A Boy and A Wizard

A 10 year old Charles is seated at a metal chair and is looking back over his arm while holding his head up with his hand. He has a day dreamer look about him.

My childhood was typical of a baby-boomer of that time: promises of science, clean nuclear energy, computers, robots, space travel, and of course, the ever present threat of total thermonuclear war. I was an avid watcher of the television show Watch Mr. Wizard and The Bell Laboratory Science Series which ran from 1956 to 1964. This included such memorable episodes as  Our Mr. Sun. The Unchained Goddess, which took a look at weather as a science, and one of my favorites, About Time, which explored the mysteries of what is time and how it works. These early educational programs laid the foundation for the rest of my science based life. It was no wonder that I disassembled so many electrical and mechanical gizmos by the age of eight just to see what made them work, and tried so many of my own experiments just to see what would happen. Some of which often disturbed my mother and father to no end. 

Amateur astronomy, the space program, and electronics filled my junior high school years. My favorite subjects in school were science, metal shop, drafting, and printing. I also was a member of the stage crew and drama club. My general science teachers at Roosevelt Junior High School, Clyde Stimpert and Otto Smith, were instrumental in not only teaching me science but also helping me to become an educator. I joined the  Columbus Astronomical Society, started a junior astronomer’s group, and organized a volunteer group of young amateur astronomers to hold open houses at Borror Observatory, a small private observatory located at the South Side YMCA Park, south of Columbus and now called the Hoover Y-Park.

My science project on astrophotography received a superior rating when entered in statewide competition in 1964. That same year, I became involved with the Center of Science and Industry, also known as COSI. I started visiting COSI before it was open to the public. One of those visits took place during Christmas break in January of 1964. My visits always included a trip to the space reserved for a planetarium, but in the past, there had only been a large dome suspended from the ceiling and nothing else.

This time I found a man actually setting up the planetarium star projector and control console. I introduced myself, and learned his name was Mr. Richie, a technician from Spitz Labs, the planetarium instrument manufacturer. I spent several days that week with Mr. Richie, who explained what he was doing and how the instrument worked. In reflection, I understand how patient Mr. Richie must have been taking a 16 year old under his wing and spending time with me. I will be forever indebted to him in making me a Spitz Labs planetarium expert, and COSI’s first unofficial volunteer before COSI even opened to the public on March 29, 1964.

I spent most of my time after school and on weekends volunteering at COSI, amassing over 1000 hours of volunteered time in the planetarium by lecturing, and maintaining the star projector. During this time, I invented and built a sunrise projector for the planetarium that created sunrises for over thirty years. My junior high school years were the most exciting years of my life and a time when I learned much about so many subjects. My junior high school years ended with an opportunity to attend Central High School, which is now part of the new COSI building, and become one of the first students to be involved in an experimental program of teaching electronics to high school students. I learned much about electricity, electronics, and received a FCC general radiotelephone operator license just before graduating in 1968. After high school, I became a student at  The Ohio State University.

After interest in several different majors, I decided on a major in cinema and photography. Because of my electronics experience from high school and the FCC license I had gained, I worked within a work/study program at the University's radio station (WOSU) as a broadcast engineer. This opportunity gave me valuable background experience in broadcasting, both behind and in front of the microphone as my duties at WOSU Radio spanned a wide range of roles. I performed engineering duties for recording sessions and live broadcasts both in the studios and during remote sporting events. I also performed installation and repair of the broadcast and recording studio equipment.

One project that provided me a fantastic opportunity was when the station moved from the old dilapidated location on campus to the new Center for Tomorrow, now the Fawcett Center. It was a thrilling time and I learned much under the guidance of Larry Reynolds, the station’s Chief Engineer.

In 1970, while still at OSU, I meet my future wife, Carol, at a friend's house. The first time I saw Carol was in curlers and a robe, not exactly the material of romance novels, but this did not discourage me from marrying her a year later in July of 1971. After four years attending OSU, I decided to take a break when COSI asked if I would be interested in a full time job. I accepted and was off to the next stage of my life.  Continue...




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