Henry Johnson and Suzanne Nikolaisen

Recorded March 26, 2009 Archived March 26, 2009 41:51 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBY005210


Suzanne Nikolaisen (39) interviews her father, Henry J. Johnson Jr. (82) about his career in aeronautical engineering.

Subject Log / Time Code

Henry was born in Hartford, Connecticut. He briefly describes family genealogy.
Henry remembers the time he accidentally lit a box of fireworks in his bedroom and saw his first “chain reaction.”
Henry remembers seeing a plane buzz his high school which influenced his decision to get into the Air Force. Henry describes his training in the air force, not as a pilot but as a typist. He served in Europe following the end of World War II.
Henry describes his return to the US and buying a suit in Times Square. He did various jobs before studying aeronautical engineering at the Northrup Institute of Technology.
Henry describes his work as an Aero-bracero, following contracts the way day laborers follow crops. Henry worked on the Navy’s Polaris ballistic missile, at AeroJet and at Lockheed.
Henry remembers the first time he watched a computer instantly analyze data that had taken him weeks to analyze by hand.
Suzanne expresses how proud she is of Henry’s work.
Henry talks briefly about his youth during the great depression, his schooling and sailing.


  • Henry Johnson
  • Suzanne Nikolaisen

Recording Location

MobileBooth West


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00:06 Name Suzanne nikolaisen

00:10 Age 39

00:13 Today's date March 26th, 2009 location Salt Lake City relationship to partner is I'm his daughter.

00:26 I'm Henry J Jackson Jr.

00:30 I bet you two.

00:33 This is March 26th 2000 died.

00:38 Salt Lake City

00:40 Not the father.

00:46 Okay, so

00:49 I wanted to talk to you about your life and I think a good place to start would maybe be the firework story just cuz it's

01:01 It shouldn't be messed.

01:04 It if you wanted to to tell us about that and it ties nicely into your career to.

01:11 Well

01:13 I want to jump back. Okay, let's say that.

01:19 If a little of biopsy are. Biopsy

01:24 Biography

01:28 I was bored at the Hartford, Connecticut.

01:33 February 12th 3027

01:38 I'm 3/4 of Irish descent as Catholic.

01:45 I was Catholic at that point I was bored.

01:51 My brother is bad lip reading.

01:56 A cheese 3rd Generation Irish

02:00 Her great-grandparents came over at age 60

02:07 My father

02:12 Davis actually John Henry Johnson.

02:19 II beta besiegers I took the Junior.

02:25 Is brother ever regretted from Ireland as a young woman?

02:31 Your girl actually with her sister.

02:37 1872

02:40 Do you know if they came?

02:42 Why did they come? Do you know why they moved and that's a big mood. I want you to know how to fart.

02:53 My father

03:09 I thought father father is Irish. He's not the Johnson, Cape from New York.

03:19 I've traced the genealogy back.

03:25 6 Generations are still living.

03:30 Do your cat their Farmers takes this back. I found it back. 1750.

03:41 Are you could go ahead ask for your questions?

03:45 Okay, so your mom was a nurse and your dad was a fireman, right?

03:51 I thought that was your mom. I thought I saw her phone operator. She was she okay.

04:04 Okay.

04:06 So I guess I thought that was ironic when we were working on your story. You know that she was a nurse in Europe upstairs with your fireworks and and your little sister you want to hear about the fireworks at 12 years old.

04:24 I was able to buy fireworks. I have a catalog from the black cat firework company, Navarre, Ohio, Baltimore, Maryland.

04:42 And I saved by Buddy for cutting grass going carrots.

04:48 And I bought daughter of Ty dollars and fifty cents.

04:55 What you could tell you.

05:00 Skyrockets big salutes

05:08 Torpedoes and other types of things thinks you would buy up at Wyoming today.

05:15 I also got

05:17 Irish six packages of

05:21 What is solutes wrapped up bundles?

05:27 So you could fire up either way. Hope, I don't go out or you could do what at a time to do one at a time. I had to I'd rap.

05:38 Each individual.

05:43 Heads up

05:47 So there goes my tail City got my bed. I've got a box text to be.

05:54 Ed

05:56 My sister is at the foot of my bed about rap anything at the dropping of it to the Box.

06:06 This is going on for some type with eye what other wicks?

06:11 Gave out fell out of the firework. I picked it up and I put it in a tray that was under shelf above the box. It was it a striped.

06:25 And I lit it.

06:27 Cuz I do it with sparkle a little bit had to by surprise and Sparkle. Heck of a lot at one of those spot spot below Sparks would it in a box?

06:43 And I saw the guy First Chain Reaction.

06:47 What's Park became 2pk for babies 68. Up?

06:54 Why do we have a problem?

06:57 Try through the box on the floor. I crapped my sister.

07:02 Practically threw out the door. Just as I was closing the bedroom door it exploded.

07:10 Big Bob

07:14 Bother my head downstairs to catch it showed up and play.

07:19 II

07:21 And she called the fire department.

07:26 It wasn't worth my father worked.

07:29 But it was another one that's close by.

07:34 I proceeded to get out of the house.

07:37 With it, but it's I was steady with a group of kids. I didn't even go.

07:45 But I don't know where they gave her up and I was watching the fire of it.

07:50 Show sticks out the window like by batres.

07:56 Buy Sunday suit, the only what I had

08:04 I was surprised I got off at Atwood pretty lightly at the the repairs that you cost too much.

08:12 I was pretty lucky.

08:15 That was you that story.

08:17 I thought another one that really was needed that I hadn't heard until we started working on your movie was about the the plane when you were up in the library at school when you first got your roll excitement about the Air Force.

08:39 The World War II 243

08:47 Indict what's up with the library on the second floor?

08:55 And I happen to be staring out the window.

08:59 Or I would have been pissed off at just as I was looking.

09:05 Spider blade

09:08 Why is the school?

09:11 And what right passed away.

09:17 I paid by pay if I buy that I wanted to get into the air force or the Army Air corps.

09:24 As it was called at those days.

09:28 At the

09:32 The with it the following year. I tried to Civil Air Patrol.

09:49 What I do when the Civil Air Patrol as listed at the Army Air corps.

09:58 For Flight Training

10:02 I just turned 17 what I did that.

10:10 Irish. Called up until I was 18.

10:14 And I have

10:17 That was 9045.

10:20 I would hit a July towards Europe is over April of 45 it while we were finishing up basic training. They dropped the ball by topic pop.

10:38 That's it.

10:40 Well, okay.

10:46 I guess when you got out of

10:50 I was here about as occupation when you come home from Europe. That's when you can have found your motivation and really can your path for your career.

11:01 I was wondering

11:04 You know, it wasn't quite necessarily what maybe wanted to be he wanted to be a flight in a fighter pilot like you were saying.

11:13 Can you maybe talk a little bit about about how you found your path to North Ripon and your career?

11:23 Well after I what is a service by basic training they sent me to

11:32 Scott Field, Illinois

11:37 If you trade is a teletype mechanic.

11:40 I should say that flight trading was all closed are closed out because of war is just about over.

11:55 I'm glad I interesting path.

11:59 The course was Ted weeks log at 8 weeks.

12:05 A

12:06 I'll be out another fella.

12:11 And they said is at the firehouse to be fire pit on the diet shift.

12:18 The class finished up at the 10th week.

12:23 And they went over to Europe.

12:29 After they were glad I went back to the

12:32 The

12:35 I commanding officer and I asked.

12:39 What are we going to do here?

12:42 He said that the answer but a week later. I got transferred to Eglin Air Field.

12:48 Daughter in Florida

12:52 Hey Stewart, found out I do unto the teletype organic.

12:58 Do the last two weeks of the course of the most important?

13:04 Are you doing the troubleshooting?

13:08 Just so happens that

13:11 It's about that time. This is January.

13:16 3046

13:20 Congress

13:22 Before 8 because somebody's soldiers were getting out of the service.

13:29 It was going to leave him short head for the RV of occupation.

13:35 So the Carver's cave through it.

13:39 Pastor Bill

13:41 Allowed

13:45 What year is Lizbeth?

13:48 So I signed up for what year do I put it for dyed butts this time I signed up for what year?

13:59 They gave me a buzz what pots for Aloe and I would hope.

14:04 And I showed up at Greensboro, North Carolina after my butt.

14:11 To go through processing and we shipped over to Europe.

14:18 On a liberty ship

14:26 As we are approaching.

14:29 Going through the Eagles Channel.

14:32 They told us we were going to let it rip it off at your wedding at 3. We are going to be the first ship there.

14:46 They told us at that time that all the rides at the harbor had been removed.

14:53 Best day as far as I could tell

14:57 Wow.

14:59 3 lattice

15:01 It up for The Hobbit without incident.

15:05 We got on

15:07 Great cards cars 48

15:12 And we traveled straight South to butic that over to a Airfield outside of Utica first to Philbrook.

15:22 We got process there.

15:25 She got said to

15:28 I heard she got Air Force Base Hershey field.

15:33 Just outside of litz, Austria.

15:41 My first job our first assignment when I

15:45 Check that was to be a clerk typist.

15:50 Are the commanding officer?

15:53 Nothing was said about whether I do have time or not.

16:00 So I started taking typing lessons.

16:05 I had various other jobs while there.

16:11 January 13th 47

16:15 Return to home

16:18 We left through probiotic.

16:24 Our ship at the first shipment of War Brides write back to the States.

16:32 Acer Prides buried soldiers over there

16:39 I got out of the service.

16:43 First thing I did we got it. We got out.

16:49 Fort Dix, New Jersey

16:52 At the first thing I did was take the trade up to York City.

16:57 I went to type square at Bob's clothing store. I bought a suit and shirt tight pants.

17:08 Put my uniform visit duffle bag.

17:13 I took a taxi out to LaGuardia air airport.

17:19 I got out of American Airline DC-3 and flew all the way to Hartford.

17:26 About a hundred miles

17:30 How I get it to you answer your question.

17:37 I had various jobs.

17:39 It is a couple of years, but I ended up working for the Connecticut, Connecticut State Police.

17:47 As a radio mechanic

17:50 Primary by primary jobs was to install radios at their police cruisers and climb.

18:00 185 foot Towers

18:04 Radio station

18:06 Are there individual radio stations? They had eight erotic for out of state?

18:15 Go ahead with Chase light bulbs.

18:23 December of

18:27 1350

18:30 I got a letter at a catalog from a school in Hawthorne, California.

18:39 Neighbors

18:41 Northrup Institute of Technology

18:46 They were invited me to go out to go to school.

18:50 Prairie dock legendary

18:55 Yep.

19:04 Black fur hood like the GI bill or without

19:18 July 8th 1950 what?

19:23 Okay. Well, I was already to call I was buried by that had a son.

19:31 I'd like to go but I like to stay home.

19:39 I found out.

19:42 January 3rd

19:44 The police academy was going to take

19:50 A group do group of

19:55 Go through their place Trading Academy.

20:00 So I went up to personnel and I told him I want to go.

20:06 And the guy charged desert without battery guy. You said you can't.

20:12 Ethiopia well enough I said, why don't you set your top 25?

20:17 I said I'll be 25 in February.

20:21 She don't got to be tied up by January 31st.

20:28 Just that short time, March 1st. I was headed for, California.

20:37 And I start school. It is April 13th 51.

20:46 Eight week course Bridge during which basically was a refresher course.

20:54 I'll return your call subjects.

20:57 Shoot first 3rd July

21:01 3rd, we started the classes. They took two years and we went your route. So we had equivalent to 3 years. I graduated.

21:14 Then I got it.

21:17 Into the aircraft

21:21 Field

21:26 Do you want the whole history of I jobs?

21:30 I don't know. I was I was wondering like

21:34 You know the questions I had sent you. I don't know if you wanted to have never heard of an arrow Bracero. Of course when my friends ask me. What does your dad do and I was like peas and aeronautical engineer and I could barely wrap my tongue around the phrase and I didn't know what you did. I knew there were top secret, you know garbage cans at work, you know, what life is weird covers on them and you know, the little science and I was like, okay at the Dunedin talk about it at home that much so I didn't really know what you did and I'm sure my friends didn't either, you know, when they're like that, you know, what's your dad do so, I don't know if if you want to explain what

22:14 You know, the only one affected your family and maybe you know your your friends that you guys stayed connected as you I mean that was basically falling the contracts, you know, the dogs are dog.

22:30 Apart graduation. I went back to Connecticut.

22:34 My wife is Got Back.

22:41 Before baby cuz she was pregnant.

22:44 West Joliet

22:48 Call Chris chickie.

22:50 I confused.

22:52 I'll be back up there a couple of things. I left. Okay. I said I was buried where to put the school.

23:01 After we were there a year by side Cape Town with leukemia.

23:08 He died.

23:15 3 weeks 3 weeks after Joanne was born.

23:22 This was a start of my second year.

23:30 DeLorean stay out there with you then or did she go home for a while to her mom or

23:37 Well, she went back we both went back for the wedding fair for the funeral.

23:46 I hope this whole thing is being edited before session. I'm sure it is. She went back and stayed there for about a funeral.

23:59 Get back at school. So she has to Chickie diet 3 3 weeks before Joanne was born.

24:07 Wow, that's a lot to go through.

24:12 The baby was born so she had a baby in her arm, but you would hope.

24:25 Jeffrey Osborne

24:27 The week

24:33 Raven Hall before graduation ever been detected by graduation. She would home because the doctor advised her.

24:44 Jeff is bored.

24:46 July 5th to July

24:52 And he was born in August.

24:58 All right, so I went back.

25:00 Connecticut I work for United aircraft

25:05 Hamilton standard

25:11 Designer Grafton satechi manufacturer it have all those dad to George's.

25:19 I was working. I do aircraft air conditioning units.

25:27 II

25:30 Found out that there was a lot of discrimination.

25:35 Because I did that have ai degree.

25:40 At the

25:44 My boss, let me do.

25:49 Tri-State over 2 years that we went back to, California.

25:54 I went to work for Northrop.

25:59 Northrup

26:03 For us I think it was two years.

26:09 I'm still 60-58. I worked at e33 Trader are played at the fuel system.

26:27 I got laid off because of cut back labor cut back.

26:33 That's what I became. What a terrible Cerro is.

26:39 Officer would follow the crops a terrible Sarah would follow the contract.

26:48 I'd ever trouble finding a job.

26:54 Got a job at aerojet General Corporation outside of California.

27:04 And that's what I found out about the Navy's Fleet ballistic missile called a Polaris.

27:12 It was just beautiful.

27:17 It was Carrie.

27:20 Topic pops

27:22 Before I heard from a separate underwater.

27:28 Was this when you first turn it to work on it?

27:33 We worked on it for two years before.

27:40 Adult testing if Florida off the cape Cape Canaveral

27:49 It was fired. I believe the date was 96 Tears or do you want it successfully?

27:59 I work for aerojet from 5 to 58 that I D 68.

28:07 I worked out the Polaris a what?

28:11 I also worked out.

28:14 Der. I do clear rocket powder rocket engine

28:19 Difference between a boulder

28:22 Is that it has solid propellant decided where a rocket engine has public that has liquid flowing through the pipes.

28:33 Okay.

28:35 Who's got something keeping it running then? Okay program by particular job was to

28:51 Perfect the interface between the rocket motor.

28:56 Has a rocket tested.

29:00 Or they could pluck a boater Ed remotely because what's its fired it would be radioactive they had to do it was very special equipment.

29:13 How to connect the pipes

29:16 Remotely. Yeah. That's the boulder. Do you catch it?

29:22 Remotely, does it test it?

29:26 And you had to plug it all the electrical connectors.

29:31 It was an easy job.

29:35 But

29:37 II contract

29:42 I might say what I went there aren't yet?

29:46 Employment with 7,000 people

29:51 It reach 20. Mm. It would I left.

29:58 It was

30:00 7000 again

30:02 Wow, that's a huge up gross and then

30:07 Well

30:11 80 day today. I was at the players say what they did to Belarus 822

30:19 I did half of the parasite 3 they did that didn't throw any more after that.

30:26 There was three more.

30:30 Iterations at the side

30:35 And you worked on the Polaris?

30:39 Again, didn't you but A4 and A5?

30:45 II

30:48 Before I went working out the door program. I do this situation at aerojet was declining.

30:56 What day?

30:59 I saw that some people serve 8 years from McDonald Douglas Los Angeles regarding to be up.

31:08 Brent 10 minutes

31:12 Try to be up there. It is Sacramento the interviewing.

31:19 I would doubt it interviewed. It got a job offer.

31:25 They were so small clear. It's at the physical that I got the job at DARPA.

31:36 Two years later when I got ready to leave.

31:41 I called up to the guy I interviewed and he said goodbye. We got a job for you.

31:47 That job I worked out the

31:51 The upstage

31:53 Come grab attempt to destroy then copy or head cast Star Wars under Reagan.

32:07 72 to 92 20 years. I work for Lockheed. This was a space company.

32:15 Is a razor that you do here.

32:17 And I worked on Lockheed was prime contractor for the sleepless Abyssal.

32:29 Work out the C4 decide at ad5 decide.

32:34 TD5 is steel big bill today.

32:43 It was interesting 85 with through 19 pad test pad watches flights out of failure.

32:54 Play put the First with it is a separate and tested it.

33:01 It failed.

33:03 Cupones is sabudana with water.

33:07 Can I have a picture of it spiral egg?

33:11 Circle

33:13 Just before they blew it up.

33:19 The problem was that the force of water coming up following following the Bissell through the water.

33:30 At the at the backyard at through that ass off to the right broke apart and that caused the thing to fly in a circle.

33:41 Had to be destroyed. There was never a failure.

33:48 Bedford

33:53 Greek god for the other half hour.

33:59 Is there anything in particular that you wanted to say before we get to the

34:07 I like like your computer when you were the human computer and then that moment you remember you saw it for what it was when you were seeing things printed in real time.

34:17 What happened to school?

34:20 The school had a contract with the Navy at Point Mugu California. They said Dover what it called. Oh craft records of test data and we had to convert the test data.

34:34 Hi through different formulas.

34:38 To be able to present it I craft so there was understandable tipers pressure diet versus acceleration.

34:48 Turkish Turkish about a week to convert all that information while I was at aerojet office, but the test order test firings

35:09 In about 13

35:12 67 I was at a firing at I'd artist behind the that a supporter fired. The data was be converted.

35:26 In a computer

35:28 As we were standing there.

35:30 All those hours of time now so far for one minute that the testator was sitting there at the end of it.

35:43 I did do I was a UV computer back in 1954, but three and butt.

35:52 I realize that what I was stood there at

35:55 Watch this computer for doing his job.

36:01 That's pretty cool.

36:07 MK

36:09 Play I ask you a questions.

36:12 Well, I guess.

36:22 Cookie dough

36:33 And thank you for protecting us.

36:37 All of your work on these wheels.

36:41 Well scary controversial adult that was about protecting all of America. So, thank you.

36:53 Redcort time I can tell you about like you during the Depression.

37:02 That was a great depression or having another one today.

37:09 He actually it turns out that it never bothered me.

37:14 Put my father. My mother had jobs. My father was a farmer for the city of Hartford.

37:20 Matter fact we even had between by uncle and father. We have the summer Cottage at the lake.

37:33 We had no problems at all.

37:36 We weren't rich.

37:38 Where job said jobs

37:48 There are lots of stories you have about going out to the lake and sailing and fireworks and fun.

37:59 Wrap it up Rock Hill School

38:02 II great diet that I went.

38:06 How did the wide wide world the high school?

38:12 Which was really different.

38:18 After that, I am two years there before it was the service.

38:24 I got my high school diploma when I got back from her so you experience the whole wide world and you're up and then came back and take a test of it.

38:38 KP equivalency diploma

38:42 Okay, cool.

38:49 I could go and if I say lyrics.

38:53 But that would that story out there. So it's sad but it's very cool all the stories. I have two bones.

39:04 Arthur teeth is San Francisco Bay under the Golden Gate Bridge in a race.

39:17 That's a highlight of one of the highlights of Staley career to look up there at that bridge way.

39:28 At the

39:31 Really close to the water.

39:34 Yeah, right across the highway from Sausalito to

39:42 St. Francis Yacht Club

39:45 And in the windmill class was at the El Toro.

39:56 Tide was coming to get that's why I filled up to the bridge because the tide was good drag drag me down I sailed.

40:11 I devote straight across so I would say lacrosse, but I do push-ups in the east.

40:19 Add this by harbor to the yacht club by a hundred yards.

40:27 Dr. Backup is stuck in there. I doubt it's later on so big I try to Sparta. I work a Cape Town wind.

40:38 They were typical.

40:43 Is very poor stories?

40:46 What's the web belt, which is a class boat?

40:53 So glad that you worked at B2.

41:02 Reykjavik this interview bite

41:09 Ideas CD disc that tells a practice that has pictures and tells about the same story that you're responsible for that.

41:20 I think I'll go.

41:26 Finish by

41:29 II story

41:31 Okay, I'll be I'll be a

41:34 First one to read it I help or second after Mom.

41:38 Who publishes you can email it to all the kids.