One day in my sophomore year I suddenly learned that Albert Einstein (“Einstein at Princeton,” May issue) was soon to make an appearance at the Jewish Center, which then was a modest room in Murray Dodge. I rushed there to find the few remaining seats were placed in a semicircle behind the podium. Almost immediately after I sat down the great man appeared sitting next to me. His footwear: sandals without socks.
Soon the eminent professor was at the podium speaking on behalf of the United Jewish Appeal. Einstein eloquently described the horrible plight of Europe’s remaining Jewish community and its dire need for financial support.
A question-and-answer period followed, during which Einstein was questioned about the then-front-page news that his former colleague, Klaus Fuchs, was just arrested for being a Russian spy. Einstein looked bewildered, having no idea who Fuchs was. Suddenly, as if struck by lightning, he bellowed the name using the German pronunciation, which sounded like the obscenity. Loud laughter erupted. I clearly observed that Einstein had no idea what was so funny.
I also recall Bill Scheide ’36, Maecenas who, among his numerous gifts to Princeton were a Gutenberg Bible and several manuscript Bach scores, recounting how he heard what Bill believed was Einstein’s first lecture in English. Unannounced, he stood before Bill’s 9 a.m. class and proceeded to describe the Theory of Relativity. Einstein was a friend of the professor who taught the course and over the weekend, once he learned the subject of Monday’s lecture, offered his services.