W8VYZ 1941 Youngstown, OH

This is the famous AMer "Ashtabula Bill". In 1941 he lived in Youngstown and later moved to Hubbard, and then to Ashtabula, Ohio.

Here is Bill at his vintage AM station. Bill had a black list under the Viking 2 transmitter. Most oldtimers had a black list, stations they had a feud with, didn't want to work, didn't think much of.

Bill in his earlier years! He has always been active on the AM frequencies of the bands. I went to Antigua in 1999 to operate the 10M contest as V26X. During the week I was there, I decided to go up on 7.290 Mhz and make a few AM contacts. Ashtabula Bill was my 1st AM contact!

"Ashtabula Bill" W8VYZ in his vintage hamshack.

Yikes! Only Bill knows how to tune this one! Ohio Folk Lore tells that different stages of his transmitter were located in different parts of his basement. Walk at your own risk...

Bill is a die hard AMer. He has been immortalized with collectable items. His famous saying has brought him recognition; "There ain't a slop bucket in North America can bother me". A slop bucket is a SSB station.

There were pin back buttons, coffee mugs, t-shirts and even a lunch bucket with his picture and famous saying. I believe the only item available now is the coffee mug.

Life towards the end of the run! He kept going...

Ashtabula Bill became a SK on Tuesday, September 27, 2011. He was 86.

Email from K8MFO:
While I never met Bill, I can relate to him 100%. My ham radio beginnings were at the time of the initial "AM vs. SSB" battles! The Upper Peninsula (of Michigan) had a lot more hams in 1958 than they do right now, and well over 90% of the activity was on 75 meters AM PHONE. My Dad and I knew virtually every ham in the U.P., as they were a very close knit group -- 3920 was the gathering points for folks -- they had daily nets -- actually they still do, with the frequency now 3922.

I knew of only two hams with SSB capability -- one was Doc Bertucci - W8FHY, from Ishpeming, using the Collins "Gold Dust Twins" -- he was on the "social fringe" and made only occasional appearances in the "Land of the AMer". The other "Quacker" was Bill - W8FCT in Palmer, using home brew gear. Man how he could splatter -- he was commonly known as W 8 Foo Chung Tau, but he could take it all in good humor. There were some very rigid stands taken about "SSB Never, AM Forever", probably similar to the "SPARK vs. CW" battles of 4 decades earlier.

My first exposure to SSB was at the Munising, Michigan hamfest -- must have been 1959. Terry Sternam - W9DIA had just founded Amateur Electronic Supply within the past year or two, and he enjoyed the U P Hamfests. Interestingly enough, Terry was about 19 when he had the ambition to establish something as risky as a national company. At any rate, he drove up to the hamfest in his big black Cadillac, fully equipped with one of the very first Collins KWM-1 transceivers. Think he had a Webster Bandspanner antenna mounted on the bumper. He sat there and worked DX on a lousy band. Very impressive! Many years later at Dayton we talked about that.

My Dad was tutored into ham radio by two hams with whom he worked in a copper mine -- when they learned he had been a combat CW operator in WWII, he had to get a license in self defense, and I followed a year later. When Dad bought his first SSB rig, a National NCX-3 from AES, one of his ham partners in the mine would put a clothes pin on his nose when he talked to Dad! A couple of years later, though, when he went to SSB, he never told anyone! That guy, W8DCD, holds USACA #25, which would have been a lot harder in those days than it is now. He also gave me my Conditional license exam. The original DCD is now a silent key, but his grandson holds the call -- in grandpa's memory, he too worked all USA counties.
This is a long and windy way to say ....
"Rest in Peace, Ashtabula Bill. I never knew you, but I know I would have liked you."
73, Don K8MFO

QSL courtesy of W9JEI, W4JEI, K8CX Collection
Photos courtesy of W8SU
SK announcement courtesy of W8SHR
Email courtesy of K8MFO