The Wondrous Lives of Julius Shapiro
He was a jovial Lower East Side gangster, wartime chemical researcher and secretive color television pioneer. An inquisitive daughter wants the full story, but this ninety-three-year-old would rather drink his coffee and read his book in peace.
Julius Shapiro wants no real dialogue about the Manhattan Project, but not for the reasons you might think. He is simply way too familiar with our long-running battle over what he’ll release from the past.
It’s October, a few days before Dad’s ninety-third birthday, and no, he doesn’t want a party. I have decided to gift him a biographical essay, but he has made it well known he doesn’t want that, either. His afternoon goals are to download a book on Kindle and have me get him a Devil Dog and a cup of tea.
The heat has not yet come on in my building. I’m fine, hot even, walking around in a tee and shorts while Dad is swaddled in front of his computer desk, in the discarded Dora comforter my sixth-grade daughter was all too happy to hand up to her grandfather.
“They found me through the American Chemical Society, and Columbia’s alumni office,” he finally says. “All that happened was that they asked me to come in and interview for the progra…