SAD NEWS. On October 13, 2016, the man we knew and loved as Mysterelly passed away. He was in his 100th year, but was still 2-1/2 months shy of his 100th birthday. Good try, tho, Pappy!
A TRIBUTE (OR EXPOSÉ). This is the page where I let you in on the
straight scoop. That is, I'm going to share a few juicy tidbits
about the Myster (within the confines of prudence and propriety,
of course). For one thing, he retired pretty early and has
been having nothing but fun since then. From that you can infer
he's a pretty smart guy.
For a while after retiring early he did some
consulting work, which is possibly what he used the "good
old-fashioned engineering" logo for (see right).
Did some secret government work on robotic bureaucrats or flying
sneakers or some such thing. He always said he'd have to kill
us if he told us about that stuff.
Okay, some basic facts. He's definitely not
as old as he might let on if you asked him straight out. Plus,
the Myster's a great kidder, so if he tells you he was born
before the Roaring 20s, be skeptical. But none of that's important
Mysterelly has been a builder all his life.
He grew up in SoCal, graduated from Occidental College, always
had a shop, always hopped up his cars. He built
a working model turbojet engine before most people ever even
heard the word. He was also the kind of cool guy who
would flag down little old ladies driving their Hupmobiles
over from nearby Pasadena and say
stuff like "Hey, lady! Your
Johnson Rod is dragging!" I tried that once, but by then
even little old ladies from Pasadena knew that the old Johnson
Rod gag was a serious has-been.
Or maybe I just couldn't look sincere enough. That's when I
realized it would be futile to try to follow in my father's
Father? I have it on good authority that Mysterelly
fathered four kids that we know of: two boys and two girls, the eldest of which is the writer.
A finer bunch of siblings I cannot imagine. In the bigger picture, the Myster and second wife Joy, who passed away in 2007, together accounted for a total of four daughters and two sons, eleven grandkids, nineteen great-grandkids and three great-great grandkids. Whew.
But back to building. Mysterelly built (with some help, of course) the
house that we grew up in. Using mostly hand tools. Later, he also
built a separate shop on the property. Big surprise, huh? Before
launching Ellison Engineering in the 1950s he was an engineer
with some aerospace companies that have long since merged into
mega-oblivion. When he got tired of corporate life and long commutes
he launched his own company.
Primarily an aerospace subcontract
manufacturer of miniature precision instruments, Ellison
Engineering also did some more fun
things, like building the TransSport (an innovative pioneer
in the trail cycle industry) and the AirBurr (an innovative
high-speed pneumatic tool that predated air-powered dental
But wait, what about the HydroCycle? That was
a stand-up-on-it outboard-powered (hopped up, of course) watersled
that got around on hydrofoils and predated the Ski-Doo era
of personal watercraft.
One thing you could count on from Mysterelly:
he wasn't about to design and build things the way most other
people did them just because most other people did them that
way. He knew there's always a better way if you're willing
to climb out of the box and spend some brainpower and creativity looking for it. Look
at his miniature mechanical marvels and you see that philosophy
He's also been a True Believer in the old theory
that a job worth doing is worth doing right. I'll bet you
can see that theory mirrored in those engines, too. I can.
E T Ellison (son the first)
Updated November 29, 2016
Below: the Myster and one of his top
chipmakers -- a Bridgeport milling machine enhanced with
a bunch of the Myster's custom tooling.
Below: the Myster's other top chipmaker,
a venerable South Bend lathe, also enhanced with the Myster's