Waclaw Szybalski on CSHL Social Life
  Waclaw Szybalski     Biography    
Recorded: 11 May 2001

I was here from 19…as I say, I spent [the] summer in ’50, because I came here for a month or so during the symposium and during this…But then I returned back to my job. The first time I say I visited in 1949, visiting Demerec and I spent a week or so, then in summer I spent, then I came I think in [the] Fall of ’50 or beginning of ’51, I can’t remember, and I stayed until ’55. And I enjoyed every minute cause life was very interesting because I knew so many people from Lloyd Neck, Cold Spring Harbor and I was single and always I got telephone calls. “Do you have time, we have lady so and so and we have nobody to take care of her. Could you be the escort to take to a party of so and so?” Normally, four days a week I was eating at some dinner party, cocktail party, etc…

So I worked very hard during the day, then I was changing to the black tie etc. then going and coming back to finish experiments. So I had two lives when I was here. And, uh, I met most of the people from neighborhood and I was very good friends with Ames. Amyas Ames, remember him? He was president of this [Long Island Biological Association] and his wife. His wife was Danish. She was writing book on living snails, she had a little house with a snail on the top. And then also with the Page family—Walter Page and others, his wife was the granddaughter of J.P. Morgan. I mean and the money which we were bringing here at that time and very, very many people all around. Then a wonderful sponsor lab very grace, there was Mrs. Franklin who owned all these lakes here and she lived in a big beautiful big house above the lakes, and we were very close friends and visiting her frequently. Because some scientists, I don’t know how is it now, but many of rich people, if you remember, were having dinner parties during symposium—is that still?

And were inviting people, etc. So for a while I was coordinator of all that effort because I socially knew all those people so its much easier and sometimes it was a funny thing because some scientists didn’t behave, got drunk (laughter). Once a very nice professor from Montreal, etc., at a cocktail party before the dinner of Mrs. Franklin, I look upon him, he is getting white and trying to fall down and I apparently grabbed him. I knew Mrs. Franklin’s chauffeur, so I go to the chauffeur and got him in the car, halfway through he got very sick, but at least I protected the carpet a bit. Brought him here to bed and come back to the party.

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.