As mentioned in our last story, Zenith builder Spenser Rice, age 15, is our youngest builder. He is working on a plans built 601HD. In addition to going to school, he works to fund his airplane budget. He has been hunting for a core engine for his project. This is kind of tough, because he can’t just jump in the car and go look at them. He has found a few leads, but nothing has panned out yet.
A few months ago, Spenser wanted to place an order with us for a manual and a disassembly DVD. When I learned a little more about his age and project, Grace and I sent him a full set of manuals and DVD’s at no cost to him. I carefully explained that he did not owe us anything for this, and it was not charity. I was simply repaying a 35 year old debt to Mr. Harold Kreiss, a man I has last seen in NJ in 1978.
Mr Kriess was the guidance counselor at Millburn Jr. High School when I was Spenser’s age. In a nutshell, I was a rotten kid at 15. I was a good student academically, but I had terrible friends, and they didn’t have to twist my arm very hard to get me to go along. In a short time, I was in frequent trouble. I once drew detention 22 days in a row. Most of this was over fighting. at 5’7′-130 lbs I was not on the winning end of this, but I didn’t back down from bullies. After an incident that Mr Kriess would have been justified in turning me over to the Juvenile Officer at MPD, he chose to do something different. He spoke with me for 30 minutes and found out that I really liked airplanes. On his own personal time he went to West Caldwell airport, and arranged to get me a weekend job as a helper at an Aircraft Maintenance shop. Although I thanked him at the time, you are not aware at 15 that it wasn’t really this mans job to do this. You would really have to be a clairvoyant optimist to think that anything good would come the effort, or my life for that matter. Harold Kriess was such an optimist, just when I really needed to have someone believe there was something good hiding in me.
If any of you Corvair builders out there have an outstanding debt to your own Mr Kriess, let me know and I will share Spenser’s email address with you. Perhaps someone in his part of the country can find a good core? Maybe several people who were the recipients of unwarranted generosity in your formative years would like to contribute to its purchase cost? I will gladly tell you that it felt pretty good to unload a part of my 35 year old account with Mr Kriess.
I would like to have Spenser meet Dick Otto, 92, on the northern leg of our October CA tour.( Dick Otto in California, S.R.B. (Senior Ranking Builder) ) I like the idea that they have a 77 year age spread. Let’s see if we can find Spenser a core so that he can compare engine building notes with Dick in October.-ww