DX Legends Remembered

Gus Browning, W4BPD

The Legendary Gus Browning, W4BPD, of Cordova, SC

by John Peters, K1ER

The last time I saw Gus was probably a year before he died. I drove up to Cordova, SC from Charleston, SC and took him to lunch. He was a fine gentleman.

Gus really was poor as a church mouse. He lived off the land and made friends with the locals everywhere. In his shack in Cordova most of the gear was home brew. I think his only source of income was "The DXER Magazine" and stamp sales to collectors. He turned out the magazine on a little printing press and made a little money from other printing jobs, e.g. cheap QSLs. He was a wiry little guy and it is true that the staple of his diet on expeditions was Coca Cola. Gus even developed a taste for Yak Butter while traveling in 9N, AC3 and AC4. If the natives ate it, he would eat it. Gus traveled by bumming rides. He made friends and stayed with the new friends. He carried his radios and bottles of Coca Cola.

This was all before the days of DX Cluster, packet, or Email. The travels of Gus would be related word of mouth, or by phone call, or the WCDXB in its time. People just had to listen. Gus would appear on his favorite frequencies, e.g. 14105 and call CQ. The first one to hear and work him would spread the word on 2 meter AM and the sessions would begin.

Gus would walk! In a country like 9N1 or AC4 or AC3, he would join a caravan going in the direction he wanted to go. Load the COKES and radio on a camel or donkey and walk . . . making friends all the while. I don't think Gus ever had money. He would pay with a smile and show the natives how a radio worked. In exchange for a place to stay.

I suspect in those days the licensing was slightly different, somewhat less formal, much easier. Make friends with the King, go on the air. If on a sandbar in the Indian Ocean, make up a call and go on the air. Gus would just catch a ride with native fishermen, a caravan, anyone. Ask where you are when you get there, or if it's an empty reef, ask the fishermen.

I don't know how many countries Gus put on the air, but I've got lots of cards from Gus in my file drawer...those were good days for DXers. Life was slow but the excitement level was high.

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