FRIENDS FROM HOME
February 1946-June 1949
MY SEARCH FOR a way back to the great adventure of pure science began in earnest when I reached the University of Chicago in February 1946. For me, colleagues have always been one of the particular pleasures of science, and the companionship of three of my friends, Maria Mayer, Enrico Fermi, and Johnny von Neumann, figured large in my plans for a return to normalcy.
Maria was already an important person in my life. We had a great deal in common: love for the puzzles of science; memories of a world that for us had been irretrievably lost; and an unspoken, perhaps even unrecognized, commitment to preserving some of the values of those bygone days. Between 1944 and 1952, I wrote to her many times. Our friendship was such that I simply discussed whatever was on my mind. I was astounded to learn a few years ago that she had saved all my letters. 1
I have in front of me her letter dated July 12, 1945. It begins, "It was nice to get a letter from you—even if you did have to mention the oranges." A few weeks earlier, when I had made a trip back East, we attended an official meeting in New Jersey together. Driving back to Leonia, Maria lost her way, and we landed in Orange, New Jersey. My next letter began: "Thanks for the oranges."____________________