Several years ago I made a trip to Alpena, Michigan to meet and speak with Besser Company. They make machines and equipment to mass-produce concrete products, such as masonry blocks. They are global leaders in the industry.
I met with an engineer, and tried briefly to explain my ideas. He interrupted me, and brought in the Vice President. I began to try to explain my ideas to the Vice President, but he also cut me short.
“Can you give our President a ride to Ann Arbor tomorrow?”I was taken aback. Isn’t one of the Lear jets available? I stupidly wondered.
“Sure!” I said, “I’d be happy to.”I picked up Mr. James Park at his house, having spent the previous 24 hours cleaning my Honda Civic as best I could. We began our 4 hour drive, and spoke. It was the very point of the whole thing. He is an easy man to talk to.
I described how I thought this masonry system could be used, in various applications. I went through one application after another. “What else you got?” he kept asking.I didn’t want to seem silly or crazy, or goofy; I’m the guy proposing triangular block already. But I said it anyway.
“Lunar blocks. Like on the moon. The cost of sending materials from earth is too great, we should use what’s there, and with robots, this block system would…”He interrupted by laughing. He laughed heartily and deeply. Uh-oh, I thought: I’ve gone too far.
He then explained his laughter.Every year Besser would create a special limited edition hardbound leather book of general interest, and would send this book to their very valued customers, as a sign of appreciation. One year the subject of the book was Rocketry. One particular customer of Besser happened to be friends with –none other than- Werner Von Braun, the father of modern rocketry.
Werner Von Braun was so taken with Besser’s book on Rocketry that he sent them a letter, in which he assured them that when man built on the moon, they would do so in something like the masonry manner which I had just suggested, and that it would be done on Besser equipment.We both had a good laugh in my Honda Civic, with Werner Von Braun grinning in the back seat as we pulled into Ann Arbor.