Tuesday, March 23, 2010

a jack of all trades *

Sorry I've been a bit out of touch, but when it rains it pours-as they say, and as many of you know, I've been spending a lot of time under an umbrella lately. Last Monday, my Granddad Jack died, and D and I just got back from spending time with family in Corpus Christi, TX. This loss, on the heels of my dad's death, was certainly difficult, but eased with the knowledge that my granddad was lucky enough to live 85 long, full years. My granddad, an entrepreneur turned farmer and rancher, was exceedingly industrious and known for his quick dry wit. To me, my grandfather's remarkable true life story is rivaled only by his hilarious accounts of imaginary exploits.
I was honored to be the recipient of a few treasured artifacts of my granddad's. This tackle box and level were built by my great-grandfather, who, like my granddad Jack, was a woodworker.
In my granddad's shop, I stumbled across a particularly unique and enthralling collection of these QSL cards.
After my grandfather returned from WWII, where he was a radio operator, he developed a passion for amateur or "ham" radio. Amateur radio stations operate using Q-code. Q-code, a form of Morse code, allowed operators to facilitate communication with people who spoke different languages, from places far and wide.
These QSL cards are calling cards of sorts for ham radio operators and represent a confirmation of a two-way-radio contact. Sending, receiving, and collecting these cards was purely recreational. You might even call this hobby the precursor to social networking. After all, ham radio operators throughout the mid century were simply making connections to other people with a shared interest.
It's easy to see, looking to the selection above (a few of over 300, now in my possession) that people used their cards to express their individuality and cultures. My granddad was sent cards from all over the globe- Japan, the USSR, Cuba, Germany, Christmas Island, Rwanda, Bermuda, even a couple from Antartica- and that's just to name a few.

The joy that these vintage treasures bring me is dulled a bit by the sad fact that I never talked to my granddad about this passion of his. Regrettably, I discovered most of these ham radio facts via a Google search. He did share lots of stories with me, throughout my life, but probably never dreamed that I'd care about this long past past-time. I hope to encourage you to discover the past lives of your elders- listen, and enjoy the company of people who are far more interesting than you :)


  1. beautiful! I too regret not talking a little more about this in recent years with granddad.

  2. i think i might try to make a tackle box. well maybe not a tackle box since i don't fish, but a box like that. they just don't make things that last more than a generation anymore. thanks for putting the photo up of it, and for sharing the ham radio story. those cards are incredible.

  3. Jordan....
    I am so sorry for your losses. I had no idea that your father passed away. Please send love to your mother. How is everyone doing?

    Love and prayers for you and your mom!