The Light Of Creation
In 1965 Jesse Alexander was 15 years old. He lived with his folks in a suburb Just a fewmiles south of Seattle called Burien. It was actually not that bad a house, even though therental on it was low. The fact that it was only a few hundred meters West of the Northernapproach path to Seattle-Tacoma International air port accounted for that. In those days the727's and the DC-8's and DC-9's that made their final approach to the runway were trulynoisy. Conversations had to stop if you were outside. Living inside was only slightly better.His dad, John, was a consummate restless spirit when it came to work. Even though hehad an FAA certification to do airframe and engine construction, as well as maintenance, hecould never stay at Boeing or a commercial air line company for very long. He liked selling,however, and he liked being his own boss even better. Because he was already deeplyinvolved with aviation it was only natural that he would gravitate to selling the bits and piecesthat made the machines stay in the air. If you didn't have any capital, though, the only way towork your way into any inventory was to haunt Boeing Surplus.Boeing Surplus used to be an institution for a lot of people from the mid fifties on. Iteventually became a commercial operation open to the public, and a new kind of institution,but in the early heydays, it was an auction affair that took place in a nondescript little buildingnear the big cafeteria across from Boeing Field. Every kind of thing imaginable to not onlyaviation, but to industry in general, was sold there in small, medium and large lots. The oldman could look at lot, see the one thing that would more than pay for a given bid price, andbid on it. That one item would be sold, a few bucks would be made, and the rest had topacked away somewhere. Initially that was the garage, and liberal areas of any basement,but scores of arguments with mom had put an end to that.So, for as long as Jesse can remember, they had to live on the cheap, not only becauseselling used aviation and industrial hardware can be a long and difficult process, but becausethe old man had to pay rent on an ever increasing accumulation of things that might never sell. For the last several years it's been a quite large basement beneath a transmission repair shop. It was big because the shop was built on a side of hill and required a substantialsupport structure to hold it up level with the road it fronted.As a result Jesse grew up with his hands on every kind of nut, bolt, wire, fitting, pipe,switch, control panel, pump, electronics, wing piece, fuselage piece, engine piece, or motor American industry ever had reason to make. Because it was all odd bits of this and that,finding someone who could make use of it was a real chore. For Jesse and his friends it wassimply a matter imagining a coaster car, and then finding the axle rods and wheel bearings tomake it real. Or his brother and him dreaming up their own rockets and finding the chemicalsfor the gun powder, as well as something tubular to affix a roughly pointed nose cone too. Or him and his brother suddenly fixating on a spook house, with buzzers, weird lights, and acouch vibrating, industrial shaking piston, which they would find eventually as well. Even if anodd book on Boolean Logic put a wild hair up his butt for a digital adder, he would find theparts to create to create it out of electrical relays and control panel lights.