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My uncle Sam
Eugene Garfield Scientist
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Of my five uncles the youngest one was not barmitzvahed. I mean, by that time, you know, they, they were socialist. The three of them were socialists. Marxist is really probably the best way to describe it. And... my uncles on the other hand, the two oldest uncles, were in the coat and suit business, you know. They were... and, and my uncle Sam was very successful. A very clever businessman who had several talents one of which was that he could... you know, when, when you buy material they don’t bring you a huge bolt of material for you to select, they bring you a book of little swatches and you’ve got be able to judge, from that little piece of material what this, this thing’s going to look like, if you put that material into a woman’s coat or a suit, and he had that incredible talent to be able to buy the right, at the right price and right materials. And, secondly, in that business, unlike typical Jewish men who are... I don’t know how many Jewish alcoholics you ever encountered, very few, actually. And, and, by the way, I believe it’s because they say it’s because of the alcohol dehydrogenase. It’s a, it’s actually a, some kind of genetic thing. And, I myself, I always, always comment about this. If I have one beer I just can’t... it’s... I just cannot consume much more than one or two beers, you know, and I never could understand how other people could drink more than one. Now, it doesn’t necessarily apply to other kinds of alcohol. Sol Herner was a big drinker, you know, he, he was... and I always, I always told him, I said, you remind me of my uncle. My uncle learned to drink and that was the key to his success with selling, as a salesman, because he used to wine and dine his customers, you know, and so he had that talent. Then he had this, we all knew he had the ability to do very quick calculations in your head, so he would walk around... When I was... I started to work for him when I was about 12 or 13. I used to go down to my uncle’s business which was... he had a loft in a building, 37th Street and seven, between 7th and 8th Avenue in New York which is the heart of the garment centre, and we would... it was on the second floor. I would go up and I was, like, a, what they call, the building clerk. There would, there’d be orders that we would have to write out an invoice for two coats or five coats, or whatever it is, and put that in... with the, the coats and then they would be shipped out. Well, he would come around... And, and the copy of each order would go into a drawer, and every hour or so during the height of the, when... you’re extremely busy we used to have to work 18 hours a day. You would come and you’d, you’d work until midnight because that’s the season. You’ve got to get the stuff out. If you don't ship them, ship them you don’t do it you don't sell them. So, he would come around and, and add up - he’d, he’d quickly go through the... invoices that I had done and, and then he had a little piece of pad, he always had this thing in his hand, a little... he made a pad, pad that was like one and a half inches high and he would write down his numbers, and everywhere, everywhere you’d see him go he would be writing down notes. So, I always, that’s why I always carry a pocket notebook to write down because I never can remember anything without writing it down. So, then I used, used to work on Saturdays and I had a business which was retail. People thought they were getting bargains so they’d come to these wholesale places on Saturdays and say, oh yes, I’m a friend of so-and-so - because technically you weren’t supposed to sell retail because if, if the, let’s say, JC Penney or other, other buyers of the, of... from the company would find out you were selling retail, you’re undercutting your own customers. You’re not supposed to be selling retail. But they would come around and they would say, well, I’m a friend of so-and-so, and we would sell them a coat and we’d charge them the same price they’d pay, pay in the store but they thought they were getting a bargain. And however, those were cash sales, and I think that was a good way for them to make some money without reporting it, as, you know, part of the general shipment. So, I used to take care of those. When people would come in I would show them the coats and they would pick something out then they would pay for it.

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, 27 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2007

Date story went live: 23 June 2009