In 2005, the DVRA celebrated its 75th Anniversary. Like most anniversaries, people like to reflect on the past and the things that have happened over the years. As I began my search for information, I came across one glaring question. If the DVRA logo stated that the club was established in 1930, and the club web site stated that the first meeting of the DVRA was held on July 9, 1931, which one was correct?
Thankfully, several members stepped up to explain the discrepancy. I received a lot of information from Sid Deitz W2FDE, Don Wright AA2F, and Dick Amrich K2AAR. In addition, I found a box at the shack that contained the minutes from 1931 through the 1950, as well as photographs and other memorabilia. The following is the history of the Delaware Valley Radio Association from its inception in 1930, compiled from all of these resources.
A History of the Delaware Valley Radio Association
The Delaware Valley Radio Association was founded in April 1930, by a group of radio amateurs and professional radio operators. It has been serving the best interests of the community and all those who elected to join its ranks, with an outstanding and envious record for many years.
The aims of the DVRA are as follows: To extend knowledge of the Radio Art to its members, promote good will between associated persons of the radio fraternity and the general public, and to serve as a means of social contact among its members.
The Delaware Valley Radio Association held its first official club meeting on July 9, 1931. At this first meeting, Mr. Frank J. Weimer was appointed chairman of the Delaware Valley Radio Association. Elections were held, and the first President was Frank Weimer, Vice President – Ed Raser, Secretary Theodore Torretti, and Treasurer Les Allen. They then set a fixed entrance fee of $1, with monthly dues of just 25¢. At the second meeting, an official Board of Directors was elected, and two members were appointed to begin the design of the DVRA emblem.
The organization received its first station call in September 1931, when the call letters W3AQ were assigned. As a result of the post-war call area shuffle, the call letters W2ZQ now adorn our QSL card.
The DVRA is the first radio club in Trenton to have been granted a Certificate of Affiliation by the American Radio Relay League, and has thus, been bonded by kindred aims and purposes since November 1931. The DVRA became a charter member of the American Radio Relay League in 1933. Our certificate was personally signed by Hiram Percy Maxim, founder of the ARRL.
The DVRA disbanded on March 6, 1935, when all of the Directors of the Club resigned. This course was decided upon after considerable deliberation due to the fact that interest in the club was lagging and attendance was dropping off at each meeting. The efforts of the Directors to stimulate interest and attendance had proven futile; and in spite of the fact that various appeals had been made to the club members, and in the face of all ideas that had been suggested and tried, the club was losing membership, attendance, and interest. It was, in view of those facts, the opinion of the Directors that it was a waste of time and effort to postpone the inevitable any longer. After the resignation of the officers had been read, and continued discussion, the motion was made to disband the Delaware Valley Radio Association. The vote was taken, with 15 out of 20 members voting to disband the DVRA. (Taken from Minutes of Meeting of DVRA for March 6, 1935 as written by Mr. Matther Mandl, W3BIR).
After a two year hiatus, on April 21, 1937, the Delaware Valley Radio Association held a reorganization meeting. Lester Allen presented a brief talk explaining some of the purposes and aims of the New DVRA. The members present elected club officers, and then voted to accept the Constitution of the DVRA as the clubs official document, with few changes from how it was in 1935.Â A letter from the ARRL Headquarters was read stating that the DVRA had been kept on inactive status, and could become active by just applying for renewal and still retain the their original Charter. Meetings were set for once a month at the 112th Field Artillery Armory, with the following meeting being held on the second Wednesday of May 1937. (Taken from Reorganization Meeting of the DVRA April 21, 1937 as written by Ed G. Rasser).
The reorganization of the DVRA was a success. Club members began planning hamfests and various outings. A club orchestra was formed, and they performed at social events to raise funds for the club, and later a Women’s Auxiliary to the DVRA was organized. And in February 1939, the Delaware Valley Radio Association became incorporated under the laws of New Jersey as a non-commercial, non-profit organization.
The DVRA has a rich history which has included meetings in various locations around Trenton prior to the acquisition of the present W2ZQ shack in 1952. The first club meetings were held at Moon’s Nursery, later they moved to the Armory, the Trenton Yacht Club, and to the Stacy Trent. Currently, meetings are held at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in West Trenton.
Over the years, the DVRA has hosted many interesting speakers at its club meetings. For example, one member of the DVRA was a radioman who saved Admiral Byrd during his polar expedition. Recent presentations have been on every topic from PSK31, Civil Air Patrol, and Antenna Modeling to Interesting QSL Cards and our annual Field Day meeting.
In addition to monthly meetings, members of the DVRA are active in ARES, RACES, NTS and numerous amateur and community endeavors. Members annually support a number of nonprofit organizations by providing communications for walk-a-thons and bicycle tours. Members also work closely with the Boy Scouts of Central New Jersey for Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) and for completion of the Amateur Radio Merit Badge. They also provide emergency communications support to The Red Cross, New Jersey Office of Emergency Services, and other county, state and national disaster intervention authorities. Recent hurricane and flood related disaster communications proved the ongoing need and utility of the amateur radio services to elected officials.
We take pride in our well equipped radio shack atop Wireless Hill, a county location five miles west of the city, which includes HF, VHF, and UHF capabilities. The W2ZQ repeaters can be found on 146.67(-) and 442.65(+); both repeaters use 131.8 PL. From this location, the club sponsors and participates in contests and message handling, as well as a variety of on the air nets.
Although the Delaware Valley Radio Association had a humble beginning in the early 1930s and 40’s, today the DVRA has well over 100 members from Mercer County and the surrounding areas. The men and women of the DVRA come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, but one thing brings us together for Fun, Fellowship, and Service for Amateur Radio Operators.