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Frankie Kauffman

The gadget and technical guru is how I knew Frankie.  My early encounter with him involved a sling psychrometer!  I would venture to guess that less than 5% of the growers around in the early 70's knew what one of these cute little instruments was and how to use it.  Far less understood the nuisances of the role that wet bulb temperature and dewpoint played on evaporative cooling, rate of temperature drop and minimum temperature.  Frankie did!  In fact he had a much better understanding than a rookie county agent that knew less than he thought he knew!  So I learned from the master about the device with two thermometers, one with a little sock on the end, mounted in a case with a handle that allowed one to spin it quickly in the air.

Frankie was a pilot that would take idiots up so they could then jump out of a perfectly good airplane.  David Ayers has related many stories about the exploits of this pilot.  At least Frankie was smart enough to let others jump while he stayed in the plane.  I am sure he enjoyed the trip just as much as those he escorted to lofty heights.

Frankie and his brother John were the first growers I knew with computers (maybe Jim Simpson got one about the same time).  To visit their office was a most unusual experience and really made me feel good as it was more disorganized than mine, and is saying a lot.  The only person who had an office that was more of a challenge to navigate was Bill Mathews!  There on each desk, which faced each other, were the dueling Tandys.  I am not sure if John really knew how to use his, but Frankie would make sure his got plenty of attention.  Many years later when visiting Frankie at his home in Astor I marveled at the array of computers, remote sensors, models, and a multitude of gadgets he continued to have.  He had items no one knew anything about, what a collector.

Frankie could uphold his end of the conversation, no matter what the subject.  Citrus rootstocks, scions, peaches, apples, inversions, mega bytes, climate in Costa Rica, etc. A wealth of knowledge and fun guy to be with.  Those of us that knew him know that a one-of-a-kind guy is gone and leaves so many memories for us.  Seeing Frankie and John interact made me wish my sister had been my brother, but then I don't think any two brothers could have had the relationship they have.  Two people that complimented each other perfectly.

Every cold night I can remember my conversations with Frankie relative to his take on what were the conditions and what he thought would happen.  He and Fred Crosby were my go to guys for freeze insight.  So when it gets cool, Frankie is dusting off his psychrometer and cranking up his gadgets.  Thanks for teaching a green county agent about the real world of the technical aspects of cold protection.  I am sure for many of you out there, Frankie taught you lessons as well.  I will add Frankie Kauffman to my list of those I will never forget.

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