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Neither in his Memoirs nor in any of the accounts prepared by himself for general publication does Dick Penrose give a clue as to why he turned to geology for his life’s work. In the letter to his father, November i, 1882 (quoted in the previous chapter) he says: “I like mineralogy better than any of my other courses and have already got enough minerals to cover five shelves of a book-case.”

Undoubtedly, he had come to know and admire Nathaniel Southgate Shaler, one of the best-known and best-loved geologists of his time, whose work as a teacher was attracting many young men to Harvard for graduate study. In any event, Shaler became the first of three great geologists who exerted tremendous influence on the life of young Penrose. The other two were John Casper Branner and Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin. The friendship of the young Philadelphian with all three was life-lasting. Nor was it in any case a one-sided affair. Shaler, Branner, and Chamberlin responded enthusiastically throughout their lives. To have won the intimate friendship of three such leaders is, indeed, a mark of distinction in itself and one which tells much for the sincerity and evident worth of the younger man.

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