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Legacies Project Oral History: Larry Millben

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 9:06am

When: 2020

Lt. Col. Larry Millben was born in 1936 in Detroit. His parents immigrated from Chatham and Windsor, Canada. Fascinated by airplanes from an early age, he was one of only a few Black students to attend Aero Mechanics High School (now Davis Aerospace Technical High School) in Detroit in the early 1950s. Millben went on to become an aircraft mechanic, a military avionics officer, and base commander of Selfridge Air National Guard Base. Prior to his military career, he also worked in research and development in the private sector. He married his wife Jeannie in 1959, and they have three children.

Larry Millben was interviewed by students from Skyline High School in Ann Arbor in 2010 as part of the Legacies Project.

Transcript

  • [00:00:08.93] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Lawrence Millben. L-A-W-R-E-N-C-E Millben, M-I-L-L-B-E-N.
  • [00:00:19.73] SPEAKER 1: OK, what is your birthday, including the year?
  • [00:00:23.62] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: September 17, 1936.
  • [00:00:26.71] SPEAKER 1: OK, how old are you?
  • [00:00:28.49] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: 73.
  • [00:00:29.67] SPEAKER 1: 73, OK. how would you describe your ethnic background?
  • [00:00:35.96] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: American Indian and black.
  • [00:00:39.22] SPEAKER 1: OK, what religion are you, if any?
  • [00:00:42.85] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Episcopal.
  • [00:00:44.03] SPEAKER 1: Episcopal. What is the highest level of formal education you have achieved?
  • [00:00:51.59] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, I went to high school in Detroit, Aero Mechanics High School, one of four schools in the country that specializes in aviation and aviation maintenance, graduated from there, went into the military. And actually, I've been to 54 schools since I went into the military, including air command staff college and Air War College.
  • [00:01:29.11] SPEAKER 1: What is your marital status, if any?
  • [00:01:31.98] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Married.
  • [00:01:32.48]
  • [00:01:32.89] SPEAKER 1: Married.
  • [00:01:33.70] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Mm-hm.
  • [00:01:34.10] SPEAKER 1: Is your spouse still living?
  • [00:01:35.67] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Yep.
  • [00:01:37.36] SPEAKER 1: How many children do you have?
  • [00:01:39.23] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, I don't have any children. I have three adults.
  • [00:01:42.07] SPEAKER 1: [LAUGHS]
  • [00:01:43.70] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: They quit being children some time ago.
  • [00:01:46.65] SPEAKER 1: [LAUGHS] OK, how many siblings do you have?
  • [00:01:49.46] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: How many what?
  • [00:01:50.38] SPEAKER 1: Siblings.
  • [00:01:51.08] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I have three sisters.
  • [00:01:53.71] SPEAKER 1: Three sisters?
  • [00:01:54.92] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Mm-hm.
  • [00:01:55.83] SPEAKER 1: What was your primary occupation?
  • [00:01:59.44] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I worked in research and development for Burroughs Corporation. I worked in research and development for Eaton Corporation. And in between those two, I was in the military. I was a avionics officer. Actually, let me start-- I was enlisted. I was a sergeant for 19 years in aircraft and missile electrical systems and in fire control, which is radar systems and missile systems for the airplane.
  • [00:02:37.93] And then, I became an officer, and I was an avionics officer for a bunch of time. I had almost 60 people working for me at that time. Then, I became a squadron commander. And I had about 450 people working for me at that time. And then, I became a deputy commander for maintenance, and the numbers were roughly the same. And each time, I had a squadron of airplanes. And then, I became a group commander. Then, I became a base commander, and then they kicked me out because I was too old.
  • [00:03:23.40] SPEAKER 1: Oh, so what age did you retire?
  • [00:03:26.36] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: 60.
  • [00:03:27.26] SPEAKER 1: 60?
  • [00:03:28.22] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Mm-hm.
  • [00:03:29.19] SPEAKER 1: OK. Do you have any stories about your family name?
  • [00:03:40.72] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Any stories about my family name?
  • [00:03:42.78] SPEAKER 1: Mm-hm.
  • [00:03:44.39] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Nope.
  • [00:03:45.90] SPEAKER 1: OK, are there any naming traditions in your family?
  • [00:03:49.58] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Any what?
  • [00:03:50.24] SPEAKER 1: Naming traditions in your family.
  • [00:03:53.53] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Naming traditions? Like what I name my kids or something like that? No. No, no. Repeat that last question so the--
  • [00:04:11.09] SPEAKER 1: Mr. Melvin, can you spell your name?
  • [00:04:15.87] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: My name is Lawrence Millben, L-A-W-R-E-N-C-E Millben, M-I-L-L-B-E-N.
  • [00:04:26.15] SPEAKER 1: What is your birthday, including year?
  • [00:04:30.29] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: September 17, 1936.
  • [00:04:33.64] SPEAKER 1: How old are you?
  • [00:04:35.67] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: 73.
  • [00:04:37.28] SPEAKER 1: How would you describe your ethnic background?
  • [00:04:41.72] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Black and American Indian.
  • [00:04:44.81] SPEAKER 1: What is your religion, [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [00:04:47.07] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Episcopal.
  • [00:04:48.63] SPEAKER 1: What is the highest of formal education you have completed?
  • [00:04:54.15] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I went to high school in Detroit. I went to a school called Aero Mechanics. It's, like, one of four in the country, specializes in aircraft maintenance. And then, I went into the military. And I went to 54 schools while I was in the military to include air command and staff college and Air War College.
  • [00:05:23.28] SPEAKER 1: What is your marital status?
  • [00:05:25.77] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Married.
  • [00:05:26.98] SPEAKER 1: Married. Is your spouse still living?
  • [00:05:29.19] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Yes, she is.
  • [00:05:31.35] SPEAKER 1: How many adults do you have?
  • [00:05:34.18] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Yes, I have no children. They're all adults now. I have three.
  • [00:05:39.33] SPEAKER 1: Three?
  • [00:05:40.24] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Two girls and a boy.
  • [00:05:41.91] SPEAKER 1: How many siblings do you have?
  • [00:05:42.71] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Say again?
  • [00:05:43.71] SPEAKER 1: How many siblings do you have?
  • [00:05:44.94] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I have three sisters.
  • [00:05:46.97] SPEAKER 1: What is your primary occupation?
  • [00:05:51.40] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, right now, I'm retired, but I worked in research and development for Burroughs Corporation. Then, I worked in research and development for Eaton Corporation. And in between those two, I was in the military, and I was enlisted for 19 years, and I worked in aircraft and missile electronics.
  • [00:06:18.57] And then, I worked in fire control systems for the aircraft. That's the radar systems and the missile systems on the airplane. Then, I became an avionics officer. And I had roughly 60 people working for me. And then, I became a squadron commander, and it changed to 450. And then, I became a group commander and numbers didn't change very much. And then. I became base commander. And then, they got rid of me because I got too old.
  • [00:07:02.94] SPEAKER 1: OK.
  • [00:07:03.87] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: They retired me.
  • [00:07:05.51] SPEAKER 1: Do you know any stories about your family name?
  • [00:07:08.60] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: No, I do not.
  • [00:07:10.46] SPEAKER 1: Are there any naming traditions in your family?
  • [00:07:12.96] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: No.
  • [00:07:15.30] SPEAKER 1: Is [? there ?] any family migration [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [00:07:20.22] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: In fact, yes, there were. My parents were Canadian, and I was born in the US.
  • [00:07:26.36] SPEAKER 1: OK. OK, do you know any stories about how your family first came to the United States?
  • [00:07:36.42] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Yes, my father was from Chatham, and my mother was from Windsor. And they came to United States to get better jobs and live a better life.
  • [00:07:52.44] SPEAKER 1: Where did they first settle?
  • [00:07:54.02] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Say again.
  • [00:07:55.15] SPEAKER 1: Where did they first settle?
  • [00:07:56.76] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Detroit.
  • [00:07:57.66] SPEAKER 1: Detroit, Michigan?
  • [00:07:58.55] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Mm-hm.
  • [00:07:59.44] SPEAKER 1: How did they make a living, either in the old country or in the United States?
  • [00:08:04.35] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: My father was a farmer in Dresden, Ontario. And they had a farm up there. And my mother worked at J.L. Hudson's as an elevator operator. That's the only thing they would allow black females to do in those days.
  • [00:08:30.31] SPEAKER 1: Can you describe any family migration once they arrived to the United States?
  • [00:08:35.05] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Say again now.
  • [00:08:36.03] SPEAKER 1: Can you describe any family migration once they arrived to the United States?
  • [00:08:43.03] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: No, just the fact that they came. Many of their sisters and brothers came also, but there was not a mass exodus.
  • [00:09:01.93] SPEAKER 1: What belongings did they bring with them and why?
  • [00:09:05.15] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I have no idea.
  • [00:09:06.79] SPEAKER 1: [LAUGHS] OK. Which family members came along or stayed behind?
  • [00:09:11.94] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, my grandparents stayed in Canada. And my mother and father, after they got married, came to the States.
  • [00:09:26.15] SPEAKER 1: To your knowledge, did they try to preserve any traditions or customs from their country of origin?
  • [00:09:42.26] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Not that I know of.
  • [00:09:45.29] SPEAKER 1: Are there traditions that your family has given up or changed?
  • [00:09:49.52] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: No, Canadians are very similar to Americans. And so there was not a lot of change in culture that took place.
  • [00:10:02.88] SPEAKER 1: Was there any immigrants in your family-- immigration?
  • [00:10:07.05] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, just my parents.
  • [00:10:08.59] SPEAKER 1: Just your parents, OK. What stories have come down to you about your parents and grandparents?
  • [00:10:20.67] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Oh, they-- they had lots of stories. You've got to be a little bit more specific, I think.
  • [00:10:33.01] SPEAKER 1: [? It ?] [? don't ?] [? gotta ?] [? be ?] specific, any one.
  • [00:10:41.34] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, my father had a-- as I said, lived on a farm. They had a horse called Charlie. And Charlie was a pretty smart horse. And he, according to my father and uncles, saved them from a tornado. He was going down this road, and they had him hitched up to a buggy. And he took the buggy into a ditch, and the tornado went by and theoretically saved him. Charlie was also pretty smart. He could open his stall anytime he wanted to and get out. He opened the stall and started eating oats. And if you eat a lot of oats, your stomach expands, and it killed him. So he ate himself to death.
  • [00:11:41.16] SPEAKER 1: Wow. Do you know any courtship stories, how did your parents, grandparents, and other relatives come to meet and marry?
  • [00:11:49.40] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: No, I don't.
  • [00:11:51.98] SPEAKER 1: Earliest memories in childhood. Where did you grow up and what are your strongest memories [? in ?] [? the ?] [? place? ?]
  • [00:12:01.17] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, I grew up in Detroit, Lower East Side. And they call it "The Bottom." And I always-- I guess from when I was very young, liked airplanes. So I had a liking for airplanes. I went to Smith School, and that's on the East Side, near Franklin's settlements. And then I went to [? Fausch ?] Intermediate School. And then, I went to Aero Mechanics.
  • [00:12:43.35] SPEAKER 1: How did your family come to live there?
  • [00:12:46.64] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: How did they come to live here?
  • [00:12:48.25] SPEAKER 1: Mm-hm.
  • [00:12:50.53] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, my father had a job at Great Lakes life insurance company, which was the largest black-owned insurance company in the state. Let me rephrase that. It's the largest black-owned business in the state. And my mother, as I said earlier, worked at J.L. Hudson's.
  • [00:13:14.75] SPEAKER 1: What was your house like?
  • [00:13:17.23] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Say again.
  • [00:13:17.97] SPEAKER 1: What was your house like?
  • [00:13:19.85] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Initially, I lived in a four-family flat on McDougall.
  • [00:13:26.23] SPEAKER 1: How many people lived with you in the house when you were growing up?
  • [00:13:31.06] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Just my immediate family-- my mother, father, and three sisters.
  • [00:13:37.63] SPEAKER 1: What languages are spoken in or around your household?
  • [00:13:44.07] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: English and, because my parents were Canadian, Canadian, which is English.
  • [00:13:54.03] SPEAKER 1: Were different languages spoken in different settings?
  • [00:13:57.19] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: No.
  • [00:14:02.02] SPEAKER 1: What was your family like when you were a child?
  • [00:14:07.60] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I don't understand that question. What was my family like our life?
  • [00:14:12.41] SPEAKER 1: Like.
  • [00:14:13.14] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Like. We lived in a mixed neighborhood. It was mixed at that time. And so there were black and white families or neighbors. And everybody seemed to get along fine until the 1943 riots took place. And then, I couldn't play with certain kids that I used to play with. And that's when I first became aware of racial issues.
  • [00:14:57.59] SPEAKER 1: What sort of work did your father and mother do?
  • [00:15:02.00] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I mentioned that my father worked for Great Lakes life insurance company. And my mother was an elevator operator at J.L. Hudson's.
  • [00:15:14.97] SPEAKER 1: What was your earliest memory-- or is your earliest memory?
  • [00:15:18.90] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I can't hear you again.
  • [00:15:20.36] SPEAKER 1: What is your earliest memory?
  • [00:15:22.40] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: My earliest memory? I think when I was very young, and my parents would go up to Dresden, where my father was born. Their term was they were not electrified, at that point. They didn't have electricity. And so they had oil lamps and kerosene lamps with very pretty lampshades. They were Tiffany-type lampshades.
  • [00:16:09.23] And then when we went to Windsor, Windsor, or Canada itself, didn't work on 60-cycle current. It worked on 30. So you could actually see the lights blink. It was an annoying to me. And I can also remember going to Canada from Detroit. And they had a ferry boat that went from Detroit to Windsor. And in order to get on the ferry, you had to drive on this gangplank, and it was just wooden slats. And you could see through the wooden slats into the water, and I was always concerned that my father would miss the bay, and we'd end up in the water. But he never did.
  • [00:17:09.26] SPEAKER 1: [LAUGHS] What was a typical day like for you in your preschool years?
  • [00:17:19.12] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I went to nursery school when I was very young at Franklin's settlement. And that was my first experience outside the home.
  • [00:17:37.04] SPEAKER 1: What did you do for fun?
  • [00:17:40.58] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Play.
  • [00:17:41.49] SPEAKER 1: [LAUGHS]
  • [00:17:47.03] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: When I was a kid, unlike today, you'd go out, and I'd play baseball. I'd play baseball from the time I got up to it was so dark, you couldn't see the ball anymore. And that was [? bad. ?] And we used to play basketball, and baseball, and football in the alleys around the house. So that was our-- we called "T Alley," that's where the alleys form a T. And my friends, one of them had 13 boys and 1 girl in their family. So they had a team all by themselves, so we just go and play.
  • [00:18:45.03] SPEAKER 1: Were there any special days, events, or family traditions you remember from your early childhood years?
  • [00:18:50.56] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Were there any special days-- what?
  • [00:18:52.55] SPEAKER 1: Events that you remember from your early childhood years?
  • [00:18:59.16] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: We'd go to the standard things at Belle Isle. I can remember going to the symphony, used to play at the band show at Belle Isle the Detroit Symphony, and we'd go out and watch that. We'd go canoeing down the canals at Belle Isle. They had bicycles you could rent and ride around Belle Isle. Go to Emancipation Day in Canada, went to Greenfield Village. That's all I can think of right off the bat.
  • [00:19:43.47] SPEAKER 1: Well, this part, we're going to talk about your time as a young person from about the age that kids usually start school in the United States up until you began your professional career or work life.
  • [00:19:54.52] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: OK.
  • [00:19:56.15] SPEAKER 1: School experience, did you go to preschool?
  • [00:19:59.56] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Yes, well, it wasn't preschool. It was more like a nursery school. And I was at Franklin settlement, as I said earlier.
  • [00:20:14.05] SPEAKER 1: What do you remember about it?
  • [00:20:18.25] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: They'd make you take naps, couldn't play all the time. It was structured, but it was well-structured. They had a gym. They had a basketball court. They had tennis courts. They had the normal slides, and swings, and things of that nature. So we'd keep pretty busy.
  • [00:20:47.41] SPEAKER 1: Did you go to kindergarten?
  • [00:20:49.08] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Yes, I went to kindergarten, and I passed.
  • [00:20:52.31] SPEAKER 1: OK, where at?
  • [00:20:55.09] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Smith School.
  • [00:20:57.25] SPEAKER 1: What do you remember about kindergarten?
  • [00:21:02.93] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Not much. They made you take naps again. It was really an extension of nursery school to me.
  • [00:21:15.06] SPEAKER 1: Didn't change?
  • [00:21:16.51] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Yeah, it was not anything unusual.
  • [00:21:21.69] SPEAKER 1: Did you go to elementary school?
  • [00:21:24.44] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Yes, I did, Smith School, again.
  • [00:21:27.73] SPEAKER 1: What do you remember about elementary school?
  • [00:21:34.00] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I remember my mother used to go down to the school quite often and let them know that they weren't teaching the way that she thought they ought to be teaching. And she was a real tiger. She'd go down and raise heck about the curriculum and how they ought to be teaching in the course. They're very defensive and figured that they knew better than she did.
  • [00:22:13.92] And she would get on them because they weren't teaching math, and teaching math at the right level, and some things of that nature. And they didn't like that, primarily, I think, because black women weren't supposed to be smart enough to understand what was going on. And this was a big thing, I think. Looking back at it, I think it was probably by design, but we weren't-- the black kids were not being taught well. So we all have our positions in life. And one way to keep you where you're at is to limit your education, limit your knowledge. And that's going on today.
  • [00:23:09.70] SPEAKER 1: So you had a white teacher?
  • [00:23:13.18] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, she didn't-- she talked to the teachers, but she also talked to the principal. She was quite adamant. And they would give you psychological tests to find out whether you were smart enough to be in their classes and that kind of stuff. I can remember taking one, and I guess I just blew them out of the water, and they were trying to figure out, well, how come we did this well on this test, or you know how can-- black folks aren't supposed to be that smart. And that kind of carried through when I was at [? Fausch ?] and I wanted to go to Aero Mechanics . High School. I was graduating from Fausch and I wanted to go there. I'd talk to this counselor. And I can remember her words.
  • [00:24:20.32] You don't want to go to that school. And I said, yes, I do. And she was trying to explain to me why I didn't want to go to Aero Mechanics. I didn't know it at the time, but it was all white. I knew there were lots of white guys there, but I didn't know it was all white. And she said-- again-- continued to press me as to why I wanted to go. And I told her I wanted to work on airplanes. I wanted to fly.
  • [00:24:51.37] And she said, well there's-- you can't make a living doing that. And I said, but I want to go anyway. And she said, well, if you really want to help your people, you need to become a doctor or a lawyer. I told her I didn't want to be a doctor or a lawyer, I wanted to go to that school. And she wouldn't help. So I took a day off and went to the school myself and put myself in without her help. And I say I put myself, I think there were a lot of people trying to help me do that, get there, but they were all black, and there was no help from her at all. And she did everything in her power to not allow that to occur.
  • [00:25:47.33] SPEAKER 1: Did you go to high school?
  • [00:25:49.76] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Yes, I went to Aero Mechanics.
  • [00:25:52.04] SPEAKER 1: What do you remember about Aero Mechanics?
  • [00:25:55.04] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, it's located at Detroit City Airport. And I was in the Civil Air Patrol at that point. And it specializes, as I said earlier, in aircraft maintenance. And so when you walk in the school, you have to do your normal high school subjects, but you walk out in the hangar, and they had real airplanes out there. So you work on real airplanes while you're there. You learn to be a mechanic, learn how things work.
  • [00:26:35.30] So it's very heavy on science, physics, aerodynamics, aircraft engines, electrical systems, hydraulic systems, fuel systems, generators, whatever. You get to be pretty good at it by the time you graduate. It's run by the Detroit Board of Education and the Federal Aeronautics Administration. So the FAA and the Detroit Board of Education, state of Michigan, everybody's kind of tied up in it.
  • [00:27:12.09] SPEAKER 1: So instead of grades, did they have levels or did they have grades from 9 to 12?
  • [00:27:17.51] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: 9 to 12. Pardon me, 10 to 12. I'm sorry.
  • [00:27:21.44] SPEAKER 1: 10 to 12?
  • [00:27:22.01] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Yeah.
  • [00:27:22.73] SPEAKER 1: So where did you go to ninth grade at?
  • [00:27:25.48] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Intermediate, [? Fausch. ?]
  • [00:27:26.78] SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [00:27:27.59] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Mm-hm.
  • [00:27:28.41] SPEAKER 1: What do you remember about that?
  • [00:27:30.72] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Other than trying to get out of there and go to Aero Mechanics, not much. It was just another school.
  • [00:27:41.86] SPEAKER 1: Please describe the popular music during the school year.
  • [00:27:48.17] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Interesting. That's hard to do. I was not much of a music guy. I liked more classical music. And I liked jazz. I like Dave Brubeck and Stan Kenton. Can't think of the names now. But I liked jazz, and I liked classical music. So I wasn't really into the other stuff. And I couldn't dance so didn't mean much to me.
  • [00:28:34.68] SPEAKER 1: So did you know any special dances that was associated with that music?
  • [00:28:39.36] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I couldn't dance, so it didn't matter to me.
  • [00:28:43.09] SPEAKER 1: OK. What were the popular clothing or hairstyles at this time?
  • [00:28:49.29] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, pretty much blue jeans and shirts. And I guess I fell into that. I wore blue jeans-- Levi's and shirts. I was pretty much a nerd, I think. So not as bad as Urkel, but I was pretty-- when you go to a school Aero Mechanics, Aero Mechanics, by the way, had an 11-month school year, as opposed to regular 10-month school years. So we didn't get out of June when everybody else got out. We got out in July.
  • [00:29:47.17] So everybody else was out of school in June. We didn't get out until July. And it was an all-boys school. There were no girls. And they didn't have a football team, or baseball team, or whatever. So there were no sports. So when you went there, you went to learn stuff. And so like I said, I was probably a nerd.
  • [00:30:15.19] SPEAKER 1: Did you wear any specific hairstyles?
  • [00:30:20.21] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Did I do what?
  • [00:30:21.17] SPEAKER 1: Did you wear any specific hairstyles?
  • [00:30:23.73] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: No, no. That was before Afros. And I didn't cunk my hair or anything along those lines. Just regular hair, hardly groomed, just like now, however it is.
  • [00:30:42.78] SPEAKER 1: Can you describe any other fads or styles from this era?
  • [00:30:52.16] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: No, that era was pretty much like-- you guys are kind of young, but you may not remember the Fonz. Yeah, well, it was kind of like the Fonz. So everybody's standing around, combing their hair, and turning their collar up on their jacket, having leather jackets. And that was their thing. I didn't have a leather jacket, so I couldn't do that. My hair didn't comb like everybody else's, so I couldn't do that.
  • [00:31:33.91] SPEAKER 1: Were there any slang terms, phrases, or words used then that aren't in common use today?
  • [00:31:44.54] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Most of them are-- even if they were in use, were not nice. Let's see, common terms-- because we were an all-boys school and there were no females around, we could say whatever we wanted to say. So we had names for everything. And we were pretty liberated in that sense. I can't think of any right off the bat, but as soon as I go home, I'll probably think of 20, but not right now.
  • [00:32:24.77] SPEAKER 1: OK, fine with me. What was a typical day like for you in this time period?
  • [00:32:36.67] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Because I lived-- at that point in time, I lived in Conant Gardens. And I'd have to catch the Conant bus to Six Mile from Seven Mile. And then the Six Mile bus or [? Nichols ?] bus to French Road, which is on the other side of Van Dyke, and then walked several blocks to school. And I was getting there every day in the morning.
  • [00:33:09.71] Six mile between Conant and Van Dyke has three, maybe four railroad tracks-- didn't matter what time you leave. You go run into a train. And you're going to be either close to late or late, just the way it is. And so that was a normal event, running into trains. Get to school, they had half a day of aircraft maintenance and a half day of academics.
  • [00:33:57.02] And everything was geared toward aviation. Even the history was geared to aviation. The mathematics was geared to aviation. The physics was geared to aviation. Everything we did was geared aviation. So when we walked out of there, we pretty much knew airplanes. And we had a welding class I was in one day. And all of a sudden, the welding teacher was teaching. There was a big boom across the street and a big fireball airplane had crashed right across the street from the school.
  • [00:34:43.31] So we went over-- because the school is aviation school and has aviation fuel and things of that nature, we also had fire bottles in the school. So we grabbed fire bottles, went over and rescued the passenger. The pilot had died and put the fire out before the fire department got there. So that was one of many airplane crashes that I've been involved in. But it was one of the first.
  • [00:35:20.84] SPEAKER 1: You said they had fire bottles or fire [? bombs? ?]
  • [00:35:23.33] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Fire bottles, CO2 bottles. They're the big red bottles that you see around with that you're supposed to put fires out with.
  • [00:35:35.45] SPEAKER 1: Did your family have any special sayings or expressions during this time?
  • [00:35:41.08] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: No.
  • [00:35:42.98] SPEAKER 1: Were there any changes in your family life doing your school years?
  • [00:35:50.63] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: No. My father went to work every day, just like he did all the time. And my mother went to work. And she'd changed jobs at that point. She no longer worked for Hudson's as an elevator operator. She worked for the D.J. Healy home in Detroit, which was part of the juvenile detention center for Wayne County. And she would tell us all the time she did not ever want to see us at work because that means we're in deep trouble with the law. Other than that, no.
  • [00:36:36.91] SPEAKER 1: Which holidays did your family celebrate?
  • [00:36:43.66] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Wow. That's a good question. We celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, 4th of July, some time the Canadian Thanksgiving, which is on a different day. What else? Halloween, Easter, not necessarily in that order. And everybody else's birthday-- that kind of stuff-- aunt's, and uncle's, grandmother's and grandfather's birthdays.
  • [00:37:22.86] SPEAKER 1: How are holidays traditionally celebrated in your family?
  • [00:37:29.93] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Probably like any other American-- Christmas-- Christmas-- Thanksgiving, you have turkey, and dressing, and whatever-- same thing on Christmas. New Year's, I usually stay at home. And 4th of July, we went out, watched the fireworks. Actually, when I was a kid, they didn't have fireworks down in the river. We'd go to Greenfield Village or somewhere like that. But they didn't have the large fireworks that they do now.
  • [00:38:13.60] SPEAKER 1: Has your family created any of its own traditions or celebrations?
  • [00:38:24.44] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Not really, I don't think. Nothing unusual.
  • [00:38:29.47] SPEAKER 1: What special food traditions did your family have?
  • [00:38:35.28] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Just food food.
  • [00:38:38.30] SPEAKER 1: Were any recipes preserved and passed down in your family from generation to generation?
  • [00:38:47.57] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: They may have been, but they weren't given to me. I was not a cook. Maybe my sisters have stuff, but I don't.
  • [00:38:57.14] SPEAKER 1: Are there family stories connected to making special foods?
  • [00:39:03.67] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: No.
  • [00:39:06.07] SPEAKER 1: Historical, social events. When thinking back on your school years, what important social or historical events were taking place at the time? And how did it personally affect you and your family?
  • [00:39:19.71] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, as I said, there were no girls at our school. So social events were pretty much nonexistent. But we did do other things, stupid stuff. For a while, we were-- I don't know how this happened. We all decided we were going to chew tobacco, so we-- everybody chewed tobacco. This one guy didn't know he wasn't supposed to swallow it. And the physics teacher wouldn't let him go out to spit it out, so he turned every color but green. He just had one heck of a problem.
  • [00:40:08.28] That was the end of his chewing-tobacco episode. It probably lasted a month, just a fad. That's weird. That was our social event. There were no dances. There were no girls. And we didn't dance for ourselves certainly because we were macho guys. There were no football games, nothing along those lines. We were just business.
  • [00:40:43.77] SPEAKER 1: On to the next part. This set of questions covers a fairly long period of your life, from the time you completed your education into the labor force and started the family until all of your children left home and you and your spouse retired from work. So we might be talking about a stretch of time spanning as much as four decades.
  • [00:41:07.03] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Sure would.
  • [00:41:09.66] SPEAKER 1: After you finished high school, where did you live?
  • [00:41:14.36] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I still lived with my parents for a-- probably two years. I went into the military, and I also worked at Willow Run Airport and Detroit City Airport. So I worked at Detroit City Airport before I graduated. --with my parents for approximately two years. I worked at Detroit City Airport and Willow Run. And As I went to Willow Run, I went to every airline at Willow Run. Willow Run was like the Metro is, Detroit Metro is now. And they moved all their operations from Willow Run to Metro because it was closer to Detroit than Willow Run was.
  • [00:42:28.62] And I went to every airlines, and every airline said, no, they didn't need anything. I had my suit and tie on, and I went, and I told them my name, and the fact that I'd like to fill out an application-- I was looking for a job and like to fill out an application. And everybody told me no.
  • [00:42:53.36] The second day I was there, near the end of the day, I ended up at Northwest Orient Airlines. And I went in and asked-- told her who I was and I'd like to fill out an application for a job. And the lady looked at me and said, no, we don't need any porters. I said, well, lady, I'm not a porter. I'm an aircraft mechanic. And she, oh, aircraft mechanic? And I got an application. I filled it out, got an interview, got an offer, but I'd have to move to Texas because that's where their headquarters was, as far as for training.
  • [00:43:37.08] And I didn't either accept or decline that job. I thanked them, and we were supposed to get back together. Next place I went, very nice place I went, which was Great Lakes Aeromotive, I changed the way I had been doing things. I walked in. I said, good afternoon. My name is Lawrence Millben. I'm an aircraft mechanic, and I'd like to apply for a job. And I got a job immediately.
  • [00:44:13.24] So what I learned from that was I was saying the wrong things. I was emphasizing the wrong thing. And I have to tell-- or you have to tell people who you are and what you are in that particular case. Because during that case, during that time frame, blacks only had two jobs. They were either janitors or they were porters, and I was neither. So the stereotype was that I was a porter, and that was where I was supposed to be. So it didn't happen.
  • [00:44:52.42] There was a teacher I had at Aero Mechanics, Mr. [? Berta. ?] And he told me that he was going to make it tough on me because that's the way it was going to be when I got out into the real world. And he did. He made it very difficult. I would do things, and-- I'd drill holes in these plates, and they were supposed to be right on the money. And I thought they were pretty good-- no good, take it back, do it again.
  • [00:45:35.25] And my buddies were on the same crew that I was on, their holes were all over the place, and he would pass them. That's OK. That's OK. And I said, what the heck is this? But what he was doing was he was teaching me that good enough isn't good enough. And that probably was the best thing he could have done for me. But he'd made it so difficult that I was going to quit.
  • [00:46:03.20] And I read an article in Reader's Digest about the Tuskegee Airmen and, in particular, about Benjamin O Davis, who was the commander of the Tuskegee Airmen. And he was a West Point graduate. And they gave him the silent treatment for four years during the time he was at West Point. That means nobody could talk to him, and he couldn't talk to anybody else unless it was in the line of duty. He could ask a question, and he could answer a question. But that's fundamentally it. And I read that article and I said, you know, if he could put up for that for four years, I can get through this school. And that's the only thing. Because I was seriously out of there.
  • [00:46:56.80] Because all my buddies were going out on dates, and going to proms, and all the rest of that stuff, we didn't have proms. We didn't have girls. We didn't have hardly anything-- no sports, no, as I said, all the rest of that stuff. So it was a real sacrifice, in my opinion. So he made it difficult. And he made me think. And I mentioned his name every opportunity I'd get. So he's the one that taught me to look at what's going on, modify your position if necessary, which I did, and press on.
  • [00:47:38.74] After getting that job, I went into the military, went to tech school at [? Snoot ?] Air Force Base. And I wanted to be a crew chief because I was an aircraft mechanic, and that's what they do, and they have their own airplane, and all the rest of that stuff. And the Air Force decided that they'd give you this test before you go in. And I scored very high on all the areas, and they decided they'd put me in electronics.
  • [00:48:14.33] Well, I didn't really want to go into electronics that bad because I wanted to be a crew chief again. So I got into electronics, and liked it a lot, and went to their aircraft and missile electronics course. And that was 19 weeks long, six hours a day. And we started to get up at 3 o'clock in the morning. I was used to getting home at 3 o'clock in the morning.
  • [00:48:56.44] Anyway, you'd get up at 3 o'clock in the morning, and school was from 6:00 to 12:00. And then I wanted to learn some-- how to use the oscilloscope, so I decided that-- they didn't teach that as well as they did in the advanced course, so I decided to take the advanced course, which was 14 weeks long. And it was from 12 o'clock to 6 o'clock in the evening.
  • [00:49:28.86] So I was in school for 12 hours a day for 19 weeks. And that was a busy time for me. So I got out of that, came back home, and tried to get a job at the Tank Arsenal. I was still living at home-- probably not the tank arsenal, but the missile plant that they had on Van Dyke. And they would have these big, full-page ads, that we need aircraft mechanics. We need people that know their way around airplanes and stuff. I'd go out there, and I'd apply for a job. No, don't want you.
  • [00:50:20.17] And in order to get there, because, again, I didn't have a car, I had to take the Conant bus to 8 Mile, the 8-Mile bus, to Van Dyke, and then go out Van Dyke to 12 Mile Road, and then have to walk two miles to the tank plant. And then they'd say, no, we need somebody with more experience.
  • [00:50:50.04] And I said, well, the paper says you have to have six months experience. I said, and I have that. They said, well, you have to have school. I've got school. Well, your school has to be six months. I said, well, I got four years. How old are you? You're not old enough for that. And you're black, so we're not going to hire you. So I did that I don't know how many times. Because every time they'd run an ad, I'm show up. Then, they ran ads for electronics.
  • [00:51:21.25] I'm good at electronics. I just went through school. So go up there for that and got an interview. Guy said, yeah, we'd like to hire you. And your application looks good. Everything's fine. We'll call you in a week. A week goes by, nothing. Two weeks go by, nothing. So I call out there, and they don't know anything. So I go out there.
  • [00:51:53.13] And they said, well, we don't have any record of that. And I said, well, I talked to Mr. So-and-So, and he said that he was going to hire me. And then they said, oh, yeah. Yeah. That was another Millben. And I said, bull. I said there's only four Millbens in the phone book-- my father, my uncle, me, and a sister. And I said, and none of them have these qualifications. I still didn't get the job.
  • [00:52:36.81] So, yeah, there was stuff going on. And eventually, I got a job at a place called [? Ret ?] Products in electronics, and then I went into Burroughs Corporation, into their organization and spent some time in their research group, in fact, many, many years in the research group. And, of course, as soon as I got a real job making real money, then I could buy a real car. And then, I wasn't limited as to where I could go for a job.
  • [00:53:17.36] SPEAKER 1: So you did get the car?
  • [00:53:19.18] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I most certainly did, 1955 Ford Victoria.
  • [00:53:26.16] SPEAKER 1: What did the term "porter" mean?
  • [00:53:27.90] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Say again.
  • [00:53:28.95] SPEAKER 1: What does the term "porter" mean?
  • [00:53:31.86] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: That's the guy that carries your bags when you go to the airport.
  • [00:53:35.02] SPEAKER 1: Oh. How did you come to live here?
  • [00:53:41.76] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Didn't have a choice. That's where my parents were.
  • [00:53:45.24] SPEAKER 1: Did you remain here or did you move around through you working adult life? And what was the reasons for those moves?
  • [00:53:51.68] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Yeah, I moved from the east side of Detroit to the west side of Detroit.
  • [00:53:56.62] SPEAKER 1: Why?
  • [00:53:57.86] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Why?
  • [00:53:58.64] SPEAKER 1: Mm-hm.
  • [00:54:00.75] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Got married, and I moved to the west side-- that's where the houses were that were appealing to me, so that's where I moved.
  • [00:54:15.38] SPEAKER 1: OK. Can you tell me a little about your married life?
  • [00:54:20.84] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, I married a girl who I went to intermediate school with. And we'd lost track of each other for a long time. In fact, I didn't really like her. I don't think she liked me, either. But after we grew up, we met again, and went out on a couple of dates, decided we liked each other more than we thought we did, got married.
  • [00:55:04.21] SPEAKER 1: Where and when did you meet?
  • [00:55:06.92] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: In intermediate school. I don't know when. That's when we first met.
  • [00:55:15.48] SPEAKER 1: OK, what was it like when you were dating?
  • [00:55:19.43] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: What was it like?
  • [00:55:20.57] SPEAKER 1: Mm-hm.
  • [00:55:26.48] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I don't really understand the question. What do you mean what was it like?
  • [00:55:34.48] SPEAKER 1: Was it romantic?
  • [00:55:38.13] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Oh.
  • [00:55:40.59] SPEAKER 1: Anything difficult?
  • [00:55:47.54] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I guess it was romantic. I didn't really-- guys don't pay attention to romance so much. You probably already knew that.
  • [00:55:58.19] SPEAKER 1: Tell me about your engagement and wedding.
  • [00:56:04.64] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Phew. Let's see. We got engaged. I don't know. I can't tell you when. She probably can. I can't. We were engaged for quite a while, and then we got married in 1959. So we've been married 50 years.
  • [00:56:32.83] SPEAKER 1: What's her name?
  • [00:56:34.72] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Say again.
  • [00:56:35.58] SPEAKER 1: What is your wife's name?
  • [00:56:37.13] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: [? Jeanie. ?]
  • [00:56:37.88] SPEAKER 1: [? Jeanie. ?] Can you tell me about your children and what life was like when they were young and living in the house?
  • [00:56:48.77] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Yeah, as I said, we had three children, but they are now adults. It was interesting. My job, of course, was to go out and make money so that the rest of the family could do what the rest of families usually do, which is spend it and provide the house and that kind of stuff.
  • [00:57:25.81] And, of course, in most families, ours was probably no different, the mother gives the love, and the father gives a discipline. That's standard. Kind of like when I was a kid, you know, you do something wrong, and one of the neighbors says, well, I'm gonna tell your mother. That's bad enough, but don't tell the dad, you know? That's bad news. So in that instance, it's pretty standard.
  • [00:58:03.52] They're all pretty good kids. They all graduated from high school, and two of the three graduated from college, and one's on the way. So we've been pretty successful in that sense. All three of them were working for quite some time. One of my daughters got laid off. She worked for the Board of Education, NIT. And then they decided to farm that out. They farmed it out to Compuware. So she went to Compuware with the Board of Education. And Compuware lost the contract, so she's presently looking for a job.
  • [00:58:59.37] But that's probably going to be a short-term thing. And so all three of them are doing pretty good. They're all educated. They all have good speaking skills and good cognitive skills. And they're knowledgeable in their chosen professions.
  • [00:59:18.30] SPEAKER 1: What's their names?
  • [00:59:20.09] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Say again?
  • [00:59:21.07] SPEAKER 1: What's their names?
  • [00:59:22.65] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Cheryl is the oldest. And Pat is the in-between one. And Larry Jr. is the baby. He's not much of a baby. He's bigger than I am.
  • [00:59:42.36] SPEAKER 1: [LAUGHS] OK. Tell me about your working years.
  • [00:59:46.21] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: About what?
  • [00:59:47.06] SPEAKER 1: Working years.
  • [00:59:48.66] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Oh, working years. As I said earlier, I went to work at Great Lakes Aeromotive at Willow Run and went into the service to school and came out, went to work for several small places. Then, I went to work for Burroughs Corporation, initially in the factory, testing out their computers, and then went to work in the research and development group and did a lot of research and development for them, have a couple of patents from that work, then went back into the military again.
  • [01:00:42.57] And I was a squadron commander and a group commander, had my own squadron of F-4s, and I had a squadron of F-16s, and I had a squadron of F-106s. And then I became a base commander, and I had all of Selfridge Air Force Base [? there ?] was mine.
  • [01:01:13.50] And with that comes a lot of-- of course, with airplanes, there's a lot of responsibility because making sure they don't crash when they're not supposed to and that kind of stuff is pretty big. And the decisions you have to make are literally life and death. If you send an airplane up that is not functioning correctly, then either the airplane gets destroyed or the pilot and the airplane get destroyed. So that's a biggie.
  • [01:01:45.24] Then, as a base, then you have-- everything-- it's a small city, and you're kind of like the mayor of the city. You have a police department. I had three police departments, two fire departments, civil engineers, communications, fuels, roads and grounds, the buildings, water supplies, anything you can-- snow removal is big on an Air Force base because you have to keep the runways clear in order to land and take off airplanes.
  • [01:02:24.39] All those things are things that are predictable. Things that are not predictable are people. You can't always predict what they're going to do or how they're going to react. And that's the job of commander. He has to be able to know his people, know what they're capable of, and put them in positions where they will be successful. Because if they successfully do their job, then things run along well. It's only when they don't do their jobs well that you have a problem. So there's a lot of skill that goes into being a commander of anything-- a squadron commander, a group commander, or whatever. You've got to know your people, and you've got to know what they're capable of.
  • [01:03:20.02] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: So a lot of time was spent on that. As I said earlier, I've been to 54 schools. From the time I graduated from high school to the time I retired, I was a federal grievance examiner. That's a person where if you-- the Air Force has unions, civilian employees, they have unions.
  • [01:03:47.91] So you're kind of like a judge. You go in, and you figure out that the plaintiff, which is usually the agency, and the defendant, which is usually the guy that gets fired or whatever, you have to be able to go in and hear both sides of that. And you get a court stenographer in it [? and, ?] actually, becomes law. You make a decision as to what should occur. And that's part of the law.
  • [01:04:21.16] I was also a crash investigator. That means when airplane crashes, then I go out and find out why. You pick up the pieces of airplane and pieces of people and figure out why the airplanes stopped flying and impacted the ground. Also, announcing commander, which, if there is a chemical attack on the United States, or accident, or biological attack or accident, or a nuclear attack or an accident, then I'm the guy you call. And I'm supposed to make order on the chaos. And that's also an interesting job. I've done that, not with the nuclear and the others, but the major aircraft accidents and that kind of stuff like that.
  • [01:05:17.51] Security. You have to have good security around the base, so you have to understand what your enemy is thinking and how to prevent him from being successful so you have to keep your eyes open. You have to see things. It's the same thing on airplanes. You have to see things that are out of place or not right, and then take care of that so the airplane doesn't crash or so you don't lose the base because somebody does something stupid or doesn't do something that they're supposed to do. So what else do you need to know?
  • [01:06:09.42] SPEAKER 1: --about your employment. And I was gonna ask you, what does the term F-16 mean?
  • [01:06:15.46] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: What's the term F-16 mean. F-16 is an airplane. It is one of the airplanes that the United States uses now in the Gulf War, and it's used in Afghanistan. We used it for air defense and tactical air command. F stands for "fighter" and 16 is the 16th generation of fighters in the new way of listing fighters. So F-16 is a fighter aircraft, and it's designed to dog fight with other airplanes or provide close air support.
  • [01:07:08.59] And I mentioned yesterday, they're F-4s and F-106s. Those are all fighters. The B's, like the B-52, and the B-1, and the B-s, those are bombers. The B stands for "bomber." And RF, which is reconnaissance fighter, they use to take pictures and other sensors of enemy territory. And now you're as smart as I am, told you everything I know.
  • [01:07:37.82] SPEAKER 1: [LAUGHS] OK. What was a typical day like during the working years of your adult life?
  • [01:07:45.03] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Typical day of my working-- well, I actually had two careers. One was in research and development, and the other one was with the military. So I'll start with the civilians first. When I was in research and development, I'd get up, go to work, and my job primarily was reading, designing electronic circuits, designing circuits that had never been designed before, things that had to do with computers.
  • [01:08:26.57] And, in fact, I have two patents in computers that I got out of the research group. And so primarily, it was designing circuits, using very sophisticated test equipment, such as clock generators, and signal generators, and function generators, and oscilloscopes, and wave form analyzers, and things of that nature. And that was pretty much it. I would come in, read all the periodicals that we had to find out what everybody else was doing and also design circuits that would do the job that we wanted. In research and development, it could be anything. We'd design and build any kind of circuit that you wanted.
  • [01:09:28.57] On the military side-- the civilian side was kind of structured in the sense that you would go in and do the same thing. On the military side, it was different. Every day was different. We would have airplanes that wouldn't fly for whatever reason. We would have personnel problems. We would have munitions problems. We would have security problems. We would have just about anything you could think of we would do.
  • [01:10:09.28] Again, as a base commander, it's like a small city. You have police departments, hospitals, fire departments, all those things are regular city would have. And you're kind of like the mayor-- traffic enforcement, tickets, clubs, libraries, gyms, everything that you would have in a normal city is on an air base.
  • [01:10:43.94] SPEAKER 1: What did your family enjoy doing together when your kids were still at home?
  • [01:10:47.76] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Oh, we would take trips. We'd go to Mackinac, Traverse City, Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, Toronto to the science center, Chicago to their science center, went out west to mine gold. We went out, and there was a gold mine out there, several gold mines. We went and mined gold. Went all around out west, I should say, and up north. And so we got around pretty good.
  • [01:11:30.52] SPEAKER 1: What were your personal favorite things to do for fun?
  • [01:11:36.34] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, I liked designing electronic circuits. I liked playing chess-- football, fencing with-- so everybody know what fencing is, it's not making fences. It's with fencing foils, swords-- judo, took up judo when I was down at [? Snoot ?] Air Force Base. And that pretty much kept me busy.
  • [01:12:13.86] SPEAKER 1: What's judo?
  • [01:12:15.26] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Judo, jujitsu. It's Japanese-- kind of like Kung Fu, and karate, and aikido, and then there's judo. Judo is a martial art. And it's one of the first ones. Some of the other ones came a bit later.
  • [01:12:39.74] SPEAKER 1: Are there any special days, events, or family traditions you practice that differ from your childhood traditions?
  • [01:12:48.18] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Anything that I did differently from my parents? Well, we traveled-- my parents took us on trips. We traveled when I was a kid. Actually, my sisters did more traveling than I did. I was pretty much a stay-at-home guy. But, again, we did we did travel. And I made sure that my kids traveled. I took them to symphonies and that kind of stuff. So they had a pretty broad range of experiences.
  • [01:13:34.26] SPEAKER 1: This is the next part, work-retirement. This set of questions covers a fairly long period of your life from the time you entered the labor force or started a family up to present time.
  • [01:13:46.85] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: OK.
  • [01:13:49.84] SPEAKER 1: What was your main field of employment?
  • [01:13:53.83] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Main field of employment was research and development in electronics. And the secondary field was the military or national defense. I spent a lot of time in airplanes, fighter aircraft.
  • [01:14:17.43] SPEAKER 1: How did you first get started [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [01:14:22.25] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, I went to Aero Mechanics High School, and learned aircraft maintenance, and went into the military. And I wanted to be a crew chief, and they decided that I was going to be an electronics instead. And so I went into electronics. So then I had two career fields I could rely on, one was aircraft maintenance, and the other one was electronics. And I used them both. I was an aircraft mechanic for a while, and then I used electronics, both in the military and in the civilian world.
  • [01:15:08.96] SPEAKER 1: What got you interested?
  • [01:15:11.04] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: What got me interested? I was always interested in airplanes from almost the time I could walk and talk. So airplanes was a natural. I liked listen to shortwave radio when I was younger, and I built radios and components to radios, shortwave radios. And I could hear-- on the shortwave, I could hear France, and Germany, and all those foreign countries that are thousands of miles away.
  • [01:15:47.52] And I thought that was pretty neat. They would play jazz and all kinds of good music. But the trick was being able to get them because they were very weak stations and they had to be able to [? tune ?] [? them ?] [? in. ?]
  • [01:16:09.81] SPEAKER 1: What was a typical day like during the work years of your adult life?
  • [01:16:17.50] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: You pretty much asked me that. But typical work day, as I said, on the civilian side, you get up, go to work, you do the reading and all that stuff. You want me to tell you again?
  • [01:16:34.82] SPEAKER 1: What specific they train or skills were needed for your job?
  • [01:16:40.19] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Specific training skills. One, on the aircraft side, you had to understand airplanes. What made some fly, why they fly, what systems they have on them, like the electronic systems, the mechanical systems, hydraulic systems, electrical systems-- munitions, what makes missiles do what missiles do. So there are quite a bit of knowledge in that area. And you have to be able to speak the language because the technical side of airplanes has terms that regular people don't use.
  • [01:17:28.73] And the same thing is true with electronics. You have to be pretty good at math, and same is true with on the aircraft side. But math, physics, you have to be able to speak the electronic language. You have to actually do a lot of school for electronics. It's a very technical field and a very demanding field in the sense that you have to be careful what you build, what you're building safely.
  • [01:18:03.28] Sometimes there's high voltage involved. And with radar systems, you have to be careful that you don't transmit in a confined area because it's like being in a microwave, and you're the meat. So you can actually literally microwave yourself. So you have to be careful about that.
  • [01:18:31.61] And one other thing, in all of these disciplines, safety is key. I've been very lucky. I haven't killed myself or anybody else. I have all my hands, and fingers, and toes, and things of that nature. A lot of people in aviation don't. A lot of people end up hurting themselves or hurting someone else. The F-4 airplane I was telling you about earlier, there's eight different ways of killing you just getting in. So you have to be very, very careful. Safety is a big issue.
  • [01:19:19.05] SPEAKER 1: What tools are involved or work involved?
  • [01:19:23.91] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, with airplanes, again-- and again, safety. You use almost any kind of tool that you can think of-- wrenches, and pliers, and whatever sophisticated equipment, such as generators, power generators, compressed air, hydraulic systems. If you start moving controlled surfaces on airplanes and you get your fingers in the way, it chops them off.
  • [01:20:04.74] On some airplanes, the missile bay doors, if they actuate the missile bay doors and you're in the missile bay, you die. If you are working around some airplanes, they have auxiliary power units that are run by exotic fuels. And if you touch the fuel, you're going to die. If you inhale it, you die. If you smell it, you're too close, you die.
  • [01:20:38.70] So, again, safety is a big thing. Tools that go along with those, anywhere from gas masks to protective clothing. If you're out on the flight line and it's 20 below zero, you have to be extremely careful because anything you touch, your hands will stick to whatever. So very, very, very complex stuff. You have to know a lot.
  • [01:21:11.04] SPEAKER 1: What kind of fuel was it?
  • [01:21:13.04] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: What kind of fuel for--
  • [01:21:14.92] SPEAKER 1: If you inhale it--
  • [01:21:16.75] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Oh, we call it hydrazine. That's a rocket fuel, and it's mean stuff.
  • [01:21:28.88] SPEAKER 1: How and when were they used, the tools [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [01:21:32.66] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: The tools? Almost on an everyday basis. If you're going to fly an airplane, there's certain tools you need to have in order to get the airplane ready to fly-- certain safety equipment that you have to make sure-- if you look at some airplanes, you see little streamers hanging down all over the place. Those are pins that you have to pull out before the airplane takes off. You don't pull them out, the airplane can't take off. So there are many, many safety issues and tools which you have to use. Sometimes you have special tools to get them out of there to perform various functions.
  • [01:22:24.82] SPEAKER 1: What technology changes occurred during your working years?
  • [01:22:29.92] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, when I first started working on airplanes, they were propeller-driven airplanes. And the first ones I worked on probably flew 120 miles an hour. When I left service, the airplanes I was working on flew 1,600 miles an hour. So [INAUDIBLE] big change. They were jets, as opposed to an propeller-driven airplane. Speed difference is extremely high.
  • [01:23:08.95] The radios got much smaller, more compact, and with more capability. So they did a lot. And there are other systems on the airplane that we didn't have, such as inertial navigation, and electronic countermeasures, and things of that nature, which are reasonably new.
  • [01:23:34.63] SPEAKER 1: What is the biggest difference in your main field of employment from the time you started until now?
  • [01:23:42.02] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: The main difference? Again, computers. If we go back to the research and development, computers are much smaller. I bought my first computer, and it cost me $1,000. And it had 16,000 bits of information that it could store. Now, you can buy, for $200 or $300, a computer that-- well, let me back up. The first one I worked on would do for additions-- pardon me, four multiplications and divisions a second. And that was pretty fast.
  • [01:24:38.23] Now, the computer that you buy for $400 will do-- pardon me 4 billion computations per second-- from 4 a second to 4 billion a second. That's a big jump and cost a lot less. So that's on the technology side, on the computer side. Again, on the aircraft's side, speed difference from 120 miles an hour to 1,600 miles an hour is significant change. So it's improved. Speed's improved, sophistication has improved on both sides.
  • [01:25:33.45] SPEAKER 1: How do you judge excellence within your field?
  • [01:25:42.61] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Excellence is judged, in my opinion, by a person's ability to perform a specific job, perform it better than normal. In other words, when you look at a job, good enough isn't good enough. If I asked somebody to do something, and they come back with, well, it'll work if you do this, it'll work if you do that, it'll work if you do the other, and they start making excuses for what they've done, they haven't done a very good job.
  • [01:26:27.27] The guy that gives you a job, and you push a button, and everything happens. That's a good job. People have a tendency to-- well, I'll go into that later. I'm sure you're going to ask me that question, so I'll just wait till you do. OK.
  • [01:26:46.10] SPEAKER 1: What makes someone respected in their field?
  • [01:26:51.68] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: What makes someone respected in their field? Primarily, if you take any field like aviation, it's huge. Aviation has pilots. They have co-pilots. They have navigators. They have aircraft mechanics and aircraft mechanics is broken down into hydraulic systems, electrical systems, aerodynamics, sheet metal, structures, whatever. And there's many of those.
  • [01:27:32.20] And then on the electronic side, there are people that deal with radios, other people with computers, other people work with lasers, other people with digital communications, other people with television. Huge. So you say "electronics," it's tremendously large. If you're going to be an expert, then you have to take that very large group and narrow it down. For example, in electronics, electronics is huge. So you're gonna work on radio, you're gonna work on TV, you're going to work on airborne radio, shipboard radio, navigation equipment, electronic countermeasures.
  • [01:28:20.99] So pick one. Let's say that you pick radios. OK. So out of all the electronic things, you picked one, radio. OK, now, when you start talking radio, you're talking about ELF, which is Extremely Low Frequency, SHF, which is Super High Frequency, X band, which is extremely high frequency again, broadcast band, which is what you listen to on the radio, AM, which is different than FM, which is different from PSK, which is pulse-code modulation-- PC, rather-- and PSK. Is pulse-shifted key.
  • [01:29:12.25] So there's many kinds of radios. So now, you're gonna pick AM. OK, so now, we've gone from electronics, to radio, to AM. Now, you've got to select the frequency band that you're going to look at. So now, you take a frequency band. Now, you're going to talk about RF or IF. RF is radio frequency, or intermediate frequency, or audio amplifiers, or whatever. And you keep going down, and down, and down. Finally, you get to the point where you're an expert on resistors, OK. And that's when you start to be a real expert.
  • [01:29:59.38] You're not an expert if-- the old saying, if you're a jack of all trades, you're a master of none. You have to be specific. You have to have an area that you're going to be an expert in. If it's fountain pins, for example, then you're going to be an expert on the spring in the fountain pen, the ink in the fountain pen, or the ball at the end of the pen, or the fiber at the end of the pen. You have to keep narrowing it down. And then, you get to be an expert in whatever it is you're going to be an expert in. Expert's not big; it's small, if that makes any sense.
  • [01:30:38.00] SPEAKER 1: What do you value most about what you did [INAUDIBLE]?
  • [01:30:43.50] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: What I value most? Well, I like to think that I contributed to the technology of the computer sciences and the electronic sciences and that I had, as I said, several patterns in that area. On the aircraft side-- well, let me go back. On the base side, I ran one of the largest bases, Air National Guard bases in the country. In fact, let me rephrase. It was the largest Air National Guard base in the country and still is. And I built several buildings in that area, had a good working relationship with all the men and women that work there-- and good security.
  • [01:31:47.61] I made several major changes to aircraft and how they-- their radar systems and how they function. So, yeah, I think I impacted the units that way, also.
  • [01:32:06.95] SPEAKER 1: What is the biggest difference [INAUDIBLE]? I asked you that.
  • [01:32:13.21] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Yeah.
  • [01:32:14.18] SPEAKER 1: I apologize.
  • [01:32:14.68] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: It's OK.
  • [01:32:15.81] SPEAKER 1: Tell me about any moves you made during your working years [INAUDIBLE]
  • [01:32:23.90] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Say it again. I couldn't hear you.
  • [01:32:26.50] SPEAKER 1: Tell me about any moves you made during your working years in retirement before your decision to move to your current residence?
  • [01:32:34.20] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Current residence? Well, I haven't moved since I retired. I had bought my house some time ago and paid for it. So we're living in the same place we've lived for quite some time or where the kids grew up. So no major-- haven't changed a lot. Still the same place.
  • [01:33:09.54] SPEAKER 1: How did you come to live in your current residence?
  • [01:33:14.11] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, got married and needed a bigger place than the one that we had after we got married when we started a family. So we got the larger house and just lived there.
  • [01:33:38.20] SPEAKER 1: How do you feel about your current living situation?
  • [01:33:43.25] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Fine. Got no problem with it. Well, we're thinking about moving. We've got a colonial-type house with an upstairs and a downstairs. And although we don't have any problem moving around right now, as we get older, we don't know how we're going to be able to handle this step. So we're probably going to be looking at some place with one floor rather than two.
  • [01:34:16.75] SPEAKER 1: This is to the next set of the questions.
  • [01:34:19.62] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Say it again.
  • [01:34:20.74] SPEAKER 1: This is to the next set of the questions. This set of questions covers your retirement years to present time.
  • [01:34:26.38] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: OK.
  • [01:34:27.61] SPEAKER 1: How did family life change for you when you and your spouse retire and all of the children left home?
  • [01:34:36.55] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Quieter. Got a lot quieter. My wife probably still cooks for the kids, even though they're not there. And that's something hard to break. We have more room now, obviously. We have a couple of bedrooms that we use for office space and that kind of stuff now. So we have more space and less noise.
  • [01:35:16.64] SPEAKER 1: That's good. What is a typical day like for you in your life currently?
  • [01:35:24.49] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, now that I'm retired and I have all this extra time on my hands, let's see. I'm on the board of directors for the Tuskegee Airmen. I'm on the board of directors for-- I have been on the board of directors for the Tuskegee Airmen National Museum-- on the board of directors for the North American Black Historical Museum, president of the board of directors for the Davis Aerospace Technical High School Advisory Committee-- technical advisory committee.
  • [01:36:05.72] I work with Congressman Conyers and Congresswoman Kilpatrick on qualifying all of the service academy people, that's people who want to go to West Point, or Annapolis, or the Air Force Academy, or Merchant Marine Academy. So I qualify those people. I'm a mentor for the Davis Aerospace Robotics Club. And there's some other stuff I can't think of right now. Other than that, I don't have anything to do now that I'm retired.
  • [01:36:45.69] SPEAKER 1: What does your family enjoy doing together now?
  • [01:36:50.90] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: We still take trips together every now and then. Birthdays and regular holidays, that kind of stuff. We still get together for that. Most of my family help with the Tuskegee Airmen Annual Dinner. So they do work in that area, both my children and my sisters. So we're all involved in that. I periodically have meetings with people that I used to work with in research and development at Eaton Corporation, and Burroughs Corporation, and also with people from my old squadron when I was in the military. So I kind of keep up with people that way.
  • [01:37:58.90] SPEAKER 1: What are your personal favorite things to do for fun?
  • [01:38:02.06] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Now?
  • [01:38:03.00] SPEAKER 1: Mm-hm.
  • [01:38:09.13] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I'm going to get back into chess. I don't do that very much anymore. But I do do research and development. I still design circuits, and I have an electronics lab at home. I help several of the Congress persons with military matters. Since I was a commander, I understand how the military functions. So if they have a problem, they call me sometime for-- to ask me if what their hearing is factual or not.
  • [01:38:49.91] SPEAKER 1: Are there any special days, events, or family traditions you especially enjoy at this time in your life?
  • [01:38:59.61] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Yeah, it's probably the same answer I mentioned before. We still do the birthdays, and the holidays, and that kind of thing.
  • [01:39:10.11] SPEAKER 1: When thinking your life after retirement or your kids left home up to present, what important social or historical events were taking place and how did they personally affect you or your family?
  • [01:39:23.10] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Say that one again now.
  • [01:39:25.02] SPEAKER 1: When thinking your life after retirement or your kids left home up to the present, what important social or historical events were taking place and how did they personally affect you and your family?
  • [01:39:39.33] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, a couple of things that kind of stand out. One is Katrina. I think that was a significant event. And I was giving a speech at Black Lake, which is where the UAW has all of their Veterans Affairs people come in. And we saw the Coast Guard do a phenomenal job of rescuing people down there. 9/11, I was working at Eaton Corporation and their research group. And because I know what my squadron should have been doing and, in fact, did do, we launch several airplanes to cover New York.
  • [01:40:49.56] And being a commander and doing things like that on a regular basis, I kind of felt like I should be in the middle of that, and I'm not. And nobody's calling me to ask me any questions, so that was kind of a disappointment, not that they didn't do a good job. Everybody did a good job. I just wasn't in the middle of doing that. And I'm kind of a strange guy. I like chaos. The more chaos, the better. So they had chaos, and I wasn't there.
  • [01:41:38.43] SPEAKER 1: When thinking back for your entire life, what important social or historical event had the greatest impact?
  • [01:41:51.53] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Well, two things. One was 9/11, and the other one was Kennedy assassination. And I think those were the two that impacted me the most-- or at least were most impactful in my life.
  • [01:42:11.03] SPEAKER 1: Why?
  • [01:42:17.91] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I couldn't believe that they shot Kennedy. And then, I couldn't believe all the people that were dying around him after that. Lee Harvey Oswald got shot. It was something that you just-- you couldn't write a movie with that kind of stuff going on around you.
  • [01:42:47.24] And 9/11, I mentioned that-- and I guess there's a couple of other things. One, I've been through three riots in my life-- 1943 when I was a kid, in 1967 and 1968. And the 1967 riots were-- that was a social event that really was impactful. In fact, it changed Detroit, it changed the nation, and it changed almost everybody that was in it.
  • [01:43:36.67] SPEAKER 1: What family heirlooms or keepsakes do you possess? What's their story and why are they vital to you?
  • [01:43:49.38] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I have some things of my father. He was in masons. My grandfather had two patents from Canada. And I went to Detroit Public Library one day for something. I don't even know why I was there now. And it said they were having a thing on Michigan inventors. And I said, hmm, let me see whether they have my patents. I have a couple patents, so I went and I asked him if they had my patents. And sure enough, they found them.
  • [01:44:37.48] And then I said, oh, I don't know whether you have these, but check and see whether my grandfather's patents are there, and they found those, too. So that was some things that I think are significant. That was my grandfather on my mother's side. [INAUDIBLE] my parents, on my father's side, he's got quite a bit of material that he had from World War II. He wasn't in the war, but he had-- he sold just a tremendous amount of war bonds and things of that nature supporting the war effort. So I've got some of that.
  • [01:45:42.69] SPEAKER 1: What are patents?
  • [01:45:44.44] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: What is a patent? A patent can be anything that somebody invents that is unique. Let's see what I can-- an automobile brake-- brake on an animal can be patented. The material that's used on that brake may be patentable. You can patent that. Anything that's unique, anything that has never been done before and somebody invents it-- let's say the Wright Brothers invented the airplane. OK, that's patentable.
  • [01:46:32.91] The latest thing now is genomes or DNA. People are patenting that kind of stuff now-- or nano electronics, whether they're patenting very small electronic motors and electronic stuff. But airplanes is patentable. Propellers, brakes on a car or steering girl on a car or whatever, all those things, if they've never been done before, you can patent it. And there's not very many people that end up with patents. Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone. Are you done?
  • [01:47:26.39] And if you look at that camera that they're using, on the bottom of that somewhere, there's a whole bunch of numbers, and it says, United States Patent number-- and they'll probably have 15 or 20 of them on there-- anything that is unique that a person invents is patentable. Patents are good for 17 years, and if you improve on it, then it's good for another 10, I believe. So you can lock something up for some time.
  • [01:48:00.44] SPEAKER 1: So patents that your grandfather gave you, are you going to give them to your children?
  • [01:48:05.88] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I already did. I gave everybody copies of them-- and not only my children, but my sisters and my cousins. I got all those out to everybody. It should not be a secret.
  • [01:48:26.17] SPEAKER 1: What would you say has changed most from the time you were my age to now?
  • [01:48:35.74] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Let's see, you're 10, right? No, I'm just kidding. What's changed? I think the best example would be a radio. Back when I was your age, radios were quite large, and they had portable radios, but the portable radios were quite large.
  • [01:49:14.62] And they had huge batteries in them and high voltages. And now, you get two flashlight batteries and, actually, it can be even smaller than flashlight batteries, and it'll run it for a month. Radios are smaller. IPods are smaller. The other thing I guess I'd go with was the telephone. Everybody's got a cell phone. Back in my day, that was an unbelievable thing. Nobody could figure out that you would have a cell phone as small as it is because you'd have a big telephone sitting on a desk. And there was no such thing as a portable phone. So that was an issue.
  • [01:50:09.45] Back in my day, they had record players or photographs. Now, you got iPads. And you put an LP on, a long-playing record, and it would go for maybe a half hour. Now, on your iPod, you can put 1,000 LPs, and it's still extremely small-- put it in your pocket, walk around, and hear music all day.
  • [01:50:44.14] SPEAKER 1: What advice would you give to my generation?
  • [01:50:49.09] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Learn to read. That's a critical thing. If you can't read, then the next thing is you can't learn history. And if you can't learn history, then you're in deep, deep trouble. If you take the word "history" and you break it down, it's "his story." Until we learn "our story," it's never going to become history. So we need to know, as minorities, as blacks, what have we done in the past that nobody knows? Nobody knows about some of the primary inventors we had.
  • [01:51:40.57] Very few people are aware that a black guy that invented blood plasma. And a lot of people may know that, but they don't know that he died in an automobile accident because they wouldn't give him blood plasma. And back in those days, there was white blood plasma, and there was black blood plasma. And they didn't want any black blood going into white guys because then they'd be black, they thought. It doesn't mean anything today.
  • [01:52:22.35] SPEAKER 1: This is the last question. Is there anything you would like to add that I haven't asked about?
  • [01:52:35.23] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: One thing. One thing I neglected to mention, that I do mentoring of other officers. I have several officers that I am mentoring. And I think that's important because, as officers in the military, people-- you run into problems that other people have had. And if you don't talk about them, then you don't know how to get out of those things very smoothly. I got two people. I'm trying to get one into West Point and the other one in to Annapolis.
  • [01:53:33.39] And another Lieutenant Johnson, soon to be Captain Johnson, and she is going to be a company commander here shortly. And that's a big deal. I've had other officers that I've mentored, Major Donaldson, who was a fighter pilot. And I'm drawing a blank right now on the other guy's name, just graduated from Davis Aerospace. And I'll think of it tonight at 2 o'clock. But many, many officers, both black and white, I mentored and tried to help. I've been successful in helping other officers in the Air Force get through pilot training. So I think that's important.
  • [01:54:51.35] I have a saying that I use quite often. And that is, you cannot allow your personal feelings to interfere with your professional judgment. And that means you don't get mad, at someone, and then go after that person. You act professionally. And we have to keep our heads about us and our wits about us. Because as soon as you start getting mad, you start losing focus. And as soon as you start losing focus, the other guy can capitalize on what you're doing wrong and defeat you, so you don't allow that to happen.
  • [01:55:39.60] The other thing, as a commander, I always say-- and this is good for combat. It's also good for normal operations. You pick the time, you pick the place, you pick the weapons with which to fight, and you control the events. If you cannot control the events, you will not win. So if you're having a problem at school or wherever, you start picking the time, and the place, and the weapons.
  • [01:56:17.03] And the weapons may be whether you're going to write something down, or whether you're going to verbalize something, or whether you're going to ignore something. You pick the weapons with which to fight, and then you start controlling events. It's kind of like playing chess. Do any of you play chess? Learn how to play chess. Very important. Because what you see you want to do, you can assume that there's somebody on the other side that doesn't want you to do it. So you have to assume that there's going to be somebody there to stop you.
  • [01:56:57.47] And your job is to anticipate what they're going to do and make your plans so that you can get around that and still accomplish your job. Those are things that I think are extremely important for the young folks. You gotta not take things personally. You cannot allow your personal feelings to interfere with your professional judgment. And you've got to pick the time, and place, the weapons with which to fight, and then you have to control the events. Learning how to play chess will teach you that. So learn how to read, learn your history, play chess. Play chess, and chess is fun.
  • [01:57:45.23] SPEAKER 1: Are there any photograph that you have or pictures?
  • [01:57:49.96] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Yeah, [INAUDIBLE]. I didn't bring a lot of them in, but I brought probably too many, but I didn't bring a lot. Can you turn it off for a second? Because I'm going to go-- you didn't get the right ones.
  • [01:58:38.78] This is me when I was a kid.
  • [01:58:42.20] SPEAKER 1: That's when you was in the Army?
  • [01:58:44.32] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Air Force.
  • [01:58:45.22] SPEAKER 1: Air Force?
  • [01:58:46.10] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Yeah. And that was back in probably 1957. OK? Say when you're ready. That was when I was [INAUDIBLE]. And back in the day where they had Afros, the Air Force didn't let you have Afros. So this is the closest thing I could come to it. I guess I was a captain then. OK.
  • [01:59:45.11] This is when I was on a sailing ship one of the colonels that I had. I was on a sailing sailboat in Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, 1982. I thought I was Captain Ahab. And I had one with Mayor Young and I.
  • [02:00:26.92] SPEAKER 1: Coleman Young?
  • [02:00:27.67] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Coleman Young.
  • [02:00:30.85] SPEAKER 1: What year was that?
  • [02:00:32.73] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: I have no idea. I have several of he and I. OK. And right after Coleman Young was Mayor Archer. And I got one with Mayor Archer. And this is my wife, the mayor, my sister. And then I have one with-- this is John Conyers. This is Governor Engler over here. I don't know if you can see him or not-- and myself. And Wendell Anthony, I think, is over here. I'm looking through the pictures, so I can't really tell.
  • [02:01:46.14] SPEAKER 1: Where did that take place at?
  • [02:01:47.75] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Say again.
  • [02:01:48.57] SPEAKER 1: Where did that take place.
  • [02:01:49.94] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: And this is me. This is at Selfridge Air Force Base. So I'm on the end in the white shirt there. This is Chuck Stokes, and I, and his wife, and my wife at Champion of Excellence. We both got an award there on the same day.
  • [02:02:22.19] SPEAKER 1: Do you remember what year that was?
  • [02:02:29.10] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Like 2001. This is President Clinton and I.
  • [02:02:51.10] SPEAKER 1: Where did that take place?
  • [02:02:52.77] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Selfridge Air Force Base.
  • [02:02:56.17] SPEAKER 1: That was the same day?
  • [02:02:59.91] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Oh, no, different days, different years. And another one with President Clinton. I'm giving him this secret handshake, I guess, or whatever. And this is my official photograph. OK, and that's probably enough.
  • [02:03:41.63] SPEAKER 1: Well, Mr. Millben, that's the end of our interview.
  • [02:03:45.40] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: [INAUDIBLE].
  • [02:03:49.01] SPEAKER 1: Thank you for the photographs and for answering these questions.
  • [02:03:53.05] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Thank you.
  • [02:03:54.92] SPEAKER 1: You're welcome.
  • [02:03:56.89] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: This is my grandfather's first patent. It was issued in 1924. And it's a Canadian patent. It's on superheated steam. And this is the second patent, which was issued in 1944.
  • [02:04:27.14] SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE].
  • [02:04:28.50] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: And that's also a-- this is a US patent-- and also on superheated steam boiler. And this is my first patent in 1974, I think it was. OK, and this is my second patent in 1976.
  • [02:05:14.01] SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE] United States patent?
  • [02:05:15.84] LAWRENCE MILLBEN: Yes, they're both United States patents. And OK. You're as smart as I am, told you everything I know.