Time for the next–and probably the most exciting–installment of my series on Alan Chapman’s notes about the early power plant:
I’ve already talked about McCants and about Walworth, English and Flett. Up today is the real breakthrough, the thing that made me exclaim out loud when I saw it: Edward “Cap” J. Dennis.
I’d seen references to “Mr. Dennis” all over the place but I couldn’t tell exactly what his job was. In fact, I was never entirely certain whether Dennis was his last name or his first. Once I had his whole name, though, things began to fall into place very quickly. Here’s an article about him that appeared in the Engineering Section of the Thresher in January 1930:
There’s a lot of great information here but there were a couple of things that really stood out to me. First, a marmoset?? Second, he essentially lived here. I’m going to try and see if I can figure out exactly where “the small white bungalow just back of the Institute grounds” was located.
Here’s Mr. Dennis in his domain, the man in the white shirt with his hand on the ladder:
Bonus: When we were in New York this weekend I saw this mechanical owl in the window of Barney’s. It’s quite large and it moves back and forth and speaks in a deep voice. The effect, I must say, was more disturbing than festive.
This marmoset is also mentioned in an article on p. 6 of the Oct. 18, 1929, Thresher (“New Cooling Plant Functions” – http://scholarship.rice.edu/bitstream/handle/1911/65263/thr19291018.pdf?sequence=1 )
“An added attraction to the Institute engine room was discovered by the enterprising reporter. A tiny marmoset, tiny enough that one might hold it in one’s hand if the marmoset were so minded, is now in a small cage a few feet from the engine room door. The simian will no doubt prove to be greatly interesting to those making his acquaintance. the acquaintance being best made with a small piece of banana or other marmoset delicacy.”
It’s hard to imagine where they got it.
It must have been quite the fad in the 1920s & 30s. Some quick Google searching turned up the following:
1) This 1928 photo of a lady and her two pet marmosets: http://anunnaturalhistory.tumblr.com/post/51184218706/ruby-blackburn-with-pet-marmoset-monkeys
2) Leonard & Virginia Woolf’s pet marmoset, Mitzi, may have have saved them from the Nazis: http://virginiawoolfblog.com/virginia-woolfs-trip-through-nazi-germany/
3) Although their two pet marmosets didn’t survive their voyage from Brazil to Paris, Margret and H. A. Rey began writing & illustrating children’s stories about the antics of monkeys … which evolved into the “Curious George” series. (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/13/books/13geor.html)
What a fine photo of the plant and its crew. And the decorative supports on the catwalk are quite wonderful!
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