Many organizations attribute their establishment to some need that could be fulfilled by a group of like-minded individuals acting in concert. Such was the birth of the North Jersey DX Association and the ARRL Second District QSL Bureau.
The ARRL QSL Bureau System was organized in 1935. Hank Yahnel, W2SN ran the Second District Bureau from his home in Helmetta, New Jersey for over 20 years. Frank Huberman, W2JIL, from Brooklyn, New York, took over the operation in 1955. In the following two years, the volume of cards was steadily rising but the cards were not being distributed with reasonable promptness. Many DXers had not received cards from the Bureau for six months or longer. Dissatisfaction with the operation of the Bureau increased and it became evident that a change had to be made.
The summer of 1957 was, perhaps, a fertile time for the gestation and birth of an organization that would bring together a group of central and northern New Jersey DXers. A mutual interest in DX was the primary moving factor in the creation of the North Jersey DX Association. Not far behind in importance was the desire of this group of DXers to take over the operation of the Second District QSL Bureau. Membership qualifications included membership in the ARRL's DX Century Club and a willingness to participate in the work of sorting and distributing DX QSL cards. At one of the early meetings of the newly formed NJDXA, it was agreed that a letter would be sent to John Huntoon, the General Manager of the ARRL, requesting that the club be recognized as an official ARRL club while at the same time, expressing strong dissatisfaction with the operation of the Second District QSL Bureau and offering to undertake that responsibility in a more efficient manner. Preliminary telephone conversations between John Huntoon and NJDXA Vice President Urban LeJeune resulted in a meeting on October 4, 1957. Frank Huberman, W2JIL was invited to this meting. Plans were developed for the group operation of the Bureau involving a preliminary sort at a central place from which cards would be divided into twenty-five letters (no X) of the alphabet and these cards to be distributed among the membership with each member handling one or more letters. Frank Huberman agreed to turn over all of the physical assets and components of the QSL Bureau to representatives of the NJDXA. Led by Howard Wolfe, W2AGW, a caravan of cars and a pickup truck hauled more than 100,000 cards and files from Brooklyn to the home of Ted Dames, W2KUW in North Arlington, NJ. It was noted that no funds representing credits as recorded on file cards, were received as part of the transfer. There were several thousand stamped and addressed envelopes, apparently dating back to the Yahnel operation, constituting a file of usable envelopes. These were used for the first two or three months until money for credits was received to defray the cost of new postage.
In 1959, the Bureau operation was moved to larger quarters as Frank Policastro, W2LPE offered a portion of his radio repair shop in Hillside, New Jersey for the QSL Bureau. Within two years, due to his expanding business, Frank was obliged to request that the Bureau be moved once more.
A committee was formed including Frank Frisch, W2JVU, Sam Rubinstein, W2BOK, and Hal Jaffe, W2TQC and charged with the task of finding new space for the initial sort for the QSL Bureau. W2TQC offered space in his home in Neptune, New Jersey and the Bureau was moved there. The new Bureau address, Box 303, Bradley Beach, NJ was obtained. This change was first noted in the July 1961 issue of "QST."
A period of stability for the QSL Bureau followed the move to the home of W2TQC. However, due to his job-related travel, W2TQC requested in 1965 that the Bureau be moved again. A new committee comprised of Hal Jaffe, W2TQC, Earl Lucas, W2JT, and Wil Angermeier, W2MJ was appointed and charged with relocation of the QSL Bureau. At the same time, the position of Bureau Manager was taken over by Bob Boulle, W2OKM.
In September 1966, the Bureau was moved to the professional building in Ridgewood, New Jersey where Dr. Joe Anderton, W2GNQ, had his office. The move took place in February of 1966 and on April 1, Dr. Anderton reported the satisfactory operation of the Bureau in the new location. Unfortunately, only one month later, Dr. Anderton, W2GNQ died while on a trip to Europe. His replacement was Vic (Digger) Ulrich, WA2DIG. The operation continued with Digger as Bureau Manager and was maintained at the Ridgewood professional building until May, 1970. At that time, Arnie Freeman, W2YD (formerly K2SUX) offered space in his home in Whippany, New Jersey for the preliminary sort. This eliminated the rental of space at the Ridgewood building and it provided much needed help with the first sort by Arnie, W2YD, Joe Painter, W2BHM, Tex Sweeny, W2DXX, George Wright, W2GW (formerly W2HZY), and Lynn Hulin, W2GZZ. The Bureau address remained Box 505, Ridgewood, NJ.
The "Digger" ran the QSL Bureau as if it were his own business. He made all the trips to the post office, responded to subscriber queries and maintained accurate records of money and credits. He issued reports to each of the Letter-Managers on a monthly basis and, single-handedly, he did the preliminary sort of every card that came through the Bureau. At this time, the Bureau was still located in the North Arlington professional building. In order to save the rent and to avoid the trips Digger was making, the Bureau address was changed to Box 8160, Haledon, NJ, close to Digger's home. After completing the first sort of the cards he picked up at the post office, Digger met his new assistant, Ron Levy, K2AIO (now K2CO) at a shopping center on Route 46 in Totowa, NJ. Ron brought the cards to Arnie Freeman's (W2YD)house where George Wright, W2GW, Joe Painter, W2BHM and Arnie Freeman,and Ron Levy would complete the second sort. Late in 1979, Arnie announced that he was retiring and moving to Tennessee. The Bureau was then moved to the home of Ron Levy, K2AIO (now K2CO) in nearby Morris Plains.
In 1981, after managing the Bureau for 16 years, Vic Ulrich (Digger) retired from the Bureau. Joe Painter, W2BHM was named Bureau Manager. This was when the Bureau address was changed to the present PO Box 599, Morris Plains, NJ. The new address was published in "QST" in January, 1982. Joe and Ron handled all of the preliminary sorting and paper work associated with the Bureau.
A number of changes were made to the operation of the QSL Bureau around this time. First of all, the computer age had dawned and the Bureau operation lent itself perfectly to computerization. Starting out with a Commodore-64, Ron and Joe created the first Bureau database. It became easier to maintain records and to create form letters that could be sent to subscribers. Monthly reports were automated as well. The Bureau assignments were revised and a group of Primary Sorters was established, At first there were 10 Primary Sorters each of whom took home a grocery bag full of cards. Their job was to sort these cards alphabetically by suffix and bring the sorted cards to the next club meeting for distribution into the Letter-Managers' bags.
Joe Painter remained Bureau Manager until 1988. When Joe retired, Ron Levy, K2AIO (now K2CO) was named Bureau Manager. By this time, the multifaceted job of Bureau Manager was simply too much for one person to handle. With club authorization, two Assistant Bureau Managers were named. First was John Maikisch, K2AZ who assumed the duties of data entry and new credit reports. Bill Rawson, K2AX was the distribution facilitator. Bill mailed packages of cards to our remote members and supervised the distribution of sorted cards to each of the Letter-Managers. In 1999, when K2AZ moved to Maine, the data entry was taken over by Fred Hoffert, NA2U. Fred's job change allowed little time for QSL Bureau work so Fred handed his job to Bill Inkrote, K2NJ. Bill was our database manager for about 2 years until his untimely death in 2005.
Effective January 1, 2005, Ron Levy retired as Bureau Manager. Doug Rue, W2EN accepted the Bureau Manager responsibilities. In order to maintain a degree of stability, Doug and Ron decided to keep the Morris Plains address for the Bureau. Ron agreed to continue picking up the cards and mail and to handle the data entry. Once or twice during each month, Ron meets Doug at a convenient place off Rt 287 to transfer the mail. Doug is handling the card distribution and he responds to questions and problems posed by subscribers. Gene Ingraham, N2BIM, CFO for the club and for the Bureau handles all the subscriptions, bookkeeping, deposits and disbursements.
A number of modifications have been made to improve efficiency and reduce the burden on each individual. Almost all Letter-Managers are computerized. The preliminary sort is now handled by 12 Primary Sorters and these cards are sorted twice. Our QSL Bureau Web Site has recently been updated and remodeled and we are now able to bring on line the PayPal system through which you may subscribe or renew a subscription on the Internet. The transactions are handled through a secure site so there need be no concern about the privacy of your credit card account numbers.
The volume of cards handled by the Second District QSL Bureau has steadily risen over the years. It now exceeds one-half million.
This is Doug Rue, W2EN, our QSL Bureau Manager. Doug is retired and serves once more as Chief of the Country Hills Volunteer Fire Department in Bridgewater, NJ.