What Morgan found Linda’s father working on that afternoon at Ashlawn
was his prototype for a fan and air-filter, a device that could move
air — with no moving parts.
apparatus looked like an over-sized window-fan, or, rather, the
disembodied window box itself. A three-foot square wooden frame stood
perched on a triangular base
that rose from the floor next to Dr. Brown’s desk. Stretched horizontally
across the front of the box were dozens of parallel metal strips and
wires that resembled Venetian blinds. But there the resemblance to
a window fan ended; behind the panels there were no whirling blades
and no electric motor. Nevertheless, air poured silently and steadily
through the baffles.
Morgan stared at the apparition
before him. He peered through the front panel, and felt the air moving
gently on his face. He walked around the device, like he was looking
for some magician’s secret hidden behind it. How could air be moving
through it if there were no fan blades?
Finally convinced that
his guest was sufficiently amazed, Dr. Brown explained how an electrically
induced force-field moved the air, describing how the electrical field
“squeezed” the air, “the way your fingers would squirt a watermelon
“How cool,” Morgan thought,
his mind beginning to reel at the site of something so totally foreign
to his experience.
Then Dr. Brown flipped
another switch, and suddenly the fan became a loudspeaker, with clear,
bright, undistorted sound pouring through the baffles without any
kind of cone or magnetic coil to move the air.
Morgan could not believe
what he was hearing. This really was new, different, and exciting.
“My mind was blown,” Morgan recalled, “and as he turned up the volume
of the music my mind went away on a very long trip!”
Dr. Brown then explained
that since the fan/speaker had no moving parts, there was no distortion,
and so the frequency range could go well beyond the range of any kind
of conventional loudspeaker. And he explained how the speaker could
be constructed in a set of matching pairs, one acting as a transmitter,
the other as a receiver.
Suddenly Morgan felt like
“some kind of bomb had gone of inside my head.” Dr. Brown watched
him, with an impish, quizzical look on his face as Morgan sorted through
the possibilities, slowly grasping the implications of what he was
seeing and hearing.
“So, if there’s no limit
to the frequency, you could use this as a communications device… you
could send a signal with this, and nobody else would be able to hear
Dr. Brown just smiled
at Morgan. “Nope,” he said, putting his glasses on and going back
As if right on cue, Linda appeared at the door. As she would recall
later, “Unlike my other friends who had seen the fan in operation,
Morgan was asking questions — insightful, intelligent questions. I
could tell that Daddy was delighted with him. I happened to walk in
just as Morgan was saying "so, it could be used as a communications
system, huh?” No body else I knew had ever come even close to understanding
Linda broke the atmosphere,
asking Morgan, “so, are you coming skating with us?”
But at that moment. ice
skating with a bunch of giddy high-school kids was furthest thing
from Morgan’s mind. “I made up some excuse and beat it out of there.
I offered up a hurried goodbye — and a sincere ‘thank you’ to Dr.
Brown. I just needed to be out in the cold air, to hide in the dark
Somewhere between that door and about a half mile down the road, Morgan
realized “I’d just passed a turning point in my life. I had always
harbored a vague dream that somehow, I was going to become some kind
of ‘secret agent man.’ I indulged all kinds of James bond fantasies
but had pretty much figured that was all Hollywood fabrication and
not real life. Stuff like ‘The Mad Scientist and His Beautiful Daughter’
didn’t really exist…. Except….huh??? I thought my head was going to
I can remember bursting
out of the door of Ashlawn .... after making a hurried goodbye ....
and thankyou ... to Dr. Brown. I just needed to be out in the cold
air .... hide in the dark just a bit .... You are right. I thought
that my head would "splode"
It wasn’t until much later
that Linda learned of Morgan’s abiding interest in intelligence work
that was the whole reason he was taking Russian classes at Great Valley.
In fact, Morgan had already talked to recruiters for the Central Intelligence
Agency, who had impressed upon him the need to finish college before
he would ever be considered for acceptance among the legion of gentlemen
Had Linda known of Morgan’s
interest, she might never have given him a second look: “It was common
knowledge at Great Valley that the CIA actively recruited schools
along the Main Line for prospects, many of whom wound up at Villanova
before going undercover. Many of my friends were vocally opposed to
the whole idea of the CIA; we didn’t like that our classmates were
being used to infiltrate some of the student organizations that were
beginning to form. To us, it all was sounded like the arrival of Big
It was just as well that
Morgan did not know of Linda’s misgivings. In the weeks that followed
the encounter at Ashlawn, he found it difficult enough to get close
to her. He was accustomed to sizing people up, studying their character
and habits and getting a handle on them before he made any kind of
moves. He started to direct his familiar tactics in the direction
of Linda Brown.
“When I was younger,”
Morgan recalled, “I practiced my moves with the girls I was fortunate
enough to take to bed; With the guys I practiced how to demolish them
in the wrestling arena. In either case, it was just a matter of studying
their characters and ferreting out their strengths and weaknesses.
I was pretty confident. I figured I knew exactly where I was and what
I was doing. I had my classes in order, was making solid A’s ... ruled
the roost in most of my classes. I worked hard. Was prepared and in
control. I did my homework.
But none of his familiar tactics or techniques seemed to be working
with Linda Brown.
“When I first met Linda, my carefully practiced system went completely
haywire. I found myself doing strange and stupid things. I’d drive
by her house in my brother’s old car, and just sit in the darkness,
listening to the classical music that poured forth from her father’s
study and smelling the wood smoke rising out of the chimney. One time,
I went so far as to stomp my initials in the snow that covered their
lawn, but I don’t think she ever noticed. Sometimes I look back on
those episodes and wonder, ‘what was I thinking’?”
Whatever system Morgan
had perfected just wasn’t working with Linda. “She fought with me
in class and won. That’s when I decided then I was going to make a
"run" at her. I was determined to seduce her. I actually
started to devise a plan. I didn’t like this loss of control. One
time I tried to call her, just to ask for a date. I never even spoke
to Linda. Instead I found myself talking with a stiff, curt man named
Charles, who assured me that ‘Miss Brown will be unavailable that
evening…’ I was not easily intimidated, but this Charles character
scared the crap out of me.”
So Morgan stewed, and
Linda demolished him one more time in a class debate. Morgan did everything
he could to get Linda’s attention, but she kept avoiding him. When
he finally managed to talk to her long enough to ask her again for
a date, she declined his invitation, informing him she was ‘going
steady’ with Howie.
Morgan knew, though, from
scuttlebutt around the school yard, that Howie would be leaving in
the spring to start basic training for the National Guard.
“Yes, Linda said, “he’ll
be leaving in May.”
“I’ll be around,” Morgan
offered. And to his surprise, as he studied Linda’s face, he was sure
he caught an expression of relief in her slight smile.
Winter melted into spring,
with Morgan still making every possible effort to make his path cross
Linda’s. But as much as he was thinking about Linda, he found himself
thinking as well about the curious device he had seen in her father’s
Howie shipped out in early
May, and word got back to Morgan that Linda had given him back his
“Now, I’m not entirely dumb,” Morgan said. “She seemed to really like
me. We started hanging out as spring turned into summer. We went for
rides on my motorcycle, swam at the old quarry, spent entire days
at Ashlawn. I kept telling myself to move on her, but… something kept
me from following my usual course. Looking back on it, I understand
what was actually happening. Something very different had come over
me, and I didn’t even realize it. I just knew that when I looked at
Linda and talked to her, I was overwhelmed by the feeling that this
relationship was rare and valuable and that my responsibility was
to guard and protect it — not exploit it.”
Morgan was hardly the
first to fall under the magic spell of Townsend Brown and his family,
and he certainly would not be the last.