[Back to Part I] [Go to Part III]
(In the last issue of the 'Butt we reviewed the historical background leading up to the formation of YCCC. The glory days of Murphy's Marauders in 1973-74 were described and the decline that followed which ultimately had led to the splitting off of some members of MM to form the NorthEast Contest Club (NECC) in early 1976. We left off with the election of K1ZM to the Presidency of MM in 1977, whose election to the office had been "tacit approval" by the membership of a plan to open a dialogue with the officers of NECC concerning possible reunification of the two clubs.)
A Dialogue Begins...
Almost immediately following the club elections, an informal working committee was formed within MM and given the task of opening communications with NECC. Over the air discussions among the parties had indicated a willingness within NECC to at least consider some new arrangement as long as there existed the legitimate prospect of creating a different kind of club at the end result of the deliberations - one that would be truly regional in its underlying charter and operation.
With that understanding in mind, an initial meeting was held in Worcester, Mass. at the home of Bob Czajkowski, WA1TAI (now N1TZ) and included Roger Burt W5UDK/1 (N4ZC), Jeff Bouvier K1LPA (K1IU), Rich Roth K1OME, Charlie Carroll W1GQO (K1XX) and Jeff Briggs WA2CLQ (K1ZM). (Apart from being sort of neutral ground, Bob's place offered some of the best cold cuts and beer around!)
The Meeting's Mission is Defined...
During the course of the meeting many former "grievances" were discussed but, only as a frame of reference as to what obviously did not work well before within MM. Generally speaking, it was an extremely positive meeting that had one very straightforward purpose. We defined our mission at the outset as a "what if" discussion aimed at seeing what it would take to again build a "super club" within the NorthEast, e.g.: what would the underlying framework need to be to make it happen? How might we define a charter that would be equitable to all concerned? How do you create a sense of purpose to make guys want to drive 150 miles to a meeting just to enjoy each other's fellowship and have fun competing with other big clubs - all at the same time? What would we need to do both to attract new members into the organization and especially new contesters who needed to learn the ropes as to what club contesting is all about? What should the implementation plan be and how should it be presented to the members of both NECC and MM for a decision as to whether to form the new club or not?
Key Elements of the Proposed Club Are Hammered Out...
Obviously, this was quite a laundry list of issues but all of them were given a fair hearing by the end of the afternoon. Fortunately Rich, K1OME, had brought along a draft charter which we used as a straw man during our deliberations. It was modified extensively in its final form but for the better, we thought, when we were done. In summary, then, the following outlines the basic framework that was proposed for the new club.
1) The club would be defined as a regional club.
2) There would be four meetings a year. These would rotate somewhat throughout club territory to be equitable to all the members - 2 meetings Worcester, Mass, 1 meeting either in West Mass or Eastern New York and 1 meeting in Hartford to be held at the New England Convention. (In those days, the NE Convention was held every other year in Hartford, CT rather than at Boxboro, MA)
3) Meeting sites would be selected at points as close to the Interstate highway system as possible in order to make it convenient for those traveling great distances to attend club meetings. Meetings would be held on weekends to maximize possible attendance. (Murphy meetings, believe it or not, were held on weekday evenings in various members' homes! It was good fellowship but mighty tough to do from 150 miles away!)
4) The club center would move North along the Mass/Conn border approximately equidistant from the club's two major population centers Hartford and Boston. The exact site would be determined later after studying the two clubs' rosters to see what might be done to keep as many members as possible within the 50 mile zone defined by the ARRL as primary club territory. (Members within 50 miles of the club center were not required to make 2 meetings a year in order to maintain ARRL contest eligibility - so this was a task that required careful analysis. To this day I still have in my possession a very "doggy-eared" map of New England onto which the various members' callsigns are plotted with two concentric circles indicating the 50 mile exclusion zone and the club's 175 mile territorial boundary!)
5) Members would be encouraged, but not required, to submit scores to the club aggregate. There would be no "chicken regs" in the club constitution; occasional participation elsewhere was okay.
6) An activities manager position would be created within the club to design meeting programs. "How to" programs, slide shows and membership participation activities would be accorded a high priority at club meetings. (This concept became the forerunner to the current YCCC "Contest University" program.) Over the air "mini-contest" practice sessions would be conducted weekly on a new club gathering frequency which was set at 3830khz!
(This, by the way, was the forerunner to the current 3830 kHz contest post-mortem gathering sessions conducted today. The YCCC local club gathering frequency has since been adopted as the national clearing house frequency for reporting contest results and determining "unofficial" bragging rights as to who won the contest!)
7) Summer "pizza & beer gatherings" and a club picnic (all unofficial meetings at that time) would be held all over club territory to keep members active and involved with the club in the contest off-season.
8) Regional managers would be installed throughout club territory to help collect scores, act as clearing houses for operators in multi-multis and to help with antenna parties, when required.
9) The club would host a hospitality suite at Dayton in order to gain as much national exposure as possible after its formation.
10) An attempt would be made to link 2m/fm repeaters throughout the club as a means of multiplier spotting in contests. (This was a twinkle in many minds' eyes in 1977. Nobody could even conceive what wonders packet radio would bring about within ten short years and what marvelous benefits it would mean toward keeping the club interested and involved outside the contests themselves! But, at least we knew we needed to have a club-wide spotting system of some kind, if it could be worked out!)
11) The name of the new club would be decided by all of the assembled members at the club's first meeting in order to be fair to everyone from both clubs.
12) Finally, the draft constitution agreed upon at the meeting and the minutes of the meeting itself would be reported in BOTH clubs' newsletters to advise the members of what had been worked out. Separate NECC and MM meetings would follow in about a month's time where members would be given a chance to discuss the proposal and then choose whether or not to disband the two existing clubs and form a new regional club!
The Fun Really Begins!...
From this point forward, Roger Burt and I held frequent discussions and we honestly felt we all had come up with a really good framework to present to our members. Roger believed the plan would ultimately be accepted by the NECC group once they had a chance to become familiar with the specifics. I was not nearly as confident about MM ratification because I knew there were very strongly held feelings among some members about remaining a local Hartford-based club.
It was decided that not only would the details of the proposal be set forth in the club newsletter, the Murphy Message, but an attempt would also be made to discuss it personally with every member of the Murphy roster in order to learn peoples' points of view and to lobby for a positive outcome. The process of how this was done, which was unique indeed, has never before been revealed. In the next issue we will describe it and the events leading up to what became a cliff-hanger MM meeting that was held at ARRL Headquarters on a snowy night early in 1977 to determine the answer. See you next issue!
[Go to Part III]