Cohen first met Buckminster Fuller in 1948 when Serge Chermayeff, Director of the Institute of Design invited him to lecture. Cohen’s wife Mary first met him in 1951, after she had graduated from Indiana University and was working as a copywriter for a Chicago advertising agency. One night at the Institute of Design, where she had just begun to date Harold, she heard Bucky speak for the first time. Mary writes, “since Bucky knew Harold and I were seeing one another, he wanted to be sure that I jumped aboard his fan wagon. He asked how I enjoyed his lecture. I told him the first two hours were thrilling and I learned a lot. But the next four were daunting. Too much verbiage, I said.” Bucky must have been impressed. Shortly thereafter, Mary began reading and editing Fuller’s works and the Cohens and Bucky became fast friends. “During the summer of 1956,” Cohen writes, “Bucky called me to say that his apartment in Forest Hills, New York had burned and that he had lost most of his models and slides. He was desperate. He’d had no job for many years, relying on his wife Ann’s inheritance for their livelihood. I told him to hold on- that I’d get back to him within the week. I immediately met with SIU President Delyte W. Morris and convinced him to go to Springfield to propose that the State University Chancellor create a new “University Professorship” at SIU. This was to be the first of its kind in Carbondale. We wrote up a contract wherein Bucky would spend a stipulated portion of his time in Carbondale and was free to lecture and tour wherever he wanted.” Despite frequent lectures and short stints at Black Mountain College and other colleges, SIU was Bucky’s first full time academic appointment and gave him the time to begin to write again. He lived with the Cohens and Mary was his editor for two books, No More Second Hand God and Education Automation. The head of SIU Press at first refused to publish either book because “they were not on the subject of English”, but Mary convinced President Morris to have SIU Press publish them using his own discretionary funds. Thereafter, Doubleday published both books. “Bucky was wonderful with our children”, Mary writes. “He often baby sat and loved
How Harold L.Cohen made all the difference - continued - By Al Gowan
Design at Southern Illinois University