Thursday, January 21, 2016

Learning about the life of radio operator Donald Joseph Senesac

About 63 weeks ago, I introduced the first Loring A. Daniels QSL card — a 1930 reply to Daniels from Don Senesac of Chicago — and promised to write more about a few dozen other amazing QSLs that Daniels received in the 1920s and 1930s. But ... I got sidetracked for a good bit. I promise now, though, that I'll be getting back to Loring and his QSLs very soon.

In the meantime, however, there's a followup to the W9CNO card that ham-radio enthusiast Senesac sent to Daniels 86 years ago.

I recently received some nice emails from Senesac's daughter, Donna Lou, who was quite surprised to see her father's old QSL card online.

Here are some of the details she shared about Donald Joseph Senesac, who was born in 1908...

  • "My dad was involved with radar transmission — got involved with the development of television and the radar range. He made his first radio when he was 8 years old. We had the first television in our area when we lived on Balmoral Avenue. He later owned his own TV business at the corner of Harlem and Foster in Chicago. Both him and his father were electrical contractors. He was interesting — he gave me a gyroscope when I was young. He also introduced me to Morse code, which is what he mostly used."
  • "He gave a talk at the Chicago Radio Traffic Association July 7th, 1932, on Why The Pentode. He was 24 years old at the time. He must have been very good at this technology. ... He also gave another talk on Economical Construction of Single Signal Superhets on March 2, 1933."
  • He used to work for Belmont Raytheon.
  • He was on ham radio under the call letters W9CNO from 1930 to 1962 in Chicago. Then, after retiring to Clearwater Beach, Florida, he transmitted under the call sign WA4GTI from 1962 until 1979.
  • "[In Florida, he] spent time using salt water for signal transmission with a whip antenna attached to the dock. Transmitted all over the world. There was a comment on a letter from a friend who thought my dad must have had a 100-foot tower. My dad had sent him a photo of the poor little whip antenna. The man said the reason is rather obvious — the salt water and the terrain near you is not high level and the low angle radiation of the vertical is at its best. This man had been stationed around 1928 at a Naval Radio Station in Victoria and they put up a vertical right near swampy land and the results amazed them. They reached Europe daily."
  • "He talked with people all over the world on his salt-water antenna. He was able to reach King Hussein of Jordan. [According to Wikipedia] 'Hussein was an enthusiastic ham radio operator and an Honorary Member of The Radio Society of Harrow and a life member of the American Radio Relay League (callsign JY1). Hussein was popular in the amateur radio community and insisted that fellow operators refer to him without his title.'"

Donna Lou also shared these two images. The first shows her father's collection of QSLs on the walls of his radio room, circa 1938. The second image is the WA4GTI QSL card that he used after moving to Clearwater Beach.

It was so wonderful to receive all of this information, and I'm appreciative of the opportunity to share it here on Papergreat. That's when this blog is at its best, when we can bring the stories and people behind the pieces of paper to life.

I'm looking forward to posting the rest of the Loring A. Daniels QSL cards. Each one of those, too, can tell a story.

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