IMAGE:  February 2003 GRAPHIC:  University of Chicago Magazine
Volume 95, Issue 3
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"From encouraging terror to wasting pages"

Memories are made of pix
The pictures in December’s “Retrospective” bring back many memories. After leaving the University I had a small film studio on the South Side and made numerous films for and about the University area (most now in the archives of the Chicago Historical Society)—including a couple of films about Dr. Skaggs, Dr. Lanzl, and the cobalt machine for an early TV series and the Atoms for Peace Conference.

Years later I was in Bombay with a group of U.S. science museum experts on a U.S./India exchange program. We had breakfast one morning in the hotel, and I noticed a gentleman at the next table listening intently. We struck up a conversation and found that we were both from the U.S. and he was from Chicago.

I said, “Oh yes, I used to live there,” and found that he worked at Argonne Hospital. “Oh yes, I used to work at Argonne National Lab,” I said, and he replied, “Yes, but that’s not the same—Argonne Hospital is at the University.”

“Yes, I know,” I said. “I made some films there many years ago. Do you by any chance know Larry Lanzl?” And he exclaimed, “I am Larry Lanzl!” After so many years, neither of us had recognized the other, but it was a delightful reunion.

Hutchins was my idol. As a student it was like being in the presence of God. One day Dean Davey approached me and started a conversation punctuated with a single statement: “You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to, you know!” It seemed that Mrs. Hutchins (Maude Phelps) wanted a model for a statue she’d been commissioned to make. It sounded like great fun, but Davey kept repeating, “You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to, you know!” He seemed so hesitant I’m sure he felt that asking a student to pose in the nude was very risqué!

I liked Mrs. H very much but was dumbstruck when Mr. H would visit, and he delighted in embarrassing me. He would always ask something like, “Aren’t you cold?” or, “Tell me how I should change the University; that’s what I’m here for you know.” At 17 I was most concerned about modesty and the open window facing toward the girls’ dorm. Some 40 years later one of my friends (a Law School alumnus) said, “Oh I knew you back then—I just didn’t know your name. But everyone knew there was a guy who posed naked for Mrs. Hutchins.” My parents were very pleased that I was modeling for Mrs. H but “forgot” to tell people that it was nude until there was a picture in Time, and all my relatives said, “Is that what George has been doing!”

Christian Van Hesper taught a beginning course in scientific glass blowing, and to this day I’m a bit insensitive to heat in my finger tips from picking up glass that had cooled just enough to stop glowing.

On the night of Pearl Harbor I passed the billiards room on my way home. Everyone gathered around the radio on the main floor to listen as the news came in.

George Tressel, PhB’43
Potomac, Maryland

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