Early History of the Muscle Shoals Amateur Radio Club and W4JNB
(Edited recollection) of George Hoffmeister.

 

Whenever I see, hear, or use the Club call W4JNB, I wonder if I'm the only original member left who remembers the founding of the Club and getting that call. I was not only a charter member, but also the first custodian of the station.

I came to TVA in the Muscle Shoals area in May 1942, fresh from Rice University in Houston, Texas. I already had a Ham ticket, as I had gotten it in 1936 while still a high-school sophomore. (At the time, operator's and station licenses were separate.) I'd had a station at home, as W5GDD.  During the college years, the only contact I had with Ham radio was through local friend. By the time I graduated and subsequently move to the Shoals, the government had suspended all Ham activity.

During this time, I became acquainted with several Shoals Hams, including Phil Ewald, whom I credit with being the founder of MSARC. ( He was an Instrumentation engineer at TVA, and then later a physics professor at the University of Tennessee.) Since both of us were living in boarding houses, we sought a more likely location for a Club Station. Phil, being a vigorous promoter, persuaded the city fathers of Sheffield to allow us a southeast corner room on the second floor of the Municipal Building, which still stands to this day. I can still look up at this window nostalgically.

In order to have a Club station of course; we had to apply for a station license. For some reason I don't remember, I was the one who signed the application as custodian. Eventually we received the still current call sign, W4JNB. With license in hand, we needed actual equipment! I trekked to Memphis, where my parents lived, and retrieved my old SW-3 and home brew station I'd used as W5GDD. For an antenna, we strung a 60-foot Zepp diagonally across the roof. We fed it with home made 600-ohm ladder line, using the classic dowel-soaked-in-paraffin, which I hand dipped. The station worked well, and Ewald, others, and I spent many a happy evening operating. The place became a rallying point for local Hams. We began having regular meeting, and even some classed for newcomers. I do recall Louis Martin, of Sheffield's Martin Supply, Chester Young, and Ernest Bishop.

By 1948 I'd gotten distracted by other interest, and lost touch with the Club. About the same time, Ewald went to the University of Tennessee. The Club continued on, sustained by an influx of new members as the former ones fell away. I fell away from Hamming altogether myself, and let my license expire, until I got a new call in 1985. Somewhere during this time, the Club moved from the Municipal Building location, and my rig was returned to me. I stayed in touch with Wendel Wilhide and other local Ham friends and was pleased to know the Club call, W4JNB was surviving.  My hat is off to those who've kept the Club active and viable through the years.

(Editor note by K4NDL.  The call of the author, KB4PZO, of this recollection has been reissued to another amateur.)