Pictured here in September 1939, Einstein relaxes on the beach near his Long Island summer home with friend and local department store owner David Rothman. After some initial confusion in the store resulting from Einstein’s thickly accented request for a pair of “sundahls”, which Rothman interpreted as “sundial”, the scientist was able to successfully purchase the white sandals on his feet for $1.35. He laughed off the episode, blaming “mine atrocious accent!”. The men remained close friends thereafter, later forming a neighborhood string quartet together. The original black and white photograph.
In 1939 Einstein rented this cottage on Nassau Point in Cutchogue so he could put his sailboat in Horseshoe Cove. For Einstein Long Island only meant a place where he could enjoy himself. The neighbors said the two main activities Einstein did to occupy his time there were: sailing and violin playing. Einstein, who never learned to swim, had no pretensions about his nautical prowess. He had named his glorified rowboat the Tinef, which is supposedly Yiddish for junk. It was small, maybe about 15 feet (4.5 meters) or so, and very unprepossessing.
Before that summer was over Einstein would sign a letter to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt warning him that the United States couldn’t afford to wait while Nazi Germany was possibly making a nuclear weapon.
Einstein was legendary for going sockless, and this occasion was no exception. He did that because he had a problem with his feet throughout his life, he had flat feet and varicose veins. When he went to Switzerland he was summoned by the military officials for the medical examination. At the medical examination Einstein was attested varicosities, flat and sweaty feet. Thus he was declared “Unqualified A” by the examination committee. The “A” means, that he could only be used for “helpers’ services”. However, the Swiss Army never summoned Einstein to perform these services. Sometimes he found other reasons for not wearing socks. “When I was young, I found out that the big toe always ends up making a hole in the sock,” he once said. “So I stopped wearing socks.”
(Photo credit: Southold Historical Society.)