Monday, January 18, 2010

People Are Just People -- Near and Far

It's coming on my dad's birthday -- had he still been on this earth he would be 88. Although he's been gone from the physical realm since 2001, his spirit still shines around and in me. Not a day goes by when I don't thank him for introducing me to the world in a very different way. You see, my dad was a licensed amateur radio "ham" operator and from the time I was a tyke, I remember hanging out with him in his little radio "shack" housed in our garage. I was probably the only four-year old kid who knew what Greenwich Mean Time was!

I can close my eyes to see the huge world map on the wall there. My introduction to that big wide world was through his prized collection of QSL cards. (I have his collection, housed in a cigar box, sitting in my studio in plain site as a reminder 
of who I am.) Last night I went through hundreds of cards and thought that it would be fun to share a few from the 50s. I imagine some of these countries were pretty tough to come by in those years but they stand as proof that people are just people, no matter where we live -- radio operators from Burma, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and USSR Leningrad were no different than my dad. They just happened to live in different parts of the world. It also reminds me that while the world is so very big, it is also so very small and seems to grow smaller every day.

For those of you who don't know, radio operators swapped cards back then after they "talked" with each other. I vividly remember sitting in the radio shack playing with the QSL cards, listening to my dad communicate with people in some far off place through Morse Code. While he tried to teach me the mystery of dots and dashes -- it just never gelled in my brain.

But, I do believe that my interest in all things electronic stems from my early exposure to the inner-workings of radio gear. Since he also built his own equipment, I was lucky enough to hang out with him at Henry Radio, a radio operator's dream somewhere in Southern California (I want to say Whittier, but not sure). As the technology changed over the years my dad had one BIG problem -- he was colorblind; and all of the little bits and baubles on the newer equipment is color banded. So, as luck would have it, I got to put all the boards together and then he would solder everything in place. I was always so excited when he fired up a new transceiver or other piece of equipment -- it meant we made a good team. It makes me smile to know that my love of colored little things and putting them all together to make a bigger functional thing goes way back. It's fun for me to have the memories -- it seems so far away yet so near.