Monday, March 20, 2017

Job Opportunity At Centuri? 1979

While I'm in California taking care of family business, I looked through some of my old files and found this. I had thought it was lost . . .
It's dated September, 1979, from Grant Boyd.

I need to talk with you about an opening here at Centuri. If I have not made phone contact with you by the time you read this, please call me collect.

I had my first real contact with Centuri when I won a design contest in 1972. I got to know some employees (among those Bob Del Principe) at the 1975, 76 and 77 NARAMs.
I was lucky to have a strong graphics art background, could design rockets and build clean models. I was considered for a position at Centuri the first time around in 1975 when I was 19 years old. That job went to Jeff Flygare. Jeff had a good background in photography and knew the NAR people better than me.
I was disappointed to say the least. I left rocketry to pursue a musical career.

When I got this letter in 1979 I had just finished a Summer run at Knott's Berry Farm and did a Gong Show appearance. I was playing out again in the Monterey Bay area and probably returning to Great America for the following Summer. Still disgruntled by that first opportunity lost from Centuri I respectfully turned it down.

In the early 1980s, NARAM returned to Central Florida near Kissimmee, just South of Orlando. I was entertaining at a Sea World venue and in walks Bob Del Principe from Centuri. We talked about the current state of Centuri, things were moving to Penrose then. He told me I probably made the right decision by choosing to play the banjo for a living! The rocketry business as we knew it from 1969 had changed.


  1. Hi Chris,
    Interesting story. Glad things worked out for you. I think the world needs a working entertainer more than an unemployed model rocket designer now anyway.
    Going off topic, I seem to remember something a few months back about dipping your own igniters? Do you use Quickdip or some other pyrogen? Reason I ask is I did a LPR launch a couple of weeks ago: 8 attempts, 4 misfires. Thought my battery was running down but when I got home and pulled the igniters there was a small black spot in the coating. Concluded that the "new" Estes "starters" are very unreliable. Proceeded to redip all my Estes igniters with Quickdip. What is your experience? Cheers

    1. Hi BAR,
      That black tip after the Starter misfire was the coating starting to melt.
      I have used Quick Dip with good results. The problem is it is always drying out! You are supposed to add acetone to it each month but it is dried out before that.
      I have written a very short article about an easy igniter coating for the Sport Rocketry (NAR)magazine. If it is published I'll talk more about it on this blog.
      The Starter igniters work "most" of the time, but definitely have to be inserted until they make contact with the propellant and good batteries are used. Use only the batteries recommended in the instructions. Good Luck!

  2. An interesting little piece of history there

  3. But just imagine, the Centuri Pigasus could have been the big seller that would have saved the company!

    1. Hi Glen,
      Either a big seller or could have killed the company a few years earlier!

  4. I just read that Chuck Barris died. What a great show. If I can ever see the show you were on Chris, that would be great.

    1. Hi Metal,
      I just checked the news feed and saw he died at 87. My impressions were he was a very quiet guy between show takes. He'd play Beatles songs on his guitar with the band.
      He liked my little banjo and actually okay'd more money for me. I verbally counted off the band tempo. I was told not to say anything or they would have to pay me more. He got me the "verbal" money. He was much more interesting a business man than many people thought.

  5. On a Fresh Air interview Chuck Barris said they had to have good acts on the show to offset the bad ones and I thought of your win. I wish we could see your winning performance.

    1. Hi Anonymous,
      I think I watched the Gong Show to see the bad acts. They were sometimes more entertaining. I have my Gong Show Dueling Banjos performance on DVD but I don't think that's something I would want online!