This somewhat battered portfolio holds very special meaning for me. My father gave it to me when I went to work for the U. S. Geological Survey in about 1974. I was born in 1950 - my father held quite traditional views about women. Although he worked with a number of respected women in medical research and teaching, somehow the concept of women professionals didn't quite apply to his only daughter. In addition, my field of geology rated in his mind as a second-class science - "mickey-mouse" to quote him. This sounds quite horrid today, but bear in mind that this was a gentle, intelligent, loving man.
While I was still in college, he overcame his prejudice against geology. It happened the day he saw under a microscope an ultra-thin slice of an ancient fossilized reef. (If you grind most rocks sufficiently thin, they become translucent, revealing their makeup.) My dad looked in the microscope and saw beautiful branching algal fronds and other fossils. He shouted, "My God, there is structure!" He had supposed that rocks were amorphous blobs with no character whatsoever. From that moment, geology went up a notch in his estimation. (It was not until near the end of his life, seeing the amazing volcanic landscapes of Central Oregon that he fully realized the central role of geology in landforms.)
After graduating, I worked for a while for one of my professors, then for a geologic engineer, running compaction tests on soil samples. It was an important step up when I went to work for USGS. It was not long after that that my father handed me the handsome leather portfolio. I needed no explanation of what it meant. I was now a professional in a respected field.