Early Amateur Radio in the Temple Area
Looking through the various old TARC archives, I found this bit of history.
Being one of the few survivors, I have been asked to write about the first radio club in Temple.
It was formed in the spring of 1932 when I was with Texas Power & Light and was transferred from Dallas to Temple, bringing along my new bride, soon to be W5DQF. The Great Depression was just easing off. Several local hams met at my house and decided to form a ham club of the fellows in the Temple area. We called it the Cen-Tex Amateur Radio Club. Besides myself, the Temple hams included Jess Coleman, W5LM; Bill Purkins, W5BXV; Dub Caswell, W5??; Irvin and George Peters, W5??; Red Amsler, W5AKA; Loy Hawbaker, W5BGV; and Jack Letlow, a future W5. Belton was represented by John Bloomer,W5BEQ; Harry Austin, W5AHZ; Dempsey Burton, W5ANM; Leslie Box, W5DCH; and Buddy Armstrong, W5??. Bill Reed, W5AMW, was the sole ham in Holland then. Neither of the two or three inhabitants of Killeen was a ham! For lack of a good candidate, I was elected president of this bunch and Bill Purkins was secretary/treasurer. We met monthly at the ham shacks of the members. Our dues, when collectible, were 25-cents a month. Programs consisted of the minutes of the last meeting, old and new business, and a bull session. This was of little interest, of course, and the C.T.A.R.C. died a natural death in a year or two.
I think a word about the more active members is in order. Jess Coleman, W5LM, was an interesting character, to say the least. His rigs at that time consisted mostly of old junk from broadcast receivers, but ol’ Jess could make the stuff work. Those who did not know Jess really missed something. He would dead-head with a local ham to some ham convention in Texas, and if his ride was not overcrowded he would have Jess for a roommate that night. The next morning at breakfast, on about his third bottle of beer, Jess would shake up the beer and squirt some in the coffee of several hams if they weren’t watching–much to the amusement of those he didn’t catch. On the plus side, you could depend on Jess to help you with an antenna job no matter what the weather. Jess was a real character and I suspect there is still a warm place in the hearts of those who knew him best. He passed away in his sleep in the late ’60s. John, W5BEQ, of Belton was an outstanding CW operator, and still is when you can get him on the air–about once a week. Later he went to work as a CW operator for American Airlines in Fort Worth. Harry Austin, W5AHZ, was a young’un in Belton High School and was a very good CW prospect. He got an EE degree from A&M and a business degree at Harvard. He was picked up by his uncle of Brown and Root in Houston and had an interesting career with them in the U. S. and Europe. Still living in Houston, Harry isn’t on the air much. Bill Reed, W5AMW, was an ardent 20 meter fone ham who worked many DX stations in Europe on his homemade beam just outside his window in Holland. Bill Purkins, W5BXV, and Dempsey Burton, W5ANM, were also phone hams. As for me, I have always spent most of my time on 40 meter CW. I guess this covers most of the active hams in the old club. In the late ’30s, TARC sprang up, which is another story.
— 73, de Merrill, W5AMKMerrill Eidson, W5AMK (SK),