Old QSL Cards – My Life As A G4

I just got back from a trip to my home country to see family. The trip was brilliant – I got to spend time with my Dad, my brothers and sister-in-laws, as well as one of my nieces, her husband and their daughter (my grand-niece.) It was a really enjoyable trip. The main reason for the trip was to see my Dad, who is now in a care home.  The family have been clearing out Mum and Dad’s home (Mum passed away a year ago), which was a monumental task for them; I am eternally indebted to them for that. Amongst the things that they unearthed was a small collection of QSL cards from QSO’s I had while licensed as G8RYQ and then G4IFA in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  The overwhelming majority of the contacts that I had in this period were on 2 meters FM for which very few QSL’s were sent or received, such is the nature of this band and mode, and unfortunately, my logbook from this period seems to have disappeared. All I have to remind me of QSO’s from this period are my sketchy memory and a handful of maybe about 100 QSL cards.

I’d love to have had QSL’s from some of my elmers and other notable locals with whom I communicated frequently on 2 meters, but usually with QSL’s you tend to seek cards from the distant and exotic stations and don’t bother to seek a QSO confirmation from Bert who lives down the road from you.

Even so, there were a few interesting ones in the bunch. There was this one from my first ever CW QSO, with UO5OBC in Moldavia:

I enjoyed looking at the QSL’s from the old eastern-bloc countries, as well as the USSR.  The design of the cards seems very evocative of that particular time and place in history:

They like their bears in Russia:

There were some QSL’s from countries that don’t exist any more:

I even found a copy of my first QSL, which I thought I would never find again.  The drawing was done by my eldest brother Martin:

Then I found a QSL which confirmed something that has been in my head for a while now.  A few months ago I signed up for a twitter account, and use it exclusively for ham radio twitters (in case anyone wonders why I never twitter things like  “New Beatles remasters sound amazing”, or “crank shaft on bike completely shot”.  I steer well clear of political comments also.)  One of the folk who subscribed to my twitter was G4GXL.  I remember thinking his callsign was vaguely familiar.  He wasn’t well known to me, but I had a feeling that I had met him before.  When I saw this QSL (with nothing filled out on it, meaning we had eyeballed) amongst the other old cards, I knew my hunch was correct; we had definitely met:

So Stephen, I’m wondering if you remember under what circumstances we met? I remember what village we were in, and the reason for the meeting.  My old callsigns were G8RYQ and G4IFA. If you don’t remember (and I don’t expect you to) I can give you a bigger clue which will almost certainly jog your memory.  By the way,  this old QSL of yours was pretty neat!

While I’m on the subject of QSL’s from other British amateurs, here are a couple from a husband and wife team, G4CHD and G4GAJ, Terry and Mary Adams.  If I remember rightly, I met them on 2 meters and cadged a ride to a local hamfest:

On the back of the card from Mary, she has sent me best wishes with my efforts to learn CW (I was a G8 at the time, licensed only for the VHF and higher bands).  I should let her know that after 30 years, I have finally learnt the code.  I got there in the end!

A couple more QSL’s just for fun – this time from shortwave broadcast stations. Happy Station was a show that ran on Radio Nederland for a long time, and Tom Meijer (pictured here) was the longest-standing host of the show.  In the cold war environment that existed in the world at the time, his show was a warm friendly place on the shortwave bands:

and one more for good measure:

Looking through these QSL’s (and the other 90 or so that were retrieved from my parent’s house) makes me a little sad that many of us don’t collect and send out physical QSL’s like we used to. Having these pieces of card and paper in my hand is more interesting and satisfying to me than if I were just looking at a confirmation generated by eqsl or LoTW.


One thought on “Old QSL Cards – My Life As A G4

  1. I’m reading your blog from my work QTH at the moment but some of those QSLs look very familiar – I think we may have worked 3 or 4 of the same stations from back then.

    Like you said, it’s fun going thru them not only for the memories they bring but for the sense of time passages (Al Stewart?!) marked by non-existing countries.

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