The Perkins Lab -- Neurospora Genetics and Biology
Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University

Marjorie Giles, aka Marge Reaume, Inkwell, Dobbins, CA


Such a shock it was, finding Dave and Dottie on the SF Chronicle Obit page. I see there are many many others feeling as saddened as I, recalling such poised and elegant friends.

Dottie arrived at the Botany Lab at Yale at the same time as my notorious late husband, Sheldon Reaume. He shared a lab with Dottie and Josh Lederberg, who was exactly my age, 20, and already an M.D. I moonlighted there after my breadwinner work as welder in a birdcage factory, washing dishes, and Josh helped me explore the illegitimate diploidization of Saccharomyces cerevisae. Goodness, such a long time since recalling those names. About Neurospora, I only just learned that it was Dave who sparked the origin of this major genetic tool. After the birdcage factory learned of my pregnancy and released me, I worked as Neurospora spore-picker for Ed Tatum. Much later I realized the genetic importance.

From spore-picking, I moved up the hill to Sloane Physics, to help pioneer the new biophysics program with Ernest C. Pollard. We bombarded phage with the baby cyclotron that E. O. Lawrence helped Pollard build in the basement. I was given a bench in the botany building, where Reaume and Dottie worked, to develop an assay procedure.

The days of starving and impoverished graduate students is evidently over now, but in those days, Dottie owned one fine blue tweed suit and a silk blouse. She wore this same outfit to every single party, departmental tea, concert, travel and formal appearance for four years. We followed Tatum from Yale to Stanford in 1950 and soon met David Perkins. He and Dottie found each other and Dottie finished her Ph. D. in good order.

Reaume did not, but by then I had become paralyzed with polio and concurrently birthed a new baby. After a laboratory episode, David and the grad students donated cash to support Reaume for six weeks in Pacific Grove, so he could attempt his third thesis without the dreadful burden of me, paralyzed with a new baby. A practical nurse tended during the day but I needed to be carried to the bathroom mornings and evenings. (The baby was fine. I breast-fed him and could roll him onto my bed for diapering. He and his wife now own a vineyard in Napa.) The men from the lab took turns baby-sitting me overnights. Dave was always gracious, and he made the best oatmeal breakfasts.

Dottie, with improved cash flow, did not rush out and buy a new dressy outfit, but instead, a WWII jeep. She came right over and got me into it for a drive, windshield down, through open country, with the trees and creeks, birds and wild animals I had been desperately missing over two years in hospital beds. It was a day I still treasure.

Then we all sat around silently waiting for David to propose. Everyone knows he is a cautious man, like the way he prepared sand buckets and hoses when his room mate wanted real candles on the Christmas tree, but this seemed like a time to take action, which he did not. Dottie then took a job on the other coast and moved east. It was enough to wake up David and he begged her to return. I was delighted to learn of Susan. She must have had the greatest parents ever. I grieve for her loss, and am not in the least surprised at how many others share these sentiments.

I managed to raise and support the two babies, working at the Stanley lab in Berkeley and keeping house, pioneering single parenthood by wheelchair. Then I married and got another baby to support. After fleeing my masquerade role as rich Orinda matron, I holed up in the Sierra foothills for many years, commuted to SF State for Creative Writing and have been writing and publishing since 1989. I upgraded my marital status with another estimable David, cut from the same cloth as David Perkins. My second of five novels is entitled Academia Bound.

 

 

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