|History from W6AM to W6ZPL|
Since its inception in 1947, the Southern California DX Club has been the
premier DX club in the area. Some of the founding members of the organization were
not only pioneers in amateur radio, but in radio itself.
The SCDXC has a long and varied history including its remarkable 54-year relationship with the Northern California DX Club. In cooperation with each other, these two clubs have brought the DX community The International DX Convention, which is the benchmark by which all DX conventions are measured.
The following pages just scratch the surface of the history of the SCDXC. These pages are in the process of expanded and we need your help to do this. If you have stories about the club or its members, pictures, or any historical information about the SCDXC please e-mail the Webmaster and he will be sure that your stories and pictures are added to the site.
Before the United States entered the great war in 1941, Los Angeles was
an arid and spacious collection of orange groves, oil wells and movie studios.
It was spread out in the Western tradition of trails and brush and a pioneer
could establish a hacienda, and raise up a family. Not to mention a couple'a
head of horse. Uptown, in Hollywood, Gable and Lombard worked the crowd at
Ciro's. Courts of tiny, stucco bungalows accommodated workers within
walking distance of Gower Gulch, the rough and tumble claptrap of
independent movie studios.
America was recovering from the great depression. The average family couldn't afford to go to many movies, but they could listen to the radio. Broadcasting boomed, radio manufacturers flourished and wire antennas were as plentiful as the TV conicals of the `50s. A boy could build a one-tube regen receiver and wonder at the signals arriving from far-off places.
The smell of hot cambric insulation and ozone was perfume to the amateur radio operators of Los Angeles. By day, they paved the trails, strung the high tension wires, created automated telephone exchanges, photographed the pulchritudinous passionatas of the movies. By night, ran up the filament rheostat and reached into the ionosphere.
Pearl Harbor is pretty damn close to L.A., the government ordered the filaments off for the duration of the war. The Compton Gas House Gang went to Europe and the Pacific and Africa and the Aleutians. When they returned, Los Angeles was a different place.
The aircraft and defense business, Lockheed, Douglas and Hughes eclipsed the city like the shadow of the Spruce Goose. The G.I. Bill allowed returning servicemen to establish their homesteads, and they fanned to the San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel, Long Beach to plant their stakes.
No longer corralled, the DX hands were spread across the growing landscape. Poor operating practices were a result of the isolation, and a guy could no longer amble across the road with a handful of parts to help a kid clean up his signal.
In 1947, the Southern California DX Club drafted its charter in a garage, vowing to uphold and enhance the values of DX, and to improve operating practices of local mavericks who irritated the DX Hombres like a sudden seat on a cactus.
During the great depression, Clifton's Cafeteria never turned a hungry Angelino away. It was not surprising that they would later donate their upstairs room for the DX Club meetings. Many an intense discussion originated in the stairwell leading up to the meeting room.
"I had a beef with this guy on the air," says Gene, K6OJ (then W6PUY). "He said he'd find me at the meeting and clean my clock."
"This Hombre turns around and there's ten guys wearing W6PUY QSL cards. The Compton gang stuck together."
The rivalry between the Northern and Southern California DX Clubs wasn't as physical. Club members pooled their contest scores, and the trophy bounced back and forth. Around 1948, the two clubs sought a place to present the trophy and swap a few tall tales.
The tradition continues today: the Visalia DX Convention, hosted by the Northern, Southern and San Diego DX Clubs. The convention has been held in Visalia, Fresno, Las Vegas, San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, etc. "Who could forget Frank Cuevas, W6AOA, the official convention `Toastmaster'?" Recalled honorary member Al Friedman, K6YRA. Cuevas, who normally tended the counter at Henry Radio, would spring to the podium, white dinner jacket flapping, his cheeks crimson with the cheer of good fellowship.
The 1950s were not entirely the Happy Days. There was the police action in Korea, the McCarthy hearings, the cold war and cultural conflicts about television, rock and roll and smut in the movies. The 50s began with an abysmal solar low.
Powerful transmitting tubes were readily available surplus and no self-respecting California ham shack was without a huge cabinet adorned with meters, a big Variac, and a pair of welding cables connecting a pole pig transformer. "I had a coupl'a those big, beautiful jugs," muses Art Enockson, W6EA (then W6MUB).
During the 1952 World-Wide CW DX Contest, some Owlahoot blew the whistle. The Federal Communications Commission parked a panel truck a short distance from the unsuspecting operator. After taking a field strength reading, an agent knocked on the door. If the reading in the truck changed, they knew the operator had been cheating. "I was ready for `em," said the late Roger Mace, W6RW, "it was just that I was so rattled when they came to the door, I couldn't do anything!" Mace never got over the intrusion.
Even without the California Kilowatts, club members got their share of DX during spectacular radio conditions of the late 1950s. The DX club boasted many elite DXers, among them the venerable, lanky, aloof Don Wallace, W6AM; the quietly competent Ted Gillete, W6HX; inseparable friends W6EE (K6NA/W6IBD) and W6RR (W6ITA); Dave Bell, W6AQ; Charter Members Bill Adams,W6BA (W6ANN); Eimac's Bill Orr, W6SAI; NBC's John Knight, W6YY; and many others.
The 1960s were a time of peace and love and the Southern California DX club reached out with an expanded club BULLetin. "We had some great sketches of our members. Every story was fascinating," says Frederick (Jerry) Hagen, N6AV (now AD4MQ).
SCDXC made alliances around the world, granting honorary memberships to Lloyd and Iris Colvin, W6KG and W6QL; Martti Laine, OH2BH; Kan Mizoguchi, JAIBK; Franz Langner, DJ6ZB, and other prominent DXers.
The mellow 1960s saw the Southern California DXers brush off the trail dust and hang up their spurs. The ME generation of the 1970s placed great value on material things. The club began to use some of the income from the conventions to further the pursuit of DX. Regular contributions were made to the Northern California DX Foundation, and various worthy expeditions. The meeting place moved to the Department of Water and Power Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles.
The prestige of the Southern California DX Club grew during the 1980s, with members on ARRL's DX Advisory Committee and on the boards of foundations, museums and awards. Dick Norton, N6AA, headed for the Middle East and Asia; Don Bostrom, N6IC, went to Clipperton Island; Gunnar Ohlson, W6YB put rare African countries on the air. Alan Kaul, W6RCL, operated from Jordan. Glen Tillack, W6KZL, confirmed the DXCC Honor Roll mobile! Shel Shallon, W6EL, the in-house propagation guru, wrote MiniPROPTM (now W6ELPropTM). The chance to interact with accomplished DXers caused the membership to swell to over 250.
Today, the club boasts dynamic leadership, an active contesting contingent and a large percentage of members on the Honor Roll. Worries about operating practices have shifted from local to international, and the pledge of fifty years ago to further the art of DX-ing continues to be fulfilled.