Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ed Morgan - Manufacturing Man (Update)

Of all the research I did for Building Disney's Dream, personal material on Ed Morgan was the most difficult to come by, although in terms of commonality he was literally closest to home for me. Ed didn't talk much about himself. When he did talk, it was often in praise of his dear friend Karl Bacon.  Rob Reynolds quoted Ed in his book, Roller Coasters, Flumes and Flying Saucers;

"I don't want to be a big shot; I want to share any attention with Karl. I definitely wouldn't have been as successful had I not met Karl Bacon. We generated ideas and projects together, often over lunch in the conference room. I was the guy that made them happen from the mechanical standpoint; Karl was the guy who did the math. We complemented each other completely and without strife of any kind.”

Ed's family and uncle Holden had moved to Palo Alto in 1928. Ed graduated from Palo Alto High school in 1933. My family moved to Palo Alto in 1961 and I graduated from "Paly" in 1972.

Ed's Palo Alto High Graduation Photo
Ed's first job out of high school was working as an automobile mechanic at Barron Park Auto in 1935. He was working 60 hours per week, making about $1500 per month and paying $30 a month in rent. That was at a time when a car cost $580, gasoline was19 cents a gallon, a house cost $6,300, bread was 8 cents a loaf, milk was 47 cents a gallon, a stamp cost 3 cents and the average salary was $1,500 per year.  He was clearly a hard working man.

My first job during high school was pumping gas at Don's Union 76 in Menlo Park. I loved working on cars and also worked at the European Stable in Redwood City for several months, after I graduated from college. Ed wasn't a number cruncher. Back then, I hated math.

Ed and Betty in 1945
When my family moved to Palo Alto in 1961 Ed was living at 1060 Oregon Avenue, just a few blocks east of our address on Bryant.  I must have ridden my bicycle and later driven my car, past that spot hundreds of times on the way to the Palo Alto airport or yacht harbor.

About 1961
Ed was from nearly the same generation as my dad, who was born in 1923. My dad worked for the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, who also contracted work to Arrow. My dad also wasn't much to brag on himself, but was always ready to lend a helping hand and instinctively knew which end of any tool was the handle.

Ed also got three patents for amusement park boats. The first for a design used on two ride systems at Disneyland and the the second for a tip resistant bumper boat;

Small World / Pirates Boat - USD204282

Tip Resistant Bumper Boat - US3827387

In the historical references for US3827387, it appears that the rights to the bumper boat design were assigned to Arrow-Huss on Feb 2, 1981, to Huss Holdings (USA) LTD on October 2, 1981, and then to Vekoma Technology B.V. on July 15, 1988.

Although I never met Ed Morgan personally, I think we would have had a lot to talk about.

About 1986

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