Saturday, October 26, 2019

In which we learn that Melvin C. Reed's nickname was "Midge"

As you can see, there's a silly monkey on the front of this dandy QSL card from Richard Kalakie of Ferndale, Michigan.1 The card, with Kalakie's call sign of WB8BCA, was sent in December 1969 to W3AIT, a call sign I've featured in three previous posts:

W3AIT belonged to Melvin C. Reed (1906-1987) of Frackville, Pennsylvania. But the short note from Kalakie on the back of this card states: "Sri I lost u Midge. QRM got bad. Hpe 2 BCNU agn."

A lot of that text is Morse code abbreviations. Sri means "sorry," for example, and BCNU, as you might intuit, means "be seeing you." And QRM (man-made interference) is specific to ham radio. But what intrigued me was the reference to Midge, which also appears on a number of the other W3AIT QSL cards I acquired. I wondered if Midge might be Melvin's wife, and perhaps she also participated in the hobby. But it's simpler than that, even. Midge was Melvin's nickname.2 I found that via his obituary in the July 31, 1987, edition of the Pottsville Republican:
"Melvin 'Midge' C. Reed, 80, of 336 Lehigh Ave., Frackville, died Thursday morning in Pottsville Hospital where he was admitted
July 1. He was born in Frackville, a son of the late Jacob and Edna Heim Reed. He was employed by the former Reading Railroad Co. for 48 years, retiring in 1971. ... He was a Scoutmaster for many years in Frackville. His wife, the former Mary Zimmers, died Feb. 1, 1980."
So that's a bit more about Melvin "Midge" C. Reed. There should be plenty more to come. And one of these days I must also return to the tale of Loring A. Daniels and his QSLs.

1. According to Wikipedia: "Ferndale is well known in the Detroit area for its LGBT population and progressive policies. ... In 2006 the city passed an anti-discrimination ordinance protecting LGBT people from discrimination in public accommodations, housing, and business, with 70% in favor and 30% in opposition. Affirmations, a 17,000-square-foot LGBT community center in Downtown Ferndale, opened its new, expanded building on Sunday June 3, 2007, the same year the city elected the first openly gay mayor in Michigan." Way to go, Ferndale!
2. For future researchers who might be seeking information on me, my only nicknames, to the best of my recollection, are Toast, Ottoman, Toph and Topher. I've tried to encourage folks to call me "Hoss" but it hasn't really stuck.

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