“Where Professionals Connect”
Kettering knew his limitations, and hired George B. Smith to handle his and Deeds finances. He was the man primarily responsible for building their resources into multimillion-dollar fortunes. George built the large, red brick home you see from the front of the Kettering Memorial Hospital, high on the hill opposite the hospital. Across the peak of the roof on this house is a captain’s walk. I was on that walk a few times. Dad took me with him when he had to see George at home for some of Kettering’s business. George had a huge American Indian artifact collection. I enjoyed looking at all the arrowheads and other Indian items. When the depression hit in the 1930s, and Dad lost his resources in bank failures, I had trouble with money trying to complete my E.E. degree from the University of Cincinnati. George B. Smith loaned me the money to finish my last year at U.C. from the Kettering Foundation. It took five years for Loraine, my wife, and me to pay that back.
The Deeds-Kettering partnership’s work secret was “men must hunt in pairs”. They determined, together, to some day provide a place where young engineers could meet “To cement friendships, to educate youth, to foster all types of engineering work in Dayton, and to hold aloft our devotion to the truth”. This resulted in Deeds and Kettering building this Engineers Club. Orville Wright was one of the founders and charter members. He accepted the key to the building on behalf of the Board of Governors when Deeds and Kettering gave it to the Club.
Deeds was away on vacation when the great Flood hit Dayton in 1913. Patterson took charge of the relief work. Upon Deeds return, Patterson put Deeds on the Public Improvement Committee. Before long, he was the animating spirit of the Flood Prevention Committee. It was Deeds who realized the entire Valley must unite in doing something so it would never happen again. He also recognized it had to de done locally, not nationally. He determined the Morgan Engineering Co., in Memphis, as best qualified to work on it. Patterson and Deeds called Morgan to come to Dayton for an interview. Deeds took Morgan to see all the areas that had been flooded. Morgan was hired to make the surveys, submit report on what to do, and do it. With Patterson as Chairman and Deeds as Vice Chairman, the Dayton Citizens Relief Committee raised $2,000,000 to determine what to do to “Remember the Promises You Made in the Attic”. Morgan developed the Miami Conservancy District, and it took Deeds to see it through. In fact, Morgan said that without Deeds, it would never have happened. When Morgan decided on (5) earthen dams, he and Deeds looked at the Miamisburg Mound and concluded that earthen construction was the way to go. Dad took Lois and me to see the construction work in progress at Englewood Dam, quite often.
On March 25, 1947, the 34th anniversary of the Flood, Deeds and Morgan were honored by a celebration in the NCR auditorium. That the MCD was successful was noted in this recent D.D.N. article.
In 1916, Deeds and Kettering took Orville Wright to look at a plot of 120 acres along the Great Miami River across from Triangle Park, and asked Orville if he thought it suitable for a landing field. When he said “Yes”, Deeds and Kettering bought the land to be a public aviation field. It became McCook Field, the first aircraft research field for the Army Signal Corps. This is of special interest because it was also Edward Deeds, in WW-I, when commissioned as a Colonel in the Army, to serve on the Aircraft Procurement Board, who called Arthur Morgan to see about another aircraft field, Deeds knew that Morgan had surveyed the entire Miami Valley. Arthur called in Orville Wright, who recommended the area including Huffman Prairie. The Conservancy District bought it and offered it to the government. It became what we know as WPAFB.
Orville Wright taught Howard Rinehart to pilot the Wright B Flyer at Huffman Prairie. Howard became Vice President of Wright Airplane Co. In 1912, Howard took Kettering for a ride on the Wright B Flyer. Howard then took Bill Chryst for a ride, and Kettering took this picture of Howard and Bill in the air, seen on the bottom of this picture. Bill Chryst had been in Kettering’s Inventions 3 Dept. in NCR, and left NCR to join the Barn Gang. In my early days at Delco Products, Bill Chryst was Chief Engineer. In 1913, Bill Chryst lived just a few doors from my Uncle Ottie Fries, and helped our family hold onto the small tree from which they were rescued from the 1913 Flood.
The top picture seen here is of a high wing monoplane developed by Kettering. We don’t associate Kettering with airplane design, but he did this one. It was one of the first with retractable landing gear. Howard Rinehart is on extreme left, Kettering on extreme right, of these men showing the strength of the wing.
In addition to Howard Rinehart, Benny Whelan was also a pilot for the Wright Airplane Co. Benny remembers a time when my Dad called him and said Boss Ket wants to go to St. Mary’s, Ohio, will you fly him there. When they landed near St. Mary’s, Kettering asked Benny to call my Dad to find out why they were there. Kettering could be absent minded at times.
During a conversation about flying in poor visibility, Kettering once remarked “If you should ever be in doubt, throw out a monkey wrench. If it goes up, you are flying upside-down. If it goes down, you are flying right side up”.
I was just seven weeks old when Wilbur Wright died. So I didn’t get to know him. I knew Orville, of course, as a fellow member of the Engineers Club. My association with the Wright Brothers’ family came about through my great grandfather, Rev. J. K. Nelson. He was a minister in the United Brethren in Christ Church. Bishop Milton Wright, the Wright Brothers’ father, was a Bishop in the same denomination. In the 1889 Quadrennial Conference, Bishop Wright had a disagreement with the majority of the conferees regarding the church’s constitution. The constitution prohibited members from belonging to secret societies. Some members wanted to join the Masons. So they submitted a new constitution eliminating the item about secret societies. Bishop Wright felt very strongly about the issue. When the new constitution was adopted, Bishop Wright and those who agreed with him walked out, and held their own conference, using the “Old Constitution”. They formed a different denomination, the United Brethren in Christ, Old Constitution. This is still active, in Huntington, Indiana. In this picture, Bishop Wright is third from the left in the top row. My great grandfather is the fourth from the left in the bottom row. My mother told me that her grandfather rejoined the original denomination before he died. Her father, Doctor J. W. Hicks, was an evangelical minister in the United Brethren Church, headquartered in the U.B. building in Dayton.
My final picture is by the graciousness of Hardy Trolander and John Bosch, of the Barn Gang. You may have seen this before. But I have to say my respect for the Wright Brothers was strengthened when I felt the air on my face, and felt the undulations of the Wright B Flyer Look-a-Like during my ride May 26, 2003. If you have any questions, I will try to answer them. Thank you for your interest in my remarks.
Charles O. Adams.
Given to Barn Gang, Eng. Club, 8-12-03.
Given to Sertoma Club, 2-25-04.
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