Story Walk: other

Story Walk: "other"

The Glass is Too Big by Leslie Mitchell & Patrice Mitchell

Leslie Mitchell: I grew up in a house with my father was an engineer, my brother was an engineer, and when other kids were building model airplanes, I was building model bridges.

Patrice Mitchell: Tell me what you think is different about the way engineers think, because that is such a theme of your life.

Leslie Mitchell: You might say all the world can be divided into two parts, engineers and non-engineers. But engineers think quantitatively.

Patrice Mitchell: You were married to mom for 58 years. I think the only time I ever saw you cry was when we had to leave mom at the cemetery. Do engineers just cover up their feelings, or do they just come to the surface on very important times?

Leslie Mitchell: You know, in particularly somebody like me who came from New England where you’re taught not to show emotions, but yeah, engineers tend to be less outwardly emotional than others.

Patrice Mitchell: What are your proudest of, in your life?

Leslie Mitchell: First, I’m proud of the fact that we raised three fine girls who feel that helping others is the most important and finest thing that they can do with their life. Second thing that I’m proudest of is I worked for Kodak for a total of 33 years, and of those, 29 of them were spent working on designing things that went in space. And, believe me that was an engineer’s nirvana, in the sense that we had immense engineering challenges, for instance, a satellite in orbit experiences no gravity. We also had huge challenges building things that could survive being launched on the front end of a rocket.

Patrice Mitchell: I remember the summer I worked in Kodak Park, and you actually snuck me into your office, and then we ran into your boss while you were doing that. But it struck me as one of the few times in your life you did something bad.

Leslie Mitchell: Yeah, the programs were all classified. Most of them were classified.

Patrice Mitchell: The Hubble Space Telegraph you worked on?

Leslie Mitchell: That’s one we can talk about, yeah. Turned out that when it got up there, it didn’t take good pictures, and NASA called me back to make an analysis of what they did wrong and what was in our proposal that would have prevented it. And that’s one of those rewarding little things that if they’d only come to us, we would have done the job right.