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Gil & Hazel Lindgren Our Families Our Memories

I Remember Carleton Lindgren

Subject: Carleton Lindgren

Family Map: Frank and Amy -> Gilmore and Haze -> Dick, Ted, Carleton, Jon

Author: Jay Lindgren

Family Map: Carleton Lindgren -> Jay Lindgren

What I remember about my father is that in his eyes, life seemed to be one big science experiment.  Experiments were conducted on nearly a daily basis, frequently with several running concurrently.  The experiments were interesting, educational and sometimes dangerous and terrifying.  

Carleton’s undergraduate degree was in chemical engineering.  I remember several times being astonished at his ability to use chemistry in everyday life. This included being able to dissolve just about anything, a love for epoxy cement and a deep understanding of the chemistry of swimming pools and batteries.

Carleton’s interests were wide and varied.  There were experiments in chemistry, physics, anatomy, physiology, astronomy, psychology, optics, combustion, finance, simple machines, off roading, airplanes and car repair to name a few.

I derived more joy from the more physics oriented experiments, but they frequently came at a price of having to endure experiments on topics in which I was not as interested.  I remember the first time  I shot a squirrel and asked my father to teach me how to clean it.  The experience turned into a four hour lesson on the surgical techniques that could be employed to remove the intestines without contaminating the meat.  I learned a lot that day, but not really any practical way to clean a squirrel.

The experiments were not always rigorous.  One time we decided to measure the IQ of the family Basset Hound.  We hit the literature and found several tests to conduct. Basset Hounds are not known as smart dogs and within the spectrum of Basset Hound intelligence, our dog was at the bottom end.  Neither one of us had the heart to say the dog had a low IQ.  So we found unusual tests to conduct, cheated for the dog and declared him a genius.

One of the more dangerous experiments involved estimating the velocity of a bullet as it left a rifle.  The experiment consisted of suspending a block of wood from a string, firing a gun into the wood, measuring the height of wood’s swing and using the physics of inelastic collisions to estimate the initial velocity of the bullet.  Because it was a cold and snowy January, rather than conduct this outside, we decided to use our basement.  Luckily my aim was true, I hit the wood and measurement was successful.  Being that it is always easier to beg for forgiveness than get permission, we had neglected to warn my mother.  She simply heard a gunshot go off in the basement without warning.  I’m not sure if she ever really forgave us.

Later in life Carl’s passion for experiments evolved into simply feeding animals and enjoying their reaction.  He would go to a “day old bread store” and stock up on old, moldy loaves of bread, sometimes buying nearly a 100 loaves at a time.  I remember one time standing at the boundary of a zoo looking through a fence at an exotic deer standing right next to a big sign that said, “Please don’t feed the animals”, etc…  His face lit up and he immediately started to feed the deer as much bread as the deer would take.  I expressed my concern about the ethics and legality of this behavior and questioned if it would hurt the deer.  He just looked at me like I was as stupid as a Basset Hound and keep pushing bread through the fence.

Footnote:  In case you happen to be the owner of a Basset Hound, please don’t feel bad.  We further tested the ability of the dog’s nose and his ability to apply the information he got from scent.  We found him to have a truly exceptional nose.  When holding a treat and asking the dog to sit, he would put on a great show of effort and sit down in order to get a treat.  When asking the dog to sit and not holding a treat, he would usually just walk off, lay down or find something else to do.  Empirically I found this to happen100% of the time.  The nose could not be fooled.

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