I am the younger brother of Ron Swingler who posted an earlier entry. I too grew up down the alley from Travis during the 80’s. Of course, he was much older than I, but he was still a big part of my childhood. He was the exciting guy who lived down the street. The kind of guy you read about in stories. He wasn’t like everyone else and that is why he was so exciting. My friend Eric and I were always tinkering with things and he was the tinkerer king. Who else had an infrared sensor in his yard to detect when people entered the property? Who else had a robot hand out candy on Halloween? Who else had a double story workshop in their backyard that was half the size of their house filled with gadgets!
Of all the memories I have, one stands out the most. It was when Travis gave my friend Eric and I a tour of his workshop. He showed us all sorts of electronic gadgets. He showed us a hang glider. He showed us an entry to a bomb shelter under the workshop and warned us that if WW3 were to occur, that we couldn’t tell anyone about it! But, the one thing he showed us that was cooler than everything else was a go kart he made with his dad when he was a small boy. My friend Eric and I were so excited about it that he gave it to us! He even spent a couple hours with us pushing us down a sidewalk at an old church down the street from where we grew up. After a few weeks, Eric and I had installed an engine and new wheels and could be found zipping around the neighborhood. We loved that go kart! I always imagined Travis riding around on it when he was a young boy. When the iron frame gave out on us, Travis even broke out an old welder and fixed it for us. He was one of the kindest guys we knew. When most adults yelled at us to go away, he invited us in and created an adventure.
During the 90’s, I would drive by his house and wonder where he was. I always figured he was somewhere continuing to create incredible things. The kind of things you only see in movies or read about in books. Even in the last 10 years, after graduating from ASU with a EE degree in 1999, I continued to wonder about Travis. After reading his obituary, I now know about some of the incredible things he has done. I wish I could have talked to him again. I wish I could have met his wonderful family. I wish he could have met my wife and child. I wish I could have helped create gadgets with him. I wish I could have let him know about how he was such a wonderful part of my childhood. I will never forget Travis Wood. I’m sure he is in heaven right now creating a gadget with God. He’s probably showing God a thing or two :)
Joe Swingler, Tucson AZ