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AADL Argus Oral History: Roger Place

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 1:15pm

When: 2017 at Downtown Library: Conference Room A

Transcript

  • [00:00:00.36] SPEAKER 1: This interview is part of the ongoing oral history project with the Argus Museum. And we're partnering with the Ann Arbor District Library to complete these oral histories. Today we're talking to Roger, Roger Place, a former Argus employee.
  • [00:00:12.99] Roger worked for Argus before World War II. The company was the called the International Industries Incorporated. And after serving in the Navy, he returned to work for Argus.
  • [00:00:22.68] Roger went on to work for the U of M's Randall Lab and Bendix. Roger's wife, Myrna Patrick Place, was also an Argus employee. Roger, please state and spell your full name for me. State and spell your full name.
  • [00:00:38.76] ROGER PLACE: My full name? Roger Francis Place.
  • [00:00:42.84] SPEAKER 1: Can you spell that please?
  • [00:00:44.94] ROGER PLACE: R-O-G-E-R F. P-L-A-C-E, Place.
  • [00:00:51.48] SPEAKER 1: Place.
  • [00:00:52.20] ROGER PLACE: Just like any place.
  • [00:00:53.85] SPEAKER 1: Thank you. Where and when were you born?
  • [00:00:58.24] ROGER PLACE: I was born in Schererville, Indiana. That's about 30 miles south of Chicago. The population when I left there was 675 people. At the present time it's about 24,000.
  • [00:01:16.04] SPEAKER 1: Wow, it grew. And what you were you born?
  • [00:01:22.19] ROGER PLACE: 1920.
  • [00:01:23.84] SPEAKER 1: 1920. And where did you grow up? Where did you grow up?
  • [00:01:32.04] ROGER PLACE: In Schererville, Indiana.
  • [00:01:33.30] SPEAKER 1: Schererville, you grew up there, too.
  • [00:01:35.66] ROGER PLACE: I was there until I left there in 1941 and came to Ann Arbor here.
  • [00:01:47.48] SPEAKER 1: Where do you currently reside? Where do you currently live?
  • [00:01:52.50] ROGER PLACE: What?
  • [00:01:52.95] SPEAKER 1: Where do you live now? Do you live in Ypsilanti? Where do you live now?
  • [00:01:59.94] ROGER PLACE: I came to Ann Arbor first.
  • [00:02:02.25] SPEAKER 1: But where do you live at this present time?
  • [00:02:09.20] ROGER PLACE: I came up to, I got some notes here.
  • [00:02:12.89] SPEAKER 1: OK, OK, let's not worry about that. We'll go back to that. So I know you were married. What year did you get married?
  • [00:02:20.50] ROGER PLACE: 1946 I was in the Navy at the time, and I had a 10-day leave. And so we'd been thinking about getting married before I went in the Army, or in the Navy, and so we did it when I was on leave there.
  • [00:02:40.06] SPEAKER 1: Yeah, I know. There was an Argus article about Myrna. It says she worked for payroll at the time. And the article stated, we know she's happy by the big smile always on her face. And she talked about her recently marrying you on your leave. Do you have children?
  • [00:02:58.17] ROGER PLACE: My wife had four children, two girls and two boys.
  • [00:03:03.21] SPEAKER 1: And their names?
  • [00:03:06.99] ROGER PLACE: Maureen is the oldest girl, and Diana is the number two. And then we had Bob is the oldest boy. And then Tom is the youngest boy. He had his birthday yesterday, and he was 60 years old.
  • [00:03:26.85] SPEAKER 1: Oh, your baby's 60.
  • [00:03:31.12] ROGER PLACE: He worked for Coca-Cola for 21 years and was vice president for Coca-Cola.
  • [00:03:37.14] SPEAKER 1: Good for him. What level of education did you complete? Did you finish high school? Did you go to college at all?
  • [00:03:47.05] ROGER PLACE: I went to high school, and after high school I went to trade school for one year.
  • [00:03:57.90] SPEAKER 1: What kind of trade school did you go to?
  • [00:04:00.66] ROGER PLACE: I have no college.
  • [00:04:03.30] SPEAKER 1: No college, a trade school. What kind of trade school was it?
  • [00:04:07.74] ROGER PLACE: Radio communication.
  • [00:04:11.72] SPEAKER 1: What school did you go to? What school was it?
  • [00:04:15.32] ROGER PLACE: It was Dodge's Radio Institute in Valparaiso, Indiana. Valparaiso was about 20 miles east of Schererville. And my grandparents, my mother's father and mother, were living there. So I stayed with them when I went to the trade school.
  • [00:04:44.72] SPEAKER 1: Yeah, now you mentioned to me when I talked to earlier, you met a Neil Podewells there? You met a Neil Podewells. Was that his name? At the trade school that talked you into working for Argus or mentioned Argus to you? A friend, Neil?
  • [00:05:05.80] ROGER PLACE: At this trade school, there was a fella from Ann Arbor called Neil Podewells.
  • [00:05:12.86] SPEAKER 1: Portables?
  • [00:05:14.40] ROGER PLACE: Was there. And he left after 10 months, I think. He was there for 10 months, then he left there. And I got a call from him a couple of weeks after he returned. And he was working for Argus, and he said they needed somebody like me. I had a Federal Communication License. And he said they needed somebody with a license like that and wanted to know if I wanted to come up here and work.
  • [00:05:57.51] And I thought about it a little bit. And I called him back the next day, and I said, well, I'll come up and work for a few months. I said I got the second Morris building up here. And I'm probably going to be drafted here before too long.
  • [00:06:19.80] Well, I came up here and started at Argus. And it was about 14 months later that I went back to where I was staying, it was about a block and a half from Argus there, to check my mail. And I had a letter from the draft board at Crown Point, Indiana to report there on Monday for a physical examination and to be drafted.
  • [00:06:58.68] Well, I took it back to work and showed it to my supervisor. And he looked at it and walked away and came back about 30 minutes later and said, come on with me. We're going down to the president's office.
  • [00:07:20.64] SPEAKER 1: And who was the president at the time?
  • [00:07:23.11] ROGER PLACE: I got down to the president's office there. I heard him on the telephone, and he was talking with the draft board. And he said, he's not coming. And he said, we need him here. He said, I'll send you a letter describing what we're doing.
  • [00:07:42.02] Well, he made up a letter and gave me a copy, and I didn't go. And then about four weeks later, I got a notice that my draft status had been changed from Crown Point, Indiana to Wright Patterson Air Force Base at Dayton, Ohio area.
  • [00:08:05.19] So then it was after about a year went by, then I got a notice to report down to the Detroit area to the draft board down there. So I went down there and went through the physical and got up to the end of the line there. And there was a review board, and I was interested in getting in the Air Force.
  • [00:08:46.49] Well, they said, we've got our quota in the Air Force and Navy already today, and the only thing that is available is the Army. So they gave me my papers with Army on it and sent me back to Ann Arbor. And they said they'd call.
  • [00:09:09.54] Well, more than three months went by before I got a call to report there again. And when you, when it's been longer than three months, well, you had to go take another physical and go through review board again. And so when I got up to the end of the line by the review board, there was a Lieutenant JG there. And I gave him my papers, which had Army on it.
  • [00:09:43.01] And I said, I've got an amateur radio license. And I said, I've known the International Morse Code for a quite a few years. I said, is there any chance of getting in the Navy on this? And he looked at it a couple of minutes and crossed out Army and put Navy on there.
  • [00:10:08.01] And there was one of the other guys on the review board said, you can't do that. He says, we've got our quota already for the day. Well, that night I ended up at the US Naval Station, just north of Chicago.
  • [00:10:23.24] SPEAKER 1: Wow.
  • [00:10:23.99] ROGER PLACE: And I was there for a couple of months, I think. And then I went up to Madison, Wisconsin. The Navy had a training school there were they taught you the Navy language and also the International Morse Code, which I already knew. So I was there three months, I think it was.
  • [00:10:59.32] And then I got on train and went to New York City and got off the train and got on the Howard Hughes, DD-248 Destroyer there. And after a period of time, we left the harbor there at New York City and headed down south, went through the Panama Canal, and into the Pacific, and came up north to San Diego. We were there for a couple days refueling and then headed out for Honolulu. And so we got out to Hawaii there.
  • [00:11:42.70] And from there on, why, we were out in various other places in the Pacific Ocean there escorting ships that had supplies and people. And then we ended up, the day the Armistice was signed, we ended up in Tokyo Bay with 22 other ships.
  • [00:12:21.21] And then after that, we moved around transporting people and information and supplies and stuff like that and then headed back this way and ended up at Charleston, South Carolina. And the ship was left there unused.
  • [00:12:58.29] And a couple of years later, I got out a computer and checked to find out where the ship was. And there was a message there said the use was had been put out in the Atlantic as a bombing target. And it was now on the ocean floor on the South Atlantic there.
  • [00:13:23.19] SPEAKER 1: Well, let's backtrack a little bit. What years did you serve, was your active service in the Navy?
  • [00:13:29.02] ROGER PLACE: What was what?
  • [00:13:29.62] SPEAKER 1: What years were you actively serving in the Navy?
  • [00:13:32.53] ROGER PLACE: What year?
  • [00:13:33.27] SPEAKER 1: Years, yes. '45, '48, or something like that, it sounds like to me?
  • [00:13:40.73] ROGER PLACE: 1946 I think.
  • [00:13:42.60] SPEAKER 1: '46 you think?
  • [00:13:43.74] ROGER PLACE: Yeah.
  • [00:13:44.19] SPEAKER 1: To '48, maybe? '45 to '48?
  • [00:13:51.67] ROGER PLACE: I went in, I think, 1944.
  • [00:13:53.89] SPEAKER 1: OK, '44, OK.
  • [00:13:55.36] ROGER PLACE: And out in 1946.
  • [00:13:57.70] SPEAKER 1: OK. And backtracking some more--
  • [00:14:00.38] ROGER PLACE: I got the exact dates if you want the exact dates.
  • [00:14:03.14] SPEAKER 1: Sure, we could do that, yeah. Now while are you doing that, while you're looking, let's see, other questions. Oh, who was the president of Argus?
  • [00:14:13.80] ROGER PLACE: I don't remember.
  • [00:14:14.55] SPEAKER 1: OK. And then, can you spell Neil's last name for me? Can you spell Neil's last name, approximate?
  • [00:14:23.38] ROGER PLACE: Of who?
  • [00:14:23.91] SPEAKER 1: Of Neil. The guy, the gentleman, that you met at school that told you about Argus? Porterwas? Something like that? Porterwell?
  • [00:14:44.84] ROGER PLACE: It's Neil Podewells. His name is right there.
  • [00:14:48.99] SPEAKER 1: Oh, perfect. Oh, he was in Friars Club, too.
  • [00:14:54.35] ROGER PLACE: P-O-D-E.
  • [00:14:55.25] SPEAKER 1: P-O-D-E. I see. Thank you. It was P-O-D-E, OK. W-E-L-L-S, Neil Podewells.
  • [00:15:28.94] ROGER PLACE: Yeah, I was kicked out of the Navy on the 16th day of May, 1946.
  • [00:15:38.82] SPEAKER 1: OK, thank you, Roger. Now did you, I know you went to this school when you were at trade school. Did you take any of those training workshops with the Navy or the Army? They offered electronic and radar classes, that kind of stuff, locally?
  • [00:15:56.12] A lot of the Argus employees took classes. So early in the war, the Army and Navy offered classes or training workshops for the Argus employees, such as electronics and radar. Did you participate in any of those classes at all?
  • [00:16:15.26] ROGER PLACE: I'm not understanding.
  • [00:16:17.19] SPEAKER 1: Did you, did the Army or Navy give you any training locally, here, concerning radar or electronics or radio?
  • [00:16:29.53] ROGER PLACE: No.
  • [00:16:29.92] SPEAKER 1: OK, because they offered. Now when did you receive your FCC license? When did you receive your FCC license? How old were you when you--
  • [00:16:41.71] ROGER PLACE: I received them in Chicago.
  • [00:16:46.45] SPEAKER 1: Chicago.
  • [00:16:47.58] ROGER PLACE: At the Federal Communication Office, both my amateur license and my commercial license.
  • [00:16:56.80] SPEAKER 1: OK, and that was before you came to Ann Arbor? Was that before you came to Ann Arbor?
  • [00:17:01.91] ROGER PLACE: Yes.
  • [00:17:02.15] SPEAKER 1: Yes, so you were pretty young when you did that. Now you told me some stories about how you trained yourself in radio equipment. You mentioned you were self-taught as a child building radios. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?
  • [00:17:15.66] ROGER PLACE: Well, when I was 12 years old, I built a two tube radio. And when I was 15, I built a five tube radio. And I was always playing around with radio equipment like that.
  • [00:17:35.09] And I had a friend up in Chicago that had an amateur radio license, and he was giving me advice on what to do and how to get a license like that. And he gave me an instruction manual that I went through and used that to get my license. But I did it all on my own.
  • [00:18:04.19] SPEAKER 1: That's wonderful.
  • [00:18:04.39] ROGER PLACE: No classes or anything like that.
  • [00:18:07.54] SPEAKER 1: When did you get your pilot's license? How old were you?
  • [00:18:09.91] ROGER PLACE: Hm?
  • [00:18:11.18] SPEAKER 1: How old were you when you got your pilot's license? When you earned your pilot's license?
  • [00:18:16.03] ROGER PLACE: How old was I when I got the pilot's license? I was--
  • [00:18:28.80] SPEAKER 1: About what age?
  • [00:18:30.16] ROGER PLACE: I was, I think it was 1947 or 1948.
  • [00:18:36.42] SPEAKER 1: OK, after you got out of service, then?
  • [00:18:39.26] ROGER PLACE: It was after I got back from the Navy.
  • [00:18:41.10] SPEAKER 1: OK. All right, and I understand-- So you start working for Argus in 1941, correct?
  • [00:18:52.30] ROGER PLACE: I think late, I think, around November or October.
  • [00:18:57.85] SPEAKER 1: '41? And What was your job? What did your job entail?
  • [00:19:02.88] ROGER PLACE: My job was check the equipment, the transmitting equipment, before it was shipped out.
  • [00:19:14.02] SPEAKER 1: So you were really focusing on the transmitting equipment.
  • [00:19:17.87] ROGER PLACE: See, I had that federal license. You needed a federal license like that to check out any transmitting equipment.
  • [00:19:29.98] SPEAKER 1: Do you remember any equipment in particular you've worked on? Do you remember any equipment in particular that you worked on? Any sort of numbered items or something, like any names of the pieces you worked on? I know that's a long time ago.
  • [00:19:42.72] ROGER PLACE: I don't remember much about the equipment, no.
  • [00:19:47.77] SPEAKER 1: Somebody who is a expert on this stuff asked me to ask you.
  • [00:19:53.19] ROGER PLACE: It was the transmitting equipment, though, not the control box.
  • [00:19:57.67] SPEAKER 1: OK, it was the transmitting equipment. So the AZON guided bomb, the transmitter was a BC 11/58. Do you remember that at all?
  • [00:20:09.91] ROGER PLACE: Yeah.
  • [00:20:10.66] SPEAKER 1: You do?
  • [00:20:11.41] ROGER PLACE: Now that control panel didn't do anything [INAUDIBLE]. But yeah, this brings back a memory but--
  • [00:20:28.71] SPEAKER 1: So the BC 11/58 , was a transmitter for the AZON self-guided bomb, which is pretty, was state of the art warfare, I guess, at that time. So you remember something like that, though?
  • [00:20:45.11] ROGER PLACE: Yeah.
  • [00:20:47.86] SPEAKER 1: But you did not work on the control boxes or the auto pilot boxes? Did you work on that kind of thing?
  • [00:20:59.60] ROGER PLACE: Yeah, I didn't have much to do with these because these did not transmit an audio signal.
  • [00:21:16.54] SPEAKER 1: So you did audio signals. Thank you, Roger. And then after the war, you returned to Argus. And then what kind of work did you do for Argus at that time?
  • [00:21:34.28] ROGER PLACE: Well, that's when they were starting to get into the camera business. And they were no longer doing any radio equipment for the military or the British government like they were doing before. And I was, well, I wasn't back very long. And then I went up to the University there and worked for Professor Dick Crane for five years on a program he had there.
  • [00:22:15.83] SPEAKER 1: Yeah, it said here, let's see what it said here that you did. They did have a picture of you celebrating your fifth anniversary working for Argus. They must have counted the war years, too, maybe then, because they said you celebrated your fifth anniversary.
  • [00:22:33.81] A couple of more questions, then, about the, oh, let's see here, your equipment. So you did work for the British government. Argus did work for the British government?
  • [00:22:47.92] ROGER PLACE: It was my understanding that this military equipment was going to the British government or the US Signal Corps.
  • [00:23:04.71] SPEAKER 1: When you worked at Argus, did they collaborate on equipment with Bendix? Was Bendix, did Argus make parts of--
  • [00:23:15.17] ROGER PLACE: I had nothing to do with Bendix when I was at Argus.
  • [00:23:18.27] SPEAKER 1: OK, because I know that they, Argus, made equipment for Bendix and subcontracted out during the war. But you didn't work with Bendix personally, then?
  • [00:23:27.16] ROGER PLACE: The Procurement Department, I would imagine, was working with Bendix then.
  • [00:23:33.59] SPEAKER 1: Right.
  • [00:23:34.68] ROGER PLACE: I did not get involved with Bendix until I left the University there.
  • [00:23:39.05] SPEAKER 1: OK, I understand, although I would like to verify this, that during the war Argus stopped making civilian radios and only manufactured military radios. Do you know if that's the case?
  • [00:23:55.66] ROGER PLACE: I don't know.
  • [00:23:55.96] SPEAKER 1: You don't know, OK. And I know Argus received five Army-Navy "E" Awards, the E for excellence. Were you involved in any of those? Did you attend any of their ceremonies where they got the awards from Army and Navy? Because they did five of them throughout the war.
  • [00:24:13.80] ROGER PLACE: Not that I remember.
  • [00:24:15.19] SPEAKER 1: No, OK. That's all right.
  • [00:24:17.07] ROGER PLACE: That was a long time ago. My memory's not--
  • [00:24:19.08] SPEAKER 1: It was a few years ago, I know. I just thought you might.
  • [00:24:22.40] ROGER PLACE: Not too good.
  • [00:24:23.76] SPEAKER 1: That's all right. Later on, I have pictures of it to show you. Now when you worked, did you work as a team? Did you work independently? Who did you work with? Who were your bosses?
  • [00:24:40.06] ROGER PLACE: Well, what these photographs I showed you was the people that were working with me on checking out the equipment after they'd been manufactured. There were four or five people there that would check the voice equipment.
  • [00:25:04.58] SPEAKER 1: With you?
  • [00:25:06.32] ROGER PLACE: With me, yeah.
  • [00:25:08.28] SPEAKER 1: Let me see if I can [? just lean ?] in and get their names, anyways. I didn't get to hear quickly enough. Are there names on here? Let's see here.
  • [00:25:22.95] ROGER PLACE: I don't remember their names, though.
  • [00:25:24.54] SPEAKER 1: Oh, OK, I see that. I was hoping their names would be on these. That's OK. You mentioned one was a Tony. You worked with Tony before? When I talked to you before you said, you mentioned, Tony Pucchini?
  • [00:25:41.42] ROGER PLACE: Pracacini?
  • [00:25:42.50] SPEAKER 1: Pracacini. Was that one of the people that worked in the radio department, also, with you?
  • [00:25:48.23] ROGER PLACE: Well, he was at Bendix. I don't know that he was at, I don't know if he was at Argus or not.
  • [00:25:58.33] SPEAKER 1: OK, all right.
  • [00:25:59.80] ROGER PLACE: He was at Bendix.
  • [00:26:01.73] SPEAKER 1: OK, cleared that up. Did you win any kind of company awards when you were at Argus? Did you receive any Argus awards like suggestion boxes, you know? They were good at handing out awards for different things.
  • [00:26:19.33] ROGER PLACE: If I did, I don't remember.
  • [00:26:20.96] SPEAKER 1: That's all right, too. And I know you participated in some of the social activities. I know that you were in the Golf Club. You golfed with Argus, right? And you had a pretty good handicap, too. I saw some of your scores.
  • [00:26:36.63] ROGER PLACE: We used to golf a lot. And we used to bowl a lot.
  • [00:26:43.17] SPEAKER 1: You bowled, too?
  • [00:26:44.84] ROGER PLACE: Yeah, the teams at Argus they were--
  • [00:26:53.13] SPEAKER 1: I know they played against Bendix, and the Army-Navy had a team. Who were some of the people that, or companies, that you played against? You know, that you competed with?
  • [00:27:08.08] ROGER PLACE: I didn't--
  • [00:27:10.24] SPEAKER 1: Your bowling team, your golf team, who or what companies did you compete against?
  • [00:27:19.22] ROGER PLACE: Well, it was mostly in town groups of people like from-- No, there was a name down the road a ways there. I can't think of it now.
  • [00:27:35.56] SPEAKER 1: That's OK.
  • [00:27:36.46] ROGER PLACE: But there were local business concerns in Ann Arbor at that time that were in these leagues, you know.
  • [00:27:49.84] SPEAKER 1: And then you were a member of the Flyers Club, too?
  • [00:27:55.15] ROGER PLACE: Yeah.
  • [00:27:55.72] SPEAKER 1: Could you talk about that a little bit?
  • [00:27:59.51] ROGER PLACE: Well, they started that group and it was always convenient to get out and fly. And they had the plane at one place, and then they had it just north of the Ann Arbor Airport. And that's where we had one guy that came in, and I forget who it was now, and would give members of Argus who wanted flying instructions would take them up in the air and give them some advice as to what to do and what not to do. And it was a pretty successful program, I think, you know.
  • [00:29:18.67] SPEAKER 1: It sounds like a great club to belong to.
  • [00:29:20.75] ROGER PLACE: Quite a few of the people did get a pilot's license. And I can remember the first time I took the plane up myself. When I was coming in for a landing, it seemed like I had trouble getting a down roll enough because when you have two people there, you have more weight there, and it comes down a little bit faster.
  • [00:29:51.53] So it's just like anything else, you've got to be careful with what you're doing. But it was, I think it was, a good group. And all the people seemed to enjoy it that belonged to it.
  • [00:30:10.46] SPEAKER 1: Did you do other activities, like the picnics or camping, Christmas parties? Did you participate in any other activities, like they had picnics and camping, Christmas parties, other sports?
  • [00:30:25.09] ROGER PLACE: They had those, some of those, from time to time, yes. It would always have good attendance and well taken care of.
  • [00:30:36.05] SPEAKER 1: Was Myrna in the Recreation Club?
  • [00:30:40.16] ROGER PLACE: I don't know.
  • [00:30:40.91] SPEAKER 1: OK, because this little blurb was about her doing that. When you worked at Argus, where did you live?
  • [00:30:55.38] ROGER PLACE: From Argus, you come down a half a block this way to the street goes that way.
  • [00:31:03.94] SPEAKER 1: On Liberty.
  • [00:31:04.49] ROGER PLACE: You walk about 50 feet that way. And then go down that road that goes down the hill.
  • [00:31:11.72] SPEAKER 1: OK.
  • [00:31:12.86] ROGER PLACE: And I don't remember the name right now.
  • [00:31:14.93] SPEAKER 1: That's probably off, a street off Liberty, it sounds like to me. OK, you could walk to work.
  • [00:31:19.91] ROGER PLACE: Yes, oh yes.
  • [00:31:20.87] SPEAKER 1: Yes and do you remember any of your other coworkers' names?
  • [00:31:32.24] ROGER PLACE: No, I really don't at present time.
  • [00:31:35.78] SPEAKER 1: That's all right. You know, if you remember, you can call me or email me. So now, I'm talking about Myrna for just a little bit here, too. Now she started working for the company in October of 1942. And then she was in the cementing room in Plant Two, and then a switchboard operator in Plant One. And then she worked in payroll and timekeeping.
  • [00:32:00.42] And they have a little thing about her on the calculators and adding machines in the basement. Anything you want to add to that about her, you know, her work or where she worked or-- Did you meet at Argus? Did you meet at Argus?
  • [00:32:23.16] ROGER PLACE: Yeah, oh yes.
  • [00:32:24.75] SPEAKER 1: In the cafeteria, or how did you meet?
  • [00:32:28.99] ROGER PLACE: On the telephone.
  • [00:32:30.09] SPEAKER 1: On the telephone? Well, talk about that a little bit.
  • [00:32:32.48] ROGER PLACE: That was our first meeting in, I guess, I don't--
  • [00:32:47.24] SPEAKER 1: That's OK.
  • [00:32:47.95] ROGER PLACE: That's quite a while ago.
  • [00:32:49.13] SPEAKER 1: I know, I know. She has little blurbs about her in the Argus Eyes. And one article mentioned that she has received a lot of letters from you from northern Japan, near Russia. And she said you were in need of your red flannels. And she said she left in 1946 when you received your military discharge. Now, did she work outside the home after that? Anywhere?
  • [00:33:17.56] ROGER PLACE: U of M.
  • [00:33:18.10] SPEAKER 1: That's right, you said you went off to U of M after that. And she worked in the Administration Office.
  • [00:33:24.26] ROGER PLACE: She worked there for quite a few years, even after we were married, you know.
  • [00:33:35.29] SPEAKER 1: So these are kind like just fun little questions now. What did you do, well, I know what you did in your time off of Argus. You flew, you bowled, you golfed. Did you hang out with a lot of your Argus fellow employees outside of Argus related?
  • [00:33:52.99] ROGER PLACE: Well it was mainly with the bowling and golf that took up the extra time.
  • [00:34:01.06] SPEAKER 1: Yeah, I'd imagine so. Do you remember the Argus Eyes, that company newsletter, the Argus Eyes? The company newsletter? Do you remember?
  • [00:34:12.57] ROGER PLACE: I remember.
  • [00:34:13.01] SPEAKER 1: Yeah, do you have any memories of it? Or were you, you know, some people tell me they were always real excited to get the next issue. And everybody read it cover to cover. Any thoughts or anything you want to add about that?
  • [00:34:29.64] ROGER PLACE: No.
  • [00:34:29.95] SPEAKER 1: No? OK. Did you eat in the cafeteria a lot or did you go out to town to eat?
  • [00:34:39.39] ROGER PLACE: I ate in the cafeteria quite a bit, yes.
  • [00:34:43.14] SPEAKER 1: The food was good and reasonable? Was the food good and not too expensive?
  • [00:34:48.52] ROGER PLACE: If it wasn't, I wouldn't have ate there.
  • [00:34:50.61] SPEAKER 1: Good point. What did you like most about working for Argus? What did you appreciate or like most about working for Argus?
  • [00:35:03.37] ROGER PLACE: What did I appreciate about Argus?
  • [00:35:04.84] SPEAKER 1: Or did you like working for the company?
  • [00:35:10.71] ROGER PLACE: Well, they put me to work, and they gave me support. And they did, well, that situation like I told you a few minutes ago about the president calling up the draft board there in Crown Point, Indiana. I think that was very helpful. I don't have any negative thoughts about working at Argus during my years there.
  • [00:35:52.58] SPEAKER 1: Now, you left there in 1950. Is that correct?
  • [00:35:57.61] ROGER PLACE: I think it was in 1950.
  • [00:35:59.10] SPEAKER 1: That's the best I could figure out when I was looking at things. Then you went to work for the University of Michigan, Randall Labs, right? You went from there, you went to work for U of M with Randall Labs?
  • [00:36:09.81] ROGER PLACE: Yes.
  • [00:36:10.19] SPEAKER 1: And what did you do at the Randall Labs?
  • [00:36:13.70] ROGER PLACE: What do I do after that?
  • [00:36:14.63] SPEAKER 1: No, what did you do there?
  • [00:36:15.83] ROGER PLACE: At the University?
  • [00:36:16.58] SPEAKER 1: Yeah.
  • [00:36:18.32] ROGER PLACE: Well, Professor Crane had a project from Johns Hopkins University, I think it was, to investigate pre-fire ring of five-inch shells. The destroyer that I was on had three or four guns. And they had, the missile was something about that long and about that big around. And these shells were set to fire when they got a certain distance from a object. And some of them were being used and were firing before they were supposed to or before they had been set.
  • [00:37:27.45] And Dick Crane had this project that was supposed to investigate why they were firing beforehand. So I knew him because he had an amateur radio license. And he knew what I had been doing. And so he called me one day and wanted to know if I wanted to work on this project.
  • [00:38:00.43] And as it turned out, this lasted five years and the funding for it covered four people. And I was the one that did all the work. And three fellows were assigned to the project. But they spent most of their time when they were working, were supposed to be working, in the other room, the next room to it, studying.
  • [00:38:43.51] But anyway, over the years I built up a track around the room there that would carry one of these simulated shells and move around there. And I checked the pattern for changing it. And gave the information to Professor Crane. And then he transferred it to John Hopkins.
  • [00:39:28.24] And I don't know what happened after that, but I gave him the information that had been accumulated over a number of years. And he was impressed with it. He said he was going to get a patent on it. I don't know if he ever did or not.
  • [00:39:58.60] SPEAKER 1: That's something to check into, yeah.
  • [00:40:02.25] ROGER PLACE: But, anyway.
  • [00:40:06.90] SPEAKER 1: And after that where did you go to work after?
  • [00:40:11.72] ROGER PLACE: After that I went to Bendix.
  • [00:40:13.46] SPEAKER 1: Bendix, right. And what years did you work for Bendix, approximately?
  • [00:40:21.06] ROGER PLACE: '55 to '73, I think.
  • [00:40:27.93] SPEAKER 1: Did you retire at that time? Did you retire in 1973?
  • [00:40:33.50] ROGER PLACE: No, I took early retirement from Bendix. They were here, and then Martin Marietta bought them out. And they were going to leave this area and go back to where their main headquarters was in New Jersey. And they also had an office down here in Detroit. And they wanted me to move to Detroit there.
  • [00:41:01.72] And I didn't like the idea of driving down there and back and forth every day. So about that time, I had a fellow I knew from KMS, a local research group. They were looking for somebody to come in and handle their procurement. That's what, at Bendix--
  • [00:41:40.31] SPEAKER 1: Yeah, I want to get back to Bendix anyways, before we talk about KMS.
  • [00:41:43.13] ROGER PLACE: At Bendix I was, when I signed up, they wanted me to set up a test lab. And I started requisitioning oscilloscopes and test meters and some other equipment like that. And the guy that hired me, and I was giving these requisitions to him, and he said, I don't know anything about this stuff. He says, how would you like to take up procurement?
  • [00:42:20.38] And I said, well, I've never ever given any thought to it, but I'll start working on it if you want. So I ended up being the Head of Procurement there for Bendix. And that's what got me over at KMS.
  • [00:42:43.45] SPEAKER 1: When you worked for Bendix, were you in the Masonic Temple? When you worked for Bendix, were you in the Masonic temple?
  • [00:42:50.98] ROGER PLACE: No. They had a building out just this side of US 23 off Plymouth Road. The building has been torn down, I think, now.
  • [00:43:07.42] SPEAKER 1: You were there the entire time?
  • [00:43:09.60] ROGER PLACE: I was there for 17 years.
  • [00:43:12.27] SPEAKER 1: You know, and I forgot to ask you this question, it's my fault. When you worked for Argus, what building did you work at? When you worked for Argus, what building did you work in when you worked for Argus? Was it the one we were in the other day with the museum or the one across the street?
  • [00:43:30.11] ROGER PLACE: The one where the museum--
  • [00:43:31.66] SPEAKER 1: Plant One.
  • [00:43:32.35] ROGER PLACE: Yeah.
  • [00:43:32.50] SPEAKER 1: OK, OK, sorry, I backtracked.
  • [00:43:34.37] ROGER PLACE: The original one.
  • [00:43:34.65] SPEAKER 1: My fault.
  • [00:43:35.15] ROGER PLACE: Not the--
  • [00:43:35.60] SPEAKER 1: Not the, yeah. OK, anyways, back to Bendix here. Sorry about that. So you worked for Bendix, and the whole time you were at that one building then? The entire time you were at Bendix, you were at that one building on Plymouth Road?
  • [00:43:50.11] ROGER PLACE: Yes.
  • [00:43:50.42] SPEAKER 1: OK, and then you went to KMS. And you worked, it was a research company, and you were in procurement there also? When you worked for KMS, you were in procurement there also?
  • [00:44:05.57] ROGER PLACE: Yeah.
  • [00:44:08.46] SPEAKER 1: All right, and then when did you retire from KMS? When did you retire from KMS?
  • [00:44:17.82] ROGER PLACE: When?
  • [00:44:18.29] SPEAKER 1: Yes.
  • [00:44:26.16] ROGER PLACE: About eight years after I retired from Bendix.
  • [00:44:28.82] SPEAKER 1: OK, so eight more years, OK. What kind of company was KMS? They were a research group?
  • [00:44:37.54] ROGER PLACE: A research program and in procurement it was bringing, hiring people to work on a study program or to get information of some sort. It was mostly people work and not hand work for building something. You didn't build much. It was mainly brain work.
  • [00:45:20.79] SPEAKER 1: When did Myrna pass? What year did Myrna pass?
  • [00:45:26.30] ROGER PLACE: 2003.
  • [00:45:28.16] SPEAKER 1: OK, so she lived a good long life, too. So this is where you can go all out. Anything else you want to talk about? Argus, your military, your family, your thoughts on Ann Arbor? Anything else you want to talk about today?
  • [00:46:00.92] ROGER PLACE: Well, are you asking me to talk about something else?
  • [00:46:05.18] SPEAKER 1: Well, you know, your work, your family. Do you want to say anything more that we didn't talk about already? Something that I missed asking you that you'd like to, you know, to tell everybody or tell me?
  • [00:46:17.86] ROGER PLACE: Well, I've talked more today about what I have done than I usually do.
  • [00:46:24.41] SPEAKER 1: Well, I'm glad of that.
  • [00:46:28.39] ROGER PLACE: I don't, I don't talk much about what I've done in the past to anybody.
  • [00:46:33.85] SPEAKER 1: Well, I really appreciate you doing this.
  • [00:46:46.63] ROGER PLACE: I have, my spare time I spent a lot of time with amateur radio. For 25 years, I set up programs to test people that wanted to get a license. And it used to be you had to go to an FCC office. But now, you can apply for setting up classes yourself and sending the data in to the FCC. And they will issue a license.
  • [00:47:42.86] And, oh, over 25 years, I think, I've probably been involved with licensing between 1,800 and 1,900 people getting an amateur radio license. And about four years ago, I turned that over to somebody else because it was getting a little too much, with everything else, to keep up with.
  • [00:48:21.82] As far as amateur radio is concerned, I used to have a friend down in Mexico and one in Caribbean that I'd talk to two or three times a week. Over the years, well, I got my license back in 1938. And I've had voice and international code communication with people in 275 countries throughout the world. It's an interesting hobby.
  • [00:49:20.36] SPEAKER 1: Oh, yeah, rewarding, too.
  • [00:49:23.80] ROGER PLACE: Most of the time I built my equipment and used it rather than going out and buying something that's already built. Well, it's just like I said earlier, I built some radios when I was a youngster. If you do things like that yourself, you can learn things.
  • [00:49:53.75] And it used to be years ago that if you got a piece of equipment of some sort, if it failed, why, you'd sit down and try and fix it yourself. Nowadays, it seems like the knowledge is, pretty much, if it doesn't work, you throw it in the garbage bucket and buy a new one. And you don't try and do it on your own.
  • [00:50:26.56] SPEAKER 1: I understand you've quite a radio collection, too. I bet you like to do that, too.
  • [00:50:33.24] ROGER PLACE: I've done a lot of talking today.
  • [00:50:35.99] SPEAKER 1: You have. Well, thank you, Roger. We appreciate you talking today.
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2017 at Downtown Library: Conference Room A

Length: 00:50:39

Copyright: Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)

Rights Held by: Ann Arbor District Library

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Argus Camera Oral History Interviews