Mixsonian Morrs and Barbara Larry


Popular Electronics Bingo CardMy interest in electronics continued and I discovered I could get all sorts of information in the form of catalogs.  Each month Popular Electronics had what was called a “Bingo” card in the back of each issue. Like a Bingo game card, the card had a list a hundred numbers representing advertisers in the magazine whose adds would have a “Circle No. xx” with the number.  This was a big improvement of the older having to send a postcard or letter to each company.  I at first would order six or ten at a time but after few months had ordered most of them and then only ordered an occasional new one. By the end of the year, I had a good supply of catalogs regularly coming in the mail.  Catalogs often contained more than just the company’s products but would contain instructional and informational material which I would study.  Each issue of Popular Electronics had instructions on how to build several projects, some simple and some more complex. The projects would list everything you would need to build the project and where to order the components from.  Even better, you could order complete kits for many of the projects from a company called  Southwest Technical Products, or SWTP for short, which I made several.

SWTP Power SupplyMy SWTP Power Supply which I still used today


Bubble top concept car1960's bubble top concept car similar to model I made

For several years I had been making small plastic models of airplanes, cars and even an army tank which I blew up with firecrackers.  I loved going to Toy Land and looking at all the models they had on shelves twice as tall as I was.  The kits were simple things to put together, coming as a bunch of plastic parts, an instruction sheet on how to glue them together and how and where to apply decals and paint.  I soon got proficient and building them and looked for bigger and more complex models.  One of the best models I got for my birthday, it was a bubble top car.  Bubble top cars were concept cars of the 1960’s reflecting the space age, often showed at car shows and made popular by the Jetsons carton TV show.  Jetsons carWhile at Toy Land I spotted a bubble top car kit, not a little thing like I had been building, but one that was over a foot long with working suspension, steering, doors, lights and motor. (see the jar) I showed it to Mom saying how much I liked it but couldn’t afford it but she remembered and I got it for my birthday. 

But it was the balsa wood airplane models that fascinated me the most. In the back of Toy Land was a glass counter with all sorts of model airplanes that people had built hanging above it, not little plastic ones like I had been building, but much larger with two, three and even four foot wingspans all of which were powered by powerful gas engines.  This was before remote control so the planes were “control wire” planes in which the planes had two wires coming out of the wing that attached to a fifty foot, handheld, tether which you would hold, flying the plane in a circle around you.

Behind the counter were shelfs holding dozens of models in long thin boxes ranging in size depending on the models with the larger ones over three feet long with each box having a picture of the model on the end.  I looked at the models, to big, to complicated, cost too much and after talking to the guy behind the counter I decided something I thought I could manage, a glider with a 40 inch wingspan much like the one at right. Model Glider  It took me a couple of weeks to build it, cutting out the balsa wood parts with a single edge razor blade, ribs, spars, struts and so on, laying them out on the plans that took up most of the dining room table, holding them together temporarily with straight pins I got from Mom’s sewing kit then gluing them together. With the frame and wings complete, I covered the plane in tissue paper which I then painted with a  bright yellow lacquer paint. It was huge, but the wing was held on to the body with rubber bands so it could be removed for transport.  Being a glider with no engine it had a hook on the belly that which would be attached to a string and then by running with the sting in hand, tow the glider into the sky.  I improved upon this when I spotted Grandpa Mixson’s old fishing rod and reel that had been sitting around unused for years and used it to tow the glider.  As I ran, I let the fishing line play out with the glider soaring a hundred feet into the sky when I would flick the fishing rod causing the end of the line to unhook from the plane which would then glide gently to the ground in a large circle.   I later built a balsa wood biplane with a wingspan of three feet. Although not a big as the glider, it was more complicated to build and more impressive with it’s two wings.  The model was iModel Biplanentended to have a gas engine but I never could afford one so it hung on my wall above my bed for a year or so until one day I wanted to see if it would actually fly. Climbing onto the roof of our house with the airplane in hand, I tossed it off.  Well, it flew but not all that well, stalling out, crashing to the ground and breaking a few pieces upon landing.
Photo similar to plane I built with out the tissue paper covering.

After a few adjustments and a few more flights, it ended up broken too much to fly again and was put to rest in the trash can.  I got great satisfaction from building the model airplanes, but it would be over fifty years before I would build another one.

Updated: 09-29-2022