Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Terry S. McMahon, ham-radio operator, drops Papergreat a line

There are few things I enjoy more than when I can make a connection with someone with regard to a piece of ephemera featured on this blog. For example, there was the time some relatives claimed Bessie Carrier's old mail, and I happily returned it.

I am pleased to report another successful connection. I heard recently from none other than Terry S. McMahon, whose 1967 QSL card appeared on Papergreat a mere six weeks ago.

Terry contacted me through Facebook with the following note:
"Chris, I enjoyed discovering the post you had on June 2, 2014. That was me back in the mid '60s enjoying my ham radio activities, which included passing messages along when regular communications were down. I was also active in MARS (Military Affiliate Radio System) and was the president of the local ham radio club, although initially I was not yet legal to drive! My bus driver was a best friend of Burt Reynolds and his son was a good friend of mine. Thanks again for your post! I haven't been able to find a physical copy of my old QSL card for some time."
Terry added some more details on his Facebook page. I had mentioned the 1964 Alaska earthquake in my post and it turns out that Terry was indeed involved in some of the post-earthquake emergency communications. He wrote:
"I have been looking for one of my early ham radio QSL cards and I haven't been able to find it physically. Suddenly today, here it is found by me on the internet and in the context of one of my favorite memories. I was relaying messages to and from Alaska after an earthquake there. A card was sent originally most likely to one of those contacts in 1964 and another communication in 1967. ...

"The transmitter on the left was a Heathkit DX-40 and I primarily used Morse code. The electronic box on top of my receiver was a SWR Bridge which means Standing Wave Ratio. I used it to fine tune my dipole antenna (a long wire cut to a specific length). I recorded many of my ham radio transmissions with an early reel to reel audio tape recorder."
Terry and I have since been in further touch via email and I will be mailing his QSL back to him — 47 years after it originally went through the postal system. He told me that this QSL card was crafted by the Superintendent of Schools in Clintonville, Wisconsin. ("He was one of my favorite hams to talk with through Morse code.") And he shared a bit about his further experiences with the hobby as he got older:
"My days as a ham radio operator continued as I went to the Opera Program at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. When I went to the University of Michigan, I joined the Ham Radio Club and did phone patch traffic at the location of the station (the tallest building on campus) with a super fancy Collins S Line and a triple stacked Moseley Beam antenna at full legal power."
As someone with no ham-radio experience, I have no idea what that last sentence means. But I love Terry's enthusiasm for this topic, the fact that he took the time to share his memories and, best of all, that one not-insignificant piece of paper is on its way back home.


  1. Where's the "like" button for this entry? Thumbs up!

  2. Sad to report that Terry passed away in mid-2016. Source: https://prod1.meaningfulfunerals.net/home/index.cfm/obituaries/view/fh_id/11479/id/3805953