The Caltech Archives
Welcome imageimageimage
Archives Catalog Entry

Oral History
Interview with Joseph Heller by Shelley Erwin [sound recording]

Joseph H. Heller recounts his childhood recollections of Richard P. Feynman, whom he refers to as Richy, during the 1920s and up to 1935 in Far Rockaway, New York, and then the resumption of contact between the two in Los Angeles in the 1950s. Heller's older brother, Elmer, was a close friend of Feynman's; Feynman frequently spent time with the Heller brothers in their home. The reminiscences include Feynman's first wife, Arline Greenbaum, and the beginnings of her relationship to Richard Feynman. Heller recounts teaching Arline to row and Richard to play trap drums. He traces parallels in the paths of his brother and Feynman, both of whom he notes worked during World War II at Palmer Physical Laboratory in Princeton on the Manhattan Project and then subsequently taught at Cornell. He touches on the later brief relationship of Elmer Heller to Feynman in Los Angeles in the 1950s; relations of both brothers with Feynman tail off after Feynman's marriage to Gweneth Howarth [1960]. Discussion of some details surrounding illness and death of Arline Greenbaum [died 1945]. Heller recalls others from Far Rockaway High School social group: Harold Gast, David Leff, Buzzy Mann, Robert Stappler. Interview concludes with further anecdotes about childhood and high school years; Feynman's childhood names of Richy versus Ritty; and reference to a set of letters and documents given by Heller to the Caltech Archives from the papers of his deceased brother relating to Feynman.

ID: 2010-00051
Heller, Joseph

Creation May. 5, 2010

MEDIUM: Sound recording; FORMAT: Sound disc: digital (WAV file); LENGTH: approx 40 min.; QUANTITY: 2 sets (1 disc per set)

Topics: Physics, Feynman, Richard P.

For information on using Archives materials for commercial or educational purposes (including reproducing PhotoNet images) please see Access and Use.

Return to Search the Archives

Search Help