HELLO, my name is Alan Shapiro

Hometown: The Bronx, the only borough of New York City that is part of the continental United States. The rest is just an archipelago.

When did you become a member of UMRA? In 2009, the year I retired.

What was your very first job? Delivering the New York Post when I was in junior high school. The Post was an afternoon paper, and delivering to apartment houses, I was able to deliver a lot of papers in a few hours. For a 12- or 13-year-old in the early fifties, I made a lot of money. I don’t at all remember how much I made, but it sure seemed like a lot then.

What was your occupation when you retired from FT work? Professor of history of science and technology.

What was your first car? A used Volkswagen Beetle (probably late 1950s), which I bought when I left New York City for graduate school. In my last year of graduate school I was in an accident and the car overturned. (I was in the hospital for a few days, but the accident slowed down the completion of my PhD by only two months.) My accident was four years after Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed, and two years before he issued his famous warning that that VW Beetles had a dangerous tendency to overturn.

Do you have a favorite place on the U of M campus? The Washington Avenue Bridge connecting the East and West banks. I enjoy the views of the Mississippi River and its banks and pondering how it has continually changed over the last 50 years. The river can be frozen over, rushing in the spring, and tranquil in the summer. I appreciated how much I liked the bridge when, a few weeks ago, I used it for the first time in about two years.

What is something you currently enjoy doing with your time? I enjoy the common treats of gardening, reading, and (pre-COVID) travel, but I spend much of my time doing research. I am still publishing papers and a book, though at a much slower rate than earlier.

Publication date: 
October 25, 2021
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