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Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
QST, published December 1915 - present. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
"By all that is holy in ham radio, I was able to copy several CQ's de their calls and a few words!" That sentence in Mrs. Wayland M. Groves' story caused me to do some searching because I do not recall having seen 'de' used like that. As it turns out, according to AC6V's Origin of Ham Speak webpage, 'de' is borrowed from the preposition 'de' in the French language for its connotation of ownership, as in 'un ami de ma mère,' meaning 'my mother's friend' (my interpretation, subject to correction). Topics dealing with women in Ham radio typically deal either with attracting them to the hobby through participation or appeal to their accommodating nature to facilitate a mate's indulgence. Both perspectives usually make for interesting and often comical tales.
Reserved for YL's and YF's
Sometimes we all forget, although usually not for very long, that there are two sexes comprising this world of ours. And through the ages, the masculine has been prone to usurp to itself all authority and all consideration. It took a good many years for women to achieve recognition in the world of affairs, woman's suffrage, and other of their triumphs. But they persevered, and eventually succeeded.
So far, we've managed to keep amateur radio essentially masculine. Oh, there have been a few YL's - perhaps a hundred and fifty or so up to last year. But we've swarmed all over the top of the heap in a plentiful majority.
Now it looks as though all that's going to be changed. The YL's and YF's are going to invade QST. In fact, they've already done so. Orders came down from the boss the other day to start a new department in the old mag, one for ladies alone (I mean, only for ladies - don't get me wrong). Shed one bitter tear, gang, for the good ol' days when you could use a kw. spark to shear the hair off your chest without violating any of the conventions. But only one - that's all the time we can spare. We must to work.
Perhaps it's not so bad, after all. As Ed McKinney, W5CJS, says, maybe we ought to get some articles in QST "for the women who are liable to be led into matrimony by a ham - and also to encourage more YL operators, whether they be prospective ham brides or not. Such a procedure would accomplish two things: a YL would find out ahead of time what being a ham's wife means and make her choice accordingly - and those women for whom it is too late would be shown how to reconcile themselves to their fate."
Well, here goes. Let's turn the meeting over to the ladies, now, and see what they have to say.
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The YF Has Her Say
By Mrs. Wayland M. Groves, W5DUR
It all started several years ago on a north-bound interurban ... but we will pass that by. The next thing I knew I was reading letters with foreign postmarks, relating to personal visits to the shacks of KAIHR, VS1AB, VS7AP, and others. Within a year I found myself registered at a divisional convention, where I met those beings I had heard referred to as "hams." Among them was a jolly little man from Hartford named Hebert, a boy aged thirteen, and a wife (OW, YF, XYL, they say) who had just passed her operator's examination. Why so much attention to the OW who has her ticket, I wondered? She looks every bit the equal in intelligence to those hams with ears warped from wearing the cans.
The next thing I learned was that there are two kinds of licenses: one changes you from a YL to an OW, the other from a BCL to a ham. Of these two, the latter is the harder to obtain. It took two months of dah dit dah dit's (you must not say dot dash, because that is all ruled out, now) for me. When the oscillator was completed and a couple of days spent with it, I expected it to go where most oscillators go that are built for the YF. Truly, I was tired of it after that couple of days, but the OM persisted in dragging it out daily. It got to be as regular as bacon and eggs. After a month of this, we made plans to attend A Century of Progress exposition (which amounted to four days at the World-Wide ham convention and a couple of trips to W9USA at the Travel and Transport building). 'Twas a good trip, at that. A smile broke across my face as we were ready to leave, thinking that I would get to leave dear little oscillator at home. But, to my disappointment, oscillator was loaded on. When I protested, the OM said, "You're at the halfway point. You gotta practice every day now or you'll forget the code you have already learned."
"I'd rather use 'phone anyway," I replied. The OM retorted, "Do you want to be a sissy?"
I can read every sign along the highway from Texas to Chicago in my sleep, because I had to say them all in dit dah's as we drove along (the OM said it helped to keep them on your mind). You know you are getting good when you can whistle a Burma shave sign as you go by at 50 per.
At Chicago we met all the idols of hamdom I had heard the OM speak of so many times. First, that outstanding personality Hiram Percy Maxim, Fred Schnell, John L. Reinartz, and numerous others.
After getting home, with considerable more code practice to my credit, I turned on the receiver. By all that is holy in ham radio, I was able to copy several CQ's de their calls and a few words! This was getting interesting. I didn't mind code practice any more. I could see I was getting better daily. At last the OM pronounced my speed 12 w.p.m. Now for the theory. Well, anyone who has crammed for school exams can get enough of that theory down in a couple of weeks so that she won't have to worry. Fact is, I took great pains with my diagrams, etc., and made a higher grade than my OM. Hi!
The Wives of Radio Amateurs Club
Left to right: Mrs. Helmar Bekkelund, parliamentarian; Mrs. T. R. Gentry, chairman, visiting committee; Mrs. J. D. Vance, chairman, membership committee; Mrs. W. I. Abbott, vice-president; Ora Jean Abbott, club mascot; Mrs. Frank M. Corlett, president; Mrs. G. E. Tippett, registrar; Mrs. W. C. Ellis, treasurer; Mrs. Alfred E. Crabtree, secretary.
A trip to Dallas, and the R.I. tuned up the oscillator. I was a bit scared, but when the oscillator got started I knew I could copy that 10 per, and I did on the first trial. Needless to say, the OM was very proud.
After several days of anxious waiting the Class B ticket arrived, and while the OM was at work I turned on the receiver. There was W5CMW CQ'ing. I threw a few switches, made a couple of haywire connections, and gave him a call. Right back he came! I got the call - but say, I thought it was this guy Joe Chaplin who won the world's code speed contest. I guess CMW wasn't there. After requesting a QRS, however, I did very well, and after the QSO I knew that I had been born again into a new world.
Day after day rolled by, and I wondered what could have been wrong with the F.RC. - not sending me my own call! At last the letter from Washington arrived, and with trembling hands I opened it, realizing that I had a new name, that henceforth I was to be known as W5DUR
My advice to the OW is to get yourself a ham ticket, and then you can understand why it is sometimes necessary to be late to meals, why wire has to be all over the living room floor, and why it never pays to dust a transmitter.
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It seems that the attitude of the YF toward amateur radio is evolved from the ratio existing between the amount of money spent on that 852, or that other new gadget invented by so-and-so, and the distances between her new clothes, which soon become as much of a record as his DX. Yes, alas, the OW must suffer. Those hours spent waiting for the OM to come to meals, contrasted with the speed with which he rushes home to keep a sked. And the sympathy that's deserved by every wife who finds acid on her new rug, and neon tubes in the baby's mouth.
But, oh YF, there's only one remedy, and that's to jump in the water too. You may break a ham of the habit for a little while, but sooner or later he will go back to it. Make it a 50-50 proposition. Make him agree to a few points, like the following:
1. If he plans to locate the set in the living room, reserve at least one corner for the family.
2. When DX parties are thriving, refuse to make sandwiches and coffee after 3 a.m.
3. When you are QSO and haven't time to prepare dinner, make him take you out to dine.
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"One can buy a ham and know precisely what one is getting, but when one takes a ham husband she must go mainly by guess."
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In the August, 1931 issue of QST there was described the inauguration of the Wives and Mothers of Radio Amateurs Club in Dallas, under the chairmanship of Mrs. Frank M. Corlett, wife of the director of the West Gulf Division. Now nearly four years old, the club has been continuously active since its organization. Last February a third anniversary tea was given at the home of Mrs. W. I. Abbott, to which fifty women, including mothers of radio amateurs, were invited. A magnificent birthday cake, bearing aloft two miniature radio towers and a small station building, decorated in the A.R.R.L. colors, yellow and black, was flanked by yellow tapers in black holders. Black bowls of yellow flowers were used.
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Elsewhere, to our knowledge, Wives and Mothers Clubs patterned after the original Dallas organization have been established. Members of these clubs are cordially invited to send news of their activities to the editor of QST, for possible inclusion in this department.
That invitation applies equally to all YL's, XYL's, and RM's, whether already licensed, or interested in becoming licensed, or simply anxious to learn how to get along with the species. Get out your long range ammunition - the cloistered preserves of masculine ham radio have now been made public ground, and it's "Open Season."
Posted June 19, 2016