Put your feet up and lean back while you read some fascinating history - which is probably useless today but which you will find interesting because you loved and knew dad so well and because you are in his place now and may like to know this bit of information. Don't bother hunting for anything - I don't think you'll find anything now. If there is ANYTHING left, I suspect it will be in one of the two filing cabinets that I have in storage up here, the two cabinets from his studio at 2821 N. When the dream was punctured, everything tangible was destroyed at the time. I bet that in 1965 you couldn't have found a scrap of evidence even then. You know how dad is. His disappointments are enormous and in a depressed state he will destroy things. So you probably haven't seen the birth announcement. It is attached, the front and inside, probably the only surviving copy. He drew the drawing and he also hung a pterosaur in the lab holding a baby Apatosaurus. That was his birth image and it was appreciated by everyone who saw it. If you find a whitish 3 foot fiberglass pterosaur in the lab, you have the actual pterosaur that he hung in his lab space when he had his reception to announce the birth of a museum. Or do you already have it hanging?
Let me give you a bit of my own history to explain why I have personal knowledge about this museum event. I returned from Finland mission on Dec. 25, 1963. I lived with mom and dad for 10 months -almost getting into a fist fight with dad. He was just terrible to live with. Mom was an angel. Anyway, I took a full load on campus the next semester and used dad's "lab" in ESC as my home base, really convenient. He hired me on a 'contract' basis to get around the nepotism thing I believe. So I was integrated into the lab, and saw the comings and goings of everyone. Do you know specifically where the lab was? Is the ESC even still standing I suppose I should ask. The reason I ask because it is important to know that it was located right by one of the staircases, which was used by the dean and dept chair. That meant that dad could easily snag them and drag them into his lair as he wanted. That way he kept them advised of his plans.
Dad was so excited about the whole thing. He went there in 1961, so in 1963 he'd been on the job for 18 months and was just hitting his stride, filled with dreams and plans. He wanted to create a formal paleo program inside of the Geo dept which did not exist at the time. He drew a logo, attached, showing how the two of them would be integrated. I don't think that the fancy image was ever used for anything. It was another still-born project - but out of politics, not anything substantive. It made a great deal of sense to formalize paleo. After a ~2 year honeymoon, Rigby, Hintze and several other credentialed faculty members (not all of them) simply rejected dad and any of his aspirations to participate in academic activities because dad didn't even have a high school diploma. I assume you knew that. (In fact, dean hill made it a condition of employment that dad get his GED! Isn't that a kick? He did the job with mom, at Provo High School, and even marched at the head of the Delta High School, his own high school, graduating class in 1975 to make his nightmare of missing the school bus go away. It did.
It was ironic that Harvard where dad had cut his teeth in paleo did allow a non-credentialed man to teach, i.e. Dr. Patterson who even helped form the SVP. Dad saw that model and probably assumed that he could do the same thing at BYU, that all universities would have that same largess of spirit. Silly him. Of course, dad was always his worst enemy and if he had used a gentle hand which I expect he didn’t, he may have been able to be integrated. The fact is that in the list of digs you sent me I note that there were several instances where geo students were out on digs, one with Hintze I believe. He got in his own way - I found a letter after his death in which he formally disowned me and just tore me into pieces. He was broken in his political module! You saw it a hundred times but cared enough about him to over look it - thank you, because I am sure that your success at finishing a phd was satisfying to him. My phd wasn’t but yours probably was. He was a strange man. Would eat his own kids but loved others. I still don’t get it. But you benefitted, lucky you!!
I actually think that the high school diploma was a red herring dragged around by the faculty to justify their rejection of dad which was actually caused by his harsh politics. I speculate that if he had handled his eggs carefully, he might have hatched a herd of chickens. The reason I speculate that is because that list of digs refers to having students out in a dig, to getting a quarry ready for students and so on. Doesn’t that mean he was integrated! He just didn’t know how to handle himself, so like the proverbial bull in a china closet, he moved around and smashed relationships to his own detriment. Did you know that in his heyday he actually took geo faculty wives on one or two tours of his quarries? What a measure of being accepted! He WAS accepted. The rejection was caused by his own actions, and the high school diploma was a convenient way to reject him. Did you know that he even took general authorities and wives on tours, I believe they even got down to dead horse point. In the beginning, he was really doing well.
There is another huge reason, I speculate, that contributed to his being ostracized: his publicity. It was huge, simply huge. I have that scrap book starting Feb. 3, 1963 and it shows an enormous range of newspapers carrying his stories. I am not sure how this publicity would offend the rest of the faculty but I bet dollars to donuts that it did offend them. Whether it was because he gloated about it to them, or was simply jealousy about his ability to get the publicity that everyone loves, I think the publicity helped isolated him. Perhaps the “credentialed”, i.e. superior, faculty felt that it was inappropriate for this high school drop out to get so much fame. THEY deserved it not him, so they would be angry at him for ho real reason other than jealousy.
The reason I flog this history is to give you the political/social context that dad operated in when he built his model, and mailed his announcement. He felt accepted, and he was accepted. So when he heard kind words from Hill and Hintze about his museum, and glib assurances -guarded, deniable, but real- funding for it, he would assume that they were making commitments to him, which is why he did the announcement.
Anyway, he created a scrapbook and the first clipping Feb 3, 1963. He dymotaped a title "Publicity Record of the Acquisition Program of the Earth Sciences Museum at BYU." I have the scrapbook which is why I have the announcement which has so much information. Plus during the 10 months I lived and worked with dad, I saw the museum model which really was grand and saw Hill and Hintze visit etc.
My guess about what happened to the museum dream is this. Based on the fact that the thing poofed absolutely out of existence in an instant, leaving nary a scrap of evidence of the plans, the announcement, the model, etc. I bet that dad was chastised severely for what he was doing, or had done. Knowing him so well, I can see no other reason for him to destroy the museum, and to refuse to even talk about it again. His feelings were hurt badly, so badly that he had to remove the physical source of the pain, i.e. the museum model. It was lovely, as you would expect it to be and he invested his heart in it as he always does. Being simply told “not yet”, “wait” are not sufficient reason for him to trash the model and plans. Indeed, such words would doubtless have been accompanied with assurances that “in time, Jim, in time. Be patient.” and he would have been patient, and he would have kept the model and plans. Don’t you think so? THey kenp him on a line until he retired, never suspecting their duplicity. Can you think of any other reason for him to absolutely, in a nanosecond, pull the curtain over, and conceal the plan which was his greatest dream at BYU.
This is what I think happened: dad did talk with Lehi and Armin about his plans. He doubtless dragged them into his space - then went up and down the staircase all day long so it would be an easy matter to pull them for a quick look-see. When they looked at the thing, they doubtless were intrigued and impressed. It was wonderful. They doubtless made conciliatory words of interest, perhaps just to placate him, to encourage him, to show their employee that they were interested in his ideas, or whatever. In his effervescent state of mind -hauling GA wives and faculty wives all over kingdom come- riding on the crest of a large wave of publicity, he was ready to fly.
Hill and Hintze would have been fools if they didn't encourage him some way. But -here’s sort of the heart of the matter I think- he probably erred in his boundless enthusiasm and may have drawn a conclusion that wasn't really justified -even though they certainly implied it. He use the Alexandrian method of dealing with Gordian Knots - right? So he concluded that since Hill and Hintze were supportive of the idea -which he took to be promises or assurances- about helping get the funding for the museum, they were on board, that they approved. He so badly wanted to hear commitment for funding that he heard it. H & H being good politicians actually said things that gave them cover; the approval he heard was actually a plausibly deniable approval from them. They could repeat their words and say that Jim just misunderstood. I am sure he did. He decided that he had their approval to get on with the project, which ‘getting on with it” might even assist the fund raisers by having a formal announcement of this new project. And he may have even decided that he wanted to give them a nice surprise by creating the announcement first and showing it around time several hundred of them were stuffed into a mailbox and gone.
There was doubtless a firestorm. Where it started, who participated, what was said, we don’t know. But we speculate, don’t we, that Jim committed the unpardonable sin: he SURPRISED his bosses. Worse, he surprised them with a BIG surprise! The implications of a paleo museum were just enormous, financial, political, theological, possible moral! After the phone lines from General authorities had cooled off, H & H were charged with the unpleasant task of calling dad on the carpet and literally reading him the riot act. They did the job and probably with a degree of satisfaction. If this is the way things went, he deserved it.
I just cannot imagine any other scenario that would have produced the immediate and total annihilation of the model and plan. Oh, he kept his dream of a museum alive. H & H doubtless would have softened their castigation by assuring him that the concept of a museum wasn’t the problem, it was how he went about it, leaving open the idea of doing a museum in the future. So he could keep the idea in him which he did, as you know, but not with the radical model he had in mind. I am serious: can you think of any other scenario to explain what happened? Whatever it was, it was sudden, immediate, total. When I visited him at home or the lab, it was like there had never been a novel model. Nothing remained.
Anyway, that’s how I remember and understand the thing. A fascinating chapter in his history, the one which was pivotal. I believe that the reproof which had to be meted out to dad was such that it caused a complete -or completed a- rupture with the Geo dept. Dinner parties stopped, student visits stopped, faculty tours ended, general authority tours ended. Blammo. I was simply over, he got moved to empty Page School, and finally, with a bit of sympathy perhaps for him, they gave him the poor building you are presently in. I say it is poor, because it allowed the administration to feel like they had done their part for the museum, and no longer needed to expect to be asked for more money. You see my bias. Poor dad just got himself beat up so badly. That’s part of the reason that he spent the summers out there alone. He couldn’t work with equals because of politics. He had no skills there. Etc. Well, I love him and want to make dinosaurjim.com the grandest thing I can for him. Just wait, it is coming along a bit at the time. In the end, it will be an encyclopedic story of him.