DOWNEY – Longtime Downey residents Wynn and Sol Kreisler are celebrating their 73rd wedding anniversary Saturday. Aug. 29, at Temple Ner Tamid. The Kreislers built their house 54 years ago when Sol began what would be a 21-year career with Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach. But it’s more of a romantic story than meets the eye.
Wynn, a ballet dancer and the eighth daughter in her family, was on her way to a Bnai Brith Social, and Sol also in his 1940 Ford. There was dancing, attending the Hollywood Christmas Parade, nature trips to beloved wildflower sites and then the marriage ceremony Aug. 31, 1941.
While Wynn’s parents escaped the Pogroms in Austria, first to France and then New York, Sol’s mother passed when he was three years old and his father when he was five and a half. He was raised by his aunt and uncle.
The uncle was a janitor of a six-story apartment with 30 families in residence on a block-long street between Amsterdam and Broadway in New York City that was filled with Italians, Germans, French and Irish kids who liked to fight and since he was the only Jewish kid and small of stature, he had to learn how to box.
At 16, Sol was able to skip some grades and enter NYU studying the brand new field of Aeronautics, he having spent time in the local library and reading about Charles Lindbergh’s flights across the ocean. A degree in those days went for $300 per semester, a princely sum especially for his uncle’s salary. And upon graduation, Sol first worked for nothing, an apprenticeship-type arrangement that was worth it because it was aviation but it was 1935 and America was in a big depression.
Finally, after a stint with Brewster Aircraft as a designer and with the beginning of war in 1941, Sol was offered a Design Specialist job with Douglas Aircraft working on the C-47 and the XA26-F Invader, which was Douglas’s first jet attack bomber. Later he worked on the C-124 which was the only plane at the time capable of hauling bulldozers and tanks without disassembly.
He also was designer on the larger C-133 Cargo Master, the Douglas Radio Controlled Life Raft and the Thor ICBM, or Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.
Exciting times, yes, he tells of flight testing a new heater system, which he’d designed at 10,000 feet when the heater caught fire. None of the extinguishers would put the blaze out and the pilot told them to prepare to jump. Sol said by the time he was able to clip all the fastenings of his parachute, he looked out the door there were trees going by and they bumped to a “smooth landing” in a farmers bean field in Anaheim.
Later, though not due to the heater incident, Sol was recruited by a friend to work at TRW. World War II was over and missiles were coming on line. He was a project manager for Intermediate ICBM’s with nuclear warhead capability and a 1,500-mile range, a distance traveled in about 15 minutes. He also worked on the first Apollo Lunar Explorer system and other missile systems 16 years in all.
Now at 100 years old he does some handmade jewelry design, most proud of a glass piece he found scuba diving in the Red Sea in Israel at a site where the Romans had a glass making kiln, and the rubble left waiting all these years.
Wynn, soon to be 99, still sprightly as the couple looks forward to another anniversary flanked by their two grown up children: Marten and David.
Published: Aug. 28, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 20