Saturday, February 13, 2016

The QSLs of Loring A. Daniels: 1926

OK! Here we are, finally! This is the official kickoff of the series on the QSLs of Loring A. Daniels, first hinted at back in November 2014. Alert the media.1

The story: In Summer 2014, I came across an amazing collection of QSLs, gathered in a small chest of drawers, at an antique mall in Dover, Pennsylvania. There were hundreds of cards (possibly a couple thousand) and they dated back to the mid 1920s. They were for sale individually. It would have been far better, I know, for someone to keep the collection intact. But that's not how they were being sold and, anyway, I certainly didn't have the funds to purchase the entire chest. So I bought about four dozen cards, mostly from the 1920s and 1930s.

A quick refresher: A QSL is a written confirmation of the reception of a radio signal. In this case, we're specifically discussing amateur radio (ham radio). A QSL card details the time, date, radio frequency, type of equipment, strength of signal and other key information regarding the reception of the signal (or a two-way conversation between operators). QSLs are typically the size of a postcard and sometimes they're actual postcards, inscribed with the aforementioned information.

This collection represents the QSLs that were sent to Loring A. Daniels during his lifetime of being a ham radio enthusiast. The cards that I saw in the chest dated from the 1920s through 1980s. This was a hobby he enjoyed most of his life. (We should all be so lucky!) The earlier QSLs are addressed to Daniels in Tuxedo Park, Delaware. (Tuxedo Park itself — near Newport — is a bit of mystery; it must have just been a neighborhood or unincorporated community.) Later, he moved to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Daniels was born on April 4, 1907, and died on May 26, 1995.

With the help of the library at my workplace, LNP, I was able to track down this short obituary:
Loring A. Daniels, 88, WGAL retiree

Loring A. Daniels, 88, of 207 E. Main St., Hummelstown, formerly of East Ross Street, died of natural causes Friday at Integrated Health Services of Hershey at Woodlands, Derry Township.

He was the husband of Mary C. Crosby Daniels, and of the late Almyra Bishop Daniels.

Born in Beverly, Mass., he was the son of the late Charles L. and Nellie Daniels.

He retired in 1972 after 37 years with WGAL radio and television.

A member of the William Penn Shooting Club of Lancaster County, he was also a licensed ham radio operator.

He belonged to Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall, Lancaster.

Surviving besides his wife are two sons, Charles W., of Lincoln, Neb., and David A. of Leola, two stepsons, Dennis E. Barnhart of Loganville, Ga., and Jerry A. Barnhart of Hummelstown; a stepdaughter, Romona C. Weaber of Phoenix, Ariz.; four grandchildren; 14 stepgrandchildren; a great grandson; 10 stepgreat-grandchildren.

So, we do have a quick mention of his ham radio hobby, which is nice. I want to learn more about Daniels, if possible. As this series continues, I'll continue to do some digging. And it's also possible that these posts will draw some people and/or information out of the woodwork, which would be cool. Stay tuned!

I'm going to post the QSLs in groups, by the year of their postmark, starting today with 1926 — 90 years ago!

Some of these 1920s cards are "makeshift" QSLs. Standardized and personalized QSL cards2 didn't come into frequent use until perhaps the 1930s, though you will find some standardized cards as far back as 1919. (The earliest QSL dates to about 1916.) And I like these older cards precisely because they are unique, handwritten, one-of-kind records of communication between two radio operators. Every one, certainly, tells a story.

So here are the Loring A. Daniels QSLs from 1926, when Calvin Coolidge was U.S. president, Robert Goddard was working on rockets, Route 66 was first established, and Miles Davis and Harper Lee were born.

From: R.L. Fisher, 53 Glen Road, Larchmont, New York
Call sign: 2LA
Postmark: 6 p.m. on March 9, 1926, in Larchmont
Notes: Daniels' call sign at this time, which will be noted on all the cards, was 3AJH. ... This card is actually addressed to "Tuxedo Park Rur. Sta." in Newport, Delaware. ... Fisher adds the note: "Vry gld to QSO — Wat abt a schedule?"

From: F.E. Dominick, 11108 Jamaica Avenue, Richmond Hill, New York
Call sign: 2APM
Postmark: 4 p.m. on December 6, 1926, in Richmond Hill
Notes: This one is addressed to Daniels at "5 Delaware Avenue" in Tuxedo Park. ... Note states: "Vy gld to QSO. ... Vy few stns in Del. Ur 2nd I hv wkd. Some snow hr abt 7"." (QSL card writers were the original text messagers!)

From: W. Devereux, 1371 Greene Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
Call sign: 2-FA
Postmark: Noon on February 21, 1926, in Brooklyn
Notes: This one is just addressed to "Radio Station — 3AJH, Tuxedo Park, Delaware."

From: Unknown
Call sign: 2CYG
Postmark: 10:30 p.m. on January 13, 1926, in New York, New York.
Notes: The sender writes: "THIS BEST CARD I CAN GVE U AT PRSNT."

From: Arnold S. Doxsey, 11 Devine Street, Lynbrook, Long Island, New York
Call sign: 2AWX
Postmark: 4 p.m. on October 30, 1926, in Lynbrook
Notes: Doxsey notes that he is "on Long Island, 15 miles east of New York City."

From: J. Toman Jr., 410 East 70 St., New York City
Call sign: 2ANX
Postmark: Noon on February 5, 1926, in New York City
Notes: It looks like Toman neatly drew everything on all of his cards, except for the New York stamp in the middle. Pretty cool.

From: Robbins, 3. W. State St., Gloversville, New York
Call sign: 8CRF
Postmark: 1:30 p.m. on December 30, 1926, in Gloversville
Notes: This is one of the farthest QSLs from Daniels from this group of cards. Gloversville is in central New York and it was once the hub of America's glovemaking industry.

From: H.E. Ingalls, Garrison-on-Hudson, New York
Call sign: 2OQ (or 20Q?)
Postmark: 10:30 p.m. on January 20, 1926, in Hudson Terminal Station, New York
Notes: Ingalls writes: "Dear om — Ur sigs came in last sunday around 11 pm abt R5."

From: H.N. Hollister [sp?], 26 Plainfield Avenue, Lynbrook, Long Island, New York
Call sign: 2ET
Postmark: 9:30 a.m. on October 29, 1926, in Lynbrook
Notes: This card, like some others, was sent on the prepaid one-cent Thomas Jefferson postcard that was popular during this time.

That's all for today. But we're just getting started! On deck, we have the QSLs from 1927. And if you're interested in more, check out this post from last month about the life of radio operator Donald Joseph Senesac — a tale that evolved from an earlier post on Daniels. I hope to unearth many more stories like that one, with readers' help.

1. Never mind. I am the media.
2. Here is a sampling of my earlier posts on QSLs, if you're interested:

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