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We originally didn’t have that big extension to the building. We just had the front part of the [Kuiper] Building. We were really cramped. It was way too small of a space. They had great parking in the back, though. But it was small compensation, because the offices were tiny and nobody had an office to themselves.
Behind the Business Office is now a little lecture hall. That space was occupied by maybe 20 graduate students. It was called the ghetto. That one space had these little tiny cubicles put into it, and the individual space would be about as big as a table. Typically there were two of us to a cubicle, and the doors were decorated with all kinds of outrageous stuff; clippings and preprints and cartoons. All kinds of stuff—just what people were working on or were interested in, pictures of their motorcycle or their kids or whatever.
So that was the ghetto. That forged some solidarity among the graduate students, because you’re literally on top of each other. I moved from there to a little tiny closet that Mike Nolan and I shared. It was no bigger than one of these little tiny cubicles, and we literally couldn’t swing a cat, but what was funny about it was we couldn’t both put our chairs back at the same time.
The graduate students back then lived in a ghetto behind the main office. There was an absorption tube that ran the length of the building at the time that Uwe Fink would do experiments with, measuring absorption lines of gases. They’d put gases in there and bounce light back and forth over a huge path length, and then see how much of it was absorbed in different wavelengths.
This tube ran right through the graduate student ghetto, so those of us who had an office on the outside wall of the building would have the tube going through it, like a shelf in our office. I put up curtains and a bed, and it was pretty cool.
We were a pretty close-knit bunch back then. When I came in they were also something of an older group. As a consequence we didn’t respect authority a whole lot. We gave the poor faculty a bit of a hard time through our tenure.
That was also the era of magic keys, where all the graduate students would file keys down so you could open all the doors in the building. It was kind of a rite of passage. Everybody would always deny it.
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Department of Planetary Sciences
Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
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