Interview with Willard S. Wilson, 1977 June 2 [audio]

Hagley ID:
  • HAM radio use and traveling to Puerto Rico; Miscellaneous conversation
    Keywords: HAM radio; Ocean City, Nj.; San Juan, Puerto Rico
    Transcript: Were you talking about Ocean City?"
  • Early life and education; Early experiences with radio; Operating a ships' radio; Playing piano for silent movies; Naval service during World War I; Having a band and starting a radio station
    Keywords: Bands; Delaware River; DuPont Building; Hotel du Pont; Marconi Company; Morse Code; Orchestras; Philadelphia, Pa; Piano; Radios; Silent movies; United States Navy; Wages; Wilmington, Del.; World War (1914-1918)
    Transcript: Monigle: Are you a native Wilmingtonian or when did you come here?

    Wilson: Yes, well I arrived here on Groundhog's Day of 1897.

    Monigle: Born ...

    Wilson: February the second in Wilmington. I was brought here by Dr. Willard Springer, for whom I was named. My name is Willard Springer Wilson. Dr. Springer and my father were very good friends, and my father named his first son after the doctor.

    Monigle: That was a nice custom. I have a friend who was named for Dr. Wales -- his first name is Wales.

    Wilson: Oh, yes -- I remember him.

    Monigle: Did anything particularly happen before you started off to school? Where did you start your elementary school?

    Wilson: Well, I went to Number 28 School -- that was at Eighth and Adams. I think that that is the only public school that I went to until I went to Wilmington High on Delaware Avenue. I was in the class of 1914. Previous to that time my radio experience started in 1909 or 1910 when I was at grammar school.

    Monigle: Really ... how was that?

    Wilson: Well, on top of the original DuPont Building at Tenth & Market they had two tall towers which are shown in some of the early pictures that are still around, and that was the radio station for the Delaware Riverboats coming up. It was called wireless in those days. The wireless messages were sent and received through the transmitting station and receiving station on top of the DuPont Building. I became interested, I don't know, I can't tell why or exactly when, but in that area, in that time of 1910. I could see those towers on the DuPont Building from my home where I was born at 705 Adams Street. I could hear the spark signals with a little wireless receiving set that I had built and that's what got me started.

    Monigle: How did you figure out how to build a set for yourself at that age?

    Wilson: That's hard to remember. I met someone, there are several of them – Norris Morgan, who was organist at Grace Church, he was an amateur wireless operator; and Frank Tallman, Frank and I and Norrie Morgan ...

    Monigle: Isn't it Frank Tallman's son who is a stunt pilot out in California now?

    Wilson: Yeah. I think so, yeah.

    Monigle: Go ahead -- I'm sorry ...

    Wilson: But I knew Frank's father, who was Director of the DuPont Company, and he (Frank, Jr.) and I had one of the first wireless spark stations in Wilmington or in the state of Delaware. That was around 1910 -- that era. There were only about, I think, six or eight wireless stations in existence in the city in those days.

    Monigle: You were hearing Morse Code, in other words.

    Wilson: Oh, yes, it was all in code. There was no voice. Voice had been experiemented with at that time, but it hadn't been used.

    Monigle: You didn't have a transmitter -- you could just receive.

    Wilson: I had a receiver at first, but shortly after that we had our spark transmitters which consisted of a little Ford spark coil with a key and an inductive helix wire and an aerial wire between a couple of poles, someplace wherever we could stick them, and that's how we communicated. We could communicate to each other, all over the city, and as far as Philadelphia. That was before the government even licensed experimenters and amateurs to operate. They were operating freely with no license or no rules or regulations.

    Monigle: So you were only twelve or fourteen years old at the time ...

    Wilson: That's right. Then I went to Philadelphia and took an examination and received a first class commercial wireless telegraph operator's license which gave me the authority to be a commercial wireless operator aboard ship. So when I got out of high school in 1914 I went to sea as a wireless operator for the Marconi Company. It was interesting.

    Monigle: Where did your sailing take you?

    Wilson: I was on a number of ships. They took me to South America, through the Panama Canal, coast wide ships ... My first ship was of the Merchants and Miners line which ran from Philadelphia to Boston to Savannah and Jacksonville. That was in 1914. I was on several of those ships. They were little combination passenger and freight vessels.

    Monigle: Did you ever get into any areas where there were submarines or the war up that close?

    Wilson: No. Of course, before the war came along I was at home. In fact, I worked in the summer. I got a job with the DuPont Company. I played the piano for the DuPont Company silent movie that they were running in the Playhouse one summer before I went in the Navy in World War I.

    Monigle: You came out of the Merchant Marine and went into the Navy?

    Wilson: Yeah, that was just when the war started. In between that time, from what I can recollect, I stayed home for a year or so.

    Monigle: What kind of a silent movie were they showing?

    Wilson: They were showing the normal silent movies of the day at that time of 1916 or '17.

    Monigle: Was that a commercial movie theater?

    Wilson: It was a commercial movie theater -- the Playhouse was at that time, during the summer. There were several of us that were pianists at that time. We would play all these ...

    Monigle: Was George Madden one of those?

    Wilson: No. No, this George came later. There was Artie Hanby and Ruth Carlisle (or Ruth Sharshay) and myself. They are the only two I can remember.

    Monigle: Did you take music lessons while you were in elementary school?

    Wilson: I never took any music lessons. My father was a professional teacher of piano and organ, so I must have inherited it; and perhaps he showed me a little bit.

    Monigle: In the movie theater, did they designate particular music to be played?

    Wilson: Oh, no -- it was all improvised. All pianists in the early movie days -- they never used any music, they could improvise according to fit the music to the picture. You had to be able to improvise all different types of music, whether the villain came in the picture, or whether you had to play Hearts and Flowers when it got to be a sad scene. You had to know how to switch your music. That was the name of the game in those days. It was fun. I was just a youngster then.

    Monigle: What about the U.S. Navy service, and where did that take you?

    Wilson: That didn't take me very far. I travelled all over the world before I got into the Navy. I remember several assignments I had as a wireless operator for the Shell Company. We were carrying gasoline over to France before this country got into the war. Several of the ships were blown up by submarines, and I was lucky because we were full of gasoline and if they would have hit us I guess we wouldn't have been around. I can lookback and think I had a lot of nerve in those days to want to go through a submarine location with a ship filled with gasoline for France -- we went into Bordeaux and Rouen.

    Monigle: Did the company pay large bonuses for that kind of war time ...

    Wilson: No, we never got any bonuses. When I started with the Marconi Company our salary was $25 a month. But, of course, we were given our food and lodging on board ship. I think every six months we got a $5 raise. That's the way it was in that time.

    Monigle: Apparently Marconi owned all the wireless equipment on all the ships?

    Wilson: Yes, the Marconi Company did and United Wireless was another company, and there were several independent companies in those days.

    Monigle: Did it lease the radio to the ship owner?

    Wilson: I think they did. I don't remember ...

    Monigle: You worked for Marconi?

    Wilson: I worked for the company - yes, I worked for Marconi. When I enlisted in the Navy in World War I I was stationed right in Philadelphia in a secret monitoring station to receive the code to copy all the signals that we would forward in to Washington to see whether or not they contained information as far as any German or enemy signals are considered. Of course, that was of short duration. The war didn't last very long.

    Monigle: And then what?

    Wilson: And then out I came.

    Monigle: How old were you then?

    Wilson: In 1918 I was 21 or 22 years old. I was getting up there. After I got out of the Navy, then I had a dance orchestra. We played in the Gold Ballroom of the Hotel du Pont. I had a lot of pretty big jobs with my dance band. Then I started my radio business. That was in 1920 in my own home.

    Monigle: Where was the home?

    Wilson: At 705 Adams Street where I was born. Besides starting the radio business and selling radio parts for the wireless amateurs and having a dance band and then building the radio station, I was pretty busy.
  • Getting the idea to build a radio station; Switching from broadcasting out of his home to a studio; Broadcasting a Warren Harding speech
    Keywords: Advertising; Amos n' Andy; Broadcasting; Commercials; Department of Commerce; Harding, Waren 1865-1923; Hotel du Pont; Radios; Sponsorships; WDEL; Wilmington Police Band; Wilmington Police Department; Wilmington, Del.
    Transcript: Monigle: What gave you the idea of making a radio station in your house?

    Wilson: Well, because I had been an amateur. I built a lot of amateur radio equipment over the years ever since I was in grammar school, and I had a basic knowledge of the electronic end of it through my own studying. There were no radio broadcasting stations - KDKA started just before I built WDEL.(WHAV were the original call letters.)

    Monigle: Did you have to get anyone's permission to do it?

    Wilson: The Department of Commerce had some regulations, and I remember that after I built the station I called the Radio Inspector in Baltimore and he came up in my home on Adams Street. I built the equipment in a little room, a parlor, in my home. He looked it over and he said that looked pretty good and he would okay a license for me.

    Monigle: What was your capacity, your output?

    Wilson: It was a 50 watt station.

    Monigle: It's too bad the house isn't there. It should be a museum today. It's gone ...

    Wilson: Oh, yes. Everything's gone on Adams Street now from the beginning to Delaware Avenue.

    Muir: What kind of programming did you do in the early days of the station? What was the first thing you broadcast? When did you go on the air for the first time?

    Wilson: Well, we went on the air right from my home - my parlor was the studio. I used to have George Madden and George Kelly and they'd bring the band right in there in the living room and make more darn noise through the whole neighborhood.

    Monigle: Do you remember the first day that you went on the air or what

    Wildon: I can't remember exactly. I'd have to look back. I still have some little notes.

    Monigle: Did you keep a log?

    Wilson: There was no log kept in those early days. We didn't have to record. I'm trying to think back fifty years, and that's pretty hard.

    Muir: What was the year?

    Wilson: It was in '22 or '23 when it was officially started. I was the announcer and the entertainer. I played the piano and announced, and I was the chief engineer -- I was a one-man radio station in those days. The local telephone company gave us telephone lines to a couple of churches intown where we would broadcast the morning services. (West Presbyterian Church at 8th and Washington Streets.)

    Monigle: What frequency were you working?

    Wilson: I think it was about 260 meters (I think it was called 260 or300, I'd have to look it up. I have all that information and some newspaper clippings and things.) I have some newspaper clippings of the programs of the day, and it listed what we would do. We would have phonograph records and ...

    Muir: How many hours a day were you on?

    Wilson: We were on ... I think we were just on a couple of hours in the afternoon, maybe a couple of hours in the evening. Then, in the late twenties we signed off for the summer. In fact, there was a little note in the local paper, I think the Sunday Star, stating that this summer Wilmington and Baltimore were both without any radio stations -- we'd signed off for the summer.

    Muir: Do you have any idea when you started, how many homes in Wilmington had radios?

    Wilson: There were very few. They were mostly crystal sets or maybe one tube sets, in those days when they first started.

    Monigle: I remember in 1928 going down -- we lived on tenth street and I had no radio yet -- I used to go down to the neighbors a couple of doors down and listen. They had the earphones. And I think they had a big horn speaker also.

    Wilson: Oh, yes. We used to have Big Horn, Magnovox Horn, and the Atwater Kent sets. I remember all of those things from the beginning.

    Monigle: I wish I'd known you lived there. I would have ridden my tricycle around to see you.

    Wilson: Oh, yes. You should have been there. Now Charlie Huber lived near me. He had a license in those days. Charlie still has his sporting goods store on ninth street.

    Monigle: When did it grow to more than your house? How long did you broadcast out of your house?

    Wilson: I only broadcast out of my house a Very short time, maybe the first year or two. Then we opened up our radio store down on 912 Orange Street - that was in 1922. I was still operating from my home, but then I switched the equipment down on Orange Street and I ran a wire from the building on Orange Street up to the top of the Industrial Trust Building, which it was called in those days, and that acted as a transmitting antenna. Soon after that we made a deal with Paul Mullin at Mullin's store at sixth and Market Streets to put the entire operation down there. They had a fourth floor which was unused and they had a piano up there, so we made that the location for the radio station. We put the antenna up on the roof of the Mullin Building at sixth and Market. In fact, it was there until I sold the station to the present owners. It was not much of a studio, it was just a vacant, big room with a piano in it.

    Monigle: Were you commercial then?

    Wilson: We were commercial then but there was very little business in those days. In fact, I remember one time I solicited business around commercially. We had the big sixteen inch records of Amos 'N Andy when they first started, and I contacted a number of firms in Wilmington to sponsor Amos 'N Andy, but I couldn't find anybody that would Sponsor them.

    Monigle: When you were broadcasting in your house, was that more or less just for fun or were you able to sell some commercial spots?

    Wilson: I think we sold a little commercial then.

    Monigle: Who were the first to buy something, do you remember?

    Wilson: I can't remember, no. We would put some announcements on. We'd get a few dollars for an announcement. We'd get enough out of it to pay the telephone lines.

    Monigle: Did you put any news out?

    Wilson: Yes, I think we did but very little. There was very little of that done in the early days. The newspapers carried most of the news. We had no wire services then.

    Monigle: You weren't on Orange Street long before you moved to Mullin's?

    Wilson: No, we moved to Mullin's shortly after we were at Orange Street. Our business was only on Orange Street for a year or so until we moved up on Delaware Avenue where we were for fifty years.

    Monigle: When did you move up to Delaware Avenue?

    Wilson: We moved up there in '23. Then for a while, I think before I went on the Mullin Building, Du Pont (I think I talked to Frank) gave me permission to put the station up on top of the DuPont Building. That's where we operated, I think, before we moved down to Sixth and Market. That had a little teeny room way up on top of the DuPont Building, and I would run a wire from the top of the building all the way down into the Ballroom to getthe microphone connection and all the way back up to the top of the building.I remember, I think, when Warren Harding was here before he was elected President, we broadcast him from the Gold Ballroom. It was a very crude proposition. We had no AC, you see. I had to have a special AC line. The local power company ran a special AC line into the DuPont Building in the rear of the Gold Ballroom where we had our equipment so that we could operate our microphone amplifiers and things from AC, because there was no AC in the DuPont Building. It was all DC where they made their own current.

    Monigle: Were they making their current in the basement of the building?

    Wilson: Oh, yes. They made their current in the building - the DuPont Company did. So that was really in the early days. That was back in the middle 20's. One of the most interesting programs that we had from the Gold Ballroom (we used to broadcast from the Gold Ballroom 3 number of programs)...and one of the ones that created quite a stir was the fact that we had the Police Band of the Wilmington Police on the air to give a concert one evening and it was shortly after the Clover Dairy episode of a robbery which many of the older people in Wilmington still remember. I was in the Gold Ballroom and I was the announcer for the Police Band, and I would announce the different selections; so, just as a joke, I said the Police Band will now play the Clover Dairy Blues. Well, did I get myself in dutch on that. The Chief of Police called me and he really bawled me out. He said, "Willard, you should be ashamed of yourself to make a joke out of our Police Department."

    Monigle: They were pretty shakey about that robbery ...

    Wilson: They had the whole Clover Dairy Building all surrounded and the robbers where in there and the robbers got away. I'll never forget Chief Black. He was really provoked. He said "Willard, you ought to be ashamed of yourself broadcasting like that on the radio."

    Monigle: Wasn't he the one who got famous later for handcuffing a fellow to a kitchen chair? One of them did ...

    Wilson: It was either he or his son. We had a lot of fun in those days. But, today, I would say that the fun factor is very, very low in comparison to what it was in the early days - in the beginning.
  • Selling the radio station; Popular broadcasts; Interest in photography; Reason for Charles Lindbergh's visit to Wilmington
    Keywords: 16mm cameras; Chinatown Rescue Mission; Eastman Kodak Company; Lancaster, Pa.; Lindbergh, Charles, 1902- 1974; Movie cameras; NBC; Photography; Projectors; Radio stations; RCA; WDEL; WILM
    Transcript: Muir: How long did you own the station?

    Wilson: I owned the station until '30, '31. That was at the height of the Depression, and my wife was very ill; and this company in Lancaster that owned the Lancaster newspapers came in to Wilmington and they approached me and I wasn't interested in selling; but they also bought the other small radio station that came on the air after I came on -- WILM. They bought that station, and they used that as sort of a lever to force me to sell because they had a lot of money. I would have preferred to sell the station, if I was going to sell it -- I would have much preferred to sell it to a local newspaper than to a Lancaster newspaper, but I couldn't sell the idea. I remember when we built the new studios in the Odd Fellows Building at Tenthand King, I went to the Bank of Delaware and I talked to Frank du Pont. I said, Frank, I want to put in new studios for our broadcasting station and I'd like to borrow ten thousand dollars. From what I recollect now, Frank said, well, we don't think a radio station is a very permanent or safe investment, but we'll take the chance. I said, well, I'll give you the capital stock of the corporation - we were incorporated by that time - and I said all I can do is give you the capital stock of the radio station as collateral for a ten thousand dollar loan. So, we got it and we paid it off quite soon; but they were reluctant to loan money on a radio station. The newspapers should have been smart enough to have acquired that station at that time instead of letting an out-of state company come in and buy it.

    Monigle: By the time you sold it, had it developed into full broadcasting all day?

    Wilson: Yes. Our studio and offices were up there in the third floor of the Odd Fellows Building (I think it was the third floor). We were doing quite well. We were getting enough income, I think, to cover the costs of running it, which was rather modest in those days.

    Monigle: Were you part of a network?

    Wilson: Yes, we had an independent network. That was before NBC. We had no direct NBC connection in those days, but we had an independent network where we broadcast every Sunday, I remember, Chinatown Rescue Mission, which was a very popular program. In fact, we had the Rev. Tom Noonan, was his name. He was the preacher at the Rescue Mission in New York, and it was a very popular program. I had him come to Wilmington to be present at a rally and performance or a showing at the West Presbyterian Church in Wilmington. We had that church packed.

    Monigle: When did you first go from completely independent into this sort of local network? How early was that?

    Wilson: Well, that was in the late 20's.

    Monigle: What other radio ...

    Wilson: Well, they had a Philadelphia station and they had several stations in New York. It was a very small independent network. It was just at the time when RCA was getting National Broadcasting Company organized, from what I remember.

    Monigle: When did you finally join NBC?

    Wilson: They joined NBC right after I sold the station. The people that bought the station had a station in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and I think they had several other stations in the Pennsylvania area. They more or less built up a network of radio stations.

    Monigle: Are they under the same ownership now?

    Wilson: Yes, the same ownership.

    Monigle: And they also owned WILM at that time?

    Wilson: They did, but later on they had to relinquish their ownership in WILM. The ruling came out from the Federal Communications Commission that no one person could control the only two stations -- there were only two stations in the area -- they had to sell one of them so they sold WILM.

    Monigle: Tell us about the photography interest ... when that started ... how that came about.

    Wilson: Well, my photography interest started when I was a wireless operator for the Marconi Company, because I have a lot of pictures that I took all over the world when I was in South America and Europe during my sea travels. I took a lot of still pictures. Then the movies started right after I got out of the navy in the war and we started the business. In fact, we had -- my company then was called the Wilmington Electrical Specialty Company, that was a fancy long name - we received the dealership from the Eastman Kodak Company to sell movie cameras and projectors. We were one of the first Eastman dealers in the state of Delaware to sell movie equipment. We did that in combination with our radio or wireless stuff, see. That got me interested in the movies.

    Monigle: How early would the movies have been ... 1920?

    Wilson: Around 1922--23. Because I remember the first movie camera I had was a hand crank 16 millimeter. I fact, I still have it. That's really way back when. You had to put it on a tripod or you'd be getting all sorts of jitters when you showed the film. You couldn't hold it steady enough and crank at the same time.

    Monigle: Did you develop any of your own still photography? Did you get into that?

    Wilson: I did a little bit, but very little.

    Monigle: Let's talk a little bit now about this visit. How did all this idea of Lindberg coming to Wilmington start as far as you know? Were you in on that from the beginning?

    Wilson: Well, yes I must have been aware of the arrangements. Being that I was interested in taking amateur movies, I figured it was an event that I wanted to catch. So that's what I did.

    Monigle: I read something just a couple of weeks ago in the Wilmington paper that was news to me. It said that Lindbergh was interested in coming to talk to the DuPont Company because he had some idea of something which later was developed. You know, the sort of rocket assisted take off to get a plane off the ground rapidly. He wanted to talk to them. I don't know whether he thought they could use black powder or what kind of powder, but they evidently were discouraging to him. I thought maybe that was a part of the reason he came here.

    Wilson: I don't know.

    Muir: We recently acquired a lot of material from All American Engineering, including movies which deals with their development of this kind of system.

    Monigle: Yes ... he was just a little ahead of the game, I guess. Were you connected at all with EB?

    Wilson: No, purely in a personal way, because due to my wireless and radio activity HB became interested in communications as far as his airplane was concerned. I helped him install his communications equipment in his plane that he had out at the DuPont Field. I remember in those days I helped him on that to get his radio equipment ...

    Monigle: Voice transmission or just code?

    Wilson: No, they had voice transmission I think at that time. Yes, that was back in the transition from wireless to radio, so it was voice.

    Monigle: Who could he talk to flying around Delaware in those early years? He needed a private little station?

    Wilson: I think we had a fixed ground station right at the airport there at the field, and he could talk to the field from his plane.

    Monigle: How early was that? 1920?

    Wilson: That was in the 20's, yes. Around that time.
  • Charles Lindbergh's visit to Wilmington, Del.
    Keywords: Aviation; Bayard Stadium; Lindbergh, Charles, 1902-1974; Wilmington, Del.
    Transcript: Monigle: Was HB the host of the Wilmington visit of Lindbergh or the mayor .. or how did it work?

    Wilson: I don't know. I can't remember who acted in that capacity, but I know HB was right there. He must have been either the one or one of the group.

    Monigle: And it was publicized so that a number of people were looking forward to it and were encouraged to come out to the airport? Or were they encouraged to go to Baynard Stadium where the speech was?

    Wilson: They started, naturally, when he arrived at the airport and then from the airport they went by automobile to the Baynard Stadium. I have a frontpage of the Philadelphia Inquirer of that day, and it has quite a front page story and has Lindberg standing there in the stadium with the WDEL mike in front of him.

    Monigle: If we do this showing in October, that would be nice to put under plexiglass or something so it could be seen.

    Wilson: Yes. I have it in an envelope. It's quite yellow and we should make a copy of that so it won't deteriorate any further.

    Monigle: Do you think it is time to run a little bit of it? We'll look at it for a minute or two and then stop so the noise of the machine won't interfere.

    Muir: Had you gotten any telephone information that he was on the way, or did you just wait until he showed up at the field?

    Wilson: I think we just waited.

    Muir: Were there any other planes in the air to more or less escort him, or did everyone stay on the ground?

    Wilson: No, I don't think so. I think he was the only one.

    Monigle: The first shot shows the plane arriving. Was it sort of the middle of the day?

    Wilson: Yes it was. I think it was around the middle of the day.

    Monigle: Was that October ...

    Wilson: let, wasn't it? It was marked on there.

    Monigle: What day of the week was it? Was it a Saturday?

    Wilson: I can't remember. I could look at that paper.

    Monigle: Of course he was coming to the DuPont Airport and there were -- how many people would you guess were there at the field waiting for him. A hundred or so?

    Wilson: Oh, there were several hundred anyway. I don't think it was too heavily publicized. Of course, as you see later in the film, the Governor and prominent Wilmingtonians -- Bill Highfield, the Governor and several other well-known persons in those days were present.

    Monigle: Do you remember which direction he came from when he appeared over the field?

    Wilson: I can't remember. I think he came from perhaps, I don't know if he was in Washington or not, whether he came up from Washington.

    Monigle: Had he given a fairly good estimate -- was he close to when he was due?

    Wilson: Oh, yes. I think the newspaper story states that he arrived right smack on the minute. He was very punctual. He arrived right on the dot.

    Muir: Didn't you take any footage of when he taxied up and got out of the plane?

    Wilson: No -- I don't know why.

    Monigle: Is that Lindbergh on the left there?

    Wilson: I don't know, I can't ... Now there's a prominent character in Wilmington ...

    Monigle: Who is that?

    Wilson: ... called Nebbles Middleton. He was a sort of a retarded chap that was always present at any big affairs. He always led the parade ...Nebbles ... he was always known as Nebbles. And here he was leading the parade here. I got a close up of him. Here comes Lindbergh in the automobile.

    Monigle: Is that Baynard Stadium or leaving the Airport?

    Wilson: No, this is coming in to Baynard Stadium with the motorcycle escort to begin ...

    Monigle: 0f Wilmington police?

    Wilson: Wilmington police, yes.

    Monigle: What's that, a Buick there?

    Wilson: I don't know. You can see there was a pretty good crowd there.

    Monigle: Who's the man with him, do you know?

    Wilson: I think that's HB in the hat there. Oh, no. No, it isn't. That's the Governor. I think that's Governor Robinson. I think Gerrish Gassaway was there. Now, there's Bill Highfield - the white haired man. Lindbergh in the center.

    Monigle: Did he arrive in -- he must have had a flying suit on when he got out of the airplane. Did he remove that?

    Wilson: Yes, I think so. He had his business suit on underneath.

    Muir: Were you having to look after the radio broadcast as well as take the movies?

    Wilson: I don't think so. Now that may not have been broadcast. That microphone there was for the loudspeakers.

    Monigle: I see. Who was Highfield?

    Wilson: He was the potentate of the Masons of Lulu Temple in Philadelphia and a very active Mason in Wilmington. He was in the insurance business. Now, this picture is the one shown in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    Monigle: What is he holding, his helmet?

    Wilson: Yes.

    Muir: I wonder if he stressed the need for municipal airports everyplace he went. No train went by during all of this, did it, on the track right in back there?

    Wilson: I don't recollect any.

    Muir: Gosh, he looks young there.

    Wilson: He was.

    Monigle: How long did he talk?

    Wilson: He didn't talk very long. I think five or ten minutes.

    Muir: Besides pushing for municipal airports, did he talk about anything else do you remember?

    Wilson: I don't recollect.

    Muir: I wish I knew what he has in his hand.

    Wilson: There's Gerrish Gassaway in the background. Now there he is signing this Christmas Seal for Miss Bissell. He's putting his coat on. There's HB. There's Miss Bissell. She's giving him the Christmas Seals, see? There he goes.

    Monigle: Did he come back and circle or did he just head away.

    Wilson: I think he did make a circle and then ...

    Monigle: No pilot could resist doing that.Wilson: No. He made the circle there, as you can see, as he is gaining altitude. I forget now whether he was going to Philadelphia, or not. But I want to give you that newspaper.

    Monigle: Did he stay in Wilmington just that one day?

    Wilson: That's all.

    Monigle: A few hours ...

    Wilson: Yes. Took right off.

    Monigle: He only came to the airport, went in a motorcade to Baynard Stadium, and back to the airport. No business talks with anybody?

    Wilson: I don't recollect any. Well, his time was a factor there. I believe he was just squeezing the time in to do what he did in Wilmington and, bingo, off he goes. He no doubt had another engagement that evening and he couldn't hang around.

    Monigle: Soon after that he was going to fly down to Mexico, I guess, where he visited the Ambassador and met his wife to be. Do we have any more questions?

    Muir: We would be happy to have a copy of the talks you mentioned that you gave like to the Rotary Club on the history of WDEL.

    Wilson: Sure, I'll look it up. I have copies of the talk.

    Muir: Anything that you have concerning your early business activities in Wilmington and the history of broadcasting.

    Wilson: I'll look them up in the office. I think I've got them.

    Monigle: Besides that hand cranked camera, do you have any of the early radio equipment at all. Did you keep any of it?

    Wilson: No. I have photographs of my complete station in 1912.

    Muir: If we could borrow those and make copies in our lab we would be delighted to.

    Monigle: You ought to think of this library, I think, as a good repository of your memorabilia, because we are interested in communication and I don't think there is another museum in Delaware that would be as interested in the radio station and the other things about your life and career. I think you should look through things and decide what you might lend us to copy or what you would like to have kept here forever.

    Wilson: Sure, I would be very happy to give it to you.

    Monigle: I have enjoyed the conversation very much.

    Wilson: Yes, it has been interesting. I enjoy trying to recollect my experiences in the early days.

    Muir: If in any of your other still photographs that you have taken over the years there are some that relate significantly to Wilmington and Delaware history, we would be interested in looking at those.

    Wilson: I will look through and see if I can pick out some.

    Monigle: Let's make some other visits at your convenience and if you would bring out some of these talks or some other materials like the newspaper and let us see them ...

    Wilson: Well, I want to give you that Philadelphia newspaper because that ties right in with the Lindbergh affair very well. I don't recollect that the Wilmington papers covered it like the Philadelphia ones did. You can check with the Wilmington papers to see how their coverage was as far as pictures went at that particular date. They no doubt have the microfilming of the paper at that time.

    Monigle: Thank you very much.

    Wilson: Well, the Lord's been good to me and I'm still here.