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My Arrival and Early Days at Sadtler

My first and only interview foran employment in the Fall of 1963 was at Sadtler Research Laboratories, Inc. located at 15th and Vine. The building was one of a series of ancient attached store fronts along the northern side of Vine street and number 1517 was the second or third location from the corner as I recollect.

When I went in for the interview, I was directed upstairs to Donald Slavin's office which was at the rear of the building. The walls along the hallway were lined with shelves crammed with all kinds of chemicals that were being run in the spectra lab for Standard Spectra and those being utilized by the chemists of the analytical lab. The whole upper floor smelled just awful.

I walked through this odiferous gauntlet, met Don Slavin, had an interview, was offered the job at $100 per week. $90 was the going rate there for lab technicians but I had a degree and so got an extra $ 10 per week. I believe that this was a Friday and I started work the following Monday morning. That week the Board of Education called to see if I would be available to substitute teach that day. My wife informed them of my new job.

That site at 1517 Vine is now a parking lot. The front half of the ground floor was comprised of offices of the President, Philip Sadtler, grandson of the company's founder, the sales department and accounting. The back half of the ground floor was occupied primarily by the printing and shipping departments.

The second floor was divided in half by a hallway that extended from the top of the stairs to the back of the building. The area along the front of the building was occupied by the Editorial department. The next room on the left after Editorial was the Spectra lab. I believe that it was the only air-conditioned room in the building because of the expensive instrumentation it contained.

The grating Infra-red instrument was a Perkin-Elmer 521 with a rotating drum-style recorder and occupied a bench area about 2 foot by 2 foot. The prism Infra-red spectrometer was a Beckman IR4, a large machine that occupied a bench space approximately 4 foot long and two feet deep incorporating a built-in flat bed recorder.
The true monster in the room was the Cary 15 Ultra-violet spectrometer which was so large and heavy that it sat on a specially constructed heavy duty table. It was about four foot long, three feet deep and about 2 foot high and easily weighed several hundred pounds.

My co-workers were Fred Mercaldo who ran the PE 521, Wayne Liss who operated the IR4 and Traude Hegel, the lab manager. Traude was a working manager, filling in on any of the instruments whenever one of the techs was absent in order to maintain a steady supply of new spectra for the next publication. The operation was very highly production oriented, and overtime was often available as the deadlines approached. I was assigned to operate the Cary 15 UV spectrometer and was trained on-the-job.

Plans were being made to move into a newer and larger building at 3316 Spring Garden St. The Christmas party of 1963 was held in the new building at which time Phil Sadtler announced that he and Traude were going to be married. It was a great surprise to everyone.

Aside from the existence of building-wide air conditioning, the best thing about new location was a small room on the second floor which now became the sample department. They still smelled terrible but at least the chemicals were now isolated from the rest of the building.

In the Spring of 1964, plans were made to purchase a Varian A-60A NMR spectrometer and I was sent to Canisius College in Buffalo, New York for a one week short course on the theory of NMR, the current instrumentation, and techniques for the interpretation of spectra. Varian had set up several A-60A instruments in a room for hands-on experience by the attendees and lines of interested chemists soon formed. Upon my return, I was now the company's resident NMR expert.

Dr. Jeffords, a professor of Chemistry at Temple University was hired as a consultant to help assign the spectra. The following year he went to Europe as an exchange professor and his European counterpart continued making the assignments. It soon became evident to Traude and myself that although knowledgeable in the theory of NMR and the fundamentals of Interpretation that did not have the expertise to correctly interpret the spectra. When Dr. Jeffords returned to Temple from Europe, he was not contacted to continue as a consultant to Sadtler. I had been making some of the easier assignments from the beginning and now I began to do them full time and a new technician was hired to operate the spectrometer.

Industrial NMR was in it's infancy. There were very few texts available, and very little in the way of correlation tables or other interpretation aids. At that time we had the two Volume set of reference spectra published by Johnson and Jankovsky from Varian Associates. There was a thin text on interpretation by Dr. Roy Bible and the printed notes and reference materials that had been prepared by Nugent Chamberlain for the short course at Canisius. The latter was a very practical collection of data including some spectral spectral fragments that were useful for pattern recognition.

Of course, the most helpful references were the spectra that we were running ourselves. Each sample was accompanied by a data sheet showing its molecular structure and for simple structures the correlations were obvious. Because the Prism Infra-red collections had a head start of several years and most of the samples that had been run were still available in the sample department, it was possible to seek out a specific sample from the IR collection and run them in NMR to help assign the more complicated structures.

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