Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Silent Keys remembered

I was greeted last night by a pleasant e-mail from Mary Bonczek. Mary is the daughter of Julius Kardos WV2O, who I knew back in my days of running the Volunteer Exam program for the Raritan Bay Radio Amateurs in Sayreville, NJ. Julius was one of those Ham radio ops you meet once or twice in a lifetime. Julius is now a Silent Key and I dedicated my Website to his memory as well as that of George Miller K2FD and Chuck Phillips WB2MSV. Mary was doing some Google searches and happened to type her dad's name in. The resulting search led her to my Webpage.

In my Ham career I have been blessed with meeting and knowing some really fine individuals. A lot are still active; but some have passed on to "The Big Shack in the Sky". The three Hams I mention on my Website are what I would consider to be the "cream of the crop"; real "Ham's hams" - guys that come to mind when you think of the Golden Age of Amateur Radio. George K2FD and Jules WV2O were the kind of Hams I gravitate to. CW men first and formost, kind of curmudgeonly and crusty; but with hearts of gold! These guys were outstanding ops who learned by the rules of the old school. They took pride in their operating and their craft. They believed in doing things the right way with no nonsense about it. At the same time, they would give you the shirt off their backs to help you; and when new Hams showed an interest in CW .....

Both George and Jules enjoyed being the pioneers of Sayreville's Volunteer Examing program. They ran the sessions with authority and professionalism. But when someone came in and wanted to take a Morse Code exam, you could just watch their eyes light up! They offered encouragement and a positive influence to anyone showing an interest in the Morse Code.

When George became too ill to carry on the program; he thought enough of me to ask me to take the reins. I tried to run the sessions with the same dedication and professionalism that George and Jules did. Jules kept coming to the sessions, even after George had died. I must have been doing a decent job, for if I wasn't up to snuff he would have had no qualms in letting me know. And I would have had no problem if he had; I respected his opinion that much. Still, I'm glad he didn't have to check me on anything; his seal of approval meant that much to me. I especially enjoyed the brief meetings at the Dunkin' Donuts after the exam sessions. Jules would hold the rest of the exam team spellbound as he recounted Amateur Radio history in the area; or with stories about his days in the Merchant Marines.

Jules passed away shortly after I left the Sayreville club. I had left East Brunswick after getting married and bought a house in South Plainfield to begin the process of starting a family of my own. When I found out about Jules, I was shocked and saddened. A double blow came when I found out a short time later that Chuck WB2MSV had passed away just about the same time. Chuck was one of the founders of the Piscataway Amateur Radio Club, of which I had the privilege and pleasure to serve as president and vice-president. Chuck was another crusty curmudgeon who steadfastly believed that if you were going to do something; then you had better do it right. Chuck was not only a superb op; but was the inspiration for the phenomenal Field Day efforts that PARC held in the 80's and 90's. With Chuck's guidance and knack for getting folks to get involved, PARC's Field Days were THE event to be at. We might not have ever won or had a fantastic score; but we sure had a ton of fun every last full weekend in June. Chuck moved away to Trenton, South Carolina shortly after his wife passed away. Not too long after moving out there, he got ill and passed away himself after just a short time.

Like I said before, in your Ham Radio career; sometimes your lucky to meet only one or two guys of this caliber. I have been fortunate enough to have met more than one or two. These three guys were three of them. They left us way, way too early. I can only hope that one day, I will have had made enough of a difference in some Ham's lives like these three did in mine.

73 de Larry W2LJ

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