April 1933 QST
Table of Contents
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
QST, published December 1915 - present. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
If you think the title of this piece has anything to do with the story, think again, or at least as far as I can reckon. Keeping in mind that this mini-novel appeared in the April 1933 issue of QST magazine, wherewith the past couple days of Fools' pieces accompanied it, I read with caution. The image of Queen Elizabeth cradling a vacuum valve (not tube!) under her arm like a rugby football (to continue the Eurocentric theme) in the comic certainly grabs one's attention, as do the "250-watter lights" on the the royal bathroom wall. You need to switch into a early twentieth century mindset while perusing the story in order to appreciate the humor.
I Will Not Bite His Ear
Or the Rover Radio Boys on the Moon
Queen Elizabeth was seated on the edge of her round royal chair, jeweled fingers busy at the dials of a short-wave receiver. "Off wit his head! " she muttered fiercely. A power transformer hummed menacingly beneath the table, transmitting tubes glowed in readiness. "That wretch Essex said he'd call me at six sharp. Not a sign of him, the rat. It's treason. If he has gone to Fotheringay to see that Scottish witch, Mary Stuart!!! But this can't go on!" The Queen yanked the gold headphones from her ears - caught them in her pearl necklace which showered to the floor. Then she slammed the 'phones on the table, breaking a couple of 50-watters.
Lighting a cigar, she leaned back and looked out the window. Pack-ice swept through the foggy air, and cold-looking, fried turkeys sat mournfully on the bare oak branches, newspapers over their heads to keep the rain off. ... "Well, if it hadn't been for Raleigh and his radio compass, Stuart would have escaped on that tugboat. But I've got her now - she'll jam my wave no more, the wretched little burlesque Queen. Do I make condenser oil out of her, or carbon for that new mike?" The very thought that Essex was in love with the beautiful Scot drove Elizabeth into a froth. - Presently a lackey sprang from behind the curtains carrying a tray and seventy-three bottles of lager.
"Back to your attic!" shrieked Elizabeth, biting the neck off a bottle. The wild-eyed lackey vanished, jittering. Just then the door opened and a pompous usher stepped in. Elizabeth looked at him over the top of the bottle.
"Modom," he stammered, "I mean er-r-r, pardon me, baby, - your Majesty, the Earl of Essex is here." Elizabeth glared and the 861 she flung crashed sickeningly against the wall by his head. Then in strode Essex covered with mud.
"Hello, you old battle axe. Fighting again?" The Queen, by now frothing at the mouth, looked out at him from under her bushy eyebrows. "Why weren't you on the air at six? I've waited an hour. Where have you been?"
"Well, you see it was this way. Mary Stuart and me, we went for a walk to tryout my new portable receiver. We ran out of gas, and I slipped, Queenie. Tough on the clothes, eh?"
"Enough! I'll have your head for this - the two of you." Grabbing a 'phone, the Queen dialed the tower. "Hello ... hello, Butch? Yeah, this is Liz. Dust off your axes - we're going to have a double header. Yes, Stuart and Essex tomorrow at 2:30 sharp. Give it to all the O.R.S. stations."
Essex began to tremble, quiver and shake, the Queen to tear apart transformers. The air was charged with grid-leaks. Then a knock came at the door and there stood Walter Raleigh, loaded down with watts, volts, and a box of five-cent cigars.
"My Walt!" bellowed the Queen, gently rushing at him. "What a swell QSL to have at this point. You're the one who helped me to first get across the pond, I've got so much to tell you. But first, toss that burnt-out-tube, Essex, outa here."
" Nuts," said Essex.
"Off wit his head," shrieked Elizabeth, jumping up and putting on her skates. "Off wit his head! Tie him all up in antenna wire and away with him!"
Howling, she skated through the closed door, - Essex rushing after her yelling down the corridor. The castle seethed into life, doors burst open - barbed wire entanglements went down, tear gas and pistols sprang into view.
"But you can't do it. It's so hard for a young man to get ahead these days, Liz. Wait. Two bits says you don't dare! Will you take me up? Will you take me up?"
But Elizabeth whipped on down the hallway, smashing the 250-watter lights with a hockey stick. "No," she shouted, "I won't, - the undertakers will!!! ... "
- John M. Murray, W2AMD-W2ZZV
Posted March 30, 2018