Philadelphia in the Nineteen-Twenties
Published:January 01, 1952
The Final decade in the life of Richard Penrose, from 1922 to 1931, was spent in Philadelphia, the home of his childhood, engrossed in caring for the many threads of interest he had spun for himself around his world. These were years full of honors well earned, gracefully accepted, and graciously acknowledged. Despite this, however, there is a wistful note in his correspondence, a nostalgia for the old days of purposeful endeavor and acknowledged goals to be won. It was fine to have won the goals he had set for himself, but it was also sad to have no more great goals toward which to work.He seems to have been drawn particularly close to his brother Charles in those days. Charles, wife had died in the spring of 1918, and the two brothers seem to have been drawn together in their sense of loss, the one of his father, the other of his wife. “Tal” died in February, 1925, and then Richard was lonely indeed. He occupied a suite at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia, and spent less and less time at 1331 Spruce Street, the house of many memories.Miss Marion Ivens, who had been Tal’s secretary, continued to occupy the same post for Dick until his death. She had her office in the Spruce Street house. In a letter to J. Stanley-Brown, written a year after Richard’s death, Miss Ivens told how, after she had finished the letters and other work for “Mr. Richard,” she would take it “to the Bullitt Building for filing.
Figures & Tables
Life and Letters of R. A. F. Penrose, Jr.
When, in the summer of 1931, Richard Alexander Fullerton Penrose Jr., died in Philadelphia, he left his personally acquired fortune, amounting to approximately ten million dollars, to be divided equally between The Geological Society of America and the American Philosophical Society. As a memorial to its benefactor and as a picture of a period in the history of American geological science, this volume has been prepared by The Geological Society of America. Beginning with notebooks, diaries, and letters in the possession of the Society, and adding thereunto material slowly accumulated from his family, his friends, his associates, and acquaintances, the story of his life has been pieced together. For members of Penrose’s profession, the geologists, this account of his life should have particular interest, for it presents a picture of a period which is gone forever, a picture of conditions under which the early investigators in geology and the mineral industry labored and brought forth the principles and methods of later days, methods more scientific, perhaps, but, nevertheless, methods founded upon the efforts of those pioneers. If one is inclined to smile at the picture of the young man of the 1880’s sitting on a bluff above a Texas river, confronted with the problem of making a survey without knowing how to go about it, let him ask himself what he would have done, similarly unequipped and in hitherto unknown territory. Let the geologist of today, with his carefully prepared field equipment, ask himself just how well he would like to look forward to “living off the country”, as Penrose did in the early days in Arkansas. It speaks volumes for the stamina of any man to be able to confront uncomfortable conditions with the nonchalance which Penrose displayed. And how much more to his credit this is, when a man is endowed by birth, position, and economic security so that he need never have left the comforts of urban living in Philadelphia.