Jenny Ellsworth was 32 years old when she found that spot. It was a spot damn near in the middle of the country. Some seemingly random place in Kansas. The land was owned by a farming family. The year had to be, oh, 1941 or so. I remember she stuck her cane in the middle of a corn field as though she were breaking ground.
“Ellie, I think somebody owns this land,” I said.
“That may be, but that’s gonna change.”
She had a youthful sort of tone to the way she spoke. Despite her older age, she would fall back onto almost flirty ways of a young girl trying to impress a boy. Only when she spoke that day, and because I knew her pretty well by then, I knew the only boy she was trying to impress was herself.
I guess you could say I had a crush on her back then. She was so smart and so pretty, but she never had time for any man. But being around her was electric. It was better than electric, it was… inspirational!
Back at the DARPA, we had rubbed elbows with some of the most brilliant scientists of the time and she was smarter than all of them.
“But Ellie, what do you mean that’s gonna change,” I said, imitating her.
“I’m gonna buy the land,” she said.
“You have no inkling of the egg I am sitting on.”
“The nest egg, you mean?” She had been hinting that she has sold patents to some of her ideas to the government. I supposed she actually made some decent money.
“Yes, that. Nest egg.”
“Well, Mother Hen, what do you have in mind?”
The sky was blue, the air was crisp and cool, that late afternoon in early June.
“The world is changing this century, Ned,” she told me, “…and by the end of it, we’re going to drive that change.”
She had fire in her eyes and that made me feel fire in my soul. That made me feel like I’d do anything for her. The one thing that worried me, of course I was willing to do anything for her, but not everyone was. Would the other scientists on our team be willing to let her lead them? They were brilliant, but would they be smart enough to recognize her brilliance above their own?
Time would answer that question.