DX Stories by Paul M. Dunphy, VE1DX

(Believed to have not been published previously)


By Hugh Cassidy, WA6AUD

While the summer is often considered as the times for travel, vacations, antenna building and possibly even a bit of DXing in between, the recent months have not been good to many in the NCDXC membership list. Not by a wide margin.

A week or so back in on one of the occasional cool spells of this summer, we were contemplating doing some garden work, a bit of trim on the ragged edges that the bucks, three, four and five pointers, had left in their in their nocturnal browsing. And up around the curve of the hill came the local QRPer and he was coming fast. Almost at a trot. He had been reading the DXER and thinking. A most effervescent combination.

"Look", he started right off, "have you seen that article by N6AN in the July DXer. You know, the one about all the old men, all that stuff which makes it self-evident why amateurs address each other as "Old Man". Did you see it?

Of course we had. But what had excited this QRPer was not self evident. Maybe age is a relative thing, we could even recall when our daughter had declaimed that "...middle age starts at twenty-five". She has since changed her mind. But while N6AN had noted that all the young and restless were marked by their absence from the club, there was nothing offered to give a solution to what must be regarded as Darwinian natural progression. That being merely that the club has a multitude of members who are often heard to wistfully say: "Wouldn't it be just great to be sixty again?".

Maybe that was only part of the picture. In August W4RIM stands up and says that change is needed to end the long night of club stagnation. In spite of the long standing club tradition to talk at length and to let the world be guided by that spoken wisdom, Al thinks that perhaps it is a time for a bit of realignment and some rededicating and action. It was not long before we learned that that was why the QRPer was out in the mid-day sun. He had a plan.

"Age has nothing to do with DXing", the QRPer started off, possibly to throw us off guard, "it is more important to know the medians. Don't get hung up on the age factor, it is the activity that is important, activity and the Median. The sacred Median." The QRPer bowed, struck his chest with a fist and was silent for a moment.

"Medians are always the centerpiece and the cornerstone of any enterprise", he managed to say when he had regained his self control. "Have control of the median and a good cornerstone and you will be four-square on the right path. Absolutely." The Ruler of the DX World. Believe me!"

We believed. We really did not understand what he was saying but we believed. The QRPer sounded so in control of things that we had to believe. Who could be otherwise?. As one wise DXer once said: "DXers think in words. Wise words." We never could find a fault in that reasoning. The QRPer was not finished, however, there was more to come.

"The first thing we have to do", the QRPer continued, "is to first get rid in the club of that social problem that plagues modern society and which can be more and more recognized as a basic cause of the obvious inequity in the charts. Plainly put, the club has to move strongly against the Old Boy Nets. And this means moving against all those old timers with the big antennas, the big and often unbelievable signals, though always absolutely legal, and the unlimited time that they daily have to work the bands, all the long day long." The QRPer paused, then, with the humble smile of innate humility on his face, continued. "The ancient DX QSL ceiling must go. Take away their QSLs and you take away their arrogance. Anyone with an ounce of brains can understand that. The club is dominated, statistically that is, by the Old Boy Network. And it has always been. How many can even recall a young DXer showing at a DX Club meeting? Possibly not in the memory of any living club member. And what is the annual Visalia gathering but a rendezvous of old coots. Sometimes the QCWA gatherings look like a Boy Scout outing in comparison.

We had to hold our tongue. This one was striking rhetorical blows that were getting close to the unacceptable. The problem was, however, that we had the difficulty that often comes with the advancing years. All these young QRPers tended to look the same to us. We even were wondering what his callsign might be. Surely it was not a 1x2, not even a 1x3. We were thinking that it was more like a 2x4 or something likewise that some of the lesser blessed have to bear these latter days. Probably it was affecting his judgement. It certainly was not affecting his voice.

"Wait a minute", we interjected. "Are you implying that a DXer of advanced years should be handicapped. Handicapped rather than helped and honored. Is that your theme in all this?" .

"Of course not", the QRPer replied and later we had to wonder just what was his understanding of truth. "All I am noting is that the old buzzards have all the advantages, so many that I will not try to mention all of them. And my point is that there has to be a reciprocity, that those who are below the Median, those who are disadvantaged in DXing, have to have their needs recognized. Certainly that can be easily understood and accepted. It has to! It is the only fair way. Have you ever taken the time to find the median age of those on the Honor Roll? It would make the 59+ median age of the club members appear as we here were mere juveniles. DX was never intended to be the reserve of old geezers. After all, Marconi, who studied under James Maxwell, was but twenty seven years old when he set the DX record in 1901 of first getting a signal across the Atlantic. Why should we not again honor the work and the achievements of the younger ones. Would it not be a good move towards the much mentioned and advocated level playing field to disqualify for credit for the DXCC Honor Roll all the DX worked after one reached the age of fifty. Would that not help equalize the median? Wouldn't it?

That did it! This one was sounding more and more like a government agency which solves every problem with another onerous regulation. "Median, Hell!" we shouted. "What do you mean by 'Median'?" Median of what? Just what do you mean?

Did we get an answer? Perhaps we should have not expected one. With this one it was not a case of the past being denied, it seemed to be more and more a matter of the past being argued to deny the present. Everyone grows older. That should not be the basis for sanctions against the older DXers, most of who got to be where they are by starting early and outliving most of their contemporaries. It just was not right, not even fair.

"Median, median! What does that all mean?" We had hardly said the words when we knew we had lost. And lost badly.

"Oh", said the QRPer, "this is a two-part discussion. I'll get back to you next month. Then we will discuss the Mystique of the Median. Just keep thinking about it". And with that he was gone . . . gone without giving us a chance to ask just what the Mystique of the Median might be. No chance at all.

Years back at a radio meeting we were told that to seek DX once is always to have to seek it. But things were different back then and hardly like what DXers have to put up in these latter days. The Older DXers, that is.

And so we wait. If anyone can tell us what we are waiting for it would be appreciated if the word would be sent. Next month the QRPer will return, next month we will hear again about the Median. And next month will it again be another session with another of those whom we suspect barely understands DXing but are dedicated to working it. It never used to be like this.

Perhaps it is all the young blood that we allowed into the club in a weak moment. Or something other done in a moment of weakness. Something for which is now the hour of regret and our black night of despair.

'Median, Median". We will wait impatiently. And, as we once would say on the old XIT up in the Texas Panhandle: "This one was ridden hard and put to bed wet". For when DX truth is removed from DX history, the remainder will turn out to be a useless tale.

And that is not right. Wait for next month. You'd better--

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