It Seemed to Them:
Early QST Editorials

1917 May

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The United States declared war against Germany in April, 1917.

The opening hostilities of WW I had occurred in 1914, so the ARRL and QST had always lived under the gathering clouds.


Well, fellow amateurs, WAR has come to our good old Star Spangled Banner, and all the sacrifices we have dimly dreamed in the past, are now up to us to make. Yesterday's fancies are today's realities, and mighty grim ones at that. Our stations are all closed. At this writing, there is no knowledge when we shall be allowed to reopen. Your guess is as good as ours. But there is one, thing we do know positively. That is that even if we may not operate our own stations, we may operate our Uncle Sam's. And this constitutes the most golden of all golden opportunities.

We are asked by our Country to come and help in the hour of need with our special radio knowledge and training. Radio operators are wanted by both Navy and Army and the service is made more agreeable than any military service ever before known. We are asked to serve only for the War if we prefer, and we are given living conditions, pay and training of the most favorable kind. No one of our membership in good health and free from dependents should hesitate a moment to enroll. To those who do not, it will be the one big regret of their lives in the years to come.

There will be a German War Veterans Association, and Honor Rolls, and you and yours will be very proud to have your name among the others. You can put it there now. You cannot later.

And when we are all opened up again with new and better equipment, and our A. R. R. L. has acquired the strength of having passed through the fire, then will those who have done their bit be proud of it, and those who have not, will be very, very sorry.

Early QST's featured reports of stations that had been heard to let you know that your signal was getting out. Is this a waste of print space? Apparently not!


We asked all hands to say what they thought about printing lists of calls that have been heard. We were in doubt about whether it was wanted or not. Well, there is no doubt left. They are wanted. Until we are shut down and no one hears any calls at air we shall go on printing the lists sent in. To save space we shall put them in fine type and only print those which are some respectable distance away.

We have enough on hand to run a long time, and.if .we;are closed up it will taste good to see the old familiar calls and to note who received them.

There are many queer things developed from the lists of calls heard. It seems that certain calls are never heard in certain localities while they are heard by almost everybody twice the distance away. Why is this? Why should stations in the Eighth and Ninth Districts hear New York stations easily when we in New England never hear them at all, notwithstanding we are three hundred miles nearer? And how is it that a station down in a valley directly under the brow of a 16,000 feet high mountain in the West hears a station 800 miles away on the other side of the mountain. Certainly the Waves do not converge again behind the mountain. They have not the distance available. Do they come through? Or do they "follow the contour," as we have been told in some of the Old Man tales we remember? Some of you chaps who have had instances of this sort of thing write in and tell us what you know.

The fraternity of ARRL members is worth a little thought.


Every once in a while one of you fellows writes in a letter and tells about the feeling of intimate acquantance and friendship which he1 feels toward everybody concerned in the A. R. R. L. It always warms the cockles of our heart and inspires us. Just why we wireless bugs seem to possess this brotherly feeling to a greater extent than other groups of people, is not entirely plain.' Some times we think it is because of the deeper and more abstruse problems which we have to face. We who are closely identified in the study of radio communication are brought very close to the wonders of Nature. The great laws which govern all things and which we must always observe, gives one a very much deeper regard for truth than comes to those who follow only the ordinary matters of life. The fact that we are all troubled with the same things, arouses a feeling of brotherhood. The fact that we appreciate one another's failures and successes, brings us close together. The romance of sitting alone in a little out of the way room among a lot of instruments, and yet be in communication with congenial spirits in other distant and out of the way little rooms, is conducive to profound and reverent thoughts. The fun, which bubbles over from so many of us, and finds expression in QST, is one of the interesting manifestations of the effect of our work upon us.

We used to think that it was possible to feel close to each other when we were seven hundred strong, but that this would disappear when we grew large. The personal element would riot stand the stretching. But this is not the case. We seem to be just as close together at seven thousand strong, as we were when we, were only seven hundred, and if we can maintain it among seventy thousand. Anyway, here's hoping we may be privileged to go on in the happy and pleasant paths we have trodden in the past.

There are so many ways to be rotten in this Amateur Radio business! It's not too hard to find bad fists even today, though electronic keyers and keyboards can hide a multitude of sins. It would be very interesting to hear some of those spark fists. In the absence of a recording, we have to rely on T.O.M.'s transcript.

Rotten Fists

By The Old Man

[Well, fellows, War or no War the Old Man insists on having us cheer up by laughing at his "rotten stuff." "Rotten Fists" is so funny that you will laugh and forget.—Editor.]

If old Morse is dug up some day and they find him turned over in his grave, it will be because of certain rotten fists I could mention. The old boy did a good job when he invented.the dot and dash business, and it is just plain wickedness to mutilate it the way some of these smart alecks do with their swinging and sliding. What's the matter with making a dot a dot, and a dash a dash, anyway? There is no half way business between them. You can not cross the breed to save your life, and why it is fashionable to try it, beats me.

I have been copying everything that came in lately, on account of these war stories, and believe me, I have heard some strange, sending. The other night there was a ship calling what I took to be AZY, but as WSY answered, I saw I was.wrong. The operator. on the ship had a message and WSY told him to go ahead with it. The ship was a K something, and was evidently coming up or going down the Atlantic Coast. At first, I thought I had some nervous disorder. I'll be darned if I could copy what that gink was sending. It was going to somebody who I guess was, at the Biltmore Hotel, New York City, but what in time it was about, I could not tell. I could not seem to catch hold anywhere long enough to stick. There was a lot of signals I knew were not in Continental or American Morse and I.began taking an interest in how much WSY was getting.

Well sir, WSY gave a long profane pause, after that ship operator finished. You can always tell what the fellow at the other end is thinking by his pause. Ever notice it? I smelled smoke and by cracky, I smelled right. WSY got just about as much as I got, and I knew just what it was he wanted to say, but didn't dare. In printable form it was—"Cut out the swing you blithering idiot and for gawd sake send it the way old Morse intended you to send it." The K—came gayly back and QSZed everything. He swung and slid and had a very fashionable time of it all by himself. You could not tell what were dots and what were dashes to save your life. His W was TM every time. An S was D or a TI, you could take your choice. His L was a very respectable Z. His numbers were fierce. They sounded like commas or some of those other bum punctuation marks nobody ever is dead sure of and always fills in later or leaves out altogether.

He swung his gay young way through the message and I managed to guess what I missed. WSY must have been several hundred miles nearer, but he gave no idea of getting any of it at all.

There is no QR or QS for "Cut out the style and send like a white man you slab sided galoot," so all WSY could do was to look her over and give it up and give a GA ALL. And, mind, you, all this was using up time entirely unnecessary because K—s sigs, must have pounded in at WSY if they were so QSA at my station.

Well, he, gave it all over again and this time he slowed down to maybe fifteen a minute. At that speed you simply cannot put on the lugs. You have to send somewhere near the way Morse intended you should. I got it all O. K. that time, but WSY evidently was sore or something for he made him send the name and signature twice again after telling him his spacing was bad! !

Now, why could not that young man have sent plain dots and dashes and spaces in the first place. He used up just exactly five times as much valuable time as he needed to, or twenty mins. instead of four. And he was a commercial operator and supposed to know better.

This thing had no more than got itself untangled when, happening to tune down a bit, I heard some amateur calling me. At least it sounded as though it might be I. He had a similar case of swinging, and by gum, I was not sure who he was calling when he got thru and signed. I recognized the sign all right—one of our old friends. Thinks I, if hfe wants me he will have to speak up better than that so I stuck around and listened. Well, sir, darned if 8AEZ didn't think he was the one wanted. 9ZN believed he was, 2AGJ had the nerve to think he was the party and some few other lesser lights took it to heart also. There followed a general all around mixup in which some called the right call letters, others called wrong and others called on a CQ. QRM simply boiled over. Each fellow thought the other was "intentionally interfering." Everbody got somebody, another one called somebody a fat head, and somebody else got all puckered up over being called a Ham. It probably took half an hour, to straighten this mess out and all on account of a rotten fist.

That same night somebody not so terribly far from Cleveland tried to get something through to 2PM. For some time past, his fist had been showing signs of getting stylish and once he was told of it. This particular night, he was feeling especially pert, for his swing was more than unusually bad. He finally got 2ZS or 2ZL or somebody over east, and gave him a. long song and dance about something or other that was heavy on his chest. There was considerable QRM, at the time, and I didn't get it quite straight. Neither did the station he was sending it to, for he didn't answer at all. Our friend sent a query after waiting a while and then the eastern station came back with a "sorry OM can't read u hr. tri agn." Then some kind-hearted gink in between blundered into the game and offered to QSR. The friend took him up and gave him the msg. putting just a few more frills in the way of swing. I copied it just to see how rotten he would get it. I was not fnixed up in the job in any way and so had the chance to be an onlooker and enjoy myself.

The kind hearted one over in Penna. got the reward of the peacemaker. He let himself in for the worst mix up he ever heard of. The next time he blunders in to help out somebody he will first take a slant at the kind of a fist he has. If it swings and slurs the dots so they sound like dashes, I will lay a fair size bet that he leaves the buzz saw for some one else to monkey with. Just look at the way it turned out:

Friend, up around Cleveland way gave it to Kind-heart over in Penna. He put so much English on it that Kind-heart couldn't get it first time, so he asked for a repeat. . He was a little new at the cruel relay game, I reckon, and he did not have the nerve to ask for all the repeat he needed. Then when he got what he asked for, all frilled up with swing business so I could not read it, he was just where he was when he started, except perhaps a little bit Worse, because what he got the second time did not check with what he got the first. Then he got fussed, and like every timid youngster, let it go and trusted to luck that he could piece it together somehow. He was so young he did not want the rest of the state to hear him ask for another repeat, when the fault was the original bone head with the confounded swing.

He said he would QSR the message and evidently went into executive session with himself while he tried to puzzle it out. My copy indicated nothing exactly definite, owing to the rotten swing. There was enough to show that the poor boob was trying to find out from Salt Godley of the Adams Hogan Co., when it was likely that shipment would be made of a pair of gone turners, or something to that effect. As I said, I could not get it exactly, but only approx. Well, dear little cuty over in Penna. must have had quite a brain storm all by himself, because when he finally bucked up and got his man over East he gave him something like this, which anybody with even a bad squint can see is all wrong: — Hr. nr 1 from Blank via Blank to Salty O. Helly care of Adams Express Co. Mount Despair, N. J. Sneeze admire probate dates ship mint my pair phoney tuber ordered like flabbys Sig Blank.

Any one can tell at a glance there is no sense in such stuff as that, and yet that dear boy spent a good hour deciding that this rot was the. correct dope. He was heard by Friend, and say, fellows, you who heard the blow up that followed must sure have smiled. Friend went straight through the roof of his shack and must have weakened the field on his rotary motor when he lit, because his tone went up fourteen octaves and his speed fully up to thirty-five when he tried to head that fool msg. off. He called the poor duffer over in Penna. and forgot all his swing and.sent dots and dashes which were mostly dashes and started the worst run of static we have had here-abouts this season. Company came just as he was finishing off and I could not stay and hear the funeral services. They tell me it lasted for several hours. I will believe any one who tells me that there is nothing left of that set over in Penna. but a few traces of melted copper.

Well, that's the way she goes, when you start these funny things with the code. May not be so much of it after a bit. Looks like we fellows might have to cut out tickling the key pretty soon. So long boys. C U next QST SK.

ARRL officers, directors, and divisions take shape in 1917. This geographical organization continues to this day.

An Enlarged A. R. R. L

Three years ago this month, there was sown a lusty seed. It grew rapidly, once it was given warmth and encouragement. It is a strong tree today, and we who enjoy association under its spreading branches call it the A.. R. R. L.

At first it was possible for two people. working once in a while of' an evening, to handle its business matters. Later these two found it required all their spare time. Still later, they found that all of the time they could spare was not enough to handle the ever widening circle. The: it was decided to call for help, and the SOS went forth to the best known amateurs within reach. They were asked to foregather on a certain evening at The Engineers Club in New York City, and when the fateful evening came around, there were the following facing each other:—

2ZH, A. A. Hebert, Nutley, N. J,
2ZS, C. R. Runyon, Jr., Yonkers, N. Y.
2ZL, J. 0. Smith, Valley Stream, N. Y.
2RL, V. P. Camp, Brightwaters, N. Y.
1ZM, H. P. Maxim, Hartford, Conn.
1ZT, C. D. Tuska, Hartford, Conn.

After getting used to looking at, instead of listening to each other, these gentlemen formed themselves into a Committee to draw up a Constitution and elect a Board of Direction, and officers. Notwithstanding they labored far into the night, many meetings were necessary, but each gave of his time and money until it was done. The Constitution printed in another column was finally adopted, A Board of Direction and officers as follows, were elected:

President, Hiram Percy Maxim.
Vice President and General Manager, Arthur A. Hebert.
Secretary, Clarence D. Tuska.
Treasurer, C. R. Runyon, Jr.
J. O. Smith, Valley Stream, Long Island, N.Y.
R. H. G. Mathews, Chicago, Ills.
John C. Cooper, Jr., Jacksonville, Fla.
F. M, Corlett, Dallas, Texas.
W. H. Smith, Denver, Col.
H. C. Seefred, Los Angeles, Cal.
V. F. Camp, Brightwaters, N. Y.
H. L. Stanley, Babylon, N. Y.
W. T. Fraser, Buffalo, N. Y.
W. T, Gravely, Danville, Va.
T. E. Gaty, Morristown, N. J.
Miller R. Hutchison, Orange, N. J,

Additional Directors from other large centers will be elected as soon as nominations are made.

Then the six Divisions of the country stated in the Constitution were given to the following Division Managers, these to supercede the old Trunk Line Managers:

ATLANTIC—J. O. Smith, Valley Stream,.,L. I., N. Y.
EAST-GULF—J. C. Cooper, Jr., Jacksonville,, Pla.
CENTRAL—R. H. G. Mathews, Chicaga, Ills.
WEST GULF—Prank M. Corlett, Dallas, Texas.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN—W. H. Smith, Denver, Col.
PACIFIC—H. C Seefred, Los Angeles, Cal.


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