The Case of the Black Dog of San Pasqual

Linda Pauling and her father enjoying a calmer moment with a dog in 1934.

[In honor of the dog days of summer, we present here a fictional “L.A. noir” retelling of real events documented by Linus Pauling on July 19, 1961.]

The sun beat down on Pasadena in the middle of the Summer in California, and the pavement was so hot you could cook an egg, if you liked your egg full of broken glass and cigarette butts instead of salt and pepper.

Linus Pauling didn’t, so he had gone out to lunch instead. It was just after 1 o’clock in the afternoon on an entirely typical Wednesday, and the professor was headed back to the campus of the California Institute of Technology, where he was teaching chemistry. He did it mostly for the chemistry, which was why he had met a girl he eventually married as an instructor back in Oregon, but the teaching was the part that paid (at least, in legal American tender).

California agreed with Pauling, though he didn’t always agree with it. The back yard of a house on San Pasqual Street he was walking past was quite the example. The professor shook his head in despair. Some people just don’t know how to take care of the world we live in. The place was overgrown, the grass was dead, and there was a trash bag next to the road and… Wait a minute, Pauling scratched his head in wonderment. Is that dog off its leash?

A large black French Poodle ran up to a wire fence and barked at him. Strange, Pauling considered. I’m not whistling or doing anything to provoke this animal in any way… why would this dog be so agitated? But, with his mind still buzzing over questions of atomic valences he had been puzzling over back at the lab, he quickly put the thought away as the dog ran off farther down the fence line behind some hedges.

Pauling had only gone another five or six strides down the sidewalk when suddenly, in a flash of white blinding pain, his arm was seized. Good God! Has it been lying in wait for me? The sleeve of his shirt tore and was speckled with blood, and he howled in agony as the dog’s gleaming teeth sank back behind the fence while the thunderous barking continued. Pauling, clutching ineffectually at his mangled appendage, staggered from the scene of the crime in a blur. Wounded though he was, his keen scientific mind analyzed the situation with precision and clarity. The sidewalk was only five feet wide. The animal approximately four feet long. For it to place its hind legs on the fence and lean over half its body out over the edge to attack me in such a way, it must have learned this behavior over many repeated attempts…

The dog had almost certainly seen him coming, barked at him, and noting his direction, had retreated to farther down the sidewalk where it could hide behind a hedge row and launch a surprise attack. The professor’s mind has honed by the adrenaline now coursing through his veins, and he took stock of the situation.

Two gashes on the left arm, each between one-half and five-eighths of an inch long, two puncture wounds made by the dog’s teeth, and one torn shirt which Mama will most likely be thankful not to press again. She’s always complained about the color ‘mustard’ on a man… said its the sort of thing that should only be on a shirt if you’re a sloppy eater. He almost smiled in spite of himself.

At least I wasn’t wearing my favorite coat…

But even Pauling’s trademark optimism quickly disintegrated as the dark nature of the event dawned on him: After all, there were no witnesses.

This was no accident. The dog had purposely prepared to attack him, lurking in the shadows, just biding its time, waiting to jump him. Obviously the whole thing was a set up. Pauling felt dizzied with his failure to see it coming. But who was behind it all? Though there were no witnesses to the savaging he had received, Pauling brazenly approached the house in question and found two women within. It was high time he got some answers.

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Stylish to the End

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Posing for yet another bust, 1986.

 

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Taking a moment at the ranch, 1987.

 

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In his study at the ranch, 1987.

 

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

 

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The red jacket makes another appearance, 1989.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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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.]

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

 

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Harvesting abalone at Deer Flat Ranch, 1963.

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

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

 

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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.

 

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

 

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

 

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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.

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

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

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

 

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Matching (!) in Dallas, Texas, 1972.

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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.

 

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In Nagasaki, Japan, 1975.

 

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With Nahid Hakimelahi in Persepolis, Iran, 1975.

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

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With Ivan Zupec in Belmont, California, 1977.

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

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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.

 

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

 

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A portrait from 1978.

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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.]

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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.

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

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

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In lecture at Caltech, 1935.

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

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

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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.

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

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Picnicking at Corona del Mar, California, 1940.

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In the laboratory with rabbits, 1942.

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

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On holiday with the family of Carl Nieman, 1948.

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Posing with a new friend, 1948.

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

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

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In Hawaii, 1948.

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Another photo from the Hawaii trip, 1948.

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

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

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

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In white tie and tux at the 1954 Nobel ceremonies.

 

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

 

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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.]

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

Another View of the Pauling Models

This past spring, Thomas Brennan, a photographer and the chair of Art and Art History at the University of Vermont, paid us a visit to capture his own set of images of Pauling’s models. Brennan’s research concerns the history of symbolic representation in the history of science with three-dimensional modelling, work which has taken him to institutions and repositories including the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge, the Museum of the History of Science at Oxford, the Museum of Science in London, and the M.I.T. Museums.

Brennan’s photographs of Pauling’s models were captured using a low-light technique that he has used in the past for a project that he calls “Collecting Shadows.” On his website, Brennan provides this bit of background for the series:

Scotophorus pro phosphoro inventus, written by Johann Schulze in 1727, was the origin for experiments with light-based imaging that would lead to William Henry Fox Talbot’s experiments with camera-less photogenic drawings. The ability to record ‘marks of light’ without a lens, first explored in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, provides the foundation for my series of light-based images of museum objects from the history of science titled Collecting Shadows.

A sampling of the images that Brennan captured during his visit to the Pauling Papers is included here.

 

A View of Pauling’s Models

In 2010, Oren Eckhaus, a photographer based in New York City, visited our facility to photograph several of the molecular models that remain extant in the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers. He did so in support of Jane Nisselson’s documentary-in-progress, “Unseen Beauty: The Molecule Imagined,” which she was researching with support from the OSU Libraries Resident Scholar Program.

Now Eckhaus is preparing several of his photographs for display in an upcoming art exhibition, and he was kind enough to share a handful of the images with us. He also provided a short artist’s statement:

The idea of photographing the molecular models came as an add-on visual assistant to a movie (that is still in the making) who’s main subject is to show the representation of pure scientific ideas as real tangible forms.

In my profession, along with being a fine art photographer, I also document objects of art for museums and art collectors. Upon seeing the models, I was struck by their beauty. They are important both as art pieces and early science tools.

Therefore, the approach of photographing the pieces was a mix of an artistic and documentary point of view, showing the original scientific intent, along with their artistic beauty.

A book of 32 molecule images is in the making.

Click on any image to open the gallery and to learn more about the molecular models highlighted within.