Remembrance by Nelson, Harry

Interview with Harry Nelson—8/12/76

Sam was sent to study with me by Dr. Lloyd Luckmann of USF, who said he was a student of semantics. So I presumed he was from a university. He came in the early 50s. He liked horticulture. I got him a few jobs in gardening and helped him build up his clientele. He was a mediocre gardener. His main forte was to stir people up, to get them moving.

The thing that bugged him the most was that two professors might be carrying out identical research, even both in the U. of California, and be totally unaware of what the other was doing. This upset him very much. He was always picking on politicians.

I got letters from him from all over the world, nothing less than two pages. And he bandied my name all around the world because I got a lot of letters from various people where he had traveled. I remember one Japanese fellow sent me 25 to 50 pounds of gingko tree seeds to distribute.

Sam had some funny ideas sometime, like growing greenhouse tomatoes in a very hot climate when they would be much better outside. Once in a while I gave him some information about plants. He was amused to see the artichoke grown as a ornamental in Pakistan. Some ideas I gave him on kardun and cro… (?) or combining deciduous and evergreen to make larger fruit for colder climates.

Sam didn't have much money. He always traveled in the cheapest possible way and saw conditions of the peasants.

He took quite a few courses. He was waiting for his father and brother to die so he could have small inheritance. He took me to see his parents. The only time I ever saw Sam totally quiet. Boy how his mother could talk.

He never completed anything he worked on. Start with lots of energy and then go on to the next thing. I remember one paper I asked to be written on the uses of any garden tool. He chose the hoe. What a mess that paper was. He never even mentioned what it was used for.

He had a good sense of humor. Life was a fun thing with him. That was the main thing. As a student he was a swell guy. I'd rather not go into how he changed over the years. It was his mother's fault in my opinion for the condition he was in. Nervous energy, never settled down. Horticulture is good therapy; it keeps your hands and mind busy. He had a liking for it even if his understanding was surfacial. I think he used it as a means to get the information he needed.

The one contact that lasted the longest was Friends of the World. I heard from one Japanese fellow for three or four years. He sent the ginkgo seeds. Sam picked up organic gardening; we had a class on soils and fertilizers. Interested in mushroom cultivation, mycology. Another man into it who he talked to. Sal Bileci. Lives on Cayuga.

Re same: contacted Mr. Bileci, and he does not remember Sam—Mr. B. is, indeed, a talkative man, and is interested in many, many things—so that would explain Sam's interest in him.