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Published: April 26th 2006
This afternoon as Mori and I returned to the seminary from downtown Prague we saw an elderly man standing outside the reception building. He nodded to me and said, “Hello.”
Mori and his wife, Lillian, are Japanese Americans from Hawaii. Mori was the pastor of a church in Pearl City for 45 years. They came here to work for a month as volunteers. Mori is painting and Lil is working in the library. They are a really neat couple.
“Hello,” I replied.
We talked with him a few minutes and then he said, “I worked here for forty years when it was an electronics plant.”
I knew that after World War II, during the Communist era, that the original buildings here housed a secret electronics plant. But I had never met anyone who worked in the plant.
“Come in and look around,” both of us suggested.
At first he shook his head. I do not think he believed that was a possibility. But when we asked him again he agreed. As we approached the door to the small building where reception is located he said, “There was a guard post here and a gate. Just
inside was a time clock we had to punch.”
I led him to the square that is surrounded by the original buildings. The library is one of these buildings. He looked around and as he shook his head he said, “This was like a jungle then.”
I took him into the library for a look around.
“This was part of the electronics plant,” he said. “I headed the group that did research and produced klystrons. We made very large klystrons for use in radars.”
Klystrons are also called a linear-beam tube and are used in radars. I remember just a bit about Klystrons from my work as the librarian at Arinc Research. Two brothers, named Varian, are generally credited with inventing Klystrons in 1937. The Klystron immediately made a big impact in the US and the UK.
“We produced all the big transmitters used in Russia,” he said. “I worked on installations in Russia, the Ukraine and East Germany. The Russian people are very nice. They have good hearts.” He stressed that the Russian government was and is another matter.
As we talked, I suddenly realized that he might be able to answer a
Reception Where We Met Our Visitor
Hotel Jeneralka is operated by the seminary.
question that has puzzled me and which no one at IBTS could answer. About seven feet behind the library is a high, steep bank. At one point there is a door, set in a concrete entranceway. I have asked what is behind the door and no one knows.
I walked with him to a window and pointing to he door asked, “What is behind that door?”
He puzzled for a minute searching or the right word. “An atomic shelter,” he said.
“Oh, a bomb shelter,” I exclaimed.
He shook his head in agreement.
“How many people worked here at that time?” I asked.
He thought for a moment before replying, “Nine hundred,” he said.
I was amazed. The buildings are not small, but they do not seem large enough to have employed nine hundred people.
The building we call “The Palace” or building A was where the research and drafting departments were located. The three buildings completing the square housed other departments, such as manufacturing. Interestingly the small building where the seminary rector lives was a pub.
As he left he said, “I will tell my colleagues about what is here now. It is amazing the changes that have taken place.
He is eighty years old, has a pace maker and has had bypass surgery. He just retired this February 2006. Until then he was a consultant working with various installations where these electronics were installed. He told us he "knows all the problems". When I asked him where he lives he pointed to the ridge just to the south of the seminary. “There” he said, “I can see the buildings from where I live.”
I hope he will visit again. He was a very interesting man.
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