Page 27 - Shared Vision

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elsewhere in town and his own budget. Bucky was
brilliant, but somehow devoid of emotion for the plight
of people, except in the abstract sense. He wouldn’t give
money to a beggar in the street, but he would design
domes for “the poor.”
AG: Like “River City,” his project for my home town of
East St. Louis.
HLC: Yes. When Morris got a planning grant for the
Edwardsville campus, he hired me to chair that committee
and put together the congress of luminaries to make
something new and innovative. Bucky was a speaker there
as well. We set up two air domes in the parking lot of the
Broadview Hotel.
I knew and understood Bucky better than most. He loved
me to read to him. We were very close. But along with
his tremendous energy came an ego to match. He carried
his ideas and patents at all times in a pocket notebook.
He was furious with Kenneth Snelson, whom he claimed
stole his tensegrity idea. But it has been documented
that Snelson, who is my friend to this day, came up with
the idea of synergy-tension and compression sculptures
in 1948 at Black Mountain College. Snelson had been
a student at the ID in Chicago before that. [Bucky] felt
anything achieved by one of his disciples was rightfully
his. But, no matter. His great paranoia was worth it.
When Bucky left SIU in the early ’70s, he took most
everything with him. So Mary and I arranged for most of
our Bucky materials and papers to be purchased by the SIU
library. We had many letters from Bucky and Anne; they
are now housed at the Morris Library. By the way, I got a
Snelson sculpture commissioned for Buffalo, near city hall
where President McKinley was assassinated in 1901.
AG: Why did you leave SIU?
HLC: I’d been denied a full professorship by Dean Shryock
and others in the administration. Later, President Morris
gave me the professorship. I left because I felt I had used
up all my options. I had done enough at SIU and was
looking for new challenges for myself and my family.
I learned a lot in Carbondale and expanded my idea
of what design could be. I got more and more into
psychology and anthropology, and the Institute for
Behavioral Research in Maryland was interested in me.
Skinner was there. The IBR staff was working with pigeons
and primates. When the IBR offered me a job, I told them
I’d think about it. When I talked to Morris, he offered
another sabbatical, hoping I might come back. But I decided
on shipboard to Europe that I would resign. So I sent Herb
Meyer, who was working on a variety of our projects, a
cablegram saying so.
AG: How did you feel, leaving your legacy, so to speak?
Delyte Morris at Morris Library circa 1960, future addition in gray.