The Restoration Room in the basement of the Aerospace Museum is a window into another era. In here, a group of retired WWII vets lovingly restore and bring back to life old fighter planes and engine parts so that they can be displayed in the museum upstairs. The average age here is 80.
“This keeps us off the street, out of the pool halls, and out of the kitchen,” said Gene Harper, 78, (left) who paused from restoring an old engine for a midmorning snack of chicken wings and cookies with pals K.C. Reynolds, 78, (center) and Ernie Olson, 86, (right).
We convinced some of these gentlemen to preserve their stories for posterity. Ernie Olson invited fellow volunteer Herb Franck, 84, to the booth where they talked about surviving Pearl Harbor and their concern for the Restoration Room’s future. “I got here 18 years ago and we had 200 volunteers. Now we’re down to less than 100,” said Olson. “We’re fading away,” added Franck. “And there’s no one in line to step into our place.” In the photo above, the two are standing in front of the Restoration Room’s "Wall of Volunteers."