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Growing up across the street from the New York Public Library


Moving to the West Bronx and my stepfather
Eugene Garfield Scientist
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So, that was, that was the East Bronx, okay. Now, when I was in that part of town I attended... in New York all public schools have numbers. I attended public school number two in the Bronx. But, later we then I, I guess my uncle helped us to move to the West Bronx, okay, and in the West Bronx we lived on a street called Woodycrest Avenue, and Woodycrest Avenue was a, in an apartment house which does seem... was not a tenement that’s for sure, but we had a, again a three-room apartment in a more... I guess, there were fewer cockroaches, you know, and things like that. But, typically, the back of every apartment in New York has a, a backyard, and there was, like, an alleyway and... have you, I don’t know, have you, you’ve been to my house. I have a painting which was given to me when I was in the Library School which shows what a typical backyard in New York looks like. You can see all the clothes lines, everything. And in, in that alley vendors used to come all the time, so that you could hear people, just like, you know, you, you see color, films of foreign countries, like, guys who would be... a guy would yell out, 'We, we make keys!' or, 'We do, we sharpen knives!' all sorts of vendors would be coming through there and they would, they would yell it out, you know, 'I'm here if you have anything!' and if you wanted to get something done you’d go down and do it. So, anyhow, we lived on that street and down about from my, that particular house, about 200 or 300 yards was the branch of the, the Woodycrest Branch of the New York Public Library. And it was built on a, on a strange... it was, it was on a hill and so the way they constructed it, the bottom part of the library was the children’s branch, and the upper part was the adult, okay. So... however, we then.... what happened was that when my, when I was, by the time I was about 10 years, about 9 or 10 years old my mother met my stepfather. I don’t, I don’t remember how they met, but that was an unusual, kind of, arrangement because he was also a relatively uneducated person. I don’t think he finished grammar school. He was 2 years old when he was, immigrated from Italy and, so she was going with my stepfather for several years before they got married but that being, you know... in those days a Jewish woman and an Italian man, that was, sort of, verboten, and the odd thing about all that was that my uncle, among others, was very opposed to it, okay. And, but he started dating my mother and he liked kids so he used to take us, you know, on... he had a rumble seat Chevrolet, I think it was, so we, he’d take us for rides that we would sit, my sister and I would sit in the rumble seat and we’d go for rides up in Westchester County because he was a, he was an itinerant manager of the meat department, butcher, he was an itinerant butcher for the American- Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company had, you know, A&P, I think. I don’t know, they still have supermarkets, I guess, still. It was very well known then. Atlantic Pacific Tea Company it was called but basically it was a supermarket. And, so, since he was brought up in, in Westchester County, New Rochelle, New York, he knew all these places to go to so we would... I got to know... we would go to Jones Beach or we’d go to Palisades Amusement Park, or all sorts of places that he took us to, and he was, he was a very simple man with very few intellectual interests, you know, just... I don’t what... later on that became a problem because my mother was really a, an extremely bright, intelligent woman, I mean, and probably suffered because of that.

Eugene Garfield (1925-2017) was an American scientist and publisher. In 1960 Garfield set up the Institute for Scientific Information which produced, among many other things, the Science Citation Index and fulfilled his dream of a multidisciplinary citation index. The impact of this is incalculable: without Garfield’s pioneering work, the field of scientometrics would have a very different landscape, and the study of scholarly communication would be considerably poorer.

Listeners: Henry Small

Henry Small is currently serving part-time as a research scientist at Thomson Reuters. He was formerly the director of research services and chief scientist. He received a joint PhD in chemistry and the history of science from the University of Wisconsin. He began his career as a historian of science at the American Institute of Physics' Center for History and Philosophy of Physics where he served as interim director until joining ISI (now Thomson Reuters) in 1972. He has published over 100 papers and book chapters on topics in citation analysis and the mapping of science. Dr Small is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an Honorary Fellow of the National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services, and past president of the International Society for Scientometrics and Infometrics. His current research interests include the use of co-citation contexts to understand the nature of inter-disciplinary versus intra-disciplinary science as revealed by science mapping.

Duration: 5 minutes, 50 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2007

Date story went live: 23 June 2009