Martin Marietta Handmade Circuit Boards
Martin Marietta Handmade Circuit Boards
Martin Marietta Handmade Circuit Boardsby:
March 1, 2016
A handmade circuit board created by David Emmons at the Martin Company in Orlando, circa 1970.
Mr. David L. Emmons of the Orlando Division received the Inventor of the Year Award in 1968 from The Martin Company for inventions relating to the Pershing missile, RADA communications system, and the Area Correlator Program.
LISTEN (19:02) as Mr. Emmons discusses the invention in this excerpt from an oral history interview on February 27, 2015.
After we were through with Thin Films I was transferred to RADA, the early RADA program which stood for Random Access Discreet Address Communications.
Martin Company poster for RADA: Random Access Discrete Address, circa 1950s.
There were two or three of those RADA programs. I was on all of them. And in between the RADA programs, I was on the PDP phase of Walleye. And it was a product definition phase where the Navy wanted to build this glide bomb with a TV in the front of it. And it had a big power supply in the back and a big television system in the front. And I figured out a way to save a lot of money on the television camera counter. And I ended up getting a patent on that. That's another one of my patents. And then on the second RADA program, I went back on RADA eventually and figured out a way to synchronize RADA systems. It's called a bit synchronizer and it was a patent I got.
I was pretty fortunate I was raising little girls and there's never enough money raising little girls. And so I ended up making a lot of extra money with patent applications. And I would say that at least 30 or 40 percent of my patent applications, disclosures they were called resulted in a patent. The company had to decide in a meeting of high powered people whether to patent an idea or not. Whether it was worthy of a patent. A patent even in those days cost about 5,000 dollars. And so, the question is, is your idea worthy of a patent and valuable to the company....
Patent document courtesy of the David L. Emmons Archives.
This Image Is Related To:
May 7, 2015
My name is David Leach Emmons and I was born and raised in Wyoming and I lived in Arkansas for a while and then I came to Florida in the 1950's. I came here because I couldn't really make a good living in AR, wages were too low. And I'd been through schools in the Navy to learn electronics and I knew how to do other things. I worked for a flying service in AR before I came down here for quite a while. I had a lot of experience flying and fixing radios, navigation equipment in airplanes. So when I came down here it was just natural I got a job at what had been the Glenn L. Martin Company, and the name was being changed to The Martin Company.
How did you hear about The Martin Company?
Actually, I came to work with my brother down in St. Petersburg to work with the Polaris program with Minneapolis Honeywell and that job didn't pan out. So we were at the Florida State Employment Office in St. Petersburg and we'd taken all the tests and everything. We were looking for jobs as electronic technicians. A guy named Clint Johnson, who was the head of technical employment at Martin just happened to be at St. Petersburg on the same day we were. So he seemed thrilled to offer us a trip to Orlando to be interviewed. So we came over and spent the night. I remember staying in an old hotel down there behind the police station. I think they just recently tore that hotel down. We were here overnight. Then went out to Martin to Elwell Street and we were interviewed by John Hunter who was the head of manufacturing testing.
Martin Orlando Engineering Facility on Elwell Street in 1957.
And he offered us jobs immediately so we came to Orlando and started working. We lived out there near the corner of Orange Blossom Trail and Sand Lake Road. The plant at Sand Lake Road was not finished.
The Glenn L. Martin Company plant site located four and a half miles south of Orlando on Orange Blossom Trail, 1956-1957.
As a matter of fact, the highway, or Sand Lake Road was only paved about half a mile west of Orange Blossom Trail, sand, dirt road out to the plant.
June 20, 1957 photo of the construction of Sand Lake Road, the new road for the Martin Plant. Paul's Truck Stop which was located on Orange Blossom Trail can be seen in the background.
So we went to Elwell Street out at the airport, that building right there. [What was the airport like at that time?] Well, it was small. It had been Orlando Army Air Corps Base. And the building we went to work in was a quonset hut, remodeled somewhat and had quite a bit of room and parking. During that time why various groups of people were being moved out to the main plant on Sand Lake Road. So it didn't really all open overnight. It took about a year for everybody to move out to Sand Lake Road and I think the Elwell Street building kept on being in operation for another four or five years.
What did you do when you started at The Martin Company?
I started working on several programs more or less all at once. I worked on La Crosse Autopilot, and I worked on the Bullpup Telemetry, and I worked on, eventually we had Pershing Guidance, the CP 109, where the ST 120, that's a stable platform for Pershing was installed and tested in the missile body. But La Crosse and Bullpup were what really got going early in the plant and then within a year or so Pershing came along. And I moved on to Pershing with automatic test equipment U2A and ATA.
U. S. Army Pershing Weapon System Brochure from Martin Marietta
Building a Computer Simulator
And during that time I got an assignment to build a computer simulator because the test equipment was going to be operated by a computer eventually. But there was no available computer for another couple of years so I got the job of designing and building a computer simulator to simulate all the functions of the computer. And my first patent was a digital comparator for that computer simulator. VIEW Patent.
Martin Marietta Vice President G.T. Willey honors inventor David L. Emmons on his first patent: High Speed Comparator invented by David L. Emmons, Orlando, Martin Marietta Corporation. Filed Dec. 7, 1961. Mr. Willey is pictured on the far left, and Mr. Emmons is pictured second from the right in this photo at Martin Marietta in Orlando.
Interesting, I think interesting, I got a couple of reviews from a guy from Huntsville, that was a big blue eyed square head blond German guy named Wernher von Braun. He actually was the original inventor of the automatic test equipment called ATA and UTA in today's technology.
Today, if a helicopter has problems, they don't shut it down completely they run out and change boxes. You know, electronic boxes in a helicopter and put it back online real quick. Those boxes are called LRU's, Line Replaceable Units. And the guy that actually invented that, a guy when he worked for Hitler, was Wernher von Braun. When they were launching missiles at England, they were having problems, you know, their electronics and stuff. Electronics was very primitive in those days. They didn't want to shut down a whole missile so the idea was that you could have all the electronics in these little boxes and just go out and change one of those boxes and off you go. And von Braun was a very interesting guy. He listened carefully and made good suggestions. He wasn't bashful. He didn't pull any punches. If he thought you were doing something wrong he would say so. And if he liked what you were doing he would tell you that.
Then eventually after I worked on Pershing, I worked on a program called Vector Computer. It was a China Lake program where Martin was going to come up with a computer. I think the China Lake name was BUIC - Back Up Interceptor Computer. When jet airplanes came along after World War II, it got harder and harder to hit them with any kind of a gun because you're always shooting behind the airplane. The airplanes were so much faster. So it became obvious, like I suppose in the 1950's, that you had to have a computer to measure the velocity and acceleration of the aircraft that you're shooting at so that you can establish what you call lead. Duckhunters know what lead is. It's where you shoot the shot where the duck is going to be not where he was. Well, this Vector Computer that Martin built did the same thing. The problem with the Vector Computer is that it had to do the computation very quickly.
Keith Klukis, the Manager of the Technical Computation Center, and David L. Emmons, Inventor, pictured on the right, examine the Carco Flight Table at Martin Marietta in Orlando, 1991.
You know in those days when they talked about computers everything was microseconds. Of course, now this is 40, 50 years later. Now, we're talking about nanoseconds everything's so much faster. Because we expect the computers to do so much more. Anyway, after Vector Computer I worked on thin films which was where we basically built the electronic hardware in a vacuum chamber and they were very small, very lightweight. It was an early entry into the microelectronic world. And we built a range counter for measuring velocity of tank shells for Frankfurt arsenal. And we did all this in a vacuum chamber and clean rooms. Never had worked in a clean room before, that was exciting.
After we were through with Thin Films I was transferred to RADA, the early RADA program which stood for Random Access Discreet Address Communications. [Cellphone technology.]
Martin Company poster for RADA: Random Access Discrete Address, circa 1950s.
There were two or three of those RADA programs. I was on all of them. And in between the RADA programs, I was on the PDP phase of Walleye. And it was a product definition phase where the Navy wanted to build this glide bomb with a TV in the front of it. And it had a big power supply in the back and a big television system in the front. And I figured out a way to save a lot of money on the television camera counter. I ended up getting a patent on that.
Programmable Frequency Divider Employing Two Cross-Coupled Monostable Multivibrators Coupled to Respective Inputs of a Bistable Multivibrator invented by David L. Emmons, Orlando, Martin Marietta Corporation. Filed Feb. 1, 1966. United States Patent Office 3,317,843 Patented May 2, 1967. READ Patent.
That's another one of my patents. And then on the second RADA program, I went back on RADA eventually and figured out a way to synchronize RADA systems. It's called a bit synchronizer and it was a patent I got.
Digital Communications Clock Synchronizer for Responding to Pulses of Predetermined Width and Further Predictable Pulses of Sufficient Energy Level During Particular Interval, Invented by David L. Emmons, Orlando, Martin Marietta Corporation. Filed March 7, 1969.
I was pretty fortunate I was raising little girls and there's never enough money raising little girls. And so, I ended up making a lot of extra money with patent applications. And I would say that at least 30 or 40 percent of my patent applications, disclosures they were called, resulted in a patent. The company had to decide in a meeting of high powered people whether to patent an idea or not. Whether it was worthy of a patent. A patent even in those days cost about 5,000 dollars. And so, the question is, is your idea worthy of a patent and valuable to the company?
David L. Emmons, front row far left, receives a check for his RADA patent from the Martin Marietta Corporation.
Anyway, then I went back to work on Pershing for a long time. Worked on a program called TRACE which stood for Terminal Radar Area Correlator Experiment. An interesting little aside about that, I worked for a guy named Mike Davis who was a really super good manager at Martin and he went to the Congress to try to explain to the Congress why Martin ought to rebuild the Pershing Missile System and still call it Pershing II. And so, he explained all that to them and then somebody asked him what kind of technical talent he had to do this job which they were not sure he could do.
And he said, "Well, I have a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer, off a submarine. That was a guy by the name of Fritz Kuhn, Dr. Fritz Kuhn, which everybody at Martin knew. And then he said, "I got a Chinese laundry guy," and he was referring to Dick Yee who was one of the most outstanding Fortran and differential equation experts in the whole world. And then Mike said, "I got an air conditioning mechanic," and that was me. He was trying to be funny.
Members of the Terminal Radar Area Correlator Experiment (TRACE) Program in front of a Chinook helicopter at Martin Orlando in 1973. Martin inventor David Emmons, is pictured on the far right.
Anyway, we did the TRACE program and that eventually led to the Pershing II Radar Correllation Guidance System which in my opinion was one of the main instruments for stopping the Cold War. President Reagan told the Russians if they didn't get the SS-20 missiles out of eastern Russia that he was going to mobilize the Pershing PII Battalions. Well, they didn't and he did. And so, as a result when they found out that we could fly those PII Radar Guided Missiles through their dining room windows they basically gave up the arms races. That was the end of the Cold War as we know it now. Anyways, so I feel like Martin and the PII Missile and the radar correllator which I have the system patent on - the terminal system radar - for that I feel like all that played a big part in stopping the Cold War.
Prestored Area Correlation Tracker Invented by David L. Emmons, Orlando, Martin Marietta Corporation. Filed November 4, 1969. United States Patent Office 4,106,726 Patented Aug. 15, 1978
Anyway, after I worked on that, which was, about 15 years went by, 20 years, I went to work on a program, Walt Trippe actually assigned me to a program called ADATS. It stood for Air Defense Anti-Tank System. We had a little joke when we first started we said, "Now all we need is to find a tank that flies." Anyway, it was a missile that could kill tanks or kill airplanes. And when we did the program we positively demonstrated we could do both. Anyway, after the ADATS System, I was on that about five years, off and on, I worked in Switzerland for about ten years off and on and I had a lot of fun over there. I liked the people that I worked with immensely. Still communicate with some of them after all these years have gone by....
I was working for Martin Marietta then and Martin Marietta was in a teaming arrangement with Oerlikon Buhrle was the name of a little suburb in Zurich. And the company that was there built anti-aircraft guns before they wanted to get in the missile business, was Orlacon Burly. And Martin wrote a proposal in about 1976 to help them learn how to build missiles and so they realized that sooner or later they were going to have to get in the missile business to do antiaircraft stuff once again. Because if you shoot airplanes that go Mach 2 you're not going to hit them. You have to have computers and missiles and stuff, so we did that.
Anyway, I retired from Martin in April of 1991. The last four or five years I worked there, I worked in the hybrid lab, which was TCC, the Technical Computation Center. It's the engineering center for computers. It does the support of all the programs with engineering computer facilities. And I have a lot of experience with a thing called hardware in the loop. So my job was to figure out how to interface hardware from the incoming customer with the new computers in the hybrid lab. So that as much simulation as possible could be done.
Simulation equipment in the Advanced Guidance Simulation Laboratory, a part of the Technical Computation Center at Martin Marietta in Orlando, circa 1990.
The real pioneer in simulation work was a guy named Floyd E. Nixon. He was one of the original old time simulation wizards. No one knew more than he did I don't think in the early days. And Floyd tried to get me to work for him for 15 years. I told him he couldn't afford me. He said, "I can afford you. I got plenty of money." I said, "It's not money, Floyd. It's the dissension that I cause in the ranks." But he was a good guy to work for. He was easy to talk to. For me, I could go in his office and shut the door and have it out with him. He would always say, "Erase the right hand side of the black board and explain what you're talking about." And then he would just shut up and listen. He was a very, very good listener.... So that was one of the characteristics that a lot of my bosses at Martin had. They were really, really good listeners. Martin was just chock full of just super, super good people....
The Advanced Guidance Simulation Laboratory (AGSL), a part of the Technical Computation Center at Martin Marietta in Orlando, circa 1990.
Martin Inventor of the Year
The patent department had to come up with a list of people who were candidates for the inventor of the year. As I told you there was another group of people had to come up with engineer of the year. And that year, 1969, Walt Trippe was the engineer of the year and I was the inventor of the year.
Mr. Emmons is pictured second from the left and Mr. Trippe is pictured in the center at the Martin Marietta Awards Banquet. Mr. Butterfield, Chief Engineer, is pictured in the front row wearing a bow tie standing next to Mr. Emmons and shoulder to shoulder with Mr. Trippe.
I got to take my wife. My department head Bill Parcell told me to take my wife to get her nails done, and get her hair done, and buy a new dress and new shoes and new hat. The department bought some airplane tickets and hotel reservations. We stayed at the Mayflower Hotel.
Invitation from George M. Bunker, President of the Martin Marietta Corporation, to David L. Emmons to attend the Corporation's Seventh Honor's Night Banquet on Friday, June 19, 1968 at seven o'clock.
They got gold bathtub knobs. Can you believe it? Really plush place. I never stayed in a plusher hotel... We were there Friday and Saturday and Sunday and came home Monday afternoon. So we did a lot of tourists stuff up there. Got to see some museums. First time I was ever in the Science and Technology Museum. I really like that Foucault pendulum in the lobby. I spent a long time looking at that....
David Emmons Receives the Martin Company Inventor of the Year Award from Martin Company President George Bunker
On Saturday night they had, the first thing is you went into the ballroom... they had an hors d'oeuvre table, big tables, marble, and standing on this marble table was a full sized horse carved out of ice.... VIEW Menu. And so people spent a lot of time visiting.... One of the guys at my table was a guy named George Bunker and George Bunker was the president of the corporation. I believe that he was formerly the president of the Chase National Bank which was the bank that took over the Martin Company from Glenn L. Martin. And then during the Walleye Program George Bunker used to come down. He had an office out on the balcony and he was there all the time. You know giving support and advice to people on Walleye.
Walleye was a really tough program. But the company preservered. Eventually, Walleye got to be a favorite glide bomb. The Navy guys that were dropping the Wallyeyes, I guess, over in Vietnam really liked it. I'd heard a lot of feedback on Walleye in those days. We eventually straightened out our difficulties with Walleye and I think the company made a good bit of money on it. I don't know about that part of it. I know about my part of it. It was a struggle for a while. [That was the programmable frequency divider that you did?] Yeah, the Navy out at China Lake had come up with a magnetic core counter which was real, real expensive. It was like $800.00 in those days. In the days when a Volkswagon cost $1600.00 dollars. This counter cost half of that. And I came up with a way of using two multi vibrators that cost $3.00 a piece. So for less than $10.00 I replaced an $800.00 counter. They were pretty thrilled with that because there were going to be a lot of them.... VIEW Patent.
American Journal of Physics and Journal of American Scientific Instruments
You were published in the American Journal of Physics and Journal of American Scientific Instruments? That was a digital counter that measured how fast the explosive charge moved. Remember we talked about the explosive mechanics job when we were working on Sprint? And measuring how fast that cylinder explosive would move while we came up with the digital counter for doing that....
How does inventing work? Do you sit at a drawing table?
Well, I spent a lot of time in the early years when I worked for John Winkler I sat at a drafting table and I had already had quite a lot of experience drawing and drafting.... I could do reasonably good inking of drawings using velum, mylar, inking. Drawings that went to the customer had to be inked and that was a little bit tedious, but time consuming. And they had lettering specification. You couldn't just letter it any old way. You had to use guides for lettering.... I worked next to a guy at Martin named Steve Crossmen.... He was a calligraphist. He was one of the very best....
Drawings by David L. Emmons of TRACE Program hardware at Martin Aerospace in Orlando.
Before I went to work for Martin I flew for the flying service. I flew charter. And I really think it was my ability and my license to repair navigation equipment that kept me employed at the flying service.... You went on to fly the F100 and that was part of your work at Martin? Well, during the late 1960's when we were running one of the area correlator programs. The Air Force had lots of equipment, but they did not have people. The people were all, the people that flew, the pilots, were mostly in Southeast Asia. And so, the guy that was head of Air Launch Systems systems, Bill Wicks, got a letter from the armament lab saying that they would bail us an airplane, but they weren't going to teach anybody at Martin how to fly. But they would give us transition training. Transition training is where someone already knows how to fly, but transitions from one type of aircraft to another....
The F100 at Orlando-McCoy Airport
There were four schools we had to go to to fly the F100. We had to go through egress and escape which was the ejection seat training. We had to go through survival training which involved the survival classroom training for surviving in the woods... and then since we were going to be operating near the water we had to go through the water survival which was that picture you saw jumping off the back of the tug into the water with a one man life raft. And then the parachute training which is where they had three 90 ft. poles... and its got the parachute already open. And at some point they release the parachute and the parachute comes down and there's a good bit of sawdust here and you land in the sawdust....So then I went to Luke Air Force Base at Mesa, Arizona for seven weeks of the transition training for the F100. And I had no problem whatever with the aircraft work. You know, flying, doing the flying stuff.
Pilot David Emmons Boarding the F100 at Orlando-McCoy Airport
We did quite a bit of flying. I had no trouble with that at all, but I had never touched anything to do with a jet engine. And so basically I had to learn everything I needed to know about jet engines in three weeks....
Launch Programs at Black Mesa, Utah
I was technical support on one of the early launch programs from Black Mesa, Utah... Anyway we were launching missiles from Black Mesa, Utah into the reservation at White Sands, that was Pershing. P1 Pershing. I was out there to support the ST120 operations and some of the telemetry stuff. And then several times we worked on the north end of the range at a place called Stallion Station which is a famous place up there about three miles from where they exploded the first atomic bomb.... But Stallion Station is also where years later we went to the second, one of the phases of ADATS. We fired ADATS at drone airplanes....
Eglin Air Force Base
The F100 testing was all done at Eglin.... We have several particular targets that were available to what was called the A-20 radar up there. And the radar would vector the airplane; aim the airplane at the targets like the truck target. When we ran with a system called a gun flush detector, we'd fly in reasonably high altitudes. And then in order to keep from getting negative G's on the airplane, when you get to the right place in space the radar tells you roll over. On my mark, ready, ready, mark and you roll the airplane over, then pull back and you're in a dive upside down. And then you finish a 180 degrees roll. This allows you to roll all the way over on to the target without pulling negative G's. The F100 did not have a negative G tank. The tank was good for about one minute. You didn't want to be anything near negative G's for more than a minute because you'd starve the fuel control system, not a good idea. Now a lot of later planes like the eagle, I believe, has a pressurized system. You can fly it upside down all day if you want to. It's pressurized....
Another program we didn't talk about was before I went to the technical computations job four or five years before I retired I worked for Walt Trippe on that elevated site system.
ELRAT Program Director Dr. James Crouch, center, Jose Richter, to his left, and Walter Trippe, on his right.
You got some pictures of that, I think... We called it ELRAT, Elevated Site System.
Dr. James Crouch, right, and David Emmons standing in front of the Elevated Site System at Martin Marietta in Orlando.
It was a TADS unit that normally goes on the front of an Apache helicopter,
The Target Acquisition Designation Sight System (TADS) at Martin Marietta in Orlando.
but up on a compressed air pole that would go up 90 ft. in the air and look over the pine trees at targets. It had a laser, and a flare, and a television system that allowed you to identify targets and illuminate targets with a laser. If you pick out a little spot on a target the size of a silver dollar, for instance, and you can fly various missiles like Copperhead or Navy GP or ADATS against the target.
The Elevated Site System, (ELRAT) equipped with TADS at Martin Marietta in Orlando.
Now ADATS has it's own spatial guidance system. ELRAT was basically using the illuminated site from the TADS against a target. That computer was capable of dealing with as many as five missiles at one time.... Yeah, that was a lot of fun. There were real nice kids working on that program and they were all real smart, strong backgrounds in computer stuff. And the guy that worked for me on the electrical part of TADS, the Moose Harness, was a guy named Frank Hazard. He did live over in Leesburg.... He's a really fine guy. We worked on several jobs together....
You know when I lived up in Arkansas I did radio and TV repair for a long time back in the early fifties. But I got a master electrician's license because we were doing electrical wiring on people's houses.... So in those early years the wiring in the house frequently was a type of wiring called knob and tube wiring. And my daughter, Mary Frances until recently had knob and tube wiring in her house here in Orlando. The National Electric Code said that if you had knob and tube wiring that was not damaged and was working okay you could leave it alone. But if you modified it or repaired it you had to tear it all out and replace it because it's not really safe. But I personally believe it's one of the safest methods of insulating wiring there is because you got the ceramic sleeve that goes over the wire that's way better than any kind of rubber or plastic you can put on a wire....
Working at the Martin Plant
What was it like working at the plant? Well, believe it or not, when I first, not long after we made this house I made a test to see how long it took me to get to work from my front door to my desk. It was 13 minutes. And that was before Interstate 4 opened up and I believe it was way better after that. When Interstate 4 first opened there was nobody on it. You'd drive over there and get on the freeway; you wouldn't see anybody. So it was really strange. But it didn't take long to fill up.
Orlando Ski Club
I used to get up at five o'clock in the morning and Jim Buchan did also. And a bunch of us belonged to the Orlando Ski Club. We skied on Lake Ivanhoe which was twice as big as it is now. And we built a ski ramp down there. And they had a ski ramp down there for a long tiime and then they tore it up and took it out. And then a couple of years later they built another one. I don't think there's one down there now. But Lake Ivanhoe's a good place to go skiing. In the afternoon even after the freeway came in I used come home in the afternoon and hitch up the boat and go down to Lake Ivanhoe and ski down there. Matter of fact, Walt Tripp's secretary was a woman named Analise Zoler, she was a German war bride, she was a very conscientious person, but she would beg me to drive by her house so she could jump in the boat and go skiing with us. She liked to go down to Lake Ivanhoe and go skiing. And she was a good skier. Of course, she learned to snow ski in Germany and she picked up waterskiing pretty quick. Well, a good place to learn is where they got gators. They used to have gators in Lake Ivanhoe.They weren't big gators, but my kids would complain about it and I said, "That gives you incentive to get up and stay up."
United States Power Squadron
In the 1960's, 1968, I joined the Power Squardon out in the Memorial Junior High School, out in the what's the name of that place out near John Young Parkway? Sky Lake had a junior high and the Power Squadron met out there and that's where I joined. And the Power Squardon is dedicated to boating safety for the public based upon boating education. In other words, almost every time there's an accident it can be traced back to people didn't know something that they should have known or they did something that they shouldn't have done, if they had learned not to do that they wouldn't have. So anyway, the first course, is a course given in the interest of public safety.... So I took the public course out there and then here was a guy named Stanton. Do you know Bill Stanton? You ever heard that name? He was my partner when I took the seamanship and sailing class. And he let us use the Orlando Utilities Building down there on Orange Avenue for the Power Squardon classes. And the instructor, Chuck Plyer, was a Martin guy who was an absolutely superb sailor... They used the library a lot of times for Boat Smart. They used to teach Boat Smart at the library on Saturdays.
Missionary Computer Fellowship
I knew the guy that started Missionary Computer Fellowship. He's a preacher now and preaches in Russia... George Wilson is his name. He's a real, just a sweetheart of a guy. Just a great guy. But he started that in the basement of the Presbyterian Church downtown. And then they were going to remodel the church stuff so Missionary Computer Fellowship had to move out. Time came for tem to move they moved over to the Methodist Church. The Methodists had bought that building where the performing arts center is now...So it was there I don't know, 15 years, I guess. And I cannot tell Walt Trippe no. If he asks me to do something for him if there's anyway in the world I'm going to do it.... So even now I do a lot of the buying for them on ebay.... I don't think there's a better human being in the world than Walt Trippe. Maybe me and Buchan. (laughter)
Read more about the history of Missionary Computer Fellowship.
Tell me that story again...
When you first came to this area you actually met someone, a roommate, who was very significant to our area. Yeah, that's one of my favorite stories. Would you tell us that story? You know who used to like to hear that story was, Woods, the tax collector, Earl K. Wood. He and I used to get our haircuts out there at Gillian Corners together. And I told him that [story] one time and every year or so I'd see him and he'd say, "Tell me that story again." He was a nice guy. He was a really nice guy. I liked him a lot...
426 South Osceola
When I moved into the house at 426 South Oscoela, the house was owned by some retired people: Carl and Beverly Black. His whole name was Carl Glidys Black.... I went there to rent a room for $10.00 a week. And Mrs. Black made it very clear that the $10.00 a week included a wash cloth and a towel and a set of clean sheets. And that there were certain rules of the house, but not many. Taking a bath was one of them. (laughter) I didn't need that rule, but it was a rule nonetheless. So anyway a couple months into that room rental staff over there, she said, "David, how do you feel about sharing the middle bedroom, it had twin beds, with this retired military guy?" I said, "I don't mind." And so I switched bedrooms and he moved in and pretty soon got to be pretty friendly together. We used to go on the back porch where they had jalousie windows all over and we'd take our shoes off and watch Ben Aycrigg, who was a favorite newscaster of the day on CBS, WDBO it was, black and white TV long time before they got color.
Channel 6 News television studio with leading news anchor Ben Aycrigg on the left.
But anyway, after the news was over, we'd get our laundry and walk down South Street and put in our laundry and dry cleaning. In those days you did dry cleaning. And then we'd walk down to the corner of South and Delaney and have a sandwich at Miner's Delicatessen. Do you remember Miner's? Yeah, they were nice people.
So then I asked him one time, I said, "What do you do with your time?" He said, "Well, David, I'm retired." He said, "I've been in the Army a long time. I'm retired." He said, "I dabble in real estate." I said, "Well, okay." And that's all there was to the conversation.
Brigadier General Joe Potter Buys 35,000 Acres for Walt Disney
Well, then about 20 years later some other friends of the Black's, Hugh and Dot Bean, came through town and they parked right out here on the driveway. And they said, "David, you remember that guy you used to share the room with at the Blacks?" I said, "Yeah." They said, "What was his name?" I said, "Joe." They said, "What was his last name?" I said, "I don't remember." They said, "Does the name Potter mean anything to you?" And I said, "Yeah, that was his name, Joe Potter." And his wife popped up and said, "Brigadier General Joe Potter. He was Walt Disney's best friend in the whole world and he was here buying real estate for Walt Disney." I found out later he bought 35,000 acres of southwest Orange County property.... I remember the spokesman for Disney saying that Walt did not want to have the problem that they had in California where there were too many other businesses right next to Disney. Said that he wanted to buy a big buffer zone. Well, 35,000 acres is a big buffer zone....
A lot of the guys at Martin just before they started opening the Disney stuff, they had the Disney chefs for the Polynesian. They were over there at the hotels on International Drive for like a training ground. And they used to let the Martin guys go in there. We didn't get it for free, but we ate lunch over there for next to nothing....
Martin's Impact on the Community
What impact do you think Martin has had on our community? Well, real early on before Martin came, the number one industry here yearlong was citrus. And the second industry that was somewhat seasonal, very seasonal was the tourism. The people coming down from up north including my grandparents from Connecticut used to get off the train next to Orange Avenue and walk across the street to the hotels. Orange Avenue used to be covered with hotels... The Wyoming Hotel was here when I was here, but not much longer. It was in where the parking lot of the Sentinel is now. And it was a clap board hotel the whole city block. Big hotel. And it was right across one, one and a half blocks from the railroad train. People would get off the train, pick up their luggage, walk to the hotel and they'd be there for the winter. And then when the weather got good up north, they'd get back on the train and go north.
I used to go down there for Sunday dinner. They had good Sunday dinner like red snapper and hearts of palm salad with peanut butter and mayonnaise dressing. It's to die for I'm telling you. And, of course, I always liked a little glass of dry wine. But you park out back and you walk through this long dark hallway not very wide with a red carpet on the floor. That carpet must have been four inches thick. It was tremondously thick. Anyway, you walk up to the maitre'd and tell him what you want to drink and then you go back and sit in a rocking chair on the front porch. And they bring you a drink and after a while they call out your name and you go in the dining room and you have your meal. Hard to beat. There's almost nothing like that anymore....
Martin brought a very high intellectual level of activity and caused almost overnight the Industrial Revolution of Orlando
So, you asked what Martin brought, I'll tell you. Martin brought a very high intellectual level of activity and caused almost over night the industrial revolution of Orlando. And there was a lot of real estate activity because of Martin along the trail. Gold Key Inn and all that, you know the business area out there... As time went along, a lot of the people were involved in hiring people. I wasn't involved in that early on, but I was later on. Walt Trippe was in the habit of drafting people that he wanted. I used to go to Tennessee. Actually, Tennessee Tech is the name of the school and it's at Crossville, Tennessee and I'd fly from Orlando to Nashville, rent a car and drive 90 miles over there, get in a motel and sleep a little. And I'd go over there as early as I could in the morning. I'd get up at six which is earlier then I usually get up, but by seven I'd have my breakfast; I'd be over there at my desk. There were already people lined up out the door with resumes. They wanted to talk about jobs at Martin. And it stayed like that. Somebody brought me a sandwich at lunch. And I stayed right through the lunch and when it got time for me to go catch the airplane to go back to Orlando, I had to go down this line of people and collect resumes and stuff them in my briefcase and take off for the airport. Because these kids wanted to come down to work for Martin and I hired some of them.
Mr. Billy Erd who lives right around the corner from here his brother was one of the guys in the Model Shop. I knew his brother, but Billy went to TN Tech. I was fortunate enough to interview him. He was a crackerjack guy. Well, he ended up being one of the number one guys in the Model Shop....
Many times I went around Route 128 in Boston. Walt Trippe drafted me for a lot of stuff....
Interview: David L. Emmons
Interviewer: Jane E. Tracy
Date: February 27, 2015
Place: Central Florida Residence of Mr. and Mrs. Emmons.