Waclaw Szybalski on Al and Jill Hershey
  Waclaw Szybalski     Biography    
Recorded: 11 May 2001

But her [Martha Chase’s] life was more or less ruined by too much expectation. But she really should have married some nice, solid guy, had children to take care of, in some nice little Midwestern home. She was out of place, totally in her life, that’s my diagnosis, but I may be wrong. But she contributed very much because I don’t know if Hershey would have done the experiment himself or not without her help, probably could, but you know he want[ed] to have a technician. Hershey’s lab was everywhere hanging a roll of toilet paper cause that was much cheaper than Kleenex for taking if off or wiping things, etc. There’s many things I remember that whenever anybody complains or I had something, he [Al Hershey] said, “It’s good for your soul. (Laughter) You suffer a little, its good for your soul.” It’s upsetting. He liked music. I worked with his wife…she was my technician, Jill, when I was in other lab, not under my appraisal, shared. She was very nice. So I was very close friendship with her. She was, every summer, saying, “Well, its time to get…” because with Al, he was intensive so he all work, and he was getting thinner and thinner and losing more and more weight, Jill worried more and more. So in summer they were taking the boat etc. and going for two months and then Jill saying, “I was feeding, feeding and feeding so you [Al Hershey] have enough to live the rest of, gain, for the next winter,” just like with bears or whatever (laughter). So that was, it was a cycle of feeding by Jill Hershey— Actually it was funny because there was in the Carnegie Dormitory which is Davenport, there were guests were staying there but there was one person who lived there all the time and her name was Patsy [Taylor], and I have a to remember her last name. She was a terror. She was a technician with [E. Carleton] MacDowell in Animal House, which is now McClintock Laboratory. She was very good because she was taking care of everything. She was taking care that people clean up after rooms etc., you know. But some people didn’t after shave that should have said things particularly not what they did wrong etc. I like that. One day I was with Hershey, and Hershey said, “You know I would like to marry Patsy.” She was such an old maid, not very attractive, I say, “Why?” [Al Hershey said], “Because she’s so efficient.” So then he told me about his life, etc. Jill was his fourth wife already. And you probably know the rest, I don’t have to repeat. The first wife and they got divorced. And then he had second wife and she died. Then he remarried the first wife, and they got again divorced. And then he married Jill Hershey. I didn’t know the previous wife—

Waclaw Szybalski is an authority on molecular biology, genetics and microbiology. He earned his Ph.D. at the Gdansk Institute of Technology in Poland and joined the University of Wisconsin in the mid-1950s where he is now Professor Emeritus of Oncology in the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research.

Szybalski is known for the many significant contributions he has made throughout his career, beginning with his studies on mutagenesis and continuing through his contributions to genomics. He was among the first to formulate the concept of multi-drug antibiotic therapy.

Szybalski has also participated in the Human Genome Project.

Szybalski is the founder and head of many editorial boards including that of the journal Gene.

A long-time meeting and course participant at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Szybalski was a friend and contemporary of many pioneers in the field of genetics, including Alfred Hershey, Martha Chase, Max Delbrück, and Barbara McClintock.