Roger Riordan: Visit to Berkeley 1964-65

I started working at CSIRO in 1957, and in 1964, having been with them for seven years, I became eligible for a years sabbatical leave. I had no idea what to do, but after talking to a visiting lecturer from Berkeley I arranged to spend a year at the Department of Electrical Engineering there. I knew very little about the academic world, so I didn't make very good use of my year, but I did take some interesting photographs.

Peter was 18 months old, which complicated our choice of accommodation. The University sent us a list of flats to rent, and we wrote to several which sounded promising. One wrote back, saying that he had had Australians before and liked them (they were actually New Zealanders, but that was all the same to him), and would hold the flat for one week if we sent him a cheque for $180, being one month's rent in advance.

This seemed an astronomical sum, but we talked to our contact, who assured us we would like it there, so we accepted the offer. Our landlords, Uncle Bill and Auntie Betty, met us at the airport and drove us via an imposing set of freeways to our flat in Orinda, which was over the hills from Berkeley in a peaceful rural environment. The isolation was difficult for Sally socially, but otherwise we thoroughly enjoyed our stay.

By chance our visit coincided with the Free Speech Movement -- a series of upheavals on campus which were to have profound effects on the University and on American politics and history. I took photos of these events whenever I could, and the photos reproduced here are probably of significant historical interest.

We also visited many of the scenic attractions in California, and at the end of the visit we took a zigzag trip across the States, and on to England, where we had some leave. It was the first time Sally had returned to England since she left in 1957 and we visited a number of her friends and family.

Looking back on this trip after 50 years I regret that, apart from these photos, there is almost nothing to show for it. I learnt very little that was useful for my career, and only made a couple of lasting friends. About all I did gain was a slightly better understanding of how the United States works, (or usually doesn't these days).



Free Speech Movement

Bay Area

Death Valley

 © Roger Riordan 2004-2019

Miscellaneous early photos 1964-5