Saturday, September 24, 2016

Janaki Ammal's last day in the USA

A letter dated May 8th, 1931 from Cambridge (in USA) to Cobb Blanchard is a short letter. Janaki Ammal (JA for short), is happy to be spending her time in this "interesting part" of the country. She also refers to the fact that she has not had time to think about Ann Arbor after leaving and regrets at having "left many a thing unfinished and undone."

Just 3 days before this, May 5th, 1931 is a type written, unsigned letter sent to JA. The letter talks about Grace (Cobb's daughter) looking at JA's portrait and recognizing her. It has some more questions about what to do about some refunded money and type writer that was left behind. Cobb thanks JA for a homespun cover that she left for Cobb, remarking that it is "lovely". We further come to know that JA took a bus from Ann Arbor to Washington (for sight seeing) and then onto Cambridge and Boston.  It seems the May 8th letter is a response to the letter sent on May 5th.

On June 8th, 1931, Cobb writes a reply to the May 8th letter. In this they talk about Eileen's accident and hope for her recovery. Cobb talks about various things regarding her family. Its probably worth noting that she refers to her husband Frank being tired due to the extra duties of looking after the children. She also thanks JA for a postcard of sea gulls sent from New York. This letter talks about the third child (a boy) and his arrival into the family.

On June 28th, 1931 JA write a reply to this letter from John Innes Horticultural Institution. As a true cytologist she writes "I am so happy that atleast one of the three has the Y chromosome of the family".  Dorothy and Grace are the older girls referred to in the previous letters. JA is also very happy with atmosphere for working at John Innes. More than anything else, she is impressed by C.D Darlington and writes "is a really brilliant man with a delightful sense of humor and an infinite capacity for talk and discussion." At tea time and lunch, JA has heard about the two books being written by Darlington, one is a text book of cytology and another about travels in Persia.

In the same letter JA talks about having looked at root tips from her egg plants and seeing 46 to 48 chromosomes. She is excited to think that they are tetraploids. Her egg plants here of special importance as they are named "Janaki Brengal" and referred to as her first love in the Michigan Alumnus Volume 42, page 532, who's who. The article in the Michigan Almunus also notes that she lived in the Martha cook building.

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