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The Caves tried land a contract with General Dynamics in Ponomo, a huge optical facility, but they didn’t do any optical work there, just assembly.But the elder Cave knew an Arnold Beckman, who had done business with Herron for years with his company, Beckman Instruments.As a reporter at the Cleveland Plain Dealer in the mid- to late-1990s, I did many of the newspaper’s telescope and astronomy articles, mostly on a freelance basis when I wasn’t covering my usual news and business beat.
Cave wrote back about his background, and that he had made 256 drawings of Mars in 1941 while he was working at Herron Optical.Transcribing the tapes and writing his words in story form, I am glad that his memories of those golden years at Cave Optical Co. At first, Cave didn’t think about making telescopes.The Korean War had broken out that June and there were plenty of government contracts around for a good optical firm, he recalled in an interview at his home almost 50 years later.Cave’s prowess at planetary observing even impressed professional astronomers.In 1941, when he was 18, he sent one of his Mars sketches to Lowell Observatory, where E. Slipher, a staff astronomer there, recognized Cave’s talent.
Cave had a few patterns made for mirror cells, and he bought focusers from a New York firm at wholesale. The Caves added a machine shop, bought a large and small lathe, a milling machine, added tools and hired a machinist.