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From Ron

posted Feb 12, 2010, 2:01 PM by Katherine Wood

I have a couple childhood memories of Travis in which I would like to share.  He was 6 years older than I was, and the way I actually remember him is looking up and seeing a tall skinny teenager with long blonde hair.  He always had a smile on his face and of course, I will never forget his signature laugh.  He lived in Phoenix, Arizona on Highland Street and I lived a couple houses down the alley on Wolf Street.  I was one of the kids, mentioned in his obituary, where he ran wire from his house to ours.  There were speakers on both ends and a microphone on his side.  He would talk to us at night and we could hear him loud and clear.   But, the only way we could talk to him was by shouting into the speaker.  I was amazed that it worked!  He could actually hear us!


Being the prankster, he told us stories of a mother in the neighborhood with a glass eye.  He would tell us that she would pop her eye out and place it on a window sill at night so she could look through the window.  Well after telling us that story, my sister and I were petrified to go to bed.  We kept thinking there was an eye looking through our window.  We actually built up enough courage one night to look through the window.  As we peeked through the crack of the curtains, sure enough there was an eye looking straight at us!  We jumped 10 feet and ran out of our room like there was no tomorrow!   My dad went to look out on the window sill and there it was, an eye ball.  Fortunately, it was only a ping pong ball painted to look like one.  I can remember when Travis found out how we reacted and he could not stop laughing!


Me and my best friend Chuck Hann,  my neighbor at the time, were involved in what Travis created and called “Friends Films”.  He would use an 8mm video camera to create movies where we would move along without walking, almost as if we had hidden wheels under our feet.  We would also disappear in a flash and then reappear.   He created these films by tediously clicking the on and off button on the camera within seconds.  We would then move and he would click on and off again.  It took hours to make these films, but when they were done I was impressed!  For being the 70’s, it was definitely high tech at the time, especially for a young kid like Travis to produce.  To this day, I wish I had a copy of some of them.  With good fortune, I just talked to Chuck and he said he just converted some of them to DVD.  Maybe we can publish some of them on the web to show how creative he was at such a young age.


I did see Travis one last time in the early 90’s when I was in college earning my EE degree at Arizona State University.  We were both in the same dynamics class together.  But, I will always remember Travis when I was a kid.  Him in his ham shack with a twenty foot antenna.  Or creating some kind of electronic gadget, playing with strobe lights, etc.  I could go on and on.  There were many memories and I will cherish them.  He played a big part in my childhood and I will not forget him. 


My sincere condolences go out to the Wood family, especially Katherine, Garrick, and Veronica in which unfortunately I never had the opportunity to meet.  My prayers are with you all.


Ron Swingler

A childhood friend