Stylish to the End

[An examination of Linus Pauling’s sense of style during the 1980s and 1990s. Part 4 of 4.]

1981i.122-550w

At Deer Flat Ranch with Ava Helen near the end of her life, 1981.

 

1983i.137-550w

A professional portrait shot on the ocean adjacent to the ranch, 1983. Credit: Joe McNally.

 

1985i.048-550w

In black tie with Jill Sackler and Andy Warhol, New York City, 1985.

 

1986i.239-550w

Posing for yet another bust, 1986.

 

1987i.019-550w

Taking a moment at the ranch, 1987.

 

1987i.121-550w

In his study at the ranch, 1987.

 

1987i.127-550w

On the deck at the ranch with Werner Baumgartner, a fellow chemist. 1987.

 

1989i.048-550w

The red jacket makes another appearance, 1989.

 

1990i.046-550w

Seated in the original Special Collections reading room at the Kerr Library, Oregon State University. 1990.

 

1993i.052-550w

Celebrating his 92nd birthday with his sister Pauline, 1993.

 

1993i.022-550w

Later on in 1993. By now, Pauling’s health had begun to deteriorate as his cancer worsened.

 

1994i.003-550w

With son-in-law Barclay Kamb, grandson Sasha Kamb, and a new grandchild, 1994.

 

Scientist, Sartorialist

[Part 3 of 4 examining Linus Pauling’s sense of style. Today’s post covers the 1960s and 1970s.]

1963i.040-300dpi-550w

Posing with a model near the end of his time at Caltech, 1963.

 

1963i.037-[3967]-300dpi-550w

Harvesting abalone at Deer Flat Ranch, 1963.

1964i.035-[1329]-300dpi-550w

Elsewhere on the grounds at Deer Flat Ranch, 1964. Photo Credit: Arthur Herzog.

1966i.016-550w

Sitting for sculptor Zena Posever at Deer Flat Ranch, 1966. Note that Pauling was suffering from a broken leg at the time.

 

1968i.008-550w

On Thanksgiving Day, 1968 with Linda Pauling Kamb and her boys. This image was taken in La Jolla, California, where Linus and Ava Helen maintained a residence for a handful of years. Photo Credit: Barclay Kamb.

 

1969i.004-550w

Posing in San Francisco, 1969. Photo Credit: Margo Moore.

 

1970i.011-550w

The Paulings with Norma Lundholm Djerassi in 1970. Pauling came to favor this tan fishing hat for informal occasions.

 

1970i.013-[1397]-300dpi-550w

The Paulings at the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D.C. for the Lenin Peace Prize ceremony, 1970. In this photo they pose with Russian geoscientist Boris Davydov.

1971i.012-[2519]-300dpi-550w

On the deck at Deer Flat Ranch, 1971. At far left is Frances Fritchman.

1971i.024-[3413]-300dpi-550w

Pauling posing next to a poster featuring a detailed cross-section of the human epidermis. Stanford University, 1971.

1972i.005-550w

A striking portrait taken at the University of Missouri, 1972.

 

1972i.016-[2529]-300dpi-550w

Matching (!) in Dallas, Texas, 1972.

1973i.040-550w

Pauling with his sister Pauline on the day of her wedding to Charles Dunbar, 1973. This photo marks an early appearance of a red jacket that Pauling came to wear with some frequency.

 

1975i.051-550w

In Nagasaki, Japan, 1975.

 

1975i.097-[2171]-300dpi-550w

With Nahid Hakimelahi in Persepolis, Iran, 1975.

1977i.014-[1887]-300dpi-550w

With “Z. Hecher” in Menlo Park, California, perhaps on the grounds of the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine, 1977.

1977i.033-[3184]-300dpi-550w

With Ivan Zupec in Belmont, California, 1977.

1977i.044-[1930]-300dpi-550w

Linus and Ava Helen in their living room at Deer Flat Ranch, 1977.

1977i.062-300dpi-550w

The red jacket makes another appearance. This is one in a series of photos taken to promote the NOVA documentary, “Linus Pauling: Crusading Scientist,” in 1977.

 

1978i.023-550w

Pauling in his office at LPISM with a visitor identified only as “Kazuo,” 1978.

 

1978i.054-[2654]-300dpi-550w

A portrait from 1978.

1979i.002-550w

Posing in Pasadena on a beautiful autumn day, 1979.

 

Pauling Couture

[Part of 2 of 4 in a series exploring Linus Pauling’s sense of style. Today’s post features photographs taken during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.]

1931i.040-[3937]-300dpi-550w

Baby Peter Pauling with his parents and brother Linus Jr. The family poses here in front of the Pauling home on Arden Road, Pasadena, 1931.

1933i.009-[554]-300dpi-550w

The Paulings pose with an unidentified family. This photo marks an early appearance of Pauling’s beard. 1933.

1934i.005-[548]-300dpi-550w

A relaxing moment with Linda, who is two years old in this photo. 1934.

1935i.002-300dpi-550w

In lecture at Caltech, 1935.

1935i.012-[1564]-300dpi-550w

The beard returns, this time at Painted Canyon, California, a common getaway location for the Pauling family during the 1930s. Photo taken in 1935.

1935i.030-300dpi-550w

A more formal portrait of Pauling with his beard, 1935.

1938i.011-[933]-300dpi-550w

Dressed for cold weather at Niagara Falls. Of this moment, Ava Helen wrote: “It was so cold we wrapped scarfs around our heads and then put our hats on over the scarf.” The Paulings pose with their friend Yvonne Handy. Photo taken in 1938.

1939i.005-[920]-300dpi-550w

Ava Helen and Linus photographed during a trip to Madison, Wisconsin, July 1939.

1940i.025-[683]-300dpi-550w

Picnicking at Corona del Mar, California, 1940.

1942i.002-300dpi-550w

In the laboratory with rabbits, 1942.

1947i.022-[2046]-300dpi-550w

Lecturing on structural chemistry at the Richards Medal ceremony. Pauling received this award from the Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society in 1947.

1948i.023-550w

On holiday with the family of Carl Nieman, 1948.

1948i.031-550w

Posing with a new friend, 1948.

1948i.034-550w

And posing once more (and proudly) with the family car, 1948.

1948i.042-550w

In England with Lord and Lady Leverhulme, 1948. Pauling spent much of this year as a visiting professor at Oxford.

1948i.045-550w

In Hawaii, 1948.

1948i.069-300dpi-550w

Another photo from the Hawaii trip, 1948.

1953i.025-[2413]-300dpi-550w

An early image of Pauling wearing what would become an iconic accessory for him – a black beret. Photo taken in 1953.

1954i.011-550w

Posing in front of the Fairpoint Street home, Pasadena, 1954.

1954i.038-[1447]-300dpi-550w

A publicity still of Pauling with a model of the alpha helix, 1954.

1954i.046-[1645]-300dpi-550w

In white tie and tux at the 1954 Nobel ceremonies.

 

1957i.012-550w

With Ava Helen at the old cabin, Deer Flat Ranch, 1957. Photo Credit: Arthur Dubinsky.

 

1959i.006-550w

Visiting Albert Schweitzer’s compound in Lambaréné, Gabon, 1959.

 

Clothes Make the Man

[Ed Note: The Pauling Blog becomes a photo blog for the next four weeks as we dig into the 5,500+ images held in the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers. In addition to showing off some pictures that have never before been released online, this examination pays particular attention to Pauling’s evolving taste in clothes over the years. Today’s post features selections from Pauling’s birth in 1901 to the end of the 1920s.]

1902i.002-[36]-300dpi-900w

Pauling in 1902, age 1. Note in particular the necklace.

1906i.002-[16]-300dpi-900w

Pauling, age 5, posing in buffalo-skin chaps, 1906. Linus’s father had this photo commissioned for use in advertising his Condon, Oregon pharmacy.

1908i.1-[33]-300dpi-900w

Linus, at center, with his two sisters, Lucile (left) and Pauline. This photo was also taken in Condon in 1908.

1916i.001-300dpi-900w

Eight years later, the Pauling children posed near their home in Portland with their mother. From left to right: Lucile, Linus, Belle and Pauline Pauling, 1916.

1917i.003-[123]-300dpi-900w

Pauling in his ROTC uniform during Fall term of his freshman year at Oregon Agricultural College. He is sixteen years old in this photo. Two years of ROTC was compulsory for all male students attending OAC at the time.

1918i.029-[21]-300dpi-900w

An iconic portrait of the young Pauling taken the summer after his freshman year at OAC. Specifically, this photo was taken on the Oregon Coast in Tillamook, where the Paulings spent some time during the summer of 1918. Linus worked as a pin boy at a local bowling alley during the stay.

1918i.033-[3694]-300dpi-900w

Another photo of Pauling in his military dress, 1918. Though only two years were required, Pauling opted to remain in ROTC for the entirety of his OAC experience, graduating from the college having attained the rank of Major.

1920i.027-[62]-300dpi

Far from a typical look for Pauling, this image is cropped from a group photo of participants in the OAC “Feminine Section Intrafraternity Smoker,” circa 1920.

1920i.052-[27]-300dpi-900w

Pauling with his life-long friend, Paul Emmett, in 1920. Also a Beaver, Emmett went on to become a major scientific figure in his own right, making significant contributions to the study of catalysis chemistry. Emmett also became Pauling’s brother-in-law when he married Pauline Pauling late in life.

1922i.019-300dpi-900w

Pauling clowning around sometime near his graduation from OAC in 1922.

1922i.014-[1002]-300dpi-900w

Newly arrived at Caltech, Pauling poses on the back of a student’s car.

1924i.027-[330]-300dpi-900w

Pauling with his bride, Ava Helen, her mother, Nora Gard Miller, and Nettie Spaulding, one of Ava Helen’s eleven siblings. Standing at front is Nettie’s daughter, Leone. 1924.

1925i.002-[421]-300dpi-900w

The young couple outside their Pasadena home in 1925. Linus had been working on their Model-T Ford prior to this photo being taken.

1925i.013-[823]-300dpi-900w

Looking very California on a trip to the beach. 1925.

1926i.062-[3568]-300dpi-900w

At the Temple of Neptune, Paestum, Italy, during his legendary Guggenheim trip to Europe. This photo was taken by Ava Helen in April 1926.

Pauling’s Birthday as a Media Event

bio6-008-026

Los Angeles Mirror, March 1, 1961.

In addition to Albert Einstein and perhaps a small handful of others, Linus Pauling stands today as among the most famous of twentieth century scientists. Strong evidence in favor of this claim resides in the more than 3,000 newspaper clippings related to Pauling that are held in the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers, a corpus of material that is bolstered by an additional 2,700 scrapbook leaves, themselves mostly comprised of newspaper clippings as well.

Today, as we celebrate the 116th anniversary of Linus Pauling’s birth on February 28, 1901, we thought it might be interesting to spend some time with all of those newspaper clippings and trace the evolution of Pauling’s birthday as an item of note to the world’s journalists. In so doing, one is also able to delineate differences in the ways that Pauling, as a public figure, was perceived by the media and its readership over time.


Pauling received national media attention for the first time in 1931, when he won the Langmuir Prize from the American Chemical Society at the age of thirty. Newspaper accounts of that award referred to him as a “Prodigy of American Science,” a headline that was used repeatedly in 1946 following Pauling’s receipt of another ACS award, the J. Willard Gibbs Medal.

As Pauling grew older and far more famous, newspapers across the country became increasingly interested in him as a person. When he turned sixty years old on February 28, 1961, the Los Angeles Mirror published the first birthday article that we’ve been able to find in our collection. The write-up, which describes Pauling as “Caltech’s famous Nobel Prize winner in chemistry” focused mostly on his peace work, with which he was heavily involved at the time.

In 1976, on the occasion of Pauling’s 75th birthday, the San Francisco Examiner produced an article commemorating the day. Thus began what would become an almost twenty-year trend: birthday articles on the popular scientist. The 1976 article described Pauling as “cordial and charming, never vindictive.” It also commented on Pauling’s work with vitamin C, focusing especially on its potential applications with cancer.


bio6-012-032

Chicago Tribune, February 22, 1981

When Pauling’s next big birthday, his 80th, rolled around, the newspapers were there once again to celebrate with him. This time, more than eleven different papers from across the country published articles honoring Pauling. His dedication to widely disparate passions earned him the title “scholar-peacemaker.” Writers also described him as “high energy,” despite having eight decades of a busy life in the rear view mirror. His well-known outspokenness was also frequently commented upon as being a fundamental tenet of Pauling’s personality. One paper, The Fremont-Newark Argus, wrote

He’s always been a bit like a feisty puppy: sinking his teeth into an idea, enthusiastically tossing it around and defying anyone to grab it away. That vigorous and stubborn approach to science – and life – has made Linus Pauling a near-legendary figure.

Four years later, the newspapers were publishing articles to mark Pauling’s 84th birthday. Undeterred by his increasing age, they noted, Pauling was staying as busy ever. He continued with his peace work, notably participating in the Peace Ship Assistance mission to Nicaragua the previous August. Journalists, however, seemed mostly interested in Pauling’s work on vitamin C and the controversy that it provoked, labeling him as both a maverick and a pioneering spirit. Thinking along these lines, The Worcester Sunday Telegram postulated

His unrelenting refusal to admit defeat and his persistent crusades have, over the years, stirred up lingering hostilities of passionate proportions in some scientific and political circles – and a kind of folk-hero reverence elsewhere.

1986n-24

Los Angeles Times, March 6, 1986

The following year, when Pauling turned 85, parties and other gatherings filled his calendar for the weeks around his birthday, and newspapers were once again there to document both the proceedings and the popular view of Pauling. More than ten of them published celebratory articles about the “great dean of science” and wrote of Pauling’s enjoyment at being the center of attention. Multiple reporters likewise noted that, although he had gotten older, Pauling’s humor and self-confidence, not to mention his outspoken habits, had not dissipated.

Pauling was also clearly remaining as busy as a man half his age. As an article in Oregon Magazine pointed out,

It’s hard to argue with a man who keeps up active research, runs his own institute, tours the nation giving dozens of major addresses each year, and has just written a new book – and will celebrate his 85th birthday on February 28.

Though Pauling still conducted scientific research mostly in theoretical chemistry, this component of his life was more frequently mentioned as being a part of his past. Quite clearly, vitamin C was keeping him in the news during the 1980s.


It was 1989 and Pauling was celebrating his 88th birthday by the time the media seemed to realize that he was getting older. Heralded by journalists as one of the most important scientists of all time, Pauling’s good humor and outspoken tendencies continued to intrigue, as did his involvement in discussions regarding nuclear issues. He was also continuing his study, and defense, of vitamin C, and the controversy that his opinions had provoked twenty years earlier had not declined.

1991n-33

Los Angeles Times, February 26, 1991

As he turned 90 years old, Pauling was commonly portrayed as being “the everyman’s scientist.” In 1991, at least forty-seven articles were published in commemoration of his birthday. Newspapers referred to him variously as an “aging guru,” “something of an oddball,” and a patriarch of the very scientific establishment that was so vehemently disagreeing with him. The Chicago Tribune, for one, urged one to consider

a tendency to serious messiness, a devotion to hard work, promotion of a couple of theories hardly anybody else subscribes to, a habit of writing directly to the U.S. president when he’s angry, and a happy delight in discovering things that nobody knew before, and you have the full package: the grand old man of science.

Other papers called him a celebrity, a gadfly, a genius. Scientists and medical professionals interviewed for some of these article disagreed, one of them calling the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine a “den of cracks.” None of this seemed too important to Pauling who was still continuing work on his three passions: chemistry, peace, and vitamin C. The media also seemed inclined to think that, after thirty years of effort, his support of ascorbic acid was paying off – to journalists anyway, the work appeared to finally be gaining some acceptance.

February 28 of the following year, 1992, was Pauling’s 91st birthday, and it did not go unmarked. His maverick tendencies were again noted. Another year older and in the early stages of declining health, Pauling had become more solitary, spending much of his time either at his Big Sur ranch or closer to the Bay Area at the Institute. The newspapers, which had earlier commented on his pleasure at being the center of attention, now described him as being more comfortable when alone. Even still, Pauling remained extremely active. As an article published in the Arizona Daily Star reported, the nonagenarian was “still publishing scientific papers, still working in the laboratory, and still touting the virtues of C.”

Linus Pauling clearly made an impact not only on matters scientific and peace-related, but also on the average American’s view of what a scientist could be. His persona as a celebrity was both reflected and enhanced by the regular media coverage that attended both his professional activities and his personal milestones. Though now gone for more than twenty-two years, his impact is still strongly felt. Likewise, through newspaper articles and more than 4,000 linear feet of additional materials held in his papers, the Pauling legacy will remain carefully preserved for future generations of scholars, admirers and, yes, journalists.

Dr. Michael Kenny, Resident Scholar

Dr. Michael Kenny

Dr. Michael Kenny

Dr. Michael Kenny, emeritus professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Simon Fraser University, recently completed a term as Resident Scholar in the Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections and Archives Research Center. Kenny is the twenty-fourth individual to have conducted work at OSU under the auspices of this program.

Part of Kenny’s scholarly background is in the eugenics movement, and it is this prism that framed his interest in conducting research in the Pauling Papers. Kenny was specifically interested in investigating the changing cultural milieu in which Linus Pauling worked and the ways that this environment may have impacted Pauling’s thinking on issues associated with eugenics.

Kenny was likewise very keen to examine the rhetoric that Pauling used during the years in which the dangers of nuclear fallout were an item of active debate. As it turns out, much of this rhetoric assumed a tone similar to that used by eugenicists contemporary to Pauling. That said, with Pauling and certain of these contemporaries, the use of this rhetoric was not motivated by anything like the ideals that we now commonly associate with the eugenics movement of the early twentieth century.


Rockefeller Foundation administrator Warren Weaver.

Rockefeller Foundation administrator Warren Weaver.

In his research, Kenny leaned in part on a secondary source, Lily Kay’s The Molecular Vision of Life (1993), which examined the development of molecular biology at Caltech during its infancy in the 1930s. Pauling was a central figure in this important chapter of scientific history, having shifted his research program to focus on “the science of life” – specifically, the determination of various protein structures – as funded during the Depression years by the Rockefeller Foundation.

As Kay pointed out in her book, the Rockefeller Foundation harbored a pre-existing interest in eugenics which may have propelled its desire to fund work in the burgeoning field of molecular biology. Rockefeller administrator Warren Weaver, who was Pauling’s main contact with the funding organization, wrote specifically of the Foundation’s interest in exploring “social controls through biological understanding,” and himself considered molecular biology to be the “only way to sure understanding and rationalization of human behavior.”

In his correspondence with Pauling, Weaver likewise suggested that “you are well aware of our interests in the possible biological and medical applications of the research in question.” Queried about the Rockefeller Foundation’s interest in eugenics by Lily Kay in 1987, Pauling replied, “I do not have much to say here,” noting that “my own interest in medical chemistry resulted from my interest in molecular structure.”


James V. Neel

James V. Neel

One major outcome of Pauling’s research on protein structures was his discovery that sickle cell anemia is a molecular disease. This work was conducted in parallel to similar investigations carried out by the human geneticist James V. Neel, a major twentieth century scientist who discovered that sickled cells are the result of a heterozygous mutation that, when it becomes homozygous, leads to sickle cell disease.

For Kenny, James Neel provides a bridge of sorts in the scholarly analysis of Pauling. In addition to his work on sickle cell traits, Neel also was involved in ethnographic research on the indigenous Yanomami population in Brazil. This study was funded by the United States Atomic Energy Commission in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and was motivated by the U.S. government’s desire to more fully understand the consequences that atmospheric radiation might portend for the human gene pool.

The debate over radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons tests during this time was fierce and continually hamstrung by a lack of concrete data. Linus Pauling, of course, was a key figure in the debate, and as Kenny and others have pointed out, he and his opponents used essentially the same data to draw very different conclusions from one another. Indeed, both sides were effectively engaging in the politics of risk assessment in arguing over the likely genetic implications for future generations of radioactive fallout released into the atmosphere by the nuclear testing programs of the era.

Hermann Muller

Hermann Muller

In developing and espousing his strong anti-testing point of view, Pauling was heavily influenced by Hermann Muller, a Nobel Laureate geneticist who is perhaps best known for proving the mutagenic effects of x-rays on fruit flies. According to Kenny, Muller was pretty clearly a eugenicist who spoke often of the need to maintain the purity of the pool of human germ plasm.

For Muller, essentially all mutations caused by radiation were to be viewed as a negative. While he acknowledged that natural selection is indeed the result of mutations that occur over the course of time, Muller believed that an increase in the rate of mutation is very likely to result in negative consequences. In arguing this, Muller pointed out that many mutations are buried and do not emerge until specific reproductive combinations come to pass. As Pauling and James Neel showed in the 1940s, sickle cell anemia is one such situation where this is the case.

Kenny points out that Muller’s ideas are imprinted all over Pauling’s 1958 book, No More War!, and in this book, as well as in his speeches, Pauling frequently used language that drew upon that of Muller and other eugenicists of his time. “I believe that the nations of the world that are carrying out nuclear tests are sacrificing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people now living,” he wrote, “and of hundreds of thousands of unborn children. These sacrifices aren’t necessary.” On other occasions, Pauling more directly echoed Muller, arguing that “we are the custodians of the human race, we have the duty of protecting the pool of human germ plasm against willful damage.”


So given all of this, was Pauling a eugenicist? For Kenny, the answer is no, or at least not “an old fashioned eugenicist in any clear sense.” Rather, Kenny sees Pauling as being one of many transitional figures (fellow Peace laureate Andrei Sakharov is another) working along a historical continuum that exists between the eugenicists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and contemporary ideas including genetic counseling and genetic engineering.  One of the more intriguing quotes that Kenny uncovered was Pauling’s statement that

Natural selection is cruel and man has not outgrown it. The problem is not to be solved by increasing mutation rate and thus increasing the number of defective children born, but rather by finding some acceptable replacement for natural selection.

For Kenny, Pauling’s suggestion of a possible replacement for natural selection anticipated contemporary techniques that are now deployed to minimize or negate what would otherwise be devastating hereditary diseases in newborn children. For expectant parents currently opting in favor of genetic counseling, as for Pauling in his day, the goal is to minimize the amount of human suffering in the world, not by proscription or law, but by choice. This ambition, which is global and cosmopolitan in nature – and not dissimilar to contemporary activism concerning global climate change – stands in stark contrast to the racist or nationalist motivations that fueled the eugenics of a different era.

For more on the Resident Scholar Program at the OSU Libraries, see the program’s homepage.

Life at the Big House

deer-flat-schematic

Pauling’s schematic of the Big House at Deer Flat Ranch, April 1964.

[The story of Deer Flat Ranch, part 3 of 3]

Linus and Ava Helen Pauling stayed in the Old Cabin when at Deer Flat Ranch from 1956 to 1964, and during much of this period, visiting family members would often sleep in the barn. By 1961, a pre-designed kit home had been constructed for guests to use. Located down the gorge from the barn, at the foot of Salmon Cone, the house came to be called China Camp, named after the adjacent beach.

That same year, Pauling began conversations with Dr. Gustav Albrecht of Caltech, a former student of Pauling’s, about acting as chief architect on the design of a new home on the property. Albrecht worked with John Gamble Associates and, once construction began, lived in the Old Cabin for several months to supervise the building according to Pauling’s specifications.

1970i-029-2517-300dpi

A view of the Big House near its entryway.

By 1964, the “Big House” was complete. It was an unorthodox home, filled with angled windows of multiple types that offered numerous views of the Pacific Ocean. The home likewise featured dueling his and hers studies, as well as a garage that was specifically built to shelter a car while also housing Pauling’s collection of scientific journals. Book cases were everywhere and, as time moved forward, the decor came to be dominated by framed honorary doctorates lining the hallways and mounted in every room. A massive stone fireplace separated the kitchen from the living room, and a large, westward-facing deck became a focal point for social gatherings. The unusual space proved difficult to maintain, but for the Paulings it was heaven on earth nonetheless.


1971i-015-2520-300dpi

Looking southwest from the living room.

The Big House was built at the end of a new road that had been bulldozed from the Old Cabin west to a nearby glade that the Paulings called “Eucalyptus Hollow.” By the time that most of the construction was completed, excavations on the Pauling land had revealed that a small village of Salinan Indians, dating back thousands of years, had once been located in the area where the Big House was built. More artifacts were discovered under the Old Cabin, which was rebuilt and, a decade later, joined by a new caretaker’s house. Pauling held on to several of the Salinan artifacts as well as a small collection of human remains, all of which were repatriated once Pauling’s papers were donated to Oregon State University.

Kids and grandkids visiting during and immediately following the construction, and were often volunteered to perform various duties on the property. Linus Pauling Jr., his wife Stephanie, and Stephanie’s daughter Carrie were frequent visitors throughout the 1970s. During this time they assisted in finishing floor moldings and tiles at the Big House, which sported a decorative copper diving screen based on the mezzanine foyer in Dulles National Airport, as well as a specially made copper roof.

1971i-044-300dpi

Dining on the deck, 1971.

The Big House was as a sanctuary, and it was understood that even family visitors were not to barge in unannounced. Rather, Ava Helen would run a dish towel up a nearby flagpole when she was ready to receive visitors, usually in the late morning.

During visits with family, Pauling tended to focus his conversation on scientific matters, while it was Ava Helen who worked to bring the family together, particularly relishing her role as a grandmother. Catching fish from the Pacific Ocean and cooking under gas lights in the wilderness of California’s coastal forests, visitors often felt a sense of living in the pioneer past. Linus and Ava Helen reveled in this sensation themselves, and after 1966 they were spending fully half of their time at the Big House.


ndi-026-3155-300dpi

Ava Helen’s Artcraft stove.

With advancing age came thoughts of retirement, and Linus and Ava Helen began to imagine that they might move to the ranch full-time by Pauling’s 70th birthday, or perhaps his 75th. Pauling was, unsurprisingly, consistently non-committal about the idea of giving up his career in science, no matter how old he grew. The ranch, however, offered an appealing happy medium where he could continue to pursue a scientific agenda while lessening the pace and clutter of his very public life.

By 1976, when Ava Helen was diagnosed with cancer, the pair seemed to treasure their time at Deer Flat Ranch all the more; Ava Helen took up the guitar and bought a grand piano, and children and grandchildren came to visit often. Pauling, however, could never truly be removed from science, and spent much of his time at the ranch working on theoretical papers.

1987i-028

The view from the kitchen.

A year later, Pauling looked to be making good on notions of retirement, and was considering removing himself from day-to-day operations at the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine, which Art Robinson was leading as president. However, an administrative battle with Robinson that arose over the future of the Institute provided Pauling with a compelling reason to remain highly involved, and he never did fully extricate himself from administrative duties at the Institute that bore his name.


1973i-018-2544-300dpi

Ava Helen and Linus in their living room, celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary, June 1973.

In retrospect, it seems unlikely that a man of Pauling’s industry, interests and ego could ever remove himself completely from the world of science and retire to the ranch full time. Indeed, after Ava Helen passed away in 1981, he ramped up his scientific program, working both at the ranch and in Palo Alto, California for the remainder of his life.

As he grew older, the rustic pioneer charm of the ranch faded somewhat for Pauling. The land around the gas service station was found to be eroding at an alarming rate, and it was eventually abandoned. Likewise, the number of cattle and ranch hands slowly dwindled. Eventually, only a single caretaker remained on the property, Steve Rawlings, who also acted as Pauling’s personal nurse during his final years.

Nonetheless, Pauling continued to spend a majority of his time at the property, reading, writing, and dreaming of a peaceful world guided by the light of scientific reason. It seems fitting then that when Linus Pauling passed away, in August 1994, it was in the Big House at Deer Flat Ranch, surrounded by his family.