I had a surprise come my way on my trip up to Massachusetts last week. While I was at the Cambridge Historical Society, an audience member introduced herself: Nancy Bellows Woods, who’d been a chemist at Polaroid from 1968 to 1971. (She was, back then, married to Al Bellows, who appears in the book for his early work on SX-70.) Woods had been stationed in the black-and-white lab, she told me, and I asked her whether she’d worked for Meroë Morse, Land’s beloved deputy who ran the b/w research. She had indeed, and in fact had been there when Morse died, at just 46 years of age, in 1969. And she was so struck by the emotion surrounding Morse’s death that she saved the memo that Dick Young, another of Land’s top executives, circulated that day. Here it is (click the image for a larger, fully legible view).
Maybe it’s just because I’m deep in Polaroidiana, but I am struck by this. It’s neither sentimental nor corporate-cold, and it speaks of an environment where people really believed in their jobs as small missions, toward a product that improved communication, preserved memories, and actually did make people’s lives a little better.
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