Radio Spans the Generations

Memories can both bless and burn, and though the following words were written back in the 1980’s the power of ‘what happened’ is still the same.  Hope you have or are making some of the same kind of memories.


         Now, there’s no way for you to know that my husband, AW, was a radio Ham* and that WR, one of our sons is also one.  It’s a great hobby and a Ham will spend hours happily sitting at the dials, ‘chinning’ as they say, with people all over the world.

         So WR called me the other day and said, “Hey, Ma, something neat just happened.  I was on the air and when I finished with the fellow I was talking to, began twirling the dial to see if anything interesting was going on.

          “All of a sudden I heard someone calling me and, when he signed off, I recognized him as W7NMK,  Ray Larsen, one of Dad’s old pals and of course, I answered him.

          “It was great, my son told me.  Ray said he was turning the dial, not really listening, but when he heard my voice, he said his insides turned over.  The years vanished in one breath, and all of a sudden AW was back on the air. Yeah, there was  W6ITW  ‘chinning’ away again.  It gave me quite a turn.”

           “Of  course, in a second, ” Ray went on, “I knew it had to be you, but for a few seconds I was actually disoriented and wasn’t really sure where or when I was.”

           My husband died about ten years ago and it  had been quite a while since his voice has been ‘on the air’.  So when someone answered a call, just because he ‘knew’ the voice sounded like AW’s, it engulfed me in a round of memories.

          He had many good times in his old radio ‘shack’ talking to people around the world, and it pleases me to know that my son does the very same thing, but, in a way it hurts.

            Yes, W6ITW and W7JYI, the station call letters of AW’s rigs, sent out thousands of CQ’s .  He had a powerful station, reached far and the friends he made were many.

            Radio Hams you see, are a breed apart.  They sit over their dials, hamming away,  the world is theirs, and the friendships they made, although rarely ‘seen’, are real.

            I received letters for over two years after AW died from far away people who had just heard of his death and wrote in sorrow, saying they’d wondered why they  hadn’t heard him on the air waves.

            And Ray Larsen had good reason to know AW’s voice, even through the voice of his son, for he’d been a friend of AW’s ever since he’d been a teenager, and all through their ham radio years.  Ray was close again as AW became a Silent Key, and then served as a pallbearer at my husband’s funeral.

             I used to wonder how memories could both bless and burn, but life teaches and I wonder no longer.  I wouldn’t change one second of the delight my son gets as he hams away, but it’s sad to know that the remnants of the old ITW station, which still remain down stairs, has signed its final ‘over and off.’

(Hams are Amateur Radio Operators)


Copyright 2012 Ethel Ohlin Bradford


The Birds In My Yard

Welcome, Come on in, and hope we ‘speak the same language’. . .

My words were titled “Out My Window” and this is my winter view.  But the door is/was always open and my mind?  Oh, my  mind traveled inwardly as far as I dared, and outwardly?  As near as my next door neighbor and as far as the other side of the world.

Oh, it was so long ago, and  yet as I look “Out My Window” I smile to know I’m looking out the same window, at the same fields, except what was then pasture is now a Golf Course.  But the descendents of those birds I wrote about care little what we humans do with the land, just so we leave them their space.  And that we have pretty well done.

But changes have come, for the young lads who  liked to chase the birds with their BB guns and crossed the field and entered Gram’s home so casually are now men and, if it weren’t for the one who lives next door, there would be none of my books or this blog.

So . . . as I laughingly told my sons back then, “I knew there had to be some reason for keeping you.”

From Out My Window… by Ethel Ohlin Bradford

When the weather becomes bitter-cold I always wonder how the birds are getting along.  Around my place I can say, they’re getting along fairly well.

Early each morning as I eat my breakfast I look out across open fields, orchard and pasture.  From far down in the meadow I watch a file of pheasants making their way from one clump of tall grass or bush to the next one.  I see them so plainly against the white snow and they follow the same path each day.  Their goal is always the same.

Slowly, by roundabout way, they climb the hill, move through the orchard, on into a long row of old lilacs and, cautiously at first, but then more assuredly, they move out in front of the garage and back porch of my Gram’s.  There they reach their goal.  There is their supply of cracked corn, wheat and table scraps.

Thoughtful, loving hands see that the ration is always there.  And the word gets around for the pheasants have hardly lowered their heads to feed when from out a row of pyracantha a covey of quail appear.   They all eat peacefully, hardly noticing each other.

I began counting them the other morning, but lost count when dozens of snow birds, some magpies and a few starlings appeared.

They all each greedily, but are very much on guard against any humans who might appear from the house close by.  They little realize that the very human they fear is the one who so patiently and faithfully feeds them each day.

Table scraps, especially suet or bits of fat meat and nuts are loved by them.  The fat gives them the heat and energy so needed these cold days when their normal supply, the field mice and gophers, are huddled deep below ground to keep themselves warm and alive.

The birds that gather each dawn by Gram’s back door are friendly breeds, living in flocks, and if you see one you can be sure there are others nearby.  But there are other birds who go their way alone, preferring the solitary state, it seems.

Such a bird is the woodpecker.  I watched one recently and as he crawled up the trunk of a tree I at first thought it was a small cat.  His coloring was the same as the mottled bark and he was huddled close to the tree trunk with his head and beak stretched upward.

He was exploring the underside of every protruding bit of bark on the tree, where bugs would naturally hide to gain some protection for the winter and he knew it.  He snaked his way up the tree, clinging close, winding around about, until he reached the very top branches and then slowly flew to another.  Beginning again the tortuous crawl up that tree trunk, too.  He ignored the grain laying close by on the ground, preferring the bugs he could find hidden in the crevices of the tree. 

How do the wild things get along in the cold? Any way they can, for studies show far more are lost from winter’s exposure than are ever killed during the hunting season.

Why not forget your disposal for a while and toss your scraps neath bushes and trees in some protected corner.  The birds will appreciate your largess, your children will be entranced and it might be the difference whether some birds live over the winter or not.

Copyright 2012 Ethel Ohlin Bradford



Ying and Yang

Welcome, Come on in, and maybe we’ll find we’re friends . . .

My words were titled “Out My Window” and this is my winter view.  But the door is/was always open and my mind?  Oh, my  mind traveled inwardly as far as I dared, and outwardly?  As near as my next door neighbor and as far as the other side of the world.

In this column I tell how a friend and I decided to join those wise Far Eastern people and get our Ying and Yang back in balance.  The test, using of the whites of our eyes told us we needed help, and with cooking and eating good brown rice, we’d be new people within  a week or two.  Just rice?  New people?  Balanced Ying and Yang? Yeah, and,  what else is new?


From Out My Window… by Ethel Ohlin Bradford

Well, just as I nearly got my Ying and Yang in proper balance, I gave up.  Weak Willie, that’s me.

Oh, I know how important some Orientals say this bodily balance is, but when the third day on Yinging and Yanging arrived, I said to heck with it.  I was happy before I ever heard of it and I’ll be just as happy without it.

Now, if you don’t know about Ying and Yang, let me tell you.  Unless you have such balance (‘tis said) you can’t have perfect health.  Mentally, physically or emotionally.

But, by golly, if I’d done any more such balancing, I wouldn’t have been either happy or healthy.  In fact, I was so sick of it all that I thought I was going to upchuck right there in my own dining room…all over my own carpet.  Just one more bit of Ying and Yang food would have done it, too.  Egad.

Now, to find out if your Ying and Yang are out of balance, look at yourself in the mirror at eye level.  There should be white showing on two sides of the iris.  If there is white showing under the iris, you are out of balance.  Two white sides, good, good, good.  Three white sides, bad, bad, bad, and you’d better get your diet back to basics and correct it.

The only diet to get you off the teeter-totter of imbalance (they say) is the correct proportion of Ying and Yang and that’s mighty hard to do with our western diet.  You are advised to go back to the ancient perfect diet of rice.  Unpolished brown rice.

Cook it in water, like any rice, with a small amount of salt and chew each bite 40 to 50 times.  Add no sugar, milk, fruit or honey.  Nothing but unpolished brown rice.  No coffee, tea, soda pop, vitamins…nothing but that dang rice.

A friend and I began it together, thinking we’d be strength to each other’s weakness.  The first day was ‘a piece of cake.’  Eat, eat, eat, whenever hungry.  Nice, fluffy, wholesome, perfectly balanced rice.

The second day wasn’t too bad, either.  I thought of how healthy I was becoming and smugly watched others ignorantly eating all the horrible un-Ying and un-Yang food.  The third day, though, began to tell on me.  I longed for a cuppa coffee.  For a smidge of spice or sugar on that bland rice.  I could almost taste fruit juice and began hurrying past all food for fear I’d just reach out and begin eating.  Anything but rice.

The evening of the third day I again stubbornly sat down to another bowl of that rotten stuff.  I began chewing away but it stuck in my throat and I thought I’d wurp it up right then and there.  I took a sip of water to wash it down and cursed as I took still another mouthful.

I cussed it.  I fought it.  I argued.  I told myself how healthy I was becoming.  I shamed myself over how weak willed I was, and then…suddenly I said to heck with Ying and Yang.  I went to the freezer, took out a container of homemade soup, whapped it in the micro and in ten minutes was in bliss.  The sheer bliss of eating food.  Food that wasn’t rice.  Food that had a taste.  Food, food, food.

I dreaded telling my friend, but I needn’t have worried for the next morning a call came inviting me to lunch so that together we could throw out the sickening rice diet and eat.  I accepted gladly but had to admit that I’d already tossed out my Ying and Yang stuff the night before.

So we sat facing each other eating, tasting and drinking with no care whether the food was Ying , Yang or neither.  And enjoyed every bite.

Ah, I suppose I’m still out of balance, but who cares?  Not me.

Copyright 2012 Ethel Ohlin Bradford