For geologist Clarence Allen '49, World War II clarified his academic future. When the U.S. entered the war, Allen was too young to enlist, but like many young men, he was anxious to follow in the footsteps of his father, who had already volunteered, and his older brother, who was in the Ambulance Corps. He contented himself with plunging into physics at Reed, choosing that discipline because it was the most challenging he knew.
At the end of his freshman year, Allen was old enough to join the Air Force cadet program.
"I'd long been interested in maps," Allen says. "When I was a child, my family traveled a lot. One summer in our 1927 Dodge we made it from where we lived in Claremont, California, to Eugene, Oregon, without once driving on a paved highway.