By K5PO, on the scene
TARTAN BLACKRIDGE, Pa. – “It’s the collection of a lifetime,” says Mel Sallute. He solemnly glances at the room in his eastern Tartan Blackridge home dedicated to the orderly storage of QST Magazines. It seems like thousands of them, though he assures it’s “not quite 2,000.”
Sallute was born in Tartan Blackridge in 1932 and became interested in amateur radio at a young age. “My Dad was a radio operator and shared the passion of the hobby with me. I was a General Class by my 17th birthday in 1949,” he says. He joined the American Radio Relay League in the same year and began to receive their QST Magazine monthly.
“708 of the QSTs are mine from my personal subscription. I also have a few hundred from my uncle, also a ham for many years, and a dozen or so from my Dad. I also bought a large collection off another ham at a hamfest in 1973 for some reason. Mostly duplicates,” Sallute said.
“Dad was famous as the ‘Great Steady Carrier of the East’ because he sorta became an SK and yet not at the same time… he passed away and his head fell on his straight key, sending a carrier for three weeks before they found him,” he said.
Focusing back on the magazines, Sallute continued, “I guess I felt they would be a great resource, but I never read one after filing them away at the end of the month. I kept an orderly collection, assuming they’d have some value someday. In 1988, I started to get worried the weight of the magazines would put my house’s foundation at risk so I decided to sell them. I had my nephew bring his pickup truck over and we loaded boxes upon boxes into the back and took them down to the Waltville Hamfest. My initial asking price of $7,500 for the collection was mostly getting sneers and laughs, so I dropped the price to free and still no takers. One ham did grab an issue and rip out pages to wrap some 3-500z tubes he’d bought and needed to transport home.”
“I thought the turning point would be when my great-granddaughter got her ham ticket last year. I figured her eyes would light up when I showed her my QST collection that could be hers, but it just wasn’t so. She said, ‘Grandpa, I can get all those on the ARRL website now in digital form!’”
“I dang near cried,” he said. “At that point, I realized neither I nor anyone would ever read one of these again!”
At press time, Sallute was planning a large backyard bonfire fueled by QST Magazines, but he did have his great-granddaughter post an ad on QRZ.com for $7500, just in case.