K2LEM / K2UTS Radio Team
Memories of Early Radio Life
Memories of K2LEM Robert Singer by his daughter K2UTS Margie Singer Wenski
My dad's QSL card surfaced a few weeks ago after 52 years hidden from sight. Living in the same household it never occurred to me when I left home to make sure I took this small piece of our radio beginnings and memorabilia with me.
There is already an excellent tribute out there by a long time radio operator friend Bob Ballantine W8SU. He finally unearthed dad's call after many years of searching and gifted it to me recently. Found in the files of Tom K8CX.
This story is focused on those beginning years of our radio station and the goodness of my father to help many into radio especially his daughter.
The year was 1957 and an exciting new world was about to unfold in my life. Our radio station consisted of a modest DX 40, a receiver purchased from a local radio store in town and the best part was the Edico electronic keyer with it's large bright red paddle. With this little baby, Bob developed a magic fist sending perfect code out over the air waves.
A comradery of friends developed into daily contacts and eventually visiting in each others homes. This all took place from a spot in our kitchen.
My dad used his radio skills and knowledge to become "Elmer" to a number of eager radio hopefuls. The most natural of which was his own daughter Margie the future K2UTS. He possessed a knack as a teacher and before long I had passed the novice test and carried the call KN2UTS. Simply thrilling making my first contact and meeting so many operators acquiring many new friends all the while practicing my newly acquired CW skills. That is where Bob Ballantine W8SU (back then W2RIE) came into the mix. We carried on many CW QSO's and both grew as operators and developed our operating skills. My dad mentored him and we all shared many happy times together when he needed a family life to fill that void in his life.
Dad was instrumental helping a co-worker Louise Kren K2PTV obtain her license and get her station up and running. Along with helping others he worked with me teaching the theory needed to obtain my general license. The required 13 WPM happened to be the easiest part for me. The theory was another story.
Ultimately the day came and we drove to the Court House in Philadelphia for THE TEST. A young 15 year old girl very nervous about taking the next step along side a father who was more nervous for her to succeed. He waited, paced the floor and smoke numerous cigarettes to get him through. Meanwhile I aced the code part and dug into the written section of the exam. Only due to Dad's excellent tutoring and time spent in preparing me I left the building that afternoon with my General ticket. So pleased I had not failed and let him or myself down as he was tops as an operator and I wanted to make him proud.
I spent countless hours and filled call books full of new found friends and contacts. The mailman was busy picking up and delivering countless QSL cards addressed to K2UTS. Our station located in the kitchen I spent many afternoons preparing dinner for the family and running between the stove and the radio. I mastered cooking and radio together every day. Got it down to a science talking and cooking at the same time.
My dad developed deep friendships with many and we traveled to Stony Brook, Long Island, NY to visit K2PTP Joe Crownover and his family. In turn Joe and his family would make a summer trip to their cabin in Pennsylvania. Our house would be the rest stop on that journey. They would pull in the drive tired, thirsty and hungry for a meal and friendship. We as a family drove to visit them taking along Bobby B. W2RIE with us to enjoy the Long Island sound and operate from Joe's radio station. Wonderful memories of happy times.
We also traveled to Pourkepsie, NY to visit another radio friend Minford Starr K2OJY and his dear wife Florence. They were on the elder side and Min struggled with his sending of CW. The red paddle Edico was to prove a godsend for him, my dad collected all the parts needed and built him a replica of that electronic keyer. He presented Min the keyer at a party in our home one summer. This was a gift of pure love and from the heart for his dear friend whose sending improved 100%. Needless to say Min was ecstatic and so were his future contacts on CW.
Another top radio man and engineer from Princeton, NJ near our home was George Leck W2POC. Bob and he were worlds apart in education and economic status but that did not matter. They were radio buddies and deep friends. George would come charging down our long driveway riding his Harley cycle with a warm greeting and smile on his bright red cheeks. He was such a cool old dude to me as a youngster.
A young Trenton police officer was a special friend K2UXN Joe Schnorbus. He took the photo of our radio station and me at the helm. I remember him bringing his police camera to do the photo shoot and brought us developed copies. I do not know why dad did not have his picture taken operating our station that day, seems a shame to have lost out on a photo where he spent countless hours of enjoyment.
K2LEM was a man of many accomplishments starting with his navy service to his country and earning medals for time served during WW2. He never saw fit to collect these badges of honor. Fifty years later due to my reuniting with Bob Ballantine W8SU that was about to change. We had discussions about my dad and the impact he instilled on a young man during his brief life in Trenton, NJ and who yearned for guidance which K2LEM offered him along with our family to share. Bob W8SU encouraged and explained how I could go about obtaining these precious medals which my dad so rightly deserved. I followed his guidance and now hold them proudly and will pass them along to honor a man who earned them with his service to his country.
A few years later I graduated High School and married a fellow radio operator K2PMY Walt Wenski.
Recently having this K2LEM card surface through the efforts of W8SU and K8CX Tom who graciously released it to me. I was totally stunned when I received it in the mail. Came as a complete surprise. At this time I feel I must mention so you can understand the significance of this card appearing in my mailbox. I became estranged from my father after leaving home and left those glory days of radio with him behind. I have no idea when he gave up his call license or what became of his equipment. Must of been a sad day for such an accomplished radio operator who was instrumental in starting so many in the radio hobby.
I have been able to come to terms with what life has dealt with the help of my dear long lost radio buddy and life turns full circle with Bob K2LEM helping Bob W2RIE and he now in turn helping me K2UTS work through all of these powerful memories of these good times in radio for us. I proudly write this personal story of a time when friendship, love and respect played a part in our radio lives and all it meant and stood for us fellow operators.
I proudly shall hold my K2UTS ticket and will do so until I become a silent key. I proudly hold the memory of K2LEM and all he stood for as an excellent radio operator. I am working towards establishing a radio station once again and pursue that wonderful realm of amateur radio CW where there are many more new friends to behold and places to learn about.
My heartfelt thanks to Bob Ballantine W8SU who has guided me along this journey of late and reconnecting to a part of my past which was a joy for me and pure music to my ears. Special thanks to his wife Pat KK8W for her understanding and patience with me monopolizing her kind husband's time in the name of old radio times of long past.
Added thanks to Tom K8CX for kindly giving me my Dad's card and his fine site for everyone to enjoy and keep radio history alive.
P.S. If anyone remembers K2LEM I would be happy to hear from you or better yet have one of his QSL cards please contact me through my E-Mail address MEWARENA@aol.com.
K2LEM Bob Singer was a member of
the U.S. Merchant Marine in WW2. He was a mate and deck officer.
He enjoyed cw in his spare time.
To hear Bob on the air, with his impeccable fist was a marvel to hear. W8SU
1914 - 1984
This was the station used by K2LEM / K2UTS in 1958
K2UTS Marjorie Singer Wenski, of Trenton NJ. Just a young teen with ham radio in her life. She was a great C.W. operator and now getting back on the air.
Also view this photo file!
Info & Photo courtesy of K2UTS, W8SU
Hamshack photo taken by Joe Schnorbus K2UXN in 1958
K2UTS, K2LEM QSL's from the estate of W7YFO
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