Club History

Marc Miller, K4ONF

In the mid 50’s there were few Hams here, Jimmy Land, W4BDH, Clifford Deere, W4BMM, (both licensed in 1932), Harvell Holmes, son of Lester Holmes  (a senior at CHS),  the caretaker of the Cullman water pumping station east of Hanceville, Fr. Ronald Viegl,W4FHH of  St. Bernard and a Rev. Mehrtens, the pastor of a local church.  I do not remember their calls.

About 1955 Ray Prolsdafer, W4CRY, moved here from Mobile after marrying the daughter of a local lumber yard owner. He was managing the lumber yard and was a member of Army Mars.

I was News Editor of the Cullman Times-Democrat and did a feature article on him for the paper.  In doing that article I was bitten by the bug and proceeded to seek out ways to get my license. Ray told me Clifford Deere could assist me in getting the study material I needed.

I knew Clifford and Jimmy because they had done maintenance on my household appliances at Deere Electric.  I also knew Doc Stewart of  Stewart Radio and TV because he had worked on my radios and TVs from time to time. Clifford obtained the study material for me and I had talked Doc Stewart in studying with me and we built a couple of code practice oscillators to send code to each other. After a couple of weeks Jimmy Land administered the Novice Test to Doc and me.  Doc received his license first, KN4DLW, then I received mine, KN4ONF.

It wasn’t long afterwards that Lester Holmes became interested since his son, Harvell,  was going away to college and he wanted a way to communicate with him while he was away from home.  He talked his brother Douglas into studying with him and both getting their licenses. We all pitched in to help them and that same year Douglas was license as KN4PLO and Lester was licensed as KN4PNK.

For the next several years we all did some upgrading and visited each other, built homebrew and modified military equipment and did some operating together. Most of us obtained military surplus equipment such as the ARC5s and used them for CW stations.

As a matter of fact Clifford and I were the first to operate Two Meters in Cullman. We both converted two old military surplus aircraft radios and Clifford built each of us a two-meter ground plane antenna out of  a water pipe cap with the radiator screwed in the top and four radials screwed in the side of the cap. We communicated across town then began talking direct to another two-meter ham in Oneonta.  That was long distance with about five watts and a ground plane antenna.

Several of us had joined Army MARS and in the early 60’s Army Mars furnished a  two-meter repeater which was the first two-meter repeater located at the water tank at Vinemont. MARS also had a six-meter repeater located at Springville in St. Claire County.

Some others had begun to express a desire to get into Ham Radio and needed help in getting started.  In early 1964 we began talking about forming a club to promote Ham Radio and provide some organized training for those who might become interested.  We had also become interested in Field Day and other activities Clubs were enjoying in counties around us.

The new courthouse (at the present location) was almost complete and county officials were already moving into the finished portions.

In the Winter of late 1964 (November) or early 1965 (January) six of us held the first organizational meeting of the Cullman Amateur Radio Club.  The meeting was held in an unfinished section of the courthouse on the second floor where District Judge Chaney’s Offices and Courtrooms are now. I say it was November or January because it was really cold at that first meeting.

Present at the meeting were: Clifford Deere, W4BMM; Jimmy Land, W4BDH; Doc Stewart, K4DLW; Lester Holmes, K4PNK; Doug Holmes, K4PLO; and Marc Miller, K4ONF.  We voted to form the club and elected officers. Doc Stewart was elected President but I do not remember who the other officers were but it may have been Clifford Deere as vice-president and Doug Holmes as secretary-treasurer.  I am not sure of the last two.

We held several meetings in that part of the courthouse until after its dedication in July of 1965. After the dedication we had to vacate meeting in that section of the courthouse because they started finishing that section for court facilities. Clifford was Civil Defense Communications Officer and he made arrangements with Civil Defense Director Bob McGukin for the Club to start meeting in the Civil Defense Training Room.

We held our first Field Day that year on the mountain in Blount County just southeast of Garden City.  Field Day during the next few years was hill on a farm with a high hill just north and to the left of the four-way stop at Eva.

Our social club meetings were held at Lorenz Restaurant which is now a Chinese Restaurant next to Firestone.

During the late 60’s and 70’s, the Club was responsible for helping greatly increase the Ham population in Cullman County. Clomar Pruett, AC4C, was not living here at the time the club was formed, became a very active member shortly after the club was founded.   He and Jimmy Land headed up the training program.

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