Luis Brenneis was born on a small farm near the city of Brennen, Germany. One day he walked into his house after finishing his chores and found some dinner waiting on the table. His father was standing by the fireplace. He had pinned a map of the world to the wall and was looking at it.
“Here’s the world.” He finally said.” Look at it carefully, son, because tonight you need to choose where you want to go. You need to find your place. We have to make room for your little brothers.” His older brother, Hans, had already left home and was training to be a merchant Marine.
Luis remembered when his father made that speech to his brother two years earlier. Now he was to be the second one to hear it. There were nine more brothers and sisters younger than him. They lived in a one room cottage made of stone and covered with thatch. His father only had a few acres to farm.
So, next morning Luis left his house and walked to the city of Hamburg. Luis’ father had a brother there who was a butcher, and he started to learn the trade. At those times the butcher slaughtered the animals daily and prepared them to sell.
After a few short weeks he boarded a sailboat and crossed the Atlantic to New York. There he learned how to be a master butcher from another uncle, and after a while he went west to the city of Chicago. It was there he had another uncle who was a butcher and he went to work with him. At this time families were very big.
The adventures of Luis continued. He left Chicago by train, and travelled all the way to San Francisco. There he had another uncle. This uncle was a blacksmith, and he worked with him for a while. He began to become very skilled at it. In fact it was very easy for him. He was a natural born engineer and a skilled artisan. He learned how to shoe a horse and how to repair machinery. In a short period of time he was a well respected blacksmith.
While he was in San Francisco he got to know some very famous people of the old West. He worked for Henry Miller. He is worth another story. Look him up, and see why he was a memorable person. The two were from the same region and became good friends. They were Germans and they were both big and strong. They both had a loud voice that you can hear across town and they were known to drink a lot of whiskey.
Luis got an idea and he and a friend of his designed and built an ash excavating machine that made it possible to dig canals in the San Joaquin and the Imperial Valleys. This machine was called a Fresno and it became quite successful.
He read an announcement in the newspaper about how some brothers were planning to build a new plant that would process sugar from sugar beets near Port Hueneme. The brothers’ last name was Oxnard and that became the name of the term.
Luis sent in a bid for that project and he won it. He moved to Oxnard to begin building the sugar processing plant. He liked the climate there and everything else about it and once he finished building the plant he bought pieces of land nearby and started his shop there.
The town eventually developed around the sugar plant. Many workers who lived in Port Hueneme lifted up their homes and put them on wagons and moved them near the plant.
When I finished high school back in 1927 I started working for him. I started at the bottom, doing all the heavy work. But I wanted to work in the shop. He told me that unless I could draw what I was going to make I could not work there. I taught myself how to be a machine designer. I learned a lot from him. I learned about iron and steel, their strengths and weaknesses. I taught myself how to be a machine designer, a draftsman, and later I became an engineer.