[Go to part II]
Our club reached a significant milestone last year when it celebrated it's fifteenth birthday. Since many of YCCC's current members were not around (or even active contesters in 1977), it may be of interest to learn about the early history of our contest club. This is a project I have been meaning to undertake for some time, so I am glad to finally see it through to fruition.
YCCC was formed in 1977 through a merging of the North East Contest Club (NECC) and Murphy's Marauders. (MM you say Jeff, how can that be? Isn't there a Murphy's Marauders Club in existence today?) Yes, there is, but it is a second generation club - the original MM club ceased to exist when YCCC was formed and quite a number of the original MM members are still YCCC members today including K1AR, K1DG, K1XX, K2TR, K1ZM, K1RM, K1RX and others.
Although memories fade over the years, those who were direct participants and principals at the time remember, I am sure, just how YCCC came into existence. And, it was an arduous and sensitive undertaking. To understand it all, one must go back to about 1973-74 when it all really began.
In these years, the MM club was in its heyday and, as a very new Hartford, CT based club (only about 3 years old if I remember correctly), it was the only real game in town as far as contest clubs within New England were concerned. As a consequence, its members were drawn from all over the Northeast and included the Boston area crowd as well as a good number of Eastern New York boys. Murphy's, at the time, had over 120 members and actually won the SS club competition in 1973, followed by the ARRL DX Test club competition in 1974.
At the time, Murphy's was really something and I can still remember coming to my first MM meeting in 1973 and seeing the callsign license plates parked out in front of Roger Kaul, W1FLM's home in Glastonbury, Conn. It was really awe-inspiring because one after another there they were - virtually the entire top ten in the preceding year's ARRL DX Contest - K1VTM, W1BGD/2, K1THQ, WA1KZE, WA1PID, WA1KID. When one actually got into the building you were then privileged (and I truly do mean that) to meet and learn from other notables like WB2OEU, K1JHX, W1ZM, W1FBY, K1ZND, WA1ABV, WA2LQZ, W1GQO etc. (Although some of these guys are not active today, many of them still are under their present calls which are W1RM, K1RM, K7GM, K1RX, K2TR, K1ZZ, K1AR and K1XX.) Without elaborating further, if you've ever felt like you just walked into a room and were among a group of the GODS, this was what it was like and membership among that kind of a group was truly special indeed!
Unfortunately, those glory years did not last long for MM and, within two short years, a few of the key spark plug guys like WA1KID, WA1PID and W1FLM had moved away, W1BGD/2 had resigned from the club and, with almost incredible speed, club meetings that used to draw around 90 attendees were only turning out 20-25 diehard members. I won't try to affix an exact cause or blame, but it happened and there was considerable discussion among the club at the time as to whether MM should continue trying to be a super-regional club or, alternatively, turn its focus inward and become what it was fast-becoming anyway which was something akin to the Greater Hartford-Area Radio Club.
These discussions continued through 1974 and 1975 and as time wore on, the club continued to drift. Little effort was made to try to keep the Massachusetts and New Hampshire crowd in the club (although it was suggested several times by what was the minority faction within MM) and all the while, meeting attendance began to drop further still. There was even an attempt around 1975 to kick K1AR out of the club for participating at a PVRC multi-multi conducted at W3AU. (Murphy's actually had a by-law on the books that said you could be removed from the club for contributing toward another competing club's aggregate score. Since this is exactly what John had done, an attempt was made to enforce the by-law.) After much heated discussion (the most memorable coming from K1DG), the motion was narrowly defeated. By now the club had become seriously divided and, as we all know, "a house divided against itself cannot stand!"
During early 1976 the Mass/NH crowd decided they had just about enough and elected to break away and form their own club. This was what became the North East Contest Club and its first (and only) President was Roger Burt, W5UDK/1 who is now known as the "zeppelin commander" or N4ZC.
Shortly thereafter, the 1976 club elections were held within MM and believe it or not, no-one really wanted to run for the office of President. Morale had hit absolute zero. Sure, many had strongly-held opinions about virtually anything and everything - but nobody really wanted or even seemed to care much about making the hard choices that would be required to turn the club around again.
In the midst of that scene, yours truly stood up and volunteered to run for the office of President - but upon one and only one condition. And that was simply the following. If elected, an immediate attempt would be made to meet with the club officers of NECC, form a task force and see what could be done to rebuild a super-regional contest club again within the New England/Eastern New York area. Members were advised at the time to understand exactly what they were voting for. The agenda to be undertaken, if elected, would be to work with NECC, listen to their issues and probably, make some compromises that would be necessary to recognize the contributions made (e.g.: points to the club aggregate) by the East Mass/NH contingent.
This meant, when you actually got down to brass tacks, that the proximity of meeting locations would have to be made more accessible to members traveling great distances, the club center might have to be shifted North of Hartford to be fairer to all the club's members and by-laws that shaft people, like the notorious "K1AR-affair", would have to be re-drafted to foster inclusion rather than exclusion which, in the final analysis, was totally counter productive to club morale and the generation of winning club scores.
Actually, it was a pretty clear choice. One could either vote for more of the same which, by then, had clearly demonstrated that it was no longer a viable program or, alternatively, compromise and try to find a formula that would return the club to its former position as a competitive force to be reckoned with in ARRL and CQ/WW club competition. To say that this was an emotionally charged issue is the understatement of the century. There were many within the old MM club who really wanted to run the club as a local Hartford area club, with meetings being held in various members' homes and who didn't give a hoot about competing with FRC or PVRC anymore. And, on the other side, there was a group who wanted to be a part of something more.
In the final analysis, that particular night and that election wasn't the real decision at all. The really hard choices would come later and so, running on a platform of "change", whatever that might bring - which would have to be voted on by the members "en masse" anyway according to the MM by-laws, yours truly was elected the new (and last) President of Murphy's Marauders - a group composed of some of the finest operator talent and also some of the most competitive contest stations that then existed in the country.
Getting elected turned out to be the easy part. Getting the job done was anything but and was fraught with pitfalls and land mines everywhere. Nevertheless, a small core team from BOTH clubs were determined to make it happen. In the next issue, we will review who they were, how the plans unfolded and the process undertaken that gave YCCC its birth. See you then....!
[Go to part II]