The Hobby

By Lee Daniel Quinn

Some 30 years ago, long before TV, the computer and the internet, people entertained themselves. Strange idea, but true!

One day Sam came home with a large package. He showed it to Mary, his wife of 20 years. It was a strange black box with dials all over the face. He explained that it was a short wave radio and, with it, he could hear people talking all over the world.

Mary wasn’t very impressed, but if it kept Sam busy and out of her hair on the weekends, it was worth it.

Night and day — and well into the night! — Sam sat, hunched over his radio, earphones glued to his head. He even missed the Fred Allen and Jack Benny Programs.

Every once in a while, Sam would grab a pencil and paper that he had by the radio and jot down the call letters of the station and noted the subject of the program.

Sam would write to the station, in Cuba, Belgium, or EVEN China and, after a while he would get mail back acknowledging his reception. These QSL cards were displayed with pride on the wall behind his precious shortwave radio.

One day, after one of Mary’s favorite programs, Kay Kyser and His College of Musical Knowledge, had ended, Mary asked Sam why he was always turning all those knobs most of the time.

Sam explained that many stations broadcast in languages other than English, so he had to scan the dial to find one that did so he could get another QSL card.

The years passed, Sam aged, and Mary still couldn’t understand Sam’s fascination with short wave radio.

On night, about bedtime, Sam was tuning the radio, when he got a sudden twinge of pain in his back.

“I believe I’m getting lumbago!” he exclaimed.

“What’s the use,” answered his wife, “You won’t understand a word they say.”

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