AN EYE FOR TALENT
Barclay Friends residents offer their views on the Nobel Prize
The 2016 Nobel Prize recipients have been announced. Some of the world’s greatest minds are recognized annually in the categories of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology and Medicine, Literature, and Peace – check out this year’s winners at Nobelprize.org if you haven’t already. Residents, family, and short-stay guests of Barclay Friends Continuing Care Community offer their thoughts about past and present contributions:
Dr. John Turner
“[The Nobel prizes] cover a comprehensive list of disciplines,” Dr. Turner begins. “The various things people have done have changed the lives of everyone many years after what they did. History is similar in a way,” he adds. “You don’t see how bad or good people are until you look at it with a different filter. The sophisticated relationships they are talking about are new to me but [the awards indicate] a fundamental difference in the way people think. We’ve changed our views on many things in history – Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Roosevelt, [for example] – and we learn more about ourselves by making those changes.” A Professor Emeritus in History, Dr. Turner taught at West Chester University of Pennsylvania for 37 years, during which time he received the Irving Hersch Cohen Faculty Merit Award and received the Distinguished Faculty Award in Teaching. He also co-edited an anthology focused on violence in America titled “Riot, Rout, and Tumult: Readings in American Social and Political Violence” to help – as he says – “abridge the historical amnesia. [The Nobel winners] move history and have an impact on the well-being of other humans. As a teacher, you never know what you are going to stimulate with students but somewhere down the line you hope you make a difference.”
“I used to work in a state liquor store years ago,” John says, “and I worked with a guy whose father [was in the field of] astronomy. This guy wasn’t customerservice oriented at all,” he smiles. “His father was nominated three times [for the Nobel prize] before he finally won. A committee has to deem [a contribution to society] worthy, and it’s not a huge monetary award – it’s more about status. His son used to play on the computer at lunch – he was not a people person, but once you got him talking about astronomy, he could go on for hours – it was his passion. There was an ice cream store nearby and we used to go there – he [also] loved milkshakes. He was skinny as a rail but he would pop down a couple of milkshakes every day and I asked him once how he did it, and he answered, ‘Physics.’”
Ruth recalls a few award recipients that stick out in her mind. “I know that Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin won the Nobel Peace Prize – they managed to arrange peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.” The year was 1978, when the two diplomats forged the Camp David Agreement. Ruth, who is of German heritage, notes that she herself hasn’t won anything on the scale of the Nobel Prizes. “I won a swim competition when I was in my teens,” she says, “for speed, even though I was better at distance. I was also a fencer. I enjoyed the precision of it – it was very quick, and very exact. My coach in Germany brought a girl to the 1936 Olympics – Helene Mayer. He was an old gentleman at that time. The only German I can think of who might have won a Nobel is Thomas Mann for The Magic Mountain, or it could have been Buddenbrooks – it’s the story of a family.” It was, in fact, the latter, published in 1901. How do Bob Dylan’s song lyrics, for which he won this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature, compare to these more traditional works? “I think his work is a separate category,” Ruth replies.
Dr, John Turner