of thing. And I went to Australia and talked to Bernie [Bernard Y. Mills] and -

Kellermann:

Bernie Mills?

Heeschen:

Bernie Mills, yeah, and Chris Christiansen [Wilber Norman "Chris" Christiansen] and Hanbury [Robert Hanbury Brown], who was there at the time with his optical telescope. None of them wanted any part of it for various different reasons. They were all tied up in their own thing. And the reason they were asked if they wanted part of it was that, who was the physics guy from Canada?

Hogg:

That was Harry Messel.

Heeschen:

Messel was down there. And these guys were all working for Messel or his department. And so I got various answers because they didn’t want to disrupt their situation with Messel. And so I don’t think they had much interest in it; they all had their own projects. But in particular none of them were interested in... I’m getting beyond myself. Tommy [Thomas] Gold and Harry Messel got together. They wanted part of the VLA and they offered these three guys as their in to the VLA. These three brilliant people would contribute to the VLA if Harry Messel and Tommy Gold became part of the VLA.

Kellermann:

The three people being Mills, Christiansen - ?

Heeschen:

And Hanbury.

Kellermann:

Oh, right.

Heeschen:

So they really wanted to sort of take over the VLA and those three guys wouldn’t have any part of it. They weren’t interested obviously, but nothing deterred Messel and Gold. And there was big shoot out at an AUI [Associated Universities, Inc.] meeting where this came up. The outcome was that AUI didn’t look very favorably on it and they shot Gold down and in particular, Frank Long, who was Gold’s counterpart at Cornell.

Kellermann:

As a Board member. Both of them were Board members.

Heeschen:

Yes, both of them were Board members. And Gold didn’t have much of a standing with Rabi. Rabi didn’t think a lot of Gold. He was too sort of...

Hogg:

Brash.

Heeschen:

Yeah. I shouldn’t be saying these things, should I? What’s going to happen to this stuff?

Kellermann:

I told you on the way over you’ll get a chance to censor it.

Heeschen:

You did tell me that.

Kellermann:

And what you want to be held in confidence or not made public -

Heeschen:

Maybe I don’t really care. If this isn’t going to get anywhere for a few more months, I don’t really care. So anyway that was the end of that. But we had a very unpleasant encounter between me and Messel and Gold at something going on at Green Bank. And I can’t remember any longer what it was. It was some public function that brought Messel there, for example.

Hogg:

More than a Board meeting.

Heeschen:

More than a Board meeting. He wouldn’t have gone to a Board meeting.

Kellermann:

The 140 foot dedication.

Heeschen:

There you go.

Kellermann:

But that was earlier. That was ‘65.

Heeschen:

Well, that’s alright. This would have happened around then. That’s it. I think that must have been it.

Kellermann:

Why don’t you tell it? I mean I’ve heard that story but what happened?

Heeschen:

At the 140 dedication?

Kellermann:

Yeah. With Messel and some Congressman.

Heeschen:

Yeah, Messel and Gold sort of attacked me. I don’t remember the details, Ken. They wanted in and we had a big argument about it as I can recall and I wasn’t going to give in to them. And beyond that I don’t remember what happened.

Kellermann:

I think you’ve told us there was some Congressman there at the Redwood House at a party.

Heeschen:

I don’t remember that but that could be.

Kellermann:

And Messel spent the whole time with the Congressman or something.

Heeschen:

The only time I ever met the Congressman from West Virginia was at Harry Messel’s house in Australia, in Sydney. I forget his name now but he was the Congressman from the adjacent district.

Hogg:

His name is Harley Staggers.

Heeschen:

Harley Staggers.

Hogg:

"Staggers for Congress."

Heeschen:

Right. And he was down there. He was a big buddy of Harry Messel’s, it turned out, for some reason. And Messel had a party and I met the Congressman from West Virginia. But I don’t think he came to the 140 foot dedication. If he did I don’t remember.

Kellermann:

I must have mixed up what you said.

Heeschen:

I don’t know. I don’t remember.

Hogg:

He could have.

Heeschen:

He could have, but he didn’t really pay a whole lot of interest in NRAO except he was pushing for a COMSAT station, which was in the Quiet Zone, and he got real mad at us. I talked to him on the phone once and he cursed me out something awful.

Hogg:

It ended up, I think, in Moorefield or Petersburg. They pushed it far away but he wanted it for jobs.

Heeschen:

He wanted it right beside us. That’s right.

Hogg:

And technology, good paying jobs and all that stuff.

Heeschen:

Yeah. But he was all smiles and pleasant down in Australia. And I don’t remember which came first, the fuss about the COMSAT station or the meeting in Australia. I don’t know. I think the Australian meeting came first, but I’m not sure.

Kellermann:

We just got the attendance list from the 140 foot dedication, didn’t we? Didn’t you just show it to me.

Bouton:

Yes, the photocopy of the guestbook. Shirley Curry found in her office. That and the actual guestbook for the dedication of NRAO that everybody signed.

Heeschen:

For the dedication of NRAO?

Bouton:

And with that there was photocopy of the guestbook sign in for the 140 foot dedication, not the book itself.

Kellermann:

So where is the original of that?

Bouton:

I don’t know. I mean, this is just what Shirley sent me.

Kellermann:

Right, right. I’ll be interested in checking if the Congressman was there. [2014 note: Staggers did not sign the 140 foot dedication guest book.] I just remembered there was a preemptive strike to put the VLA in the Everglades by, I forget this guy’s name.

Heeschen:

Well, George Swenson?

Kellermann:

No, no.

Heeschen:

Well, the other guy who was the buddy of George Swenson. But George Swenson was part of it and this came up at the Miami meeting of the AAS [American Astronomical Society] and I can’t remember that other guy’s name. He wound up, incidentally, here at UVA, that other guy did.

Kellermann:

It’s a triple name - initial, name, last name. Do you remember Dave?

Hogg:

No, I don’t.

Heeschen:

Is he a geophysicist? I think so, yeah.

Kellermann:

He’s a big shot in that field. [KIK note added Oct 30, 2013. It was S. Fred Singer]

Heeschen:

Yeah, that’s right and he’s a big jerk as far as I’m concerned. Anyway, he and George wanted to put the VLA in the Everglades and float the antennas so you could move them, float them. And we discussed that at some length in this Miami meeting. We didn’t go out to the Everglades, however.

Kellermann:

When was that? Do you remember?

Heeschen:

No, I don’t remember.

Kellermann:

Was it an AAS meeting or soon after? In December of ’65 there was essentially the predecessor of the Texas Symposia in Miami.

Heeschen:

Maybe. I don’t know. But it was definitely an AAS meeting and Swenson and this man, I wish I could remember his name.

Kellermann:

Well, we can look it up. [Note added 2014: there was no AAS meeting in Miami during the relevant period. The meeting was a conference on Observational Aspects of Cosmology, held in December 1965.]

Heeschen:

Yeah, I must have seen the fellow because I talked to him in Miami. I don’t know him.

Hogg:

I knew the thing with Swenson but I don’t remember this at all.

Heeschen:

And he was not at UVA [University of Virginia] at the time. He was at [University of] Miami at the time. That’s all I know about that. That never got anywhere.

Kellermann:

Fortunately.

Heeschen:

Yeah.

Kellermann:

What happened with George Swenson? He was the Project Manager for a while and then he was dismissed?

Heeschen:

George was Project Manager for the VLA for a while. And he did that experiment where he put antennas up to determine phase stability over some distances there in Green Bank. And he presided over the meetings we had in the early days of the VLA. He was part of the design group and was the chairman of it. I’m reluctant to say much about this.

Kellermann:

Ok, fair enough. Anything else on the VLA?

Hogg:

I should comment because I feel pretty strongly about it. Campbell Wade really was a very important figure in the VLA as far as I’m concerned. I mean I think he did some of the early interferometry stuff with [?]. [Shows document to Heeschen.] I like that paper. And, of course, he gave us the site to push through and we ended up, I think, in an excellent site, very productive.

Heeschen:

He was. I agree with you, he was.

Kellermann:

Was the siting ever a -

Heeschen:

I don’t remember this paper. [Link added 2014: see Wade’s internal report]

Hogg:

I kept track of it because in my mind it was the formative paper.

Heeschen:

Well, maybe it had a big influence on things. I don’t know.

Hogg:

Apparently not on you, but on me it was very influential.

Heeschen:

Gee, it doesn’t sound like Cam Wade. I don’t remember that paper at all. He’s clearly got everything laid out - the number of elements at least 20, 80 foot paraboliods, number of antenna stations 106. Wow. I don’t remember this paper. Good for Cam!

Kellermann:

Was there much or any public controversy over the site, the location?

Heeschen:

No.

Kellermann:

You kept it pretty quiet?

Heeschen:

Well, the site requirements were pretty restrictive actually and so there wasn’t anything about it.

Kellermann:

I can’t remember exactly but there were 30 sites, then there were 10, and then it was narrowed down to 3.

Heeschen:

Yeah, and there was never any fuss about that that I can recall.

Hogg:

It went down to 3 and then I think it went back up to 7, maybe because AUI wanted to make sure. We had restricted it to the south where there were dry coverage regions. And then "Are there places in Nevada that we should look at?"

Heeschen:

The reason for that was that there’s a foundation in Nevada that had some money.

Hogg:

Yeah, the yeast people, Fleischmann.

Heeschen:

Yeah. And they had exactly the right amount of money and on their board was the guy from NCAR [National Center for Atmospheric Research].

Hogg:

Firor [John Firor]?

Heeschen:

No, no, somebody else. I can’t remember the name. But he was on their Board and we thought, "Wow, here’s a guy that knows all about astronomy and radio astronomy. He’s on the Board of the Fleischmann Foundation. They’ve got 40 million dollars. Let’s put the site up there and let them give us the money." Well, it turned out they weren’t particularly interested in doing that. In fact, they weren’t particularly interested in doing anything in Nevada. But we did look then for sites in Nevada and, of course, there are several. The whole state is practically a site for the VLA. But Cam and I drove around Nevada.

Hogg:

I never went.

Heeschen:

No, but Cam and I did. I don’t know how serious we ever were, but we were hoping maybe this was an in to the money. I can’t remember the name of that man. He was well known in the astronomy community.

Hogg:

Walter Orr Roberts.

Heeschen:

Walter Orr Roberts, exactly.

Kellermann:

I’m glad you mentioned that because, you remember, somebody asked at the [Durango] Colorado meeting ["Radio Astronomy and the Interstellar Medium"] whether we ever tried to get private money for the VLA. I vaguely remember that.

Heeschen:

Yeah, we did and we tried other ways too, because the AUI president at the time was the movie expert, had a limp.

Kellermann:

McElroy? [William D. McElroy]

Heeschen:

No. McElroy was a biologist. Bill McElroy. No, no, this was a movie mogul for a while and he had a limp. He was a really nice guy. [Note added 2014: T. Keith Glennan]

Bouton:

I have a list of presidents. So if we can figure it out if we know the time.

Heeschen:

Well, we know the time, at least roughly, and he was a very nice guy. He proved to be not a very successful AUI President because he didn’t get along with Maurice [Goldhaber] for reasons I don’t know. And he and Maurice just didn’t get along at all. And then Maurice then refused to deal with him directly. Maurice wanted to deal with the Board directly, period. And I got along with the guy ok. But he had an idea of getting private money for it. And he had a friend who was a writer for some magazine like Saturday Evening Post. It wasn’t Saturday Evening Post, it was some other magazine.

Kellermann:

New Yorker?

Heeschen:

It begins with A. I’m sorry my brain is going. I wish we hadn’t had this meeting. I was comfortable until you began to ask me all these questions. Oh, gosh. Anyway it’s a well-known magazine that prints stories.

Bouton:

Atlantic Monthly.

Heeschen:

Atlantic Monthly, thank you. And this fellow was a writer for Atlantic Monthly and we went to see him, because this man whose name I can’t remember was a buddy of his and thought that we could talk him into writing an article about the VLA. And he wouldn’t have any of it. So that was the end of that. But I can’t remember that fellow’s name. He was a really nice guy but he did get at odds with Goldhaber and -

Hogg:

That’s a big problem given what Goldhaber and Brookhaven was to AUI at the time.

Heeschen:

Yeah, that’s right, that’s right.

Kellermann:

Well, as I understand, prior to when Berkner [Lloyd V. Berkner] became President, there wasn’t a full time President of AUI and the Brookhaven Director ran things and reported to the Board.

Heeschen:

That’s probably true.

Kellermann:

And Goldhaber was Director back then.

Heeschen:

I don’t know who the first Director of Brookhaven was. It might have been Goldhaber . I’d be a little surprised but it might have been. [2014 note by KIK: First Brookhaven Director was Phillip Morse.]

Kellermann:

But anyway, they had that tradition.

Heeschen:

But it didn’t last very long because Brookhaven wasn’t very old when they took us over. I don’t know when they - that, of course, is a matter of record.

Hogg:

There is only a couple of years difference in the fiftieth anniversaries.

Heeschen:

In what?

Hogg:

In the fiftieth anniversaries.

Heeschen:

Only a few years? Well, there you go.

Kellermann:

I thought Brookhaven was in the late ‘40s. [2014 note by KIK: Brookhaven was started in 1946.]

Heeschen:

Yeah, that sounds right.

Kellermann:

And NRAO was ’56.

Heeschen:

That’s right.

Kellermann:

I think it’s ten years.

Heeschen:

Not ten.

Kellermann:

Eight or so. Better part of a decade, though. Anyway we started to talk last week at lunch about Berkner.

Heeschen:

Yes.

Kellermann:

You said he was your boss but he resigned very shortly after Struve [Otto Struve] did or even before -

Hogg:

Don’t look at me.

Heeschen:

He resigned right after the fiasco with the 140 foot and Struve was already gone. [2014 note by KIK: Actually Berkner resigned (Nov 30, 1960) a year before Struve (Dec 1, 1961)]

Kellermann:

Yeah but was it in part because of the 140 foot?

Heeschen:

It was entirely because of the 140. He and Dick [Richard] Emberson both resigned. Dick Emberson was his assistant.

Kellermann:

Tell us more about him.

Heeschen:

About Dick?

Kellermann:

Yeah, he doesn’t appear very much in the literature, yet I know he played a major role.

Heeschen:

Well, he was Assistant to the President of AUI. When AUI was asked to do a feasibility study about whether or not there should be a radio observatory, Dick Emberson ran that feasibility study. He was very good at running committee meetings and studies and stuff like that. Incidentally his daughter is at that Monterey Observatory or something like that, some observatory in California. Anyway, Dick was given the job of leading the feasibility study for NRAO and so he organized site searches and he organized the studies of what kind of antennas should be first. So he got the guys to do the antenna designs and all of that. And I was first a post doc at Harvard and I began to work with Dick. And later, when I went full time with AUI in ’56, again I worked with Dick. He was a very nice guy who was no ball of fire but he was competent at doing these studies. So he is the one who organized the designs for the various antennas and finally for the 140 foot. And he also got the 85s going. All that was actually sponsored by us, NRAO, at the time. And then when things fell apart with the 140 foot, Dick and Lloyd Berkner both quit. And I don’t know where either of them went.

Kellermann:

What was his background?

Heeschen:

Dick Emberson’s? He was a physicist.

Hogg:

He co-authored a paper in the ’58 IRE and you can look - [Note added 2014: Hogg says 1957, but it should be 1958: Proc. IRE, vol. 46, no. 1, 1958 was a special issue on radio astronomy.]

Kellermann:

Sole author I think.

Hogg:

Was he sole? In any event you can look in back and there is a list of all the authors. So Ashton [Ned L. Ashton] would be on it because he did the 140 foot paper and then Emberson did telescopes for national observatory.

Heeschen:

Who did the 140 foot paper?

Hogg:

Ashton wasn’t it?

Heeschen:

Ashton, ok. It could be.

Hogg:

And I’m not sure what John Findlay did as well.

[Note added in 2014: The January 1958 IRE issue on radio astronomy included a paper by Emberson and Ashton (pages 23-35) called, "The Telescope Program for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank, West Virginia," and another by John Findlay (pages 35-38) called, "Noise Levels at the National Radio Astrnoomy Observatory."]

Kellermann:

I’m still trying to understand the sequence because it was - I was going to say it was Rabi that recruited Pawsey, but that was a while later.

Heeschen:

That was around the same time.

Kellermann:

It was Rabi, not Berkner, as AUI President. But there was a gap in there I guess, before -

Heeschen:

Well, I can’t remember now when Berkner and Emberson quit.

Kellermann:

The letter of offer to Pawsey was within a few days after the Board accepted Struve’s resignation, right?

Bouton:

Yes.

Heeschen:

And that was in, I think, the late summer of ’61?

Kellermann:

Fall, November.

Heeschen:

Yeah, but I think they were working on it earlier. I think Struve had given indication that he wanted to quit.

Kellermann:

That was a year earlier.

Bouton:

He did. He said that he wanted to -

Kellermann:

He did quit but the Board didn’t accept and asked him to stay on or something like that. But then a year later he did resign. But I think the appointment letter refers to their earlier discussions in London. So they had been talking about this.

Heeschen:

I wasn’t party to any of this and nobody at Green Bank was that I know of. We didn’t know about it. I think the first indication we had was when he was going to have a visit and we knew at that point he was going to visit Green Bank. Pawsey, yeah, and we knew that he had been appointed Director at that point, didn’t we?

Hogg:

Well, that was kind of above my pay grade.

Heeschen:

Well, I was asked to be, no...

Kellermann:

Well, once he came he spoke with everybody, didn’t he?

Heeschen:

Oh, sure he did. But remember, he didn’t come. Oh yeah, he came, didn’t he?

Bouton:

He came because it was shortly after that he got sick and ended up in Boston with Sweet [William H. Sweet].

Heeschen:

With Bill Sweet, yes. So he did visit Green Bank.

Hogg:

Absolutely, and I met him. But I was a student. And so he didn’t share confidences in any great detail with me.

Heeschen:

I don’t think he shared confidences with anybody. And this was in the winter or early spring of ’61. And then.... Was Struve still Director?

Kellermann:

No, he had resigned.

Heeschen:

No, he had resigned the previous fall. So I was Acting Director. Wait a minute. I thought I became Acting Director in ’61, which would have meant Pawsey’s visit was in ’62.

Kellermann:

It had to be ’62 because the Struve resignation and the appointment was in late ’61.

Heeschen:

Anyway, that part you can sort out easily.

Hogg:

Absolutely. We have to figure this out. I mean the Pawsey visit should be pretty well documented. [Note added in 2014: Pawsey was offered the Directorship in October 1961. He accepted and planned to begin in October 1962. He visited NRAO in Green Bank in mid-March 1962.]

Bouton:

Yes. It is. We have his letters, the letter to Erickson [William C. Erickson] and Scheuer [Peter A.G. Scheuer] he wrote. [Note: see links to the letters above.]

Kellermann:

That’s right. I was just going to come to that. You’ve told us several times that you thought Struve got a bad deal or that he was under-appreciated, and you’ve written that in various places. But Rabi apparently didn’t share that view.

Heeschen:

Apparently not. I don’t know anything about that.

Kellermann:

Why do you say apparently not, then?

Heeschen:

Well, because they let him go.

Kellermann:

You know Peter Robertson has written this book about Australia. [2104 note added by ENB: Peter Robertson: Beyond Southern Skies: Radio Astronomy and the Parkes Telescope (Cambridge University Press, 1992)]

Heeschen:

Who has?

Kellermann:

Peter Robertson, he’s an Australian historian astronomer, he wrote this book about the history of radio astronomy in Australia. But he makes this comment, "Isador Rabi confided late in 1961," this is a letter to [E. G.]Taffy Bowen, "Pawsey is saving my life by coming as director of NRAO next year. The present incumbent, although a great optical astronomer, has no administrative talent or knowledge of radio astronomy."

Heeschen:

Yeah, that’s Struve of course, but was Struve still there at that point?

Kellermann:

No, he had resigned at that point.

Heeschen:

The present incumbent in late ’61. Ok. I don’t think Struve was still there.

Kellermann:

No, I think that’s right. I don’t think they made the formal offer to Pawsey until after he resigned. Anyway it was late ’61 so he would have come in early ’62.

Hogg:

So I was an employee then, which is what I thought, but then you persuaded me that he had come in 1961.

Kellermann:

I found this over the weekend and I meant to tell you that I think you were right in what you said last week. In March ’62 Pawsey arrived in Green Bank. What about Rabi? I only met him once.

Heeschen:

He was a great guy.

Kellermann:

I hitched a ride from Brookhaven. I was visiting my parents and I hitched a ride from Brookhaven back here on the AUI plane and that was the only time I ever met him.

Heeschen:

He had a tremendous sense of science, I think. In spite of all the ups and downs of NRAO, he was a great supporter of NRAO. He was very upset when we decided to move to Charlottesville.

Kellermann:

Oh, yeah. Tell us about that.

Bouton:

You once told me that that was the most contentious issue you dealt with with the Board of Directors.

Heeschen:

He told you?

Bouton:

You told me that was one of the most contentious issues that you had dealt with with AUI.

Heeschen:

That was probably the most. Well, we had done an internal study of where we wanted to go and came up with Charlottesville. And the Board had agreed with that except Rabi wanted us to move to Columbia or Princeton or some intellectual center in the East. And so I don’t remember there being a lot of debate on Rabi’s part, but when it came time to a vote Rabi wouldn’t vote for or against. He left and just was absent during the vote. He wanted it and he was particularly upset because he had appointed a committee to review our report that suggested we move to Charlottesville. And the committee chairman was, I had it in my mind just a minute ago. He was the physicist who was the chief scientist at IBM for a long time.

Kellermann:

Lew Branscomb? [Lewis M. Branscomb]

Heeschen:

No.

Kellermann:

Do we have that report? I’ve never seen it. [2014 note: See the October 1963 report.]

Heeschen:

Manny Piore [Emanual R. Piore]. So he appointed this committee with Manny Piore as chairman and the committee came back and approved our recommendation, which really upset Rabi. And so the vote happened with Rabi walking up and down the street there in Green Bank avoiding the vote. So we were going to move to Charlottesville and Rabi eventually accepted that. But Rabi did not speak to me for a couple of years. He ignored me totally for a couple of years. And eventually he did speak to me and we actually talked about this move a little bit. And I saw Manny Piore at a party in Washington one time and I told Piore this and he said, "Well he didn’t speak to me either for two years." So it didn’t sound like Rabi. Rabi wouldn’t hold a grudge or anything. I don’t know what happened there. He was really upset. And I was upset he wouldn’t speak to me. I had such great respect for him. He got over it eventually and could actually discuss it a little bit.

Kellermann:

What were the arguments for Charlottesville besides the proximity?

Heeschen:

The argument for Charlottesville for me was proximity entirely, that we would have a big staff there and we would have the telescopes to control, and I wanted to be able to get over there. I don’t know -- maybe today, these days the argument wouldn’t hold up. I felt pretty strongly about it at the time. Of course now we have sites at the VLA and -

Hogg:

It’s still an issue in New Mexico, whether to live in Albuquerque or Socorro continues.

Heeschen:

Is it?

Hogg:

Absolutely.

Heeschen:

There is no site in Albuquerque, is there?

Hogg:

No, but the people that find the Socorro living confining commute from Albuquerque.

Heeschen:

They’re commuting from Albuquerque?

Hogg:

Yes sir.

Kellermann:

Well, a delicate question though, why move from Green Bank? I’ve heard various stories. Was it the staff, the spouses?

Heeschen:

As far as I’m concerned, the spouses had a lot of influence but it wasn’t directed primarily at me. So if it was there I didn’t really see it to begin with, but what I did see was that Sandy [Sander Weinreb] and Hein [Hein Hvatum], they wanted to move the Electronics out of Green Bank some place, not specifically Charlottesville but some place. They wanted to get Electronics out of Green Bank because they were having trouble hiring people. We were in the process of doing the VLA and the 36 foot and I think they felt that they had to move. So they were putting pressure on me to move.

Kellermann:

I think Sandy came to NRAO a few months after I did in ’65 and when I visited NRAO in ’63 when I finished at Caltech before I went to Australia, you told me then about the plans to move to Charlottesville.

Heeschen:

In ’63?

Kellermann:

In ’63. Sandy certainly wasn’t here in ’63. After the move to Charlottesville, Electronics stayed in Green Bank.

Heeschen:

No it didn’t.

Kellermann:

Sandy was in Green Bank.

Heeschen:

No he wasn’t.

Kellermann:

Yes he was.

Heeschen:

We’ve got the timing wrong here somehow.

[Note added 2014: Weinreb joined the NRAO staff as Head of the Electronics Division in October 1965 and says he moved from Green Bank to Charlottesville around 1 October 1968, before his daughter was born in January 1969. Weinreb said, "I took the job in Green Bank with the understanding with Heeschen that I could move to Charlottesville when I wanted. I would not have come to NRAO without the Charlottesville move."]

Kellermann:

It may be then that Sandy said, "We need to move Electronics to Charlottesville."

Heeschen:

The initial impetus for moving the thing to Charlottesville was Electronics, that I’m absolutely sure of, the initial impetus.

Kellermann:

It may be Hein and John.

Heeschen:

No, not Findlay, Hein and Sandy. And I made this comment the last time I made a talk. And Sandy was there and he was nodding, "Yes, that’s true."

Kellermann:

Well, we can check when Sandy arrived. My memory was Electronics stayed in Green Bank for a while.

Heeschen:

No, Electronics was the reason for moving.

Hogg:

Well, there were Electronics in Green Bank.

Kellermann:

There still are.

Hogg:

But I think Electronics associated with the VLA. So Joe Burford and a couple other guys, they were here.

Kellermann:

That’s right. They must have been here.

Hogg:

And Karl Wesseling, he was here. I don’t think he was in Green Bank, he was here.

Heeschen:

Well, I don’t remember who was here or who wasn’t here.

Hogg:

Those were the guys I had dealings with for the hygrometer for testing the sites.

Kellermann:

Anyway, so you are saying that astronomers were willing to live in Green Bank but not the engineers.

Heeschen:

Astronomers like you who were totally immersed in observing, yes they were quite willing to live in Green Bank or, in some cases Australia.

Kellermann:

Right, but not the engineers.

Heeschen:

Not the engineers, and in particular I think Hein was having trouble recruiting engineers and I think he could see the need for more doing the VLA stuff. But I know that the pressure to come here was Hein and I thought it was Sandy as well. I’m pretty sure it was. I don’t know the timing here.

Hogg:

Was Morgantown an alternative that was considered?

Heeschen:

It was looked at, yeah, but it was looked at in a fairly preemptory -

Hogg:

Cursory.

Heeschen:

Cursory way, yeah.

Kellermann:

Why? I’m glad you brought that up Dave because -

Hogg:

They had no astronomy. One guy maybe, that nobody had ever heard of.

Kellermann:

But with all the earlier political connections with West Virginia and everything I would have thought that would be -

Heeschen:

Well somehow this didn’t get to Robert Byrd’s desk, so we weren’t under any pressure.

Hogg:

I think if you stack the University of Virginia up in terms of engineering and astronomy against West Virginia -

Kellermann:

At that time the astronomy in UVA had essentially no connection with radio astronomy.

Heeschen:

That’s correct.

Hogg:

True, but there was a presence.

Bouton:

And there was a department, yeah.

Heeschen:

Yeah, there was. We visited Morgantown, and at that time, at least, there wasn’t much of any comparison between the two places. Charlottesville just had it hands down in all respects, in the universities point of view, from the intellectual point of view, and just in general living conditions. And we talked here to the Vice President for something or other, I forget his name, and he was all gung-ho for us to come in and we could get land here and a building and all these things that we were talking about. And we went to the bank and they were all gung-ho to finance all the mortgages that were going to come over to them.

Kellermann:

Private mortgages you mean?

Heeschen:

Hmm?

Kellermann:

Private for houses you mean?

Heeschen:

Yeah.

Kellermann:

Staff housing?

Heeschen:

Yeah.

Hogg:

Morgantown was 4.5, 5 hours away.

Kellermann:

Pittsburgh is -

Heeschen:

Was it that far? I thought it was roughly the same driving time.

Kellermann:

Yeah it is, 2.5.

Hogg:

Not the last time I drove it. Well, maybe I’m getting sissy. But I used to go up to Pittsburg a lot to go to Canada and I don’t think Morgantown from Green Bank was like Charlottesville.

Kellermann:

Was the proximity to Washington a factor?

Heeschen:

Maybe a little bit, but I don’t remember. Proximity to Washington wasn’t exactly on my mind, only in a negative sense.

Hogg:

AUI offices, was it in D.C.?

Heeschen:

By that time AUI office was in Washington. I don’t remember exactly when they moved.

Kellermann:

Well, Larry Frederick has mentioned that you came and talked to him.

Heeschen:

Was Larry Frederick here?

Kellermann:

Yeah.

Heeschen:

No. I was offered Larry Frederick’s job before he came here and that couldn’t have been a long time before this. And I turned it down. Well, maybe Larry Frederick was here.

Hogg:

I think Larry was here when we moved.

Heeschen:

He was here when we moved? OK.

Hogg:

He may not have been when early negotiations began.

[Note added by Kellermann on 1 May 2014 after conversation with Larry Frederick: Frederick came to University of Virginia on 13 January 1963 as Astronomy Department Chair. Shortly after Frederick arrived, Heeschen was in Charlottesville and discussed with Frederick his interest in moving the NRAO headquarters to Charlottesville to get better access to schools and medical facilities. Frederick said he would be happy to arrange a meeting with UVA President Shannon, which he did. Kellermann notes that when he visited NRAO in Green Bank in August or September 1963, Heeschen informed him of the move to Charlottesville; Kellermann remembers the move to have been presented to him as a fact rather than as a possible plan.]

Heeschen:

Maybe not but there was a proper motion guy here, don’t know his name, don’t remember it. If you say it I’ll recognize it probably, but he was the only one here, I think. And they had one good physicist, really good, who was well known. I forget his name too right now.

Hogg:

Yeah, he had an effect.

Heeschen:

Yes that’s right. He has an effect.

Hogg:

Jesse Beams.

Heeschen:

Jesse Beams.

Kellermann:

I’ve heard that name.

Hogg:

Yeah, he was a player.

Heeschen:

Yes, he was. There was just no comparison. Charlottesville was just so much more attractive a town than Morgantown. The drive is probably easier from here, Charlottesville, to Green Bank than it is from Green Bank to Morgantown.

Hogg:

That’s my position.

Heeschen:

I think it is. I don’t know, the mountains going west to Elkins are much worse than the mountains coming east to Chancellorsville, or whatever it is. [2104 note: Heeschen probably meant Churchville VA.]

Kellermann:

There is only one mountain, isn’t there? Cheat Mountain?

Heeschen:

Aren’t there a series?

Hogg:

No it’s just one.

Heeschen:

Ok. It’s the big mountain.

Hogg:

And then you go through all these little hick towns. There’s Elkins and then you decide whether to go across to Fairmount or up. It depends on what roads have been washed out or messed up.

Kellermann:

Wasn’t the University of Virginia involved in very early discussions of establishing NRAO? I thought I remembered something.

Heeschen:

I don’t know. It’s possible, but I don’t know.

Hogg:

It’s hard to imagine. As you said, their astronomy had little interest.

Heeschen:

I sort of doubt it.

Hogg:

It wasn’t van de Kamp? [Peter van de Kamp] He had already -

Heeschen:

van de Kamp was a buddy of Larry Frederick’s and he didn’t show up until Frederick was here. So this man was a proper motion guy.

Hogg:

Well, so was van de Kamp.

Heeschen:

Yeah, so he is. You’re right. But it wasn’t van de Kamp.

Hogg:

There was strong astrometry group in the eastern U.S., van de Kamp was one such.

Heeschen:

And this guy was another one.

Hogg:

And I think van de Kamp maneuvered his way to Charlottesville.

Heeschen:

That could be.

Kellermann:

Let’s change the subject.

Hogg:

No, I’m wondering if one session Ellen said that pro-recordings don’t usually run long sessions.

Kellermann:

Are you comfortable...?

Heeschen:

Go ahead. I’ll continue.

Kellermann:

Why is the National Radio Astronomy Observatory known as Green Bank and not Arbovale? It’s in Arbovale.

Heeschen:

Because the post office was Green Bank. Our post office was Green Bank.

Kellermann:

Why?

Heeschen:

Probably because it was a bigger post office. I don’t know. It became a bigger post office.

Hogg:

I thought it was because there was a certain use of "bank" in terms of radio observatories.

Kellermann:

That’s what I always wondered.

Hogg:

There was Jodrell Bank and there was [?].

Heeschen:

That never occurred to me.

Hogg:

Well frankly, Green Bank is a little more aesthetically pleasing than Arboville.

Heeschen:

It is. It is.

Kellermann:

The reason I ask is that it’s been on my mind for over 40 years. Soon after I came to NRAO I took a trip and when I came back I was supposed to be picked up at the Weyers Cave, Staunton airport, which was the standard place that we flew in and out of at the time. And nobody showed up.

Heeschen:

The Staunton airport?

Hogg:

Weyers Cave.

Kellermann:

Weyers Cave. And nobody showed up. I didn’t know the telephone number, so you call information. I asked for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Green Bank, West Virginia. "No such thing." "NRAO." "No such thing." I panic. Here I am stranded at the airport. Somehow she found it finally and I learned it was in Arboville, the telephone exchange is in Arboville.

Heeschen:

It was?

Kellermann:

Yes.

Heeschen:

That’s interesting. The original telephone was a thing on the wall with a handle and as you talked the volume went down and down and down because other people were picking up on the line. And I wanted our phone number to be Cas A but they wouldn’t do that. It was Cass, all the phone numbers were Cass.

Kellermann:

Well, more seriously, when all the negotiations were taking place about where to establish the observatory and who was going to establish it and so on, West Virginia passed this West Virginia Zoning Act, which we both know that state governments have no authority in this sort of thing. Do you want to comment on that or the background of that?

Heeschen:

They did it as a gesture to get us to go there, and it has had some effect actually but not much. And the effect I can remember has to do with COMSAT station mainly, but others. For example, the guy that runs a radio station here. I met him one time. We were both on the board of Keswick Club. He had an antenna over there. He had to shape the beam because of the Zoning Act.

Kellermann:

The Zoning Act or the Quiet Zone?

Heeschen:

Oh sorry, it’s the Quiet Zone. Absolutely, that’s totally different. You’re right. The Zoning Act has no real effect, yes.

Kellermann:

I think it doesn’t govern radio transmissions as such, but spurious emissions from neon signs and stuff like that.

Heeschen:

That’s correct and that was the purpose of it.

Kellermann:

And I think it’s a delicate issue about whether they actually have the authority but anyway, they didn’t.

Heeschen:

But the concern was there would be a series of motels along Route 28 with flashing neon signs. Yeah, that was it.

Kellermann:

And then AUI got options on the land.

Heeschen:

Yes.

Kellermann:

Why are you laughing? Go ahead.

Heeschen:

Well because Dick did a lot of work on that and he got options on all the land but one little tiny piece.

Kellermann:

This was done individually with each -

Heeschen:

With the owners.

Kellermann:

So that means that AUI had the right to buy the land at whatever price anybody else offered or something like that. Is that it?

Heeschen:

I don’t remember what the wording is. I would have thought that the option was that AUI had the option to buy the land at such and such a price, period, not having anything with what somebody else offered.

Kellermann:

As I understand that term, you have to match the highest bidder.

Hogg:

It depends on the contract, what the option says. Some options are that way.

Kellermann:

Well if it was a fixed price -

Hogg:

If they didn’t have the money, they couldn’t.

Kellermann:

That’s true.

Hogg:

So this is an option to buy.

Kellermann:

So this was preemptive strike by AUI because it hadn’t been decided yet that AUI was going to get the job.

Heeschen:

That’s right. On the other hand AUI would be prepared, I’m sure, in the case of the option to turn them over to whomever did get it.

Kellermann:

Ah. You don’t think it was an attempt by Berkner to get a foot in the door?

Heeschen:

There might have been. I’ll bet you that those options had that built into it. Well, I don’t know. Of course, they were never exercised.

Kellermann:

Well, that’s the next question because as I’ve read, there’s conflicting stories that the NSF then exercised the right of eminent domain.

Heeschen:

That’s right.

Kellermann:

So that did happen?

Heeschen:

That did happen.

Hogg:

So that’s not one of the conflicting stories.

Kellermann:

Well, then of course a lot of the local people complained, complain until this day, that they were driven out of their homes that their grandfathers had been born in.

Heeschen:

Is that right? I don’t know.

Hogg:

Some.

Kellermann:

Some.

Hogg:

I think to say a lot is -

Kellermann:

Correct.

Hogg:

And some were allowed to stay for a period of time.

Heeschen:

Possibly. I don’t remember.

Hogg:

Well, when I moved into the Lowe farm I was only a few months removed -

Kellermann:

I’m sorry. When you moved into?

Hogg:

The Lowe Farm.

Kellermann:

Oh, the Lowe Farm.

Hogg:

Yeah. I was only a few months removed from Whit Lowe leaving. Whit Lowe was the person from whom the land was bought. This was 1960.

Heeschen:

’60?

Hogg:

Yes. So he had been allowed for whatever reason to live there. It was in the shadow of the 300 foot.

Heeschen:

I don’t know. I don’t recall that at all.

Hogg:

We inherited Whit Lowe’s chickens, which he left.

Kellermann:

Were people paid the fair market price?

Heeschen:

I think in the case of the eminent domain business, they were, yes. In the other case, in those options, I don’t know. I think maybe one of the problems was that there was an inconsistency in the value that was assigned to these options. Maybe. But I really don’t know that.

Hogg:

It would be interesting to know why the options weren’t exercised and then it was done by eminent domain.

Heeschen:

Yeah. I don’t know the reason. For a while I thought maybe it was because the options didn’t in fact cover quite all of the property. So there was a problem with this one little piece. I don’t know. Maybe the other reason was that it was in order to provide consistency in the treatment of people. I don’t think AUI would have purposely been inconsistent but I think they would have gotten the options at whatever price they could and that could turn out to be irregular.

Hogg:

Yeah, costly options might have been a strong function of time. Those people that sold first might have sold low and the last people were selling pretty high.

Heeschen:

That’s true.

Hogg:

And then the first people had their noses out of joint.

Heeschen:

I don’t know. I wasn’t involved in any of this so I don’t really know.

Kellermann:

What do you know about the Sugar Grove antenna?

Heeschen:

Nothing. I visited once and the place was a disaster. I don’t know anything at all about it. All I know is that that guy who pushed it so hard, there is one person there who is associated with -

Kellermann:

Trexler [James H. Trexler].

Heeschen:

Yeah, Trexler.

Kellermann:

He was in charge of it.

Heeschen:

He was? Yeah, he was in charge of it. But the prototype of that thing was somewhere outside of Washington and it was trying to spy on the Russians getting moon bounce and that was what the one outside of Washington was for.

Hogg:

Maryland Point?

Heeschen:

No. It was a fixed thing in the ground. Well not in the ground but -

Hogg:

Yeah.

Kellermann:

Well we have to quit. My real question was that the NRAO 600 foot that had been discussed in all these committee meetings in the ‘50s and I think pushed by John Hagen?

Heeschen:

Yes.

Kellermann:

But he was plugged into NRL. He knew about the Sugar Grove antenna. Why was he pushing for a second one when the first one wasn’t even built?

Heeschen:

I don’t know.

Kellermann:

I ran across, in Ellen’s files, I don’t know if it was from your papers, a letter to the White House talking about both NRAO and Sugar Grove and they said even then in 1960 that 40% of the time was for radio astronomy.

Heeschen:

At Sugar Grove?

Kellermann:

Yeah. So I’ve always wondered about that.

Heeschen:

I don’t know.

Citation

Papers of Kenneth I. Kellermann, “David S. Heeschen, interviewed by Kenneth I. Kellermann on 31 May 2011,” NRAO Archives, accessed April 13, 2021, https://www.nrao.edu/archives/items/show/13895.