CHAPTER V. THE AGE OF LABORATORY WORK
WILLIAM JACOB ROBBINS
From 1937 to 1957 plant physiologist William Jacob Robbins (1890- ) was the chief executive officer of NYBG. He was elected a member of the Club at a meeting on March 2, 1937.
After a stint of a few months in Washington, D.C., where Robbins was a soil biochemist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 1919 he accepted a post as professor and chairman of the Department of Botany at the University of Missouri. He later became the dean of the Graduate School of the University of Missouri. Robbins was also co-author of the botany text book General Botany. It became the most widely used botany text ever adopted in college classes.
Torreya (1937:143) commented that "Some of his outstanding work has been with the isoelectric point of plant tissues, with the growth of exercised root tips and with plant auxins." In 1938 he was elected vice-president of the Botanical Society of America.
The senior staff consisted of Dr. Fred J. Seaver (mycology), Dr. Arlow B. Stout (compatibility in higher plants), Dr. B. O. Dodge (a plant pathologist who, in 1928, had done the ground-breaking work with Neurospora in microbial genetics), Dr. Henry Allan Gleason (head curator and chief taxonomist of the higher plants), and Dr. John Hendley Barnhart (the librarian, who obtained prized books for the Garden even if it meant buying them himself).
Gleason was born in Dalton City, Illinois. In 1901 he received the B.S. and in 1904 the M.A. degree from the University of Illinois. Gleason earned his Ph. D. from institution was Columbia in 1906 under N. L. Britton. In 1912 he was a graduate of the Graduate Studies Program at NYBG. His dissertation was on systematics in the genus Trillium. His first job was at the University of Illinois at Champaign, Urbana. He later was on the faculty at the University of Michigan, 1910-1919. In 1919 he became first assistant of the NYBG. He became head curator of the NYBG and for one year served as Acting Director, but he never really liked administrative work. Many field enthusiasts know Gleason only from his association with the Gleason and Cronquist field guide, but for many years Gleason worked on tropical American botany. In 1948 Gleason was president of the Botanical Society of America.
In 1937 John Hendley Barnhart (1871-1949) became the Torrey president. He was closely associated with the TBC for nearly sixty years. Barnhart was born in Brooklyn, New York. He was a TBC member as early a 1891. In 1893 he received the degree of A.B. from Wesleyan University with special honors in biology. The next year he attained the A.M. degree. In 1896 he received his M.D. degree from Columbia University. From 1908 to 1926, and again in 1932 he was the vice-president of the TBC. In 1907 he was appointed Librarian of the NYBG, when Anna Murray Vail, the first librarian retired in that year.
He married and built a winter home in Jessamine, Florida, where he began an extensive botanical collection. Then in 1914 he came back north to live in Tarrytown, and subsequently moved to the Bronx. In 1903 he was appointed Editorial Assistant with duties relating to the Bulletin, the Memoirs, and the Journal of the NYBG all of which were being published by the Garden at that time. In 1905 North American Flora began to appear and Barnhart did all the manuscript revisions. In his editorial work, he was an active champion of the American code of nomenclature.
Just how different the field trips could be from today is shown by an article entitled "With the Torrey Botanical Club, Which Tramps Far and Wide" that appeared in the New York Daily Tribune (May 13, 19??, date not available). The reporter wrote that among the "blossom chasers" were John Hendley Barnhart and a Miss Vail. The leader of the trip was John McCallum who lead a tour of his farm near Central Park, Long Island on which was found Solanum rostratum. In the pictures the two women attendees wore very fancy hats, long-sleeved blouses, and long thick skirts, and carried umbrellas. The men also wore hats along with long pants and jackets (probably over long-sleeved shirts). It looked like the men were wearing bow-ties but it is a little hard to tell from the old, faded pictures. It must have been very hot in those outfits.
In 1939 the Board of Managers of the NYBG authorized the preparation of a third edition of Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora of the Northeastern Sates and Adjacent Canada. Gleason, Head Curator, spent over ten years on this project and was able to complete it before his retirement. It came out in late 1952.
Dr. Britton had wanted the Garden to function as the Botanical Department of Columbia University, but this was not to be. As head of the Columbia department, Robert Almer Harper (1862 - 1946), who worked in the fields of pathology and mycology, also held a seat on the Board of Managers of the New York Botanical Garden, and when the two men were at loggerheads, relations between the institutions cooled. When Harper retired, Robbins was able to establish a program with Columbia and with Fordham University (whose campus adjoins the Garden) whereby graduate students could receive degrees for work at the Garden. The funds he obtained encouraged students, more of whom chose the taxonomy of the higher plants than any other botanical discipline.
Dr. Robbins gave to the study of South American flora (a long-term interest of taxonomists) a great boost by bringing in Bassett Maguire as its head. Robbins also started building laboratory facilities at the garden. The six laboratories Robbins eventually had fitted out in the museum's east basement saw a good deal of first-class research in plant physiology, mycology, virology, and biochemistry related to plants. His devotion to laboratory work developed into the Charles B. Harding Laboratory (finished in 1956). His devotion to his laboratory is testified to by the fact that the first field trip of 1944 was a trip to the laboratory of Dr. W. J. Robbins (April 8, 1944) where the director and then his assistants showed the forty trip attendees around the lab and answered questions.
In 1956 at the NYBG the new laboratory opened. They opened the laboratory in honor of William Robbins, whose dream it had been. In 1958 the staff was composed of Marjorie Anchel, Alma Barksdale, Annette Hervey (long time TBC corresponding secretary and program chair), and later William Silverton. (Steere 1996:363-364).
In 1940 Dr. B. O. Dodge (1872-1960) became president of the TBC. He was born in Mauston, Wisconsin. For the first 20 years of his life he worked on his father's farm. He taught school in order to pay for his education enabling him to graduate from the Milwaukee Normal School. In 1909 he completed the requirements for the Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. There he came under the influence of R. A. Harper and went with Harper to Columbia University where Dodge accepted a position as Assistant and Research Fellow in Botany. In 1912 he received his doctorate from Columbia.
In 1920 he became the plant pathologist for the Bureau of Plant Industry of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Then he took the same position at the NYBG beginning in 1928 and stayed in that position until his retirement in 1947. His special care project was the rose garden at NYBG. With Dr. H. W. Rickett he wrote a text on the diseases of ornamental plants.
In 1941 Dr. John S. Karling (1897-1995) became president of the TBC. Karling was born on a farm near Austin, Texas. He got his B.S. from the University of Texas in 1919 and his M.S. degree in 1921. He later got his Ph.D. from Columbia University where he had worked on fungi. During World War II he directed the United States Survey in Brazil looking for a source of natural rubber. He went to Purdue University in 1948 and retired from there in 1964. In 1987 he was named Mycologist of the Year by the International Society of Mycology. He was a co-founder of the Mycological Society of America and of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.
In 1942 Dr. C. Stuart Gager became president of the TBC. He was the first director of the BBG and in 1936 he was the president of the Botanical Society of America.
In 1943 William J. Robbins, Director of NYBG, became the president of TBC. In the same year he was president of the Botanical Society of America. The year 1943 saw the arrival of Arhur Cronquist, the great taxonomist, at the NYBG.
One of the great taxonomists/systematists of our time was brought to NYBG under the directorship of William J. Robbins. The Swedish Arthur Cronquist was born in 1919 in San Jose, California, and grew up in Portland, Oregon. By the time he started high school, his mother had moved to Pocatello, Idaho. , where, upon graduation, he began college at Idaho State. He took his first class in taxonomy from Dr. Ray Davis. He then worked for the Forest Service and sold specimens of his Idaho collections to support himself. Crongquist described himself as a "nature boy" who liked getting outdoors to hike or climb. This was the reason he first majored in forestry when he transferred to Utah State (then Utah Agricultural College), from which he graduated with a B.S. in 1938. He remained at Logan and completed his M.S. degree on Aster in 1940 under the guidance of Dr. Bassett Maguire.
Cronquist went to the University of Minnesota to do his doctoral work, doing a revision of the North American species of Erigeron. Maguire proposed E. cronquistii in 1944, with Cronquist proposing E. maguirei in 1947. During the Second World War, Arthur was exempt from the draft because of an injury to his elbow. So he worked on Simaroubaceae for Merick Pharmaceutical Company in an effort to discover an alternative for quinine, and for the Chicle Company to find a substitute for chewing gum. After the War, Cronquist went to Brussels to continue his work on Simaroubaceae and the flora of Africa as part of an effort to improve conditions in scientific institutions in Europe.
Cronquist was an assistant professor at both the University of Georgia and at Washington State University. When the Pullman campus was forced to reduce its faculty for financial reasons, Cronquist was let go and he moved to New York, accepting a permanent position at the NYBG. He first went to NYBG in 1943 as an assistant curator, but the position was temporary and lasted only a year. When he started again at New York his future revolved around three areas of study: floristics, revisions of composites, and angiosperm classification. He became NYBG's senior scientist.
Cronquist did a lot of work in concert with Henry Allan Gleason. In 1956 Gleason was one of 50 American botanists who received a certificate of merit from the Botanical Society of America (Meyer 1958:17) "for his work on tropical and temperate floras of America and for the ideas and inspiration which he has supplied to the field of systematic botany." He collected 940 numbers in the Potaro River Gorge in British Guiana in 1934.
Cronquist helped overthrow the system of classification devised by the German Adolph Engler. In 1957 he published a paper staking a claim to work on the subject of reclassification.
THE BOYCE THOMPSON INSTITUTE
In 1944 Michael Levine (1886-1952) was president of the TBC. He was born in Russia, but came to the United States with his parents and attended public school in New York City. In 1906 he received the B.S. degree from the College of the City of New York. He then became a high school teacher in New York City. In 1913 he received his Ph.D. degree on fungi from Columbia University under the mentorship of R. A. Harper. From 1916 to 1924 he was the biologist at Montefiore Hospital and from 1924 he was biologist in charge of the cancer research laboratory. From 1944 to 1946 he served as assistant director of Montefiore Hospital.
In 1945 Fred J. Seaver (1877-1970) was the president of the TBC. He earned his B.S. in 1902 from Morningside College. He was a professor of botany at Iowa Wesleyan University from 1905 to 1906. He was director of laboratories at the NYBG from 1908 to 1911. He earned his Ph.D. from the State University of Iowa in 1912. He was curator and curator and curator emeritus of the NYBG laboratories starting in 1912. He wrote a book on the North American cup fungi. 1978. The North American Cup-Fungi (Operculates). Supplemented edition. The North American Cup-Fungi (Inoperculates), by Fred J. Seaver. Mycologia 70: 912.
In 1946 Percy W. Zimmerman (1884-1958) became president of the TBC. Dr. Zimmerman was the first president of many to come who came from the Boyce Thompson Institute. He was born at Manito, Illinois. He attended Eastern Illinois State Normal College from 1907 to 1910). From 1910 to 1913 he was the superintendent of schools at Westville, Illinois. He went on to get his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Chicago. From 1916 to 1925 he served as professor of botany and associate dean at the University of Maryland. From 1925 to his death he worked at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research. At Boyce Thompson he specialized in plant physiology, especially in the effects of growth regulating substances and air pollution on plant growth. With his associate, Dr. A. E. Hitchcock, he established the importance of these substances in plant growth and the two men together shared the 1935 Annual Award of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Phenoxyacetic acid, its derivatives and related compounds were recognized by Zimmerman at Boyce Thompson Institute in the 1930 decade as having some auxin-like activity when used in low concentrations. Dr. Zimmerman was a Torrey Club member for twenty-nine years and even represented the club on the Board of Managers of the NYBG.
William Boyce Thompson was born May 13. 1869 in Alder Gulch, Montana. At the age of 11 his family moved to Butte, Montana. At seventeen, in December 1886, he was sent East to Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. He never graduated from Exeter. In 1889 he matriculated to Columbia University as a student in Engineering. The School of Mines is where he found his greatest interest, but he did not return after his freshman year. Instead, he returned to Montana, and was employed by his father in the family's copper and silver mines in Montana and Arizona. In 1895 he married and settled in Helena, then later in Butte.
In 1899 he moved to New York City, but was not successful in his attempts at mining stock investment. So he returned to Montana where he secured a producing mine, the Shannon. But he could not resist the call of Wall Street again and by 1904 he was earning handsome profits for his investments and by 1906 he made his first million. The Guggenheim Brothers, J.P. Morgan and Bernard Baruch were his sometime business partners. He made an astounding fortune.
Through a series of land purchases from 19061910, he began to acquire properties in Northwest Yonkers. Around 1910 he commissioned the architectural firm of Carrere and Hastings to draw up the plans for his magnificent estate, which he called the Alders with Alder Manor. At his mansion he starting developing beautiful gardens.
In 1917, Thompson was sent by the Woodrow Wilson administration to Russia as a Lt. Colonel in the American Red Cross, but with the real purpose of keeping the Russians in World War I. That attempt, of course, failed, but he did manage to delay the date of Russia's leaving the war.
He found his greatest interest in a new home he was building in the Arizona hills, near the town of Superior in what came to be known as his Picket Post house. He soon picked Franklin J. Crider, University of Arizona, to establish the Boyce Thompson Southwest Arboretum on a portion of the 400 acres. The initial mission of the Arboretum was to study the plants of desert countries and to make the results available to the public. In 1924 he also established the Boyce Thompson Institute for plant research in Yonkers, New York.
After suffering a stroke in October 1925, his left arm and leg were paralyzed. He died from pneumonia in June 1930. (From the website of Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park http://ag.arizona.edu/bta/bta21.html)
Thompson's most significant achievement was yet to be realized. He stated at the time: "There will be two hundred million people in this country pretty soon. It's going to be a question of bread, of primary food supply. That question is beyond politicians and sociologists. I think I will work out some institution to deal with plant physiology, to help protect the basic needs of the 200 million. Not an uplift foundation, but a scientific institution dealing with definite things, like germination, parasites, plant diseases, and plant potentialities." He created the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research (BTI) is a private not-for-profit organization dedicated to the study of plants and associated organisms for the betterment of society. The Boyce Thompson Institute later became a part of Cornell University and was moved to its Ithaca campus in 1978, after 54 years of in Yonkers. (http://www.yonkershistory.org/ 8_2_2.html -- John D'Agnillo).
And so in 1919, he began to obtain property opposite his Yonkers home to house the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, created with an initial investment of $1 million dollars, an amount to which much more was added over the years. The Institute was formally dedicated on September 24,1924. The original building had a total floor space of 85,764 sq. ft. There was an arboretum and greenhouse space of over 16,000 sq. ft. The Institute used to own more than 300 acres of rich agricultural land for field plots.
In 1946 Torreya was put back into the one volume with the Bulletin. When they merged the local botany section back into the Bulletin the reports on the field trips were very brief. Often much too brief. The TBC field program continued to lag. In the same year, at the January 8, 1946 meeting, Dr. Robbins spoke a few words on the relationship between NYBG and TBC and the Club's part in founding the Garden.
Also after 1946 the minutes of the club meetings were published in decreasing detail and then in 1958 were not published at all. (Clum 1996:656)
In 1947 George Harrison Shull (1874-1954) became president of the TBC. Establishing the factors involved in stabilizing hybrid vigor in hybrid corn was worked out by East and Shull (1908). Shull was born on a farm near North Hampton, Ohio. He was one of seven children of a modest farmer and had to work so hard on the farm that he did not receive much formal education. But he made up for this by teaching himself. At 18 he became a teacher in the rural county schools.
He received his B.A. from Antioch College in 1901. In 1902 he got a position with the National Herbarium, assigned to study the plant life of Chesapeake Bay. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1904. With the Carnegie Institution he studied the spectacular work of Luther Burbank from 1906 to 1911. In 1915 he became professor of botany and genetics at Princeton University. In 1942 he became Professor Emeritus and retained that title until his death in 1954.
Since 1947 TBC/TBS has been conducting summer field trip sessions with the northeastern section of the Botanical Society of America. (Clum 1996:657)
In 1948 John Alvin Small (19??-1977) became president of the TBC. He was born in Palmyra, Maine and received the B.Sc. from the University of Maine in 1924. He went to Rutgers for graduate work and in 1928 he earned his Ph.D. from there working under William H. Martin. His thesis was on wilt disease of tomatoes. From 1924 to 1932 he was the State Seed Inspector of New Jersey as well as the plant pathologist for that state from 1928 to 1932. In 1928 he started his long association with the New Jersey College for Women (later Douglass College). He taught here from 1928 to 1965 when he retired.
Small was very interested in New Jersey flora, especially so because he wanted to introduce a course in ecology at his college. In pursuit of this he attended the Torrey field trips and collected plants for the herbarium while he did so. He was fascinated with the New Jersey pine barrens and often led field trips there. He was TBC field chair from 1939 to 1949. Moreover for seventeen years he was in charge of trail maintenance on the Appalachian Trail for TBC and was editor for the "Guide to the Appalachian Trail from the Connecticut Line to the Susquehanna River."
Small probably rejoiced in 1946 when Murray Buell arrived at Rutgers. Small was included in the Rutgers College program and he played an important role in not only building the ecology program at Rutgers but in making it one off the most outstanding ecological programs in the northeast as well as one of the top five in the country. (Gunckel 1977:71) Small became involved with Dr. Murray Buell in ecological studies of the Hutcheson Memorial Forest. He was also instrumental in saving Island Beach and Mettler's Woods (Hutcheson Memorial Forest).
In 1949 Edwin Bernard Matzke (1902-1969) was president of the TBC. He was born in the Bronx and as a boy would, with his father, frequently visit the NYBG. In 1924 he earned his A.B. from Columbia College, studying under R. A. Harper and C. C. Curtis, and then his Ph.D. in 1930. He became an instructor at Columbia in 1929 and by 1947 was professor of botany there. He was chair of the Department of Botany from 1958 to 1966, and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences from 1966 to 1967. His work at Columbia was of a morphogenetic nature centering on the study of the problems of cell shape by various devices. P. 54
In 1950 Harold L. Clum was the TBC president. When Harold L. Clum (1996:657) joined the TBC the meetings were held in the afternoon. It was not until 1949 that the afternoon sessions were switched to evening sessions.
In 1951 A. E. Hitchock, who worked with Percy Zimmerman at the Boyce Thompson Institute, became the president of TBC.
In 1952 the TBC president was Marion Alvin Johnson (1901-1964). He was born in Iowa where he grew up on a farm. He graduated from William Penn College in Iowa in 1924. He went on to get his Ph. D. from the University of Chicago with his thesis on the morphology of Equisetum. In 1929 he came to Rutgers. He worked on the study of terminal growing regions of a large number of tropical and semi-tropical woody plants. In 1945 after Chrysler's death, he was the sole member of the Rutgers' botany staff. He so worked with Dr. Fairbrothers. In 1954 he became the Dean of the Graduate School of Rutgers University.
In 1953 Jennie Laura Symons Simpson was the president of TBC. Jennie Laura Symons was born in Waterloo, Canada. She earned all her post-high school degrees from McGill University, the B.A. in 1917, the M.S. in 1921, and the Ph. D. in 1925. In 1925 she married biochemist Dr. George Eric Simpson. She taught at the University of Toronto and Swathmore College. In 1929 she came to Hunter College where she always carried a heavy teaching load. She was very interested in marine algae. She became a U.S. citizen in 1931. At the October 8, 1960 meeting of the TBC she showed slides of the seaweeds of the California coast and talked about the Torrey Pines. She retired in 1962 to Chula Vista, California.
In 1954 Murray Fife Buell (19??-1975) was president of the Torrey Botanical Club. He was born in New Haven, Connecticut and earned his A.B. in 1930 from Cornell University. In 1935 he earned the Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota working with the great plant ecologist, William S. Cooper. Dr. Buell came to Rutgers in 1946 and stayed there until 1971. His wife, Helen Foote Buell, who he worked with, earned her Ph.D. in phycology at the University of Minnesota. Rutgers scientists, especially Murray Buell, trained in the Chicago school, did a great deal to help establish botanical ecology for the NYC vicinity during the 1960's. During his 25 years at Rutgers he had thirty-nine graduate students earn their Ph. D. under his mentoring. Among the students were Gily E. Bard, William Niering, and Jack S. McCormick. An M.S. student he worked with was Calvin J. Heusser. He was the vice-president of TBC from 1951 to 1953 and editor of the Bulletin from 1963 to 1969.
Along with his wife and Rutgers colleague Dr. John Alvin Small, Dr. Murray Buell set up the Buell-Small Succession Study of the Hutcheson Memorial Forest. The study was begun in 1958, with the sampling of two fields abandoned the previous fall. Ecologists had known for a long time that communities and ecosystems change through time, but most of the studies had been based on comparing similar sites of different ages.
Botanists and ecologists at Rutgers had been joined by colleagues and citizens to save Mettler's Woods, the last, old-growth, upland oak forest in New Jersey. Dr. Murray Buell became the first director of the Hutcheson Memorial Forest, the new name of Mettler's Woods. The fields were and are still used for research on succession and other ecological, botanical, and zoological phenomena.
In 1954 David Fables, Jr. (1918-1961) was the field chair. Fables lived in New Jersey and went to school at Roselle Park High School, Union Junior College at Cranford, and graduated from Seton Hall University in 1942. He then went on to get a master's degree in biology in 1947. During this time he worked as a high school biology teacher. Beginning in 1946 he became a professor of biology at Union Junior College. He also went to Columbia University and later got his doctorate from Rutgers. He received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study the Wharton Tract as well as other areas in the pine barrens.
He served on the Field Committee from 1946 to 1955 and was chairman in 1954. He became very knowledgeable of the plants of the Lakehurst area, where he could live with relatives. With the help of his students, he traversed the New Jersey part of the Appalachian Trail listing the plants observed. His favorite spots included High Point, Greendell Swamp, Quaker Bridge, Oswego Lake, and the Milford Bluffs (this last a subject of a published study in Torreya in 1951). He wrote a newspaper column called "Afield in New Jersey."
In 1955 the bryologist Elva Lawton (1896-1993) was the president of TBS. She was born in West Middletown, Pennsylvania. After graduating from high school in 1915 in Washington, Pennsylvania she taught four years in a one-room school in Hopewell Township. She obtained her B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1923. From 1923 to 1925 she taught Biology and Latin at a high school in her state. She got her M.S. from the University of Pittsburgh and went on to the University of Michigan for her Ph.D., which she obtained in 1932.
In 1928 she became an instructor at Hunter College, New York City. In New York she became a member of the TBC and served as Treasurer from 1947 to 1954. She retired from Hunter College in 1959 and moved to Seattle, Washington where she became the Research Associate in the University of Washington Herbarium.
In 1956 Lela V. Barton (1901-1967) was the TBC president. She was born in Farmington, Arkansas. She earned her A.B. from the University of Arkansas and her A.M. and Ph. D. from Columbia University. In 1928 she arrived at the Boyce Thompson Institute to assist Dr. William Crocker in the laboratory in the area of seed germination. In 1949 she became the Plant Physiologist for BTI. Barton led frequent field trips of the BTI facilities for TBC.
In 1956 the field chairman David Fairbrothers ran a message "A Report from Your Field Chairman." A definite lack of interest has been shown by members of the Torrey Botanical Club in their field program during the past two years.
In 1957 Harold W. Rickett (of the NYBG) was president of the TBC. Along with Bernard O.Dodge in 1948 he published Diseases and Pests of Ornamental Plants. N.Y.: The Ronald Press. He was also responsible in the 1970's for the series Wildflowers of the United States. In 1957 Dr. David Fairbrothers was the field chair.
Probably because President Rickett was interested in the flora of North America he came to Joseph Vincent Monachino (1911-1962) of the NYBG and told him the field program was in danger of being discontinued. He asked Monachino to be the field chairman and save the program. (Monachino 1959) Monachino was born on the island of Sicily, but immigrated to the United States with his widowed mother and siblings at the age of 5. He graduated from the Franklin K. Lane High School in Brooklyn and in 1934 graduated from St. John's University. Because of the Great Depression he enrolled in the W. P.A. and they assigned him to the NYBG as a Physical Scientist. He soon became an expert in tropical plants (Moldenke 1963).
In 1941 he began to work for the drug firm of Merck & Company of Rahway, New Jersey. During this period, he wrote at least thirty scientific articles. He married in 1942. In 1948 he left Merck and became an Associate Custodian of the NYBG Herbarium.
Monachino loved the out of doors. He started by joining J. Otis Swift's Yosian Fellowship of Outdoor Enthusiasts and was an active member and then leader of the Camping and Hiking Club. Beginning in 1957 for over twenty years he was active in Torrey field trips leading at least twenty-nine of them himself. He served on the Field Committee from 1957 to 1961 and from 1958 to 1961 served as Chairman.
In 1960 Monachino had a good year with 60 field excursions being offered. The co-chairman was Mr. Mulford Martin. In the 1960 Report of the Chairman of the TBC Field Committee Monachino wrote about possibly starting another Flora of the Vicinity of New York City. He wrote that "our fondest hope is that the field program will inspire lasting botanical contributions, particularly as a result of observations carried out in the field. Very preliminary steps have been taken to interest members in a revision of Norman Taylor's Flora of the Vicinity of New York. This substantial project would necessitate the cooperation of a number of people for a considerable period of time. As things now stand, Mr. J. Harry Lehr is keeping a record of the more recent botanical literature bearing on the local area. Mr. Lehr might be interested in treating the genus Carex for the proposed revision, while Robert Meyer would possibly handle the Gramineae and Karl L. Brooks the fern allies. County records for some parts of the Torrey range are being assembled. Mr. Brooks has volunteered to help prepare the manuscript -- should one eventually be at hand!" July, 1961 vol 88, no 4, p. 261
Nothing much came of this initiative because nature intervened. The death of his wife in 1959 was a shock from which Monachino never fully recovered and he died prematurely in December of 1962.
After twenty years of service, Robbins retired on December 31, 1957. The Club must not have been too enthused over Robbins's tenure at the NYBG because in the Notes section, concerning the director's love of his laboratories devoted to plant physiology and biochemistry, Torreya briefly commented that "the development of these and allied disciplines reflects Dr. Robbins' own interests and activities." (Vol 85 #3, May 1958). He was to be succeeded by Dr. Steere.
For the period of January to July, 1958, Dr. David Daniel Keck, head curator of the Garden since 1951, was Acting Director.