August 1931 QST
How well received do you think this social concept would be in today's easily offended world: "To bring together socially the Wives and Mothers of Dallas Radio Amateurs; to promote mutual sympathy, counsel, and interest in our husband's and our son's hobby; and with a realization that theirs is an outstanding, fascinating, far-reaching and educational hobby, it is our desire to further their interests in whatever way may present itself." It would be roundly criticized as a backward, misogynistic, 1930-era mindset intended to subject women to yet another form of domestic slavery beyond housekeeping and child rearing - no doubt thought up by a man. Anyone thinking so would be right in one aspect: It was a 1930s-era idea. However, The Wives and Mothers of Radio Amateurs was the brainchild of and orchestrated by wives and mothers who genuinely desired to foster the productive and educational radio communication hobby of their husbands and sons. Some even eventually joined in themselves. The ARRL then, as today, expends much effort attempting to proselytize women and girls into the hobby not as moral support but as licensed operators. In fact, according to the YLRL (Young Ladies' Radio League), it was an advertisement (more of a call for interested parties) in the May 1939 issue of QST that started it all. They're still going strong today.
A New Organization of Much Interest and Many Possibilities
By Clinton B. DeSoto*
We have YL's and XYL's - married and unmarried, active, ardent pursuers of the art of amateur radio. We have YW's and OW's, filling and rounding out the universal aspect of our hobby.
But most numerous and most important of all to the great body of amateur radio are the RM's and YF's, those possibly inactive but entirely indispensable adjuncts of the average ham station. Unheralded and unsung, despite their evident if indirect interest in all things pertaining to the station with which they are associated - intense interest indeed in all the joy brought by those foreign DX cards, all the glory of that high traffic total, all the pleasure of that workmanlike hit of station equipment - they provide a wonderful, comfortable setting for the activity of the air.
Unheralded and unsung, did we say? Too bad.
Something should be done about it - by someone. And it has - by the radio mothers and station wives themselves - by a group of them down in the forward-looking Lone Star State.
Around the first of this year inspiration began stirring in that region, began surging and boiling around thoughts of just what this thing called amateur radio could mean to those whose footsteps it dogged daily without assuming the proportions of a personal interest. By February some of the Wives and Mothers of Radio Amateurs in the cities of Dallas and Oak Cliff, Texas, had determined to see that question answered, and they decided to organize a club under that name.
It wasn't to be a radio club, or even an auxiliary of a radio club. A social club, then, much the same as many another such group, but possessing the very perceptible difference of a fundamental membership requirement which provided that a prospective member, to be eligible, must be either a RM or a station YF; a club limited to, and yet outside of the amateur radio family.
Mrs. Frank M. Corlett, wife of the West Gulf Division Director, started it all - and who could do it better than the station YF of a member of the League's governing body, an old-timer among old-timers? She has been elected President, with other officers as follows: Vice-president, Mrs. Louis Peine, of W5AE; and Secretary-Treasurer, Mrs. Thomas R. Gentry, of W5RG. Mrs. Corlett, of course, lives at W5ZC.
From the Constitution of the club we learn that the name is officially decreed to be "The Wives and Mothers of Dallas Radio Amateurs," and that the objects for which it is founded are:
"To bring together socially the Wives and Mothers of Dallas Radio Amateurs; to promote mutual sympathy, counsel, and interest in our husband's and our son's hobby; and with a realization that theirs is an outstanding, fascinating, far-reaching and educational hobby, it is our desire to further their interests in whatever way may present itself."
After a few semisecret gatherings in which the plan was tentatively broached and thought out, the first official meeting was held on February 19th in the form of an entertainment and buffet supper to which all the amateurs of Dallas were invited. This served the dual purpose of instituting and announcing the organization, and was celebrated with talks by Mrs. Corlett, President Richard C. Harris of the Oak Cliff-Dallas Amateur Radio Club, Assistant Radio Supervisor W. I. Abbott and Director Corlett. Readings, chalk talks, and musical selections including a vocal solo and renditions by the Oak Cliff Civic Commercial Band, entertained the party. The success of the event can be gauged by the statement that supper was served to more than 130 guests.
Meetings were thereafter held simultaneously with the monthly sessions of the Dallas Amateur Club, but recently the interval has been lessened and the wives and mothers meet twice monthly. Membership in the club is about on a parallel with the number of active amateurs in the vicinity; during the past four months it has wavered between twenty and thirty. Merely a start, of course, although a marvelous one for such a new idea.
And that last remark seems to us an adequate commentary on the whole plan. There is, indisputably, need for such organizations as this. It has been the experience of Dallas amateurs that a common bond of radio companionability sprung up in their families as quickly as the club got enthusiastically under way. It is that experience which makes logical the proposal of a national order of the Wives and Mothers of Radio Amateurs.
Fellows, there's a thought to bring into your own homes. Let's see you do some missionary work along these lines in your own family and radio circles. Affiliated clubs, and others, how about getting a wives' and mothers' club organized along with your own, not necessarily as an auxiliary, but as an independent and worthwhile entity. Initial organization and plans can be based on the Dallas club's success, with individual groups branching out into any of the fields into which women's social clubs regularly venture.
"Teacupping" has been an integral part of diplomatic amateur radio ever since the 1927 Washington conference. It seems likely that it has a place here, too, with a communion of family radio interests being reached over the afternoon teacups and evening suppers of ladies associated with amateur radio.
* Assistant to the Secretary. A.R.R.L.
Posted April 29, 2016