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Portraits of Volunteers

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John Ellsworth

VCRM: I’m interested in hearing about your background, how you began collecting old radios and how that lead to the radio museum.

JE: I was a public school teacher and I was teaching technology education, and saw myself as a wood shop teacher and a drafting teacher. And a couple years into working at Southington High School they asked me to teach electronics which I knew nothing about. So I started learning very, very quickly and kind of got into electronics and enjoyed it. So as time went on and I developed a little bit of knowledge I used to go out tag sailing and flea marketing all the time and I saw a little old vacuum tube radio sitting at a flea market one day and picked it up for five bucks thinking I would take it home and fix it with my new-found knowledge. And I did and got it working and that was my first mistake!

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Ed Sax

Interview

IEd Sax, September 24, 2015 talking about his background & work experience:

VRCM: Ed, I’m going to ask you to “bare your soul” and just give me a quick biographical sketch of you, your profession, some of the things you’re proud of in your accomplishments…

ES: Well, tell you what. I’ll go back to college in which I majored in sociology under Talcott Parsons. And then on graduation went over to Europe to work with a group called the Winant Volunteers. That involved doing social work in London. After that I bicycled around Europe.

VRCM: What year was this?

ES: This was 1950. One of our volunteers was Ann Rockefeller and several years later she invited all of us to their residence in on top of a hill in Tarrytown, overlooking the Tappan Zee Bridge. And that was great fun. By that time I had acquired a Lincoln Continental convertible, so I was properly equipped and so… (laughs) Sometimes I look back and wonder if that would have been a good opportunity to go from where I was working – the unlikely Sikorsky Aircraft – to possibly doing something in New York. But I enjoyed my work Sikorsky Aircraft.



Ed Sax’s 90 th Birthday Party at the Museum June 15th 2019 - Ed’s family provided the party and all museum volunteers were invited.


 
 
Bob Allison

Bob Allison

Bob Allison

Well, I grew up in Glastonbury, Connecticut. I’ve always been a big fan of radio ever since I was sick with the chicken pox at age five I discovered AM radio and listening to WHYN up in Springfield. It came in real good on this little transistor radio that I had and I was hooked and soon I was listening to WDRC and all the top hits. My brother and sister were older so they had an influence on my musical tastes which were advanced for my age. So yes, I really liked listening to the Beetle’s latest hits in the mid-sixties and I sort of evolved with the music… with my musical taste.

I always had an affinity for radio and you can imagine the joy I had one Christmas when I was maybe about 12 years old that I got my first pair of two-way radio CB walkie talkies. Now, to me, two way radio was very, very exciting and my friend Peter Knight – who is also a volunteer at this museum – I’d give him one of my walkie talkies and I would take the other and we’d see how far we could talk to each another with the ultimate goal of spanning an entire mile. Mind you, these were rated for one-quarter mile and well, we soon discovered that we could modify the antennas on the walkie talkies and make them talk farther by attaching wire! And soon we were able to communicate from one house to the other. And Peter was using his dad’s barbeque grill – the grill of the cooking surface – hanging on the side of his house as the antenna. And it worked! That was the best antenna he had that worked very nicely until Peter’s dad had to do some outside grilling and said “What the ---“(laughs) and saw the grill on the side of the house. Read More About Bob

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John Bayusik

VRCM: Briefly tell me about your background, what you did for a living and how you got involved with the radio museum.

Well I started getting interested in radio when I was a kid because my grandparents lived with us and they had this huge Zenith console with the “green eye” and it was fascinating that you could listen to all these places all over the world. And radio was always kind of… I had other interests but radio was always in the background.

For a living, I had been working in chemistry for the last 44 years as a lab technician but electronics came in handy from time to time to get the equipment running again. Read more about John

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Ann Harper

I’ve always lived in the Hartford area. Right now I live in Vernon. And I originally was worked in manufacturing and insurance my adult life, and toward the end of my fourth decade I wanted to back and follow what was really my calling to work in a library. I always liked books and information, but the kind of information I was handling for… was kind of narrow – just electronic information that was for purposes of that institution, So I decided to go to library school. And after about two years of being in library school I got to a stage where I wanted to focus more on the library aspect and less on the corporate world, so I took advantage of being able to retire from the corporate world early. One thing I was really fortunate with is that, I… even though I was in school a lot of hours, I did have time to do other things. And I thought, “I would like to work in a library Read more about Ann

Volunteers At Work

 
 
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Dick Stebbins Interview – 5-19-2016

VRCM: Dick, tell me a little about your background, the work you did, how you got into amateur radio and how got interested in the radio museum.

DS: Well, my interest in radio started with an oscillator my father had in his junk. And I figured out that I could transmit with this oscillator by putting an antenna on it.

VRCM: Was he in the radio business?

DS: No, he was an electrical engineer. His uncle was an early ham radio operator, probably in the early 20s, so he had some influence there. It sparked my interest. I couldn’t understand why the radio in the car worked, because you had no connection…. (laughs). It also amazed me, as a youngster. So all these things sparked my interest in broadcasting.

VRCM: At the time you found the oscillator, were you a young kid?

DS: Yes, I was probably around 10 years old. And I put up a 100 foot longwire from the back yard to the front of the house. Later I got an amplifier for audio and I had a neighborhood broadcast station!

Read More about Dick

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Gene Gregory Interview – February 11, 2016
VRCM: I’m interested in a brief overview of your background, how you got interested in telephones and how you got involved with the radio museum.

GG: How I came about to become a… Well, my introduction was kind of by accident. Years ago I stopped at the triple AAA diner in East Hartford. And I was pulling in to find a place to park and in the window of the building next door was the back side of a Stroger telephone switch. Well, I knew what that was! So I went in for my cup of coffee and toast and I come back out and wandered over into the building and got greeting by John Ellsworth [museum director]… “Good morning! How are you?” And Paul was there too, remember Paul? [Paul Weigold] And he got to show me the museum and asked, “Do you want to become a member?” And I said Gee Whiz, why not? That’s how it all started.

VRCM: Had you worked in the telephone industry?

GG: No. It was always a hobby of mine. My father was a mason contractor – always been in the building trades. When I was a little guy growing up, I would find a discarded old radio or telephone, take the thing apart and put it back together trying to figure out what made it work – and things like that (laughs). It was a sideline, kept me out of trouble (laughs). I had a couple of benches set up down in the basement. Mother would say, “What the heck are you doing? You take up more room than I do laying out the lawn chairs!” (Laughs) But I’d take things apart, save all the parts, put them all back together with nothing left over. But sometime I’d scratch my head and say why doesn’t this thing work?! And my father would yell, “Why do you think they tossed it out? It didn’t work and you’re trying to fix it!” (Laughs) Read More About Gene

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Davida Michaels interview, 10-3-2016

VRCM: Tell me a little about your background and how you became involved with the radio museum.

DM: I got involved in the radio museum through my husband, Bernie. He and I had a close friend who basically let us know one day that there was a radio museum in Connecticut which was in East Hartford at that time. And so we went out one day and found what was in an old I-Hop. There was a restaurant next to it and we decided we would go there for lunch but we wanted to go into the museum. We walked in and it was just a sea… an absolute sea of old radios and one after the other in the old I-Hop, which wasn’t that big. My husband, who is an amateur radio operator and has been interested in radio and communications for a long time… by the way, before we got married, I also had my amateur radio license. So I had some knowledge, but not a lot I’m not a radio tech person at all. But I found it fascinating and there was a gentleman there. I’d say an older gentleman but both my husband and I are older so, I’d guess I’d say someone our own age. And he and my husband started talking and I just started looking around, and I found it fascinating. At that point, I’m not sure how much my husband Bernie got involved then, but I know I enjoyed that whole adventure. Read More About Davida