W8KTZ St. Joe's High School Radio Club
---Ham Radio Club Member recollections growing out of the 50's, 60's, and 70's

"Is there any evidence of the Radio Club left these days?"

--a visit to the VASJ Open House October 15, 2006--


Mike Cegelski K8EHP with wife Mary KC8YLC, and Bob Leskovec K8DTS met at the VASJ “Open House” Sunday October 15, 2006 to see if they could find some vestige, “no matter how slight,” of the Radio Club, which various reports indicate may not have faded away until around 1975.

Even though St. Joe’s was merged with Villa Angela some years ago to become VASJ in order to survive, the student spirit demonstrated that day was not only more than they expected, it could not have been any more positive and enthusiastic!

The old Radio Club room on the second floor had since become a training kitchen, and that day it was buzzing with activity as the students cranked out fresh pizzas baked from scratch to serve to the visitors.

Meanwhile, touring the old bookstore they learned that back issues of Year Books can be viewed and even purchased for $25 each via Matt Orgovan (morgovan@vasj.com) who is editor of the alumni magazine. Cegelski seized the opportunity to replace his long-lost issues.

Next, they made sure to locate the “key” man for any visit of this sort, maintenance man John Stankiewicz, “the man with all the keys”!

John is a great guy, and after hearing the story about they were there, let the trio into places like the old biology lab on the 3rd floor, and more importantly the old darkroom next door, where Mike Stimac and his helpers spent many hours developing all the film and photos they took of the club activities and putting together the collector montages they made for the club displays.

The darkroom was still intact! --looking now as some haunted museum, frozen in time, with all the enlargers, trays, safelights, and associated gear, untouched in many years! It was easy to see why, because no one would have much use for the odd triangle-shaped room and the equally odd-angled entry hallway. And as digital photography has rapidly overtaken the old “silver-based” darkroom chemistry, one could guess that perhaps it was still used to some extent up to 2001 or so.

Bob got all excited when he spotted a disassembled beam antenna piled on the floor of that hall. Was taken from the roof? Was it one of the club’s old antennas? Mike quickly realized it could not be so, because it had band-selective “traps” on the elements. He reminded Bob that all the “beams” made back then were “monobanders.”

OK, but that raised another form of the excitement, namely why is there a “newer” antenna on the floor? And why was also a very clean empty carton from a recent ICOM R-73 receiver sitting on the table?

A little later, they checked in at the main office to locate the present leadership and express their thoughts, and outline their plans about the 50th anniversary of Sputnik coming in the Fall of 2007, and their idea of first building up a website. And as luck would have it they ran into Brother Dave Murphy KB8KUM, who is the student counselor. It turns out that he brought the beam antenna up from the University of Dayton, with the idea of possibly building a ham station there once again!

He did not know anything about the ICOM receiver box, but thought that the Director of Technology, Paul Naujoks, ‘68 might be the man to ask. Paul was not to be found during their visit that day, so the questions would wait for another time.

As they went around a couple more times, they looked at the old cafeteria and band room which are still in the same place. Back on the third floor, again they could only look out the door to the lower roof next to the biology lab where Brother Carroll J. Wentker kept some of his “wild” animals including, in her retirement, “Eloise” the infamous rabbit used by Dave Mazi, K8DUD and Mike Cegelski K8EHP in their Science Fair Project attempt to see brain waves. Bob recalled a time when he saw that Brother Wentker had that area all “landscaped” with dirt and turf and many planters. The animals were able to run around freely. (Bob also recalled that at some point Bro. Wentker had to get rid of them. A few years later he came home one day while attending JCU and suddenly discovered his mother had adopted them to a new home in their basement!)

For liability reasons they were not permitted to go out and climb the steel ladder to the top roof where they many times had worked on the antennas. So there was no way of knowing if the heavy bases that held the antennas were perhaps still there. But Bob had a thought. Tony Bacevice WA8FYW ’66 is learning to fly helicopters and perhaps one day he could fly over for a look-see! Of course, since then the Google air view has become common, so it is easy to "fly over" and check out the roof any time you want.

Down outside, they crossed over and visited the old shop building which is now much brighter, and mostly occupied with an excellent wood shop and a computer service training lab. But the “auto shop” room is still there, with its numerous bins and shelves full of old carburetors, starters, and generators from 50 years ago! It is still used to teach students about the newer “alternator” systems, which finally became available starting in the 70's, and how to diagnose and repair brakes.

So although our visitors could find no vestige of the radio club from back then, not even a bracket screwed to the wall, seeing the darkroom area untouched, and those artifacts in the auto shop, still made their day!






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