The Early Years

James Bullough Lansing was born James Martini, 14 January 1902, in Macoupin County, Millwood Township, Illinois.  His parents were Henry Martini, born in St. Louis, Missouri, and Grace Erbs Martini, born in Central City, Illinois.  The elder Martini was a coal mining engineer, and his work required that the family moved about quite a bit during Lansing’s early years.  Lansing was the ninth of fourteen children, one of whom died in infancy.  For a short time, Lansing lived with the Bullough family in Litchfield, Illinois.  He later took their name when he changed his from Martini to Lansing.

Not much is known about Lansing’s early days, and we are indebted to Bill Martin, one of three surviving brothers, for providing most of the information presented here.  Lansing graduated the eighth grade at the Lawrence School in Springfield, Illinois.  He also attended the Springfield, Illinois, High School.  Later, he took courses in a small business college in Springfield.

As a young lad he was very interested in all things electrical and mechanical.  At about the age of 10, he built a Leyden Jar which he used to play pranks on his playmates.  He also constructed crystal sets, and at one time, probably about the age of 12 or so, built a small radio transmitter from scratch.

The signals from this set were apparently strong enough to reach the Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois; naval personnel determined the source of these signals and later supervised the timely dismantling of the young Lansing’s radio transmitter.

For a while Lansing worked as an automotive mechanic, specializing in fine engine repair work.  He attended an automotive school for mechanics in Detroit through the courtesy of the dealer he worked for in Springfield.  Lansing’s mother died 1st November 1924 at the age of 56, and at that time Lansing left home.

As best we can determine, he went directly to Salt Lake City.  Mrs. Lansing, the former Glenna Peterson of Salt Lake City, tells of meeting Lansing in 1925 in that city.  At the time he was working for a radio station as an engineer.  In addition, he worked for the Baldwin loudspeaker company in Salt Lake City for a time.  He also met his future business partner, Ken Decker, in Salt Lake City.

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