Today was one of those rough work days that you get every now and then. When I left the building at 5:00PM, I felt like I had spent a week there today! I knew there was a repeater club meeting scheduled for tonight, but I was not really too keen on attending. I have missed the past couple meetings, though, and a little bit of guilt was kicking in.
I am so glad that I decided to go, however. There was a presentation on the QSL card collection of Joe Painter W2BHM (SK) as given by Barry Cohen K2JV. Joe was a Past President of the North Jersey DX Association and was a very avid DXer. He's on the DXCC Honor Roll with over 370 confirmed.
Joe passed away in 2005, a couple of years after moving from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. As Barry explained it, Joe left New Jersey after his wife passed to go live with family in Pennsylvania. In the move, he gave up his radio station and his antennas. In his depression over his wife's passing, he simply threw away his QSL card collection and other radio related items. They just didn't mean anything to him anymore. I can understand that, were I to lose my Marianne, the love of my life, I would probably be just as despondent.
However, Barry was a very good friend of Joe's and understood the value of what was discarded. It may not mean anything to the average person, but those awards and certificates mean a lot to other Hams. So Barry did some serious dumpster diving and saved what he could, including W2BHM's original DXCC certificate, his Honor Roll plaque and a boat load of QSL cards. He felt that this was something worth preserving for Ham Radio posterity.
Wow! What a collection! Some of the cards that he was able to save predated WWII as Joe was first licensed in 1933. It seemed like W2BHM had more QSL cards from countries that don't exist anymore than I have from countries that DO exist today!
Barry put together an excellent PowerPoint presentation and shared a lot of interesting stories and anecdotes about some of the Hams that W2BHM had worked over the years. The highlight was when Barry related how he had actually contacted Ivan Pastre F3AT who was one of the Hams that Joe had worked back in the 50s. Ivan was the only person in the world to ever use a FQ3 prefix while he was on an overseas assignment for the French government. That prefix has never been used again! Barry recorded bits of a CW QSO that he had with Ivan on 20 Meters. Ivan, who is now 91 still has an EXCELLENT fist and it was so neat to hear him pound the brass. I hope my fist is that good, should I be fortunate to live to reach that age!
It was a fascinating evening and even though the meeting lasted a couple of hours, it seemed to have flown by in the blink of an eye. I was so glad that I attended, it just made the stress of the entire day just melt away!
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!