I read with much pleasure your article on Professor Conklin (feature, Feb. 11). I arrived at Princeton in February 1944 in an accelerated program and left 10 months later for the U.S.M.C., only to return later and complete my major in biology.
I believe I am correct in thinking Dr. Conklin came out of retirement to teach Bio 101 during 1944. Whether he conducted the entire course or only came for some of the lectures is not clear. But it was enough to prompt my mentioning him to my father, Stewart M. Robinson ’15, on a home visit.
My father indicated he remembered him and in particular a pithy comment about inheritance. I am not certain whether Dad heard it while an undergraduate or later in discussions about evolution and conservative theology. The comment was, “You can inherit your father’s wooden head but cannot inherit his wooden leg” – clearly a comment about the role of acquired characteristics, which later became important in the position the Communists took about society’s development.
I also was pleased to see Professor John Bonner mentioned, as I believe he arrived at Princeton in the later ’40s and our paths crossed while I majored in biology.
Thanks for bring to the fore Professor Conklin and his important contribution to biology.