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Handiham History: Early membership certificate
Image: Early membership certificate for Handihams. Image scanned by N0SBU.
Quick: tell me what happened in 1967.
If you said, "that's when the Handiham System was started", you would be right.
Okay, so that is 42 years ago. A lot has happened to the Handiham System in all that time. In other words, the program has a lot of history. There have been amazing stories of handiham members who accomplished extraordinary things in spite of many personal challenges. There have been outstanding volunteers who gave thousands, even tens of thousands of hours in support of the program. There have been dedicated and caring handiham staff members who devoted their lives to the program.
One thing there hasn't been is a compilation of handiham history, but we are going to start chipping away at the edges of that problem.
It all started one day last week when George LaValle, N0SBU, asked me a question about the Winter Hamfest that we used to have in Faribault, Minnesota each December. Even though I had several of those hamfests to my credit, I couldn't really remember all that much about it. One memory I do have is that of myself and several volunteers loading an old Courage Center bus with what seemed like tons and tons of donated electronic and amateur radio equipment and then having to drive the bus through the sleet and snow out of the Twin Cities and down Interstate 35 to Faribault, a small city in southern Minnesota that was the home of the Winter Hamfest. We would arrive late in the afternoon the day before the hamfest and stay at a hotel nearby. That evening, we would have a pre-hamfest banquet at the restaurant next to the hotel. The bus sat out in the parking lot in the sub-zero freezing weather all night long. You can bet that that bus was hard to start and stiff as a board early in the morning when we had to coax it back onto the road for the bumpy, creaky, slow drive to the hall where we still needed to set up all the tables and get things ready.
Fortunately, the hamfest was a popular one and many hams from around the area showed up early in the morning to make quick work of unloading the bus and distributing the gear onto the tables. The downside of all of this extra help was that the equipment went this way and that way and seemed to end up all over the place at random. Power supplies would not necessarily stay with their rigs, so there was always some sorting out to do. Still, we were glad to get the extra help and those who helped us set up the tables always liked to get some idea of what goodies would be for sale once the doors opened up for business. As with any hamfest, we also had a few outside vendors.
Believe me, a hamfest is difficult to put on. If it weren't for the dedication of Handiham volunteers, we could never have pulled this off for so many years.
Of course, like many other things that have happened over the years, the Winter Hamfest is now history. It's part of a history that we really haven't documented. Now, thanks to the volunteer efforts of George, N0SBU, we hope to start sorting some of our history out. George and I made a trip to the basement at Courage Center, where we ferreted out two big boxes of handiham memorabilia. These include photos and Kodak slide carousels full of handiham history. There is even a "logbook" made especially for a guest sign up at a convention in Des Moines, Iowa from the 1980s. The cover is made of wood, which makes it the most realistic "log" book that I have ever seen!
I hope you will keep watching the weekly e-letter and the handiham website for more news and photos from handiham history.
Here is a special note from N0SBU:
Hello from N0SBU, George the Second Base Umpire of Hugo, Minnesota.
Pat has asked me to go through all of the old documents in storage and see if I could put together a brief history of the Handiham hamfest auctions. I went over to the office to see Pat and picked up two large boxes of documents and pictures. I sorted it out on a table in my basement here at home.
Briefly, after the Handihams were associated with the Courage Center, they had what were called "White Elephant Auctions". In what I have looked at, I assume they were held at the Courage Center, as they refer as having them on the "patio". These were fund-raisers to get money to buy equipment for the members.
Later it is noted that surplus equipment was sold at "Mid-West Amateur Radio" until that place went out of business.
That is about all I have for now. In my spare time I will go through this stuff in more detail and report back to you.
I remember going to the auctions in Faribault. Later they were at the Courage Center for three years. After that, all equipment that couldn't go to members directly went to the Amateur Radio Consignment Center to raise money for the program.
Do any of our readers out there have any more detail about the years that all of this took place? This is what I am looking for to add to our history.
Thanks and 73 from N0SBU, the Second Base Umpire of Hugo.
You can write to George care of email@example.com if you want to add to the Handiham history. Please put Handiham History in the subject line.
Patrick Tice, WA0TDA