Before the days of instant information and Facebook, how was one to reach out and socialize with faraway people? Well, there was always the option of amateur radio and QSL cards. The latter is the focus of today's column.
The seller Michelle Cross (mmmcross) of Quebec is offering this item, and has thousands of other examples on her website dedicated to QSL cards. Here, she describes CB and ham radio as "the chatroom of the past, one of the world's first social networks" and overall an interesting look into the culture during amateur radio's heyday.
This particular QSL card originated right here in New London during the 1970s. Using the handles of "Lil Stinker" and "Unk the Skunk," Bill Harvey and Don Burbank connected with the world via the airwaves. The illustration suggests that Harvey broadcast from home, while Burbank had a radio in his station wagon, the "Rambling Red Rambler." I wasn't able to find anything more about these particular individuals, but their nicknames do suggest that they might have made for some pretty wild radio personalities.
The card gives the "home base" address as 16 Sander Street, a residence near , although the illustration of the home doesn't quite match a recent real estate listing. You'll also notice that the phone number has the 203 area code now used for western Connecticut instead of the 860 used here; according to reverse lookup, the number doesn't get you anywhere these days.
So what is a QSL card, anyway? It's just a way to be a little more social with the people you get in touch with via the radio and give some written confirmation of the contact. A postcard, often with a creative illustration, would give details as to a person's station, home, interests, and so on. The Hartford Courant recognized that QSL cards were an interesting way of promoting the area in a 1955 article.
Amateur radio is still around, and many operators have joined a network called Amateur Radio Emergency Services to help with emergency communications if disaster strikes. The Tri-City Amateur Radio Club brings together ham radio enthusiasts from New London, Norwich, and Westerly. The Federal Communications Commission lists 78 registered amateur radio licenses in the city; several are located at the , including one for their radio club.
The item has a blank back with small markings, while the card itself is thinner than a regular postcard. The starting bid is $9.99, and shipping is free. The auction ends at about 8:20 p.m. on Thursday.