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Recollections of Edward Ansell (W9PSA in 1941)

Archivist Note: This page was constructed using several sources submitted by Ed.

Prior to WW II I was a "ham" radio operator (I still have the Hallicrafters "Sky Buddy" my father bought for me in 1939) with the call sign W9PSA. By the time I graduated from high school in the Spring of 1943 at age of 17 I had acquired a First Class Commercial Radiotelephone Operator license. After brief employment as an engineer for local broadcast stations I was hired as an operator at WAS Duluth, owned by the Lorain County Telephone Co., where I was employed through October 1945. This employment enabled me to work full-time during most of the shipping season and attend my first and second years at what was then Superior State Teachers College (now the University of Wisconsin-Superior) in Superior Wisconsin.

In the Winter, when the Lakes were frozen over, I worked on weekends. I can't recall doing much except calling Sault Ste. Marie Coast Guard on Channel 51 for a weather  report and then reporting to a local bush pilot, Nick Niemi so he could decide whether to fly the mail to Isle Royale. After sweeping the floor, I was free to study.

WAS provided radio communications services on a 24/7 basis because of the constant flow of Great Lakes freighters carrying, among other cargoes, iron ore from the Mesabi Range to the steel mills in the Midwest and East. In addition to broadcasting weather reports, two or more times, daily, we stood watch on Channel 51 (2182 kilohertz) the International calling and distress frequency. When a ship called in on Ch. 51, we would move to a working frequency, (probably one of those listed on the  1968 WMI card submitted by Ken Bobel), We would then connect the caller through a local Bell System telephone company operator to the number requested and operate the station radio equipment during the call. As I remember, we also did occasional maintenance on the transmitter.

My original supervisor was Melvin (Mel) Werking , who left to return to Port Washington WI in 1944 and was replaced by Al Klopp from WAD, Port Washington. The personnel during my time there were: Mel Werking, Al Klopp, Clayt Toms, Lloyd Horton (who was also played string bass with the Duluth Symphony), Jim Scott (who serviced ship installations) and a night watchman, at least part of that period, by the name of Jake Hittler !!!!. I have no recollection of a Dale Grimswood or Dorothy Wolf as being associated with the station from 1943 through Oct. 1945. Don Heisner of Lorain made occasional inspection visits and it was my understanding that he was the Chief Engineer of, at least, the Coastal Harbor Station operations of the Lorain County Telephone Company.

Below is an image of the front of my Waterfront Pass identification card. On the reverse it shows me as being 18 years of age, and an issue date of July 5, 1944. It was required of all persons associated with shipping activities. It also entitled me to a gasoline "C" sticker for my 1942 Plymouth in the Summer, and a "B" sticker in the fall and winter.

The only other fact of significance that I can recall is that in the late Fall of 1945, just as I was about to leave to continue my under-graduate education at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, JIm Scott was installing the first VHF sets on boats. They were made by General Electric.

Except for 7 years as an enineer for the F.C.C, and 18 months at R.C.A., my working life as a lawyer was far removed from radio communications, but now retired at age 87, I am considering the possibility of again becoming a "Ham" operator.

1944 Picture Identification card for Ed Ansell

Edward O. (Ed ) Ansell 
July 2013

Archivist note: Ed had a long career as a lawyer with little further radio involvement. See: Edward O. Ansell Obiturary

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