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QSL CARDS. What a wonderful way to say hello!
I returned from the mailbox with a smile today. In with all the bills, junk mail, and other stuff was a letter with my call on it. OH BOY! This could mean only one thing. QSL card! Sending and receiving QSL cards is a treat that I’ve looked forward to ever since my first experience with ham radio. Many hams feel that a QSL is the final courtesy of a QSO. .Aside from being “written proof” of your contact, I find them very interesting to read and view. Many of them are colorful and contain a wealth of information about the operator and customs of the country or region.
My very first QSL card was from a contact made before I became a ham. Lyle Brooks W8TIJ (sk) knew of my interest in electronics and invited me over to his “shack” .He explained some of the fun about radio as he was tuning up the rig. Well as luck would have it some rare DX was just calling his first CQ of the evening. We answered him and got him and he came back to us! CE0AE , Father Dave at the catholic mission on Easter Island. Wow! I’d read about Easter Is. in school, and of the giant stone statues there. We talked for a while and I explained my desire to become a ham, and Father Dave was kind enough to give a little “verbal tour” of his remote South Pacific Isle. After a wonderful conversation , I asked if he would send me one of his QSL cards and he consented but cautioned me not to be in a hurry to get it,as the mail ship only stopped at the island but 4 or 5 times a year ! As we signed our 73’s the band ERUPTED with calls from all over the globe! DX from everywhere! ( I did not realize then just how rare DX he was! )
I said my goodbyes and thanked Lyle for having me over to his shack. I knew then someday I would be a ham.
Several months went by and I finally got what I had been waiting for. As I walked from the mailbox a big smile came to my face as I looked at the letter with “funny”stamps on it ,and postmarked CHILE. Inside was the prize, a beautiful card showing several views of the island and some of the famous monoliths there. It also contained a letter telling of some of the culture and local flavor of the island and the mission. QSL cards , what a neat followup to a QSO.
Over 30 years later I still get all excited when I open the mailbox. Will there be a card today? Will it be from around the block? Or will it be from around the globe? Hey it’s my lucky day! I’ve got 2 of ‘em ! I hastily open the first one, it’s from a ham in Missouri , It’s a picture of him in 1957 operating mobile. Cool! Now the second one! It’s one that I’d been waiting for, from a ham in Illinois. Not very far DX as the crow flies, but this one was special because it was for my first QSO with my 2n2222 / 40 homebrew rig. A nice note accompanying it,thanking me for my card too!.
A smile came as I thought to myself, “ QSL cards. What a wonderful way to say hello !
73’s Gregg WB8LZG
I did a bit of thinking and remembering after I’d written this. Several things occurred to me about this QSO. First, was my plain old “dumb luck” ! This was my first QSO ever and it happens to be with a very sought after DX island. The next thing that I thought of really amazed me. Here I was a teenage kid carrying on a lengthy conversation with hundreds of other DX’ers from around the world wanting to QSO so bad it HURT! We were only “BREAK”ed one time at about ten minutes into our chat. Father Dave asked that “All stations please not to interrupt the QSO “, and that he would get to them after our ragchew was finished. I then proceeded to “chew the fat “ with him for nearly an hour , while the whole world waited silently, politely, patiently, until we signed our 73’s. I think this says quite a bit about the dissipline and courtesy of the DX ops of the early 1970’s. I wonder if todays DX ops would be that patient . I certainly hope so! But I wonder….
It also occurred to me that the QSO may have been very pleasant for Father Dave as well.
Here he was being the rarest of DX and no doubt had hundreds of “hello name,RST,QTH please QSL” type contacts. I may have been like a breath of fresh air for him to sit and answer my many questions and tell me of the great beauty there on “Rapa Nui” as the natives called it. It certainly helped put the magic in radio for me.
BCNU Gregg WB8LZG