Interviewee: Dr. T. Keith Glennan

Interviewers: Mr. Martin Collins and Dr. David DeVorkin

Place: Reston, Virginia

Date: June 6, 1986


MR. COLLINS: Dr. Glennan, we were talking before, and I'd just like to put in for the record, that you previously have been interviewed by Eugene Emme.

DR. GLENNAN: That is correct.

COLLINS: This was some time after your leaving NASA.

GLENNAN: That is right, and as a matter of fact, I can let you have a copy of what I seem to have that he sent on to me.

COLLINS: That would be very useful, we could copy it and then write back to you. Have you been interviewed--I don't mean by the news media--by any other historians or people who are interested in writing history?

GLENNAN: I can't recall. I think I may have contributed to a thesis that was done by somebody at Syracuse.

COLLINS: Perhaps Henry Lambright, is that a name you know?

GLENNAN: I think that may be, although I didn't contribute much to his material. That's many years ago.

COLLINS: Let's go to your birthplace, Enderlin, North Dakota.

GLENNAN: Enderlin, North Dakota--a big city of perhaps 300 souls. I don't know that it has any more today, and I've never been back.

COLLINS: You were born there September 8, 1905, and all of your biographical sketches indicate that you moved to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and spent most of your boyhood there. When did you move there? Do you have any recollections of Enderlin? And what was your early home life like?

GLENNAN: No, I have no recollections of Enderlin because I think we left there when I was perhaps two weeks old. My father was a train dispatcher, as the Sioux Line Railroad was being built to the West, he was working as the head of the rails, which meant we lived in a box car moving along as the line was being built. We moved with the head of the rails. His office was at the head of the rails.

COLLINS: Could you give us your father's full name and your mother's full name and their backgrounds?

GLENNAN: Richard Henry Glennan was born in Albany, Wisconsin. His father came from Ireland. My mother's name was Margaret Laing Pauline. She was born in Bellville, Ontario. Her parents came from Scotland. Her father was an engineer, railroad engineer, and was brought to Canada by Lord Strathcona, to help set up and operate the first steam locomotives that were brought to Canada from Scotland. My forebears were almost all railroad people. My father was one of the youngest operators and later train dispatchers in the country, as a matter of fact. I think he had a fourth grade education. But we moved from Enderlin on West, and the place that I recall first as a youngster was Three Forks, Montana. Three Forks because the headwaters of the Missouri River, the Madison, the Jefferson, and the Gallatin came together there and formed the Missouri River. We lived there until I was about six years old.

In the meantime, as with railroad men in those days, we lived in Whitefish, Montana for a while. We lived in Butte, Montana for a while. We lived in Lewiston, Idaho for perhaps six months. We then moved back to Eau Claire, Wisconsin. My recollection is that that was just about 1912. I was about seven years old I think.

COLLINS: Was the railroad finished or did your father take another job?

GLENNAN: I have no idea. I didn't know enough about it in those days. Railroading was a great industry in those days. Every railroad man, his word was his bond, that type of thing. My dad was a railroad man for all his life. He came back to be an operator, what we called a trick operator--that's eight hours, eight hours, eight hours. During his youth, he was an operator 12 hours a day, seven days a week. So while I was still a youngster, the eight hour day was won by the railroads.

    Eau Claire is about 80 miles east of St. Paul, Minnesota. That was my mother's home, and I have a sense that there was an interim period, after my birth, when we went back to St. Paul, but I don't recall any of that. My sister, who is three years younger than I, and still lives, was born, literally, in a boxcar. No doctors or anything like that.

COLLINS: What's her name?

GLENNAN: Her name is Jessie Glennan Simmons. She lives in Tucson now.

COLLINS: Is that your only sibling?

GLENNAN: No, I have a brother who is two years older than I am. I'm just going out to see him next week.

DEVORKIN: You moved to Eau Claire and your primary recollections of your childhood--

GLENNAN: --are of Eau Claire.

DEDVORKIN: What was your home life like? You say your father was a railroad man and your family was a railroad family. What was a railroad family like? What did you do as a child growing up? What were their aspirations for you?

GLENNAN: I don't know that they had any. My mother had more education than my father. She was a school teacher. I think she'd gone through the eighth grade and probably taught in secondary schools. I don't really know where she taught, but I think it must have been in St. Paul. And when you say, what were their aspirations, I guess they expected me to make a living. But I had other thoughts. I was interested in an education. A good many of the kids in my high school classes were going on to the University of Wisconsin, and I made up my mind somehow or other, that I was going to get an education, whatever that meant.

DEVORKIN: You were going to high school then?

GLENNAN: Yes. At about that time, the phenomena of normal schools, teachers training colleges, began to become apparent around the country, and I went to a model school for the 7th and 8th grades, as I recall it, Eau Claire State Normal School, then to high school. I went through there in about 3, 3 1/2 years, something like that. And then, because we had no money--Dad's biggest paycheck in his life was $265 a month--I decided I was going to be a teacher. I seemed to get on well in mathematics. I enjoyed it.

DEVORKIN: Were there any teachers that you remembered, that you respected?

GLENNAN: Oh yes. In high school yes. There was a history teacher, a rather plump, jolly lady by the name of Genevieve Blum, whose father was a Judge Blum in Eau Claire. We became good friends. As a matter of fact, I think I had more friends among the teachers than I did with kids my own age, not that I was a loner or anything like that, but I enjoyed my teachers. There was a man by the name of Emil Shervey, a mathematics teacher, and we got along very well together. They were interested in me. Otherwise my life there was just the ordinary kid in a 28,000 population town. Baseball, went out in the country on a bicycle, the old swimming hole, and all that sort of thing.

DEVORKIN: Why do think your teachers were interested in you? Were you a good student?

GLENNAN: Reasonably, I guess. I worked at it. I did all the things that I had to do and some that I didn't have to do.

DEVORKIN: I'd be interested in those. What sort of things that you didn't have to do?

GLENNAN: Well, my brother and I became members of a prohibited high school fraternity.

DEVORKIN: A high school fraternity?

GLENNAN: I think it's the only time I ever knew my mother to tell a lie, because when you're initiated, they beat us with 2 x 4 and I still have a brand on my chest from the cigarettes in the initiation. We got home that night, head full of paint or some sort of gum, so Mother knew what had happened, but when she was called up to the principal's office she said that her sons, to her knowledge, never had joined the fraternity, but I didn't think that good old Scottish, whatever it was, lady, Presybterian, would ever tell a lie, but she did then.

DEVORKIN: What was the penalty?

GLENNAN: None, not a word--

DEVORKIN: Well, if you had been found out?

GLENNAN: I suppose we'd have been put on probation or thrown out of school for a semester or some such thing as that.

DEVORKIN: I see, it was serious.

GLENNAN: It was a serious matter. They were trying to control it, really to close down all such secret clubs.

DEVORKIN: What attracted you to it?

GLENNAN: My friends, I suppose.

DEVORKIN: Could it have been your brother?

GLENNAN: He and I were both members.

DEVORKIN: He was older than you, wasn't he?

GLENNAN: He was two years older than I.

DEVORKIN: Was he a role model in any way?


DEVORKIN: Were you very equal in what you did, what you decided to do?

GLENNAN: I guess so, until we got to the point of going on for more education.

DEVORKIN: I see, what happened then?

GLENNAN: As I say, we didn't have any money so I had decided to go back and try to become a teacher. And Gordon, as I recall it, started out along the same path. I don't know how much interest I really had, but I lost it very quickly because after about two or three months, I was asked to go back to the high school and substitute-teach geometry for three days.

DEVORKIN: This is when you were in college.

GLENNAN: This is when I was in the normal school.

DEVORKIN: Oh, the normal school. You went from high school to the normal.

GLENNAN: To the normal school. I was there for two years.

DEVORKIN: Then you went to the university after that.

GLENNAN: Then I went to Yale after that.

DEVORKIN: OK, let's back up. Let's find out a little more about your brother for a second. What did he do? Did he go on to the normal school also?

GLENNAN: Let me tell you about him. My brother is one of the few men in my lifetime that I think you could trust with anything. He was not an outgoing fellow, as I guess I was to an extent, but he was a reliable person, and he was also thoroughly independent. I remember that when we were kids, Mother didn't spare the rod, and when we got up to the point where he was big enough, I still can remember his taking the stick away from my mother and breaking it over his knees and saying, "That's the last time you'll ever use that on me." And that was exactly what happened.

    He went on to school, got appendicitis, went to the hospital, had it removed, and after about three days--they used to keep you in the hospital for ten days or so then--he got tired of the hospital. Even though we were Protestants, it happened to be that he was taken to the Sacred Heart Hospital, as I recallit. After three days he said, "To hell with it," got up, put on his clothes and walked out, and disappeared.

    The next we knew of him, he was time-keeping on a construction gang, over in northern Minnesota. I think he was with the Northwest Power Co. or something like that. He worked at that for two or three years. In various places. I remember one place was St. Cloud, Minnesota.

    We did the usual amount of fighting for brothers, but we stuck together half of our lives. I did reasonably well at normal school. Because I didn't have any money, I worked every afternoon as a salesman in a clothing store, Continental Clothing Store.

DEVORKIN: Just to finish with your brother, what did he end up doing? In his life?

GLENNAN: I was going to come to that.

COLLINS: Did your father's business keep him away from home a good deal?

GLENNAN: No. Dad was, in some ways, a spendthrift. We were always in debt. He was always borrowing money. In those days, he'd ride the railroad line to the next station and he could borrow a couple of hundred dollars, then he'd borrow from somebody else to pay back that. It was an unhappy situation. My home was not a happy one.

    My last year in college, I still have the letters--I found out what was happening, and my brother and I put him through bankruptcy and paid off the debts. Took a long time. With the help of my mother. She sort of managed what we sent to her.

DEVORKIN: Did she work at all after you were born?

GLENNAN: Not until she was very old, and then she was sort of a matron in a boys' school out in Monrovia, California. Long long after that. She lived to be 96 years old.

DEVORKIN: Well, I've taken you away from talking about the jobs that you had. This was a clothing store? How did you get that job, just walk in the front door?

GLENNAN: Sure. A.P. Hansen and Ludwig Iverson. Ludwig was a great friend and A.P. was the boss. But you have to realize that northern Wisconsin, like much of that part of the country, was populated by Scandinavians, Norwegians principally but Swedish too, I don't recall many Danish. Some Germans. Wisconsin was a center of German Settlement, particularly around Milwaukee. And my best friends in high school were members of a Norwegian doctor's family. There were 11 kids, nine girls and two boys. The doctor was born and trained in Norway and later in this country when he came here, and was a wonderful surgeon, a very well respected surgeon. His wife, I think she was a ~Chicagoan, a concert pianist. And they had themselves a symphony orchestra of their own, nine of them, all of them played an instrument, and I became very much a part of that family, in a way. At Christmas time, when they had gone on to college and I was still at the normal school, I was always asked there for at least one evening. I can still remember that great big table with the retainers, 11 kids, mother, father and the old doctor with a pair of poultry shears and a great big tray of chickens.

DEVORKIN: The normal school was called the State Normal School?

GLENNAN: Yes. It has since become the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire branch, I think, something like that.

DEVORKIN: This family, were they in some way influential? Did you see that education gave him a certain degree of success? Was that something that changed your mind about things?

GLENNAN: No, I don't think so, but the boys did. They were not yet a success but they were very, very smart. One of them was just a month older than I, my pal Peter Midelfort. His brother's name was Fritz.

DEVORKIN: So how did they change your mind about things?

GLENNAN: Well, they left high school, and went for a year to Mercerburg Academy (I think), in Pennsylvania, a prep school. And this Christmas, after dinner we were sitting around and Pete said to me, "What are you going to do, Keith? What are you going to do with your life? You've decided not to be a teacher."

    I said, "I guess I'll have to go down to Wisconsin, I can go there and not pay any tuition. I can get a job some place. I can work my way through there."

DEVORKIN: And you found out you didn't like it.

GLENNAN: I didn't like it, because I couldn't keep any discipline. The students were all older than I, although the same general age, and I had a hell of a time with discipline. I thought, God, you have to spend all your time disciplining these youngsters, that's no fun. So I decided I was going to go to Wisconsin. Most of my high school classmates had gone there, and had come back to be lawyers or something.

DEVORKIN: Now, about the money situation, your family was not able to send you. You had to work your way through completely.

GLENNAN: From start to finish.

DEVORKIN: This was also before you knew the financial straits your father had put your family through.

GLENNAN: Oh yes. I was not old enough really to know much about that, until I was in Yale, coming home once in a while, and mother would be terribly upset because people were dunning her for money.

DEVORKIN: But your first choice was to go to the University of Wisconsin.

GLENNAN: It was not a choice. It was the only place that I thought I could go, because it was possible to get a job down there in Madison and the tuition was negligible.

    But as we sat talking about that, Pete said to me, "Why don't you go to Yale?" I said, "That rich man's school?" He said, "Well, Keith, you know, I think something like 40, 43 percent of the students in our clas are working their way through school wholly or partly."

DEVORKIN: He was at Yale.

GLENNAN: He was at Yale. He wasn't working his way through school. They were reasonably well off.

    So I sat down in his home that evening and wrote a letter to the registrar at Yale, identifying myself and my friendship with Peter and Fritz. They were both freshmen at this time although they were a year and a half apart. They had arranged to start at the same time. So I was asked for a transcript. I was in my second year at the normal school then. I got a transcript, sent it on to them, showing the unfinished work, and I thought I'd better have another string to my bow. I learned about an institution called the University of Cincinnati which had a work study program, and I wrote and applied there. In each instance I applied for a year's credit. I wanted to enter as a sophomore. I'd spent two years doing college travel work, presumably, of course not very high level.

    And I received a reply from Yale saying that there was no place for me there. Well, Pete, when he went back, knowing that, went in to see the registrar and said, "I think you're making a mistake there. I think Yale will be very good for Glennan, and I'm not at all certain that Glennan won't be good for Yale."

    The end result was that they gave me a conditional entrance with one year's credit, conditional upon my passing a surveying course. I was going to take electrical engineering, coming from a railroad family--this was the heyday of electrification of railroads, so that made me think of the electrical engineering field.

DEVORKIN: Let me ask you about the growth of your personal interests. Once you realized you weren't going to be a teacher, were you interested in some technical field? You said you were good at math. What was it that you were going to teach?

GLENNAN: I was going to teach mathematics.

DEVORKIN: You were going to teach math. Had you at this time had any hobbies that had drawn you into things like building a radio, ham sets?

GLENNAN: We didn't have them that soon. You have to go back to 1922, 1923. I didn't even know about it. No, I had no hobbies of that kind. I worked at whatever I could work at. I remember one summer working in a sand and gravel pit, shoveling sand.

DEVORKIN: So in addition to the clothing store, the sand and gravel pit, did you do any other work?

GLENNAN: I learned to drive a car when I was 16 years old, 15 years old, and drove for a state senator, Roy P. Wilcox.

DEVORKIN: You were his driver?

GLENNAN: I was his driver during the summers.

DEVORKIN: How did you get that particular job?

GLENNAN: His daughter was a high school classmate of mine. And I guess, you just push all the doorbells, because you need money and you want to have a job.

DEVORKIN: So your entry into Yale can be best described as being the result of intervention--

GLENNAN: Intervention of my very good friend, Peter Midelfort.

    Now there's a long and somewhat involved but interesting story, if you want to know how this all happened.

DEVORKIN: I think we would be very interested.

GLENNAN: I'm a little embarrassed to tell it, although I tell it on my wife every once in a while.

DEVORKIN: Certainly we would want to hear it.

GLENNAN: Let's see if there's anything else. I should say that, going back a few years, when we first came East from Three Forks,for three or four years we went back in the summers, Mother and the three children, my sister, and myself. That was a long train trip in those days.

DEVORKIN: Back to Three Forks.

GLENNAN: Yes, Montana, the western part of Montana--just for the summer.

DEVORKIN: It was more comfortable there in the summer or it was where you knew people?

GLENNAN: I think it was just because Mother knew people there, and it was a good place to put us out to pasture. And I mean pasture.

DEVORKIN: Eau Claire was too big?

GLENNAN: I suppose so, in its own way. To an extent we lived on the wrong side of the tracks in Eau Claire. It's hard to really say much about that, except that we worked wherever we could work. My brother and I raised vegetables in the garden, put them in a basket and sold them.

    But now I guess we can go on how I go to New Haven.

DEVORKIN: You said there was a story.

GLENNAN: Yes, that's what I'm going to tell you. This goes back to one of those high school teachers.

    I was accepted. I suppose it would have been in the early part of August in 1924.

DEVORKIN: So all this transpired from the Christmas dinner talking to Peter the year before, through that spring and summer, entry in August, after your second year at the normal school.

GLENNAN: That's right. If it's any interest to you. I was excused from the last month or so from most of my classes. I was allowed to take a French course examination ahead of time, that kind of thing. I guess Miss Levake, the red-headed French teacher, liked me. But in qualitative analysis in chemistry, I did one of those things that one shouldn't do. I took the test, and as I was turning it in, on the professor's desk were the answers to the analysis, and I looked at them, and I had a couple wrong, and I changed them.

    So when he brought the examination back to me, he said, "You missed these."    I said, "How could that be? I saw those on your desk."    I got through that course, but I never did that again.

DEVORKIN: He knew that you had done it beforehand?

GLENNAN: I told him. No, no, he didn't know that I'd done it beforehand, he just figured that somehow or other he had marked by paper so that I had two analyses wrong, and I said, "They can't be wrong, unless the paper on your desk is wrong."

DEVORKIN: And what happened? Was it wrong?

GLENNAN: Nothing. He just got a little angry about it. I got away with it, because I'd caught him.

    But those are the learning experiences. I guess I learned from my mother, as I say, a very petite, determined tough Scots Presbyterian woman, not much nonsense about her.

DEVORKIN: What was your feeling about leaving the family? You were really leaving the family now, traveling well over 1500 miles.

GLENNAN: I don't think it bothered me a bit.

DEVORKIN: You knew you had friends in New Haven.

GLENNAN: I guess so. I knew it was a new adventure. Gen Blum, this history teacher, learned of my impending departure in the afternoon of the night that I was going to take a train for Chicago and New Haven. She called up and said, "Keith, would you like to take a letter back to a professor at Yale?"    I said, "Why, certainly." She said, "I have a cousin." I can't recall her first name but it was a Miss Barnes who was secretary to a Professor Thomas S. Adams when he was at Wisconsin and a member of the Wisconsin Tax Commission, "and I'm sure she'd give you a letter introducing you to him."    I said, "I'll get on my bike and get over there." I rode over and got it.

Then I left for New Haven. Dad of course could get a pass on the railroad for me, so it didn't cost me transportation, and I'd saved all of $250. I was going to conquer the world with $250. And I think the one thing that my mother did for me was that she had a tailor make up what was called a tuxedo in those days, a dinner jacket. I'm sure it was outmoded and all the rest of that, but that's what I got when I left Eau Claire. From my mother.

DEVORKIN: At Yale, I know that you graduated in the Sheffield Scientific School.


DEVORKIN: Is that the school you were in?

GLENNAN: Yes, I went in as a sophomore under this condition, and I hit the surveying course for an A so I was accepted.

DEVORKIN: I'm curious about the way Yale was structured at the time. It's based on colleges, but you weren't in any one of those colleges?

GLENNAN: No, Yale didn't have residential colleges then. They had a common freshman year, then academic, and Sheff. Sheff was the engineering school. The colleges came in several years after I finished. You have to go back and find out how Yale developed in those days.

DEVORKIN: The ones like Timothy Dwight and John Sullivan and those, they came later?

GLENNAN: Oh yes. I lived in Van Sheff, so called.

DEVORKIN: That's on College St. and--

GLENNAN: And Grove. Opposite Woolsey.

DEVORKIN: That's marvelous. Do you remember your feelings upon arriving and seeng Yale, especially the Sheffield Scientific School which was quite a thing, with an observatory on top.

GLENNAN: I don't remember. I lived in a hotel called the Dunbar Hotel on Chapel Street. I suppose I paid a dollar and a half, two dollars a night, something like that.

DEVORKIN: Did other students live there as well?

GLENNAN: I guess so. I don't know. It was only the sophomore engineering class that was taking this engineering surveying month, and instead of going out in the country we surveyed the quadrangle up where all the scientific laboratories are now.

DEVORKIN: Oh, yes, above Prospect St.

GLENNAN: And the chemistry laboratories and the observatory was up there as well.

DEVORKIN: So you surveyed that area.

GLENNAN: Yes. Had to close the transit.

DEVORKIN: I see. How did you do?

GLENNAN: I got an A. Well, I kept that letter from Gen Blum in my pocket. The first bill I got was for $350 so I knew I was in trouble. I had $150 in my pocket but I'd spent some of that. So I went to whatever the office was, got a job waiting on tables in the Freshman Commons.

DEVORKIN: Was Freshman Commons next to Woolsey at that time?

GLENNAN: Yes. Still is, isn't it? Then I got a job selling furniture, used furniture. See, I was there a month ahead of the start of the school. As that year went on, I also got a job selling clothes for a tailor, tailor-made clothes, Savin Bros., I think it was. I got one suit for every 12 that I sold, and I was among the best dressed men in Yale.

    But as time went on, and it wasn't very much time, it became apparent to me I wasn't going to do very well, and so I went over to Leet Oliver and made a date to see Dr. Adams.

DEVORKIN: This was still in that first month period?

GLENNAN: Probably three weeks into the first semester, when I began to realize what my problems were going to be.


DEVORKIN: What courses were you taking? You took the surveying course all by itself.

GLENNAN: Yes. Then calculus, I guess. I don't even remember, although I have a transcript. I'll try to find it.

DEVORKIN: Good. That's one thing we can probably be sure Yale has kept, probably is the transcript.

COLLINS: Had you identified by that time an interest in electrical engineering?

GLENNAN: Oh yes. I don't remember when we got electrical machinery, thermodynamics and a few things like that. As a matter of fact, you'll see later why I said I don't remember very much about the academic part of my life there.

    Well, I went to see Dr. Adams. He was a distinguished looking man, tax economist, probably the greatest tax economist this country had ever developed at that time. Tenacious, bulldog type of person, got a hold of something, he'd shake it till he got it where he wanted it. Played golf the same way.

    After maybe ten minutes, it became apparent to him that I was in financial trouble, and I handed him this letter from Miss Barnes, and he said, "Can you drive a car?"

    I said, "I have been driving for people for the last couple of years in the summers and holidays, that sort of thing."    He said, "All right, I'll buy a car." I said, "Gee, that's great."    He said, "Maybe I'd better ask you to go out and see Mrs. Adams."    I said, "I'll be glad to do that, sir." I took my last buck and bought a new pair of plus fours, knickers that were draped down over your knees. Golf players used to use them. And I'm sure all I had left was in effect the street car fare to get out to Everit St. where they lived.

    I went out there the next afternoon. I knocked on the door, and it was opened by a young lady 14 years of age. I was about 18. And she was practicing at a piano. God, I'll never forget it. When met Mrs. Adams, and she seemed to be pleased, and so I was employed, as a chauffeur.

DEVORKIN: And he bought the car when he found you as a driver.

GLENNAN: Yes, he bought it here in Washington. His brother's son, one of his nephews, had a dealership. I'm trying to think of the car now...And in due course the car was driven up and I started driving for them. And that sort of set the pattern of my life there, because I drove often in the afternoon or early evening, when they were going to dinner or something like that, so I studied from 4 o'clock in the morning, and--

DEVORKIN: Did you continue to stay at the Dunbar?

GLENNAN: Oh no, I was then in Van Sheff and I was living with two others. One was Fritz Midelfort, one of these boys--both boys became doctors, Fritz ws in Sheff, engineering, with a pre-med, and Pete was over in academic. Fritz might take practicing the piano for five hours a day--they were both very good students --and the third one was Jim Hall, who was a swimmer, water polo player. I didn't do any of those things while I was at Yale. I had no time for sports or anything other than studying. I didn't study all that much either, as I recall. But I did all right.

    And that little girl is my wife.

DEVORKIN: He became a judge, Adams?

GLENNAN: No, he didn't become a judge. He was a tax economist. He died just after Ruth and I were married, in New Haven. But he had been a consultant for Dupont, had made a pretty good salary at it, but he was so damned honest, I'll tell you an example.

    We were at dinner. I'll have to go back and say that this was really the opening a guy like myself needed, I guess. Mrs. Adams seemed to like me, and after about two or three weeks, I had been out to pick her up in the afternoon with the doctor, and she came down ahead of him, and she said, "Keith, the doctor and I would rather like you to come out and have dinner with us every evening."

DEVORKIN: Every evening?

GLENNAN: Every evening. And this happened just the day I had had a change in my academic schedule such that I couldn't keep waiting in the Commons, so I'd lost that job, and that was three meals a day, that's what you got paid for it. That's the way you earned your food in those days. But it was that same day. Just ~coincidence. She didn't know anything about it. So I was very happy to accept. She said, "And you'd better bring your laundry out here. Sarah has to do ours, she might as well do yours, too."

    To finish up part of the story, I'd done reasonably well I guess in sophomore year, junior year, and as I was entering the junior year Mrs. Adams went on a search and found that there was a scholarship that was not very often used called the Lord Strathcona Scholarship. The condition under which it was granted, though nobody had ever fully fulfilled the condition, was that the student had to come from a family that served in the railroads of the Northwest for two years. My recollection is that it paid five or six hundred dollars a year. It was a hell of a good scholarship. I held that during my junior and senior years. I told you it was a Horatio Alger story.

DEVORKIN: Did it have any other reqirements?

GLENNAN: Just that you kept your grades up.

DEVORKIN: I take it your grades were reasonably good.

GLENNAN: Yes, I was elected Tau Beta Pi in my junior year. And I finally graduated, much to my suprise, Cum Laude.

DEVORKIN: You said that you didn't pay too much attention to your course work, but you must have paid some attention.

GLENNAN: Oh yes. But I don't recall burning a lot of midnight oil, or anything of that sort, and as I say, I was very startled when I heard them give me my degree of Cum Laude because I didn't think I'd done anywhere near that well.

DEVORKIN: Did you ever stray from your interest in electrical engineering? Were there alternatives?

GLENNAN: No, and during the sophomore year, if you remember Yale --when were you there?

DEVORKIN: I was a graduate student there in the late Sixties.

GLENNAN: My God. Old man. There were eight fraternities in Schef and eight fraternities in Ac, and the week after the Harvard-Yale game in the fall of my sophomore year, they had RushWeek. I recall being visited, along with everybody else, by representatives of the eight fraternities in Schef, and invited to come over and visit with them, and I think they were open from 7 to 9, and the earlier you were invited to be there, the more they were interested in you.

    I had had my fill of fraternities in high school, the story I told you about, so I went to Dr. Adams and Mrs. Adams, who was always "Munny" to me--that was what we called her--her daughter Ruth called her Munny and her daughter Elizabeth called her Munny, everybody called her Munny Adams, it's an affectionate term. I talked to them about my experience in high school with fraternities, and I said, "I'm not quite sure that I fully agree with this fraternity business." It didn't seem to be very expensive, because we lived in a house in Schef but didn't eat at the house, we had to get our food outside, except for one night a week when we had a meeting, then it was bring in a hamburger or something, such things as that. Well, by this time, I had developed as well an insurance association with the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Co.

DEVORKIN: You developed an insurance association, what is that actually?

GLENNAN: I'll just tell you. Dr. Adams had a very dear friend in Wisconsin, where he had taught at the University of Wisconsin, and was on the Tax Commission. Uncle Gabe, as we called him, thought there might be some opportunity for picking up a dime here and there selling life insurance to students.

    So when I got into the fraternity house--

DEVORKIN: --oh, so you did go?

GLENNAN: I joined the fraternity house.

DEVORKIN: Did Mrs. Adams recommend that you do?

GLENNAN: No, they didn't recommend anything, they just talked it over with me. It was my decision. I never was a very profound fraternity man, believe me. But it occurred to me that somebody in that house ought to be thinking of a future and settng up scholarship funds or some such thing, and I developed, forgive the personal pronoun, but I did develop a fund, a policy, which went something like this. You bought a thousand dollars worth of ordinary life insurance, and they paid you a return on the premium. You paid $19 we'll say for the coverage, protected you for a thousand dollars, and at the end of a year, you probably found that your cost was $12 so six or seven dollars was returned to you, typical of a mutual life insurance fund.

    So it occurred to me, what we ought to do is, as members of the fraternity, provide $100 for each of us during our life there to go into a scholarship fund, and I arranged for the insurance company to retain that return at 4 percent, and when it reached $100, they would turn it over to the fraternity. Now, you didn't have to buy the life insurance, you could give $100, if you could afford to give $100, and the fraternity accepted this, and we started the York Hall ~Scholarship Fund, so called. York Hall is where we lived. It was Chi Phi fraternity but we were known as York Hall.

    So that turned out to be a rather successful operation, and I've forgotten how much I made a year but I wound up with maybe six or seven hundred dollars a year, and the renewals paid for a $5000 policy for five years after I left college. The insurance company kept all the books, kept all the renewals and that sort of thing, but my commission was such that I guess I must have made five or six hundred dollars a year, and then when I finished college, there was enough in the renewals to keep a $5000 policy going for five years without me paying for it. I finally started paying for it.

DEVORKIN: Did you feel this was an interesting line of work?

GLENNAN: To an extent. And I explored it. I explored it with Northwestern Mutual in Milwaukee and with Connecticut Life Insurance. They both offered me jobs, but I decided that wasn't for me.

DEVORKIN: Did you have a feeling that you wanted to go home after college? What were you thinking about in your senior year? At least for what you would be doing after graduation?

GLENNAN: I was going to work for the railroad. Just like all of my family had. And I did get an offer from Pennsylvania Railroad, which had just finished their electrification from New York down to Washington. That's before your time. I graduated in '27.

DEVORKIN: You didn't take that job, I see.

GLENNAN: I did not take that job. Now, it so happened that Dr. and Mrs. Adams loved to play bridge, and once a week they played bridge either at their home or some place else with a couple of their friends.

DEVORKIN: Did you learn from them, or had you played before?

GLENNAN: No. I played with them a little bit. I'd never played before and I never became a bridge player. But one of these couples was a man by the name of Herbert Wilcox and his wife Fran. I'd have dinner with them. I got to know how to handle a fork and a knife, how to do things that I'd never learned at my home. In fact, luck really paid off for me at Yale, in the sense of an education and an attitude toward life and all that was my association with Dr. and Mrs. Adams.

    I'm sure that my mother's strait-laced honesty and that sort of thing was somewhat engrained in me, but the part of living in society was I think developed at New Haven, and that's what I remember about my experience in New Haven, not my academic experience.

DEVORKIN: You didn't feel as if you were an outsider? Poor side of the tracks, that kind of thing, the feeling that you had about Eau Claire?

GLENNAN: No. They just took me as part of the family. I drove them down to Washington for Thanksgiving or Baltimore where they had family. Mrs. Adams came from Hagerstown in the Baltimore area and Dr. Adams came from Washington. He had several brothers and one sister. One of his brothers was Haslup Adams, editor of the Baltimore Sun. A family of substance. Not money but substance. And gentility.

DEVORKIN: So you were close to graduation and had to make a decision about what you'd do. You were talking about the bridge game.

GLENNAN: Well, it turns out Herbert Wilcox had become interested in the talking motion picture business. The 26th of August of 1926 was, as I recall it, the first showing on Broadway of a talking film. These were all short subjects. I can recall Martinelli singing, and Hayes, the czar who kept pornography off the screen, Will Hayes, who was the head of the Motion Picture Producers Association, at least later it was. Herbert Wilcox became general manager of the association, and they were looking for engineers--looking for engineers, so called. I have to say, so called, because that's what the union people called them.

    And he said, "Would you like to try it out, Keith?" and I said, "Sure, God, that sounds fascinating!" Exciting new business. This was 1927.

    So in April of 1927, the engineering school had a field trip --about ten days. We went as I recall it up to General Electric in Schenectady. We went to the Bell Telephone Co. on Walker St. in New York. We went to Niagara Falls, the big power company there, and to Pittsburgh.

DEVORKIN: This was just a chance to see all the different applications and possible jobs?

GLENNAN: Yes, and in the course of that or toward the end of that, Herbert Wilcox made it possible for me to stop by Chicago on my way home to Eau Claire and spend a week installing some of the first theater equipment. I joined a group, I suppose there were four or five in the group, and it was a real task, because part of it was being done by people who knew their business. It was still very primitive. You didn't lace up cables as the telephone people did, and all the rest of that. You had to run conduits throughout the theater, and they had great big horns, and we had to decide where are we going to place them, and all that stuff.

DEVORKIN: What kinds of amplifiers were there at that time?

GLENNAN: They were great big things, all vacuum tube. Great tracks of them. Depending upon the size of the theater, of course. For the most part those theaters were big theaters.

    I had a couple of friends, Dan Hickson, a Buffalo boy who was a fraternity brother of mine, and I arranged for him to meet Mr. Wilcox, and another boy who was my lab partner in electrical engineering, Frank Gilbert of Newark, New Jersey who was a poor boy, probably as poor as I was, but he resented it more than I did. I didn't think about it that much. I could find something to eat some place. I got him involved and the three of us became the Three Musketeers of the sound picture business, working for Wilcox in the installation department at Vitaphone. This was a subsidiary of Warner Brothers. By the time I graduated, which was only 2 1/2 months later, Vitaphone was sold to Western Electric Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T, and so when I went to work, it was as an installation engineer for Electrical Research Products, Inc., acroynym ERPI.

    I was to report in New York 9 o'clock Monday morning. I graduated, I guess, the previous Thursday. I reported and there was a quarter to 11 train going to Philadelphia, where we were installing theater equipment, sound equipment in Fox Philadelphia, which was dark. The house was not operating but we had to get that Goddamned thing in a week. I still remember. I was just an apprentice, of course, and my last job on that task was to drill 32 two inch holes in the cement floor, with a five pound hammer and a star drill. Do you know waht a star drill is? By the time I'd finished that, this hand was double its normal size. I'd missed the drill and hit my hand.

DEVORKIN: Did you feel you were putting your training to use?

GLENNAN: Not much. I never became an electrical engineer really, I didn't have the hang of it. In those days, at Yale at least, we didn't get any courses in vacuum tube theory.

DEVORKIN: I was going to ask you if you had AC theory.

GLENNAN: We had AC theory but not vacuum tube theory. You had to be in graduate school at get that. So I didn't know much about it. I learned either by diagram or things like that.

DEVORKIN: In math you have have had some complex numbers, functions, anything like that to understand AC?

GLENNAN: It was a pretty simple world. I had physics. But physics in those days was a pretty simplistic sort of thing. It was light and sound and magnetism and a few things like that, ~not circuitry to the same extent that you think of it now in the 7th grade or secondary school.

COLLINS: So your education was really geared more towards application than theoretical work.

GLENNAN: Oh, yes, very much so, and I should tell you that I had taken "college physics" at Eau Claire State Normal School and I kept a very proper log book.

DEVORKIN: Whose college physics was it?

GLENNAN: Millikan and Gale.

DEVORKIN: I know that book. That was a famous textbook.

GLENNAN: I did keep a very good experiment book. And so when I went to New Haven, I decided, why should I repeat this? I'd done quite well because my laboratory book was very neat. And I must say that my ability to learn was more by rote than by analysis. I'm sorry to say that, but it's a fact. To every one of my grandchildren, I have said, "I don't want you to accept anything that you don't understand. Don't just repeat what they tell you. Make them make you analyze what the hell you're learning and understand it yourself.

    Well, I went up to see Professor Zeleny, who was head of the physics department at Yale. It was sophomore physics I needed to take and I tried to convince the professor "Here is the book, that's what I did."

    And he said, "It will not do." So then I went down to see Dean Warren, who was dean of Sheffield at that time, and I said, "Dean Warren, I had a good talk with Dr. Zeleny and I know he's more right that I am, but you know, I'm not that much more interested in people and how you get people to do things that you need to have done. I'd rather substitute personnel management, psychology or some such thing than take that physics over there again."

    And Dean Warren said, "Well, physicists are a little peculiar. I think we can arrange this for you," and he gave me a C in physics. So I never took it. And I never regretted anything more. I wish I had--I might be a better man today.

DEVORKIN: If you had taken the physics?


DEVORKIN: But your interest in management and in people, where did that come from?

GLENNAN: I had to sell everything, I had to do everything, I had to smile and get along with people. I had to build, if you will, some kind of a sense of integrity or rapport with everybody. I couldn't afford anger, although I could get pretty mad at things. I can remember coming up on a train from New York one night after what we called the Swing-In Banquet, which was in junior year, that's when the alumni of the fraternity had a dinner for us and everybody got drunk and I didn't drink at that time.

DEVORKIN: This was in the twenties.

GLENNAN: Oh yes, it was Prohibition. But there was gin, that sort of thing, around. Some of the brothers got a little bit hipped and I found myself taking care of two or three of them on the train, getting up there and getting back to the house. They were maudlin, "oh brother this, brother that," and I finally said, "Goddamn it, I wouldn't want any one of you as a brother! Take care of yourself." So I did get mad at times. But that was a turning point, too, to be allowed to do the substitute industrial management course. I think there were only two or three courses that I took, that tended to broaden my interests in people.

DEVORKIN: There were courses and you did take a few in such subjects.

GLENNAN: Yes. I don't know if I can put my hand on that transcript or not but it would tell you what I took.

DEVORKIN: That's very interesting. Did you have those kinds of aspirations after college, going into the work for Herbert Wilcox and the ERPI Co.? Did you end up in a management position? Did you have this conscious feeling?

GLENNAN: You know, Dave, you're trying to get me to say, "Did you think ahead ?" Hell, no! I did what came next and did it the best I could. I didn't have any plan for my life, and I never have had. My best man, Dan Hickson, lived a planned life. Whatever he did had something to do with what he wanted to become next month or next year. It never occurred to me.

DEVORKIN: It didn't occur to you, or did you reject it?

GLENNAN: It never occurred to me. I was busy, living a very exciting life.

DEVORKIN: Were you one of the only companies able to install sound systems or were there a lot?

GLENNAN: No, there was only one other in this country, RCA. And then I was shipped to England for almost two years, and there, a predecessor of the Rank Organization, and Tobis Klangfilm of Germany got into the act.

    Initially when I started out in the business, and when the business started out, sound was on a disk, and that disk was connected by a shaft to the drive of the motion picture, and the flywheel tended to keep it at a reasonably steady peripheral speed. That flywheel became a patent fight, between the German Company, Tobis Klangfilm, and ERPI. The Germans finally won it. That prevented us from selling, operating in the Eastern block countries, as they later came to be known, Poland, Germany--several others, I don't recall which.

DEVORKIN: As you continued these installations, you didn't always use the hammers and the star drill?

GLENNAN: No, but when I was in Philadelphia, that damned theater didn't open for a month, and I worked Monday morning to Friday night without going to bed, the clock around. I won't be stupid and say I didn't sneak a little nap; lie out on the carpet there for a couple of hours, but literally, $35 a week, no overtime, and nobody worried about it. We just worked. I suppose we averaged 22 hours a day during that week I was there.

    As I remember, finally I made a date with a girl to go to her home for dinner, and I finally made it by Friday night, but I fell asleep in the soup at the dinner table. Mary Stokes was her name. She married a fraternity brother of mine by the name of Sid Longmaid, whose family owned one of the pen companies in Philadelphia.

DEVORKIN: So the woman you eventually married, who you knew through all this--

GLENNAN: Wasn't around.

DEVORKIN: Wasn't aware of any of this yet. You were then sent from job to job.


DEVORKIN: How did your responsibilities change as you gained experience?

GLENNAN: Well, largely this way. I was sent to Chicago, there I was just a member of the crew for I guess maybe a month and a half. That's where the sound on film first came in. Fox Movietone News, I recall, was the first sound on film.

DEVORKIN: So things were changing rapidly.


DEVORKIN: Within a matter of months technology was changing.

GLENNAN: That's right. Then I was shipped out to Sacremento, California, and San Francisco, and finally up to Seattle, and that would have been in the late fall of '27. This all happened rather rapidly. And I was a service engineer, in Seattle, and there, too, hangs a story. My district grew as installations were made. I started out with Tacoma, Portland, Seattle, Bellingham, and Spokane, Washington. That was the territory, and I made the rounds once a week, Traveling on a train. Going to Spokane was an overnight trip in those days, but you could take a day train, and that was kind of fun because it was beautiful country. I lived at the Olympic Hotel in Seattle, and early on in one of these trips, I took a day train and went back and sat in the observation car, and a man sat down by me, and it turned out to be a pediatrician, a Dr. Albert McCowan.


    He was, I think, the favorite pediatrician in Seattle. Seattle was a frontier town in those days, 1927. He sat down by me and we got talking about fraternities. I told him my feeling about fraternities, as a great place to sleep and it was fun to have a few friends, and I have had them all my life and they've been good friends, it's not that I was antagonistic or anything like that, but it didn't mean that much to me.

    Well, he was going to a County Medical Association over in Spokane or near there, and he said, "Why don't we have lunch, when we're both back in Seattle?" I said, "Fine." He called me at the Olympic and we made a date. He said, "I think that I could get you into a college club. You'd be much more comfortable with a room there and it isn't very expensive."

    So sure enough, I became a resident of the College Club, and that began a very lovely part of my life, because Mac and I, after about a month, took an apartment together, one of the first high rise apartments in Seattle, on Boren Street up on the hill. I didn't have a chance to meet people in the theater business very much, although everybody was "excited about what you're doing, Keith," and that sort of thing, but Mac was very well connected, particularly with people out in the highlands. You know what the Highlands are? You know what Bel Air is in Los Angeles? Well, it's just like that. It's where the people with money live. Bill Boeing and the Stimsons--great big homes out there.

    I was included there at a dinner parties and things of that sort. Mac and I averaged about 40 people a month for dinner in our apartment. Mac was a Southerner and he loved to make gumboes and that type of thing. I can remember Emma Stimson and her husband coming to have dinner with us, with a satchel full of liquor.

    I played the piano a little bit and Mac sang, and let them do the dishes.

DEVORKIN: I see. That sounds good. Did you meet the Boeing family or any of the aviation people?

GLENNAN: Oh yes. Boeing, Thorp Hiscock, we met them. We got in the back of an open car with a melodeon and went out on Christmas Eve and sang carols at their house and were invited in to have a drink with them.

    I never had a drink when I was in college. I didn't smoke. I wasn't in chister but it never occurred to me to do it.

DEVORKIN: I'm particularly interested in any contact you had with aviation at this time.

GLENNAN: Well, it didn't mean anything to me. My life was tied up in sound motion pictures and everybody else was much interested in this new industry. John Hamrick had a chain of three Blue Mouse theaters--one in Spokane, one in Seattle, one in Tacoma--and believe it or not, they'd lend me a car to drive up to Bellingham or Everett to a make a service call. I was there for about eight months, I suppose, and those were very pleasant months. My memory of Seattle was of a place that I wanted to go back to. I found there, I should think, at least two of those five friends that you're entitled to in your lifetime--you know, they always say, if you have five good friends that's all you need. So I had two of them. They're both dead now.

DEVORKIN: Was one of them Mac?

GLENNAN: One was Mac and the other was Emma Stimson. Her husband was Thomas. He was a lumber man. He had a plane of his own and he was killed flying back from some place that he'd been visiting. He'd brought a little lamb along for his children and it tangled up in the controls somehow.

DEVORKIN: Oh no. There was a plane named Stimpson.

GLENNAN: That's not it, that was Stimpson, this is Stimson. Well, it was really rewarding time. I got to know people. Again, I go back to the Adams family. I was accepted. Again, I didn't have any unusual ambition, but I worked like hell.

DEVORKIN: You were mainly servicing as well as installing?

GLENNAN: No, I was servicing at that time.

DEVORKIN: What did servicing mean? Parts would break down, you'd replace them? Vacuum tubes, that kind of thing?

GLENNAN: That's right. I must be honest and say, I didn't know how. I just did it the hard way. You have a condenser bank, we had a 95 D condenser bank, as I recall it, probably had 60 condensers in it, and one of the damned things would burn out. Now, what do you do? How do you find it? Well, they put a tap ~here, a tap there, a voltmeter here and there. What I did was to take along a little piece of rubber hose, and I'd screw up all the potentiometers and get plenty of current running through there, and the thing would start to smell. I'd find it, take it out, and it worked more times than not. Never became an accepted routine for the rest of the service men.

    Then I was shipped down to Seattle to become assistant service superintendent to a Major Levinson who was head of the office. Major Levinson finally became the head of the sound department at Warner Brothers Studio.

DEVORKIN: At one point you were assistant general service superintendent for electrical research products.

GLENNAN: But that's later on. I'd been in Europe before that.

    I had my own troubles in being assistant to Major Levinson, because I was strait-laced enough not to let people get away with something that some of the service engineers--I suppose there were six to eight service engineers in that staff in Los Angeles --and when I found one of them doing a shabby job, I tried to help him, but I finally turned him in to Levinson, and of course I wasn't the most popular guy in the place.

DEVORKIN: You were shipped then from Seattle to Los Angles?

GLENNAN: To Los Angeles. And while I was in Los Angeles, a telegram came from Herbert Wilcox saying, "Keith, would you like to go England?" "Well, what the hell, of course I'd like to go to England!" So I went back to my home to see my parents for a day or two and stopped in Madison, where Dr. and Mrs. Adams had a summer home. It was there, I guess, that I finally recognized that this young lady, now a student at Vassar--

DEVORKIN: --no longer 14 years old--

GLENNAN: --no longer 14 years old, was someone that I was interested in.

    Well, I went over to London, and I guess I would have been among the first ten shipped over there, and I became service manager. It was then Western Electric Company, Ltd., a subsidiary of the ERPI, and within the Bell Telephone family.

    Well, that was a new experience. I went over on the MAJESTIC, first time I'd been on a liner. Dr. Adams had some association with the Connaught Club in the Marble Arch area-- this is now August of '28--so I stayed at the Connaught Club for perhaps two weeks, learned something about getting the toast in a little holder, and getting so damned much silver that you didn't know which one to use first. Our office was in Bush House, on Alwych in the Strand. This was a new building, and we were among the first tenants there. We were not too big--British Gaumont was another one of the competitors over there--but we really did 10 million dollars worth of business that first year we were there!

DEVORKIN: Really. You were installing again?

GLENNAN: No, I was servicing. I guess probably I was installing and servicing, as a matter of fact, for quite a time. My boss was a man by the name of Gard Knox, who was a former naval officer and one of the finest men I ever knew. He was the sort of person who was just right for that. You idolized him. He just lifted you up. Not consciously, just his whole being was that way. And I came to the conclusion that there must be about three different stages in building a company.

DEVORKIN: You went over to build a company?.

GLENNAN: Yes. Some of them had been there for a few weeks before I came over. But Knox had the catalytic entrepreneurial type of attitude, the encouraging type of attitude. When he was replaced, a year and a half, or quarter, later, it was by a person who was not that attractive. He was sort of a consolidator. We'd done a lot of work. We'd had good business. He was then consolidating all the things that we had done, and probably had not kept all that good records of our work, I think. They referred to him as the conservator.

DEVORKIN: Conservator. That means something in a museum. What does it mean in business?

GLENNAN: He was conserving the level of effort and success that we'd had. Then they had to start all over again, because somebody had to build more company, you know. I've never forgotton that. I went through the three stages while I was there.

DEVORKIN: Were you part of those stages?

GLENNAN: No, I wasn't.

DEVORKIN: You were always on the technical side.

GLENNAN: Yes. That is to an extent true. I was instrumental in bringing over about 85 engineers. Our business grew very very rapidly and engineers were brought over from the U.S. In those days in England, an engineer had a degree. He wasn't a man who got his hands dirty. He would look at the blue prints and tell somebody else what to do, and I remember hiring only one of those, and I fired him. That was a painful experience, the first one. But we got most of our people from Faraday House, sort of trade schools, and it was there, too, that I first noticed the difference between an American kid who came up with a Model T Ford that he took apart and put back together again, and as you alluded to, the business of building radios--he wanted to know how they worked. The English younster wasn't that way. He was steady, he did a better job of following directions than an American. He didn't have the independence that an American had. When something went wrong, he went back through the book and all the circuits and all the rest of that, whereas an American boy would try to improve the damned thing. Strange differences, I recall, from the experiences.

DEVORKIN: You were hiring and firing, so you were getting into a more responsible position.

GLENNAN: Oh yes. I was in the top echelons there, and I made $575 a month in 1928, which was a hell of a lot of money, much more than my English compatriots made. But we earned it, the hard way. I finally was able to get Frank Gilbert, my college laboratory partner, sent over, and he became the installation manager and I continued as the service manager. So we were colleagues together. We'd do the paper work in the office and that was a learning process. We'd go out in the field at night with the English engineers, and work with them, teach them how to solder. By this time in the States, we had cut the installation time for a big installation to something between two and three days. We never got it under two weeks over there.    They didn't know what a condolet fitting is. Do you know?

DEVORKIN: Condolet? No, I don't.

GLENNAN: Well, if you've got a junction between two conduits, pipes, in this country, and I suppose over there now you get a fitting which makes the elbow turn for you, and the conduit goes in here, that's all. Theirs were all cast iron junction boxes which were drilled on the job. It just took a hell of a long time.

    I put on a show one time, demonstration for the Prince of Wales, believe it or not. And of course the equipment didn't work. I never put on a display before anyone important where the equipment worked as it should have. That was typical of the routine in those days. We had what we called a portable projector. It was about 1 1/2 by 3 feet by 3 feet high. And since we all had sound on film in those days, it had worked out very well, when it worked, but I remember Prince Edward had a little trouble hearing what we were doing.

DEVORKIN: Did you get interested in the films themselves at all.

GLENNAN: Not a hell of a lot, no, because I was pretty much screened from the making of films in those days. But I got interested--we opened a new installation, with Al Jolsen in the "Singing Fool," or "The Lights of New York," I think--they were the big films of the day. We were opening a theater a week and interestingly enough, when I went to the opening of my first theater, of course I spent a good bit of time in the projection booth, where the projectionists in dinner jackets! So I went out and bought myself white tie and tails, and I got there next time in white tie and tails.

DEVORKIN: That was considered real high class.

GLENNAN: Oh boy, and how. We locked the doors of the projection booth and wouldn't even let the owner in. We kept it a mystery as much as we could.

DEVORKIN: You were there for a period of two years.

GLENNAN: Almost two years. Then I came back to New York.

DEVORKIN: Did Wilcox call you back?

GLENNAN: Yes. That's when I was made assistant service manager for the US.

DEVORKIN: For the entire US?

GLENNAN: Yes. And I later became the service manager for the Southeastern district. We had five divisions in the country then, Southeastern, Northeastern, Middle, Southern, I forget, but my district ran from Baltimore down to New Orleans, 700 theaters, 35 service people, installation people came in and went but service people were stationed there.

COLLINS: Did RCA have a comparable size operation at the time?

GLENNAN: No, they never really approached us in size, and I like to think, quality. They did have a very good business. Is that enough for today?

DEVORKIN: It is a good place to stop, and the next time we meet, I'd like to continue on, because you did move to California after several years. We'd like to talk about your marriage, which must have occurred during this time. You became a studio manager. Certainly, get through the war years, and if we could, your short sojourn at the Vega Airplane Corporation and then your work on underwater sound.

GLENNAN: Yes, that's an interesting one.

DEVORKIN: Is there any kind of guidance you can give us for the next session, any kind of documents we should be looking for?

GLENNAN: No, but I have started some years ago, and I've been so busy, I haven't done anything with it for I guess four or five years, a memoir for my kids, and I've got the early history of the Glennans.

DEVORKIN: I hope this can stimulate you a bit to continue working on it. Thanks for the first session.

Glennan 2 || Table of Contents

Rev. 09/06/96

© 1996 National Air and Space Musuem