Received an email from a ham who's still "on the air". It brought to mind my days of hamming, and the interesting contacts I made...some even in person - "eye balls", as they were called.
One in particular was quite interesting, though it wasn't until a few years after the "eye ball" with this fellow, when I read of him in a book about Admiral Byrd did it become unique.
It all came about when I was invited over to the USS Glacier for a beer party on the ice. It was December of 1963 - summertime in the Antarctic - McMurdo Station to be precise. I was Chief Mate on the USNS Towle, an MSTS freighter delivering supplies for the Station. Just three ships - the other being the Navy icebreaker Burton Island.
As it was, and probably still is, alcoholic beverages could not be consumed aboard Naval Vessels, but could be enjoyed off the ship, in this case the ice of McMurdo sound. Eight feet thick at the time, it was plenty sturdy for any endeavour, even beer drinking.
Of course there was more than beer - special services providing Jim Beam for the serious imbibers. It was in the "evening", though day-light was twenty-four hours long, and quite pleasant - the sun shining. In fact, there were puddles here, and there on the ice. A few of the crew from the Towle came over, but not too many, so civilians were in the minority at this gathering. I already knew the First Lieutenant of the Glacier, as he was a ham also, and we had QSOd ( conversed ) over radio at times before.
It wasn't long before the spirits took effect, and things began to "warm" up, but then the "supply" began to dwindle, but before the "good stuph" was gone, the First Lieutenant stuffed a 40 ounce bottle of Jim Beam under my parker, and suggested a few of us repair aboard to the Glacier's "ham shack".
"You're a civilian, and a guest...they'll never search you.' he said.
Well...they didn't, and we continued the "party" in the comfort of the Glacier's ham shack.
This party thrown by the Glacier was between Xmas, and New Years...it had to be because on those evenings I was busy at my own station patching the Towle crew home to their families, but nevertheless the holiday spirit prevailed...in the warmth, and subdued light of that "shack" things got "merrier". The radio was on, hams from other places around the world were joining in with us, the mike making the rounds between us.
It was during all this hamming joviality I met Amory Waite...an older gent...very distinqished looking in his full-grown beard, and the center of interest for us there, and those in QSO on the radio, bringing the past into the present with his stories of Admiral Byrd, Little America, and the Antarctic.
My only regret is my belated realization of this interesting "Radio Operator", when by chance I read Admiral Byrd's account of his rescue by Amory, and two others in his book "Alone".
There's one thing for a ham to make contact with a notable ham such as Queen Elizabeth II, Barry Goldwater, or the Shah of Iran, but to have met one in an "eye ball" is something else again.
As the party broke up, Amory gave me his QSL card, and pointed out to me "Cape Waite" on the card. "Admiral Byrd named a cape after me!' Amory said.