We finally had to say goodbye to the transmitter site; there was so much more to do and places to go and we were trying to beat the incoming bad weather. I had called Felix the week before to ask permission to drop by and he graciously consented. Well, as David B. and son Matt, Jerry and I drove a half-mile down the road, we pulled up and the McDonalds were sitting on the porch as if they were expecting us! We got out, greeted by the dogs and shook hands all around. I must say that David B. reverently shook Felix's hand and bent down to give this great man a hug. We all feel the same way about Felix!
Being invited inside, I got Jerry and David B. to pose with Felix:
A bunch of handsome fellers, yes?
David B. had to get his son back to Little Rock to his family and said his "see ya laters" all around, promising to visit Felix at a later date. Jerry and I went in with the McDonalds for an hour long chat. Jerry knew their daughter and son-in-law and they had a nice conversation, while Jerry passed around some materials he'd brought along to reminisce with Felix.
We got to talking about how, when Felix went to Texas, Pat Walsh chartered a jet to bring him back to Wrightsville to fix the transmitter when no one else could. Felix said that Pat met him at the airport and drove like mad to the transmitter site. Felix had a few choice words about the drive that we won't relate here, but it was a wild ride.
When they arrived, Felix went upstairs and was met by Cecil Suitt (who was the engineer for KTHS and for KAAY after the change-over). Cecil said, "I betcha ya can't fix this one, boy!" Felix looked things over and saw where they (Cecil and other engineers) had taken some parts out of the transmiter. It took him about twenty minutes to put them all back, then asked one of the guys to hand him a broom.. He reached in with the wooden handle, pushed a contactor back in place and the transmitter fired right up! We all had a good laugh at Felix's story.
I believe a version of this was related on this blog by Dave M. awhile back, but I cannot readily find the link....
Felix got up and walked over to a book case and came over to me, quietly handing me this commendation from Wayne Moss, Operations Director:
To the best of my research, I believe this happened in 1971, as Wayne didn't put the year on the page.
I'd noticed that, since his stroke, Felix was having a little trouble with recent memory, but was clear as a bell with memories of long ago. Nonetheless, we had good conversation relating to the blog and also Ham radio in general. He wants to get back on the air, so maybe we'll be fortunate to schedule a chat- I certainly hope so!
I had a new video camera which I wasn't very familiar with; I finally got things to work on it and got what I thought was several minutes of him telling the story about fixing the transmitter. Little did I realize that the batteries were low and I only got less than a minute. Maybe we can get this linked somewhere down the road for you to see Felix and Lois McDonald in their own home, speaking with Jerry Sims.
Time was slipping up on us, so we had to finally leave; we had to reunite with David B. back in Little Rock and try to catch up with Barry Mac, as well. As we were leaving, Felix practically pushed past me, grabbing Jerry by the arm. He stood face-to-face with Jerry and said, "The Jerry Sims I knew back then and you now are two different people- I just realized who you were!" I wish I'd have gotten a picture or video of that touching moment....
With handshakes all around and promises to keep in touch, we left the McDonalds, a wonderful, sweet and hospitable couple; there's not many people like them any more.
As we drove back down the road, I quickly changed the batteries in the video camera and Jerry stopped by the transmitter one more time for me to get about a minute of video. Hopefully, we can get it linked for you to enjoy a live view of the KAAY transmitter building.
Next, a visit to an old KAAY studio location at KTHV!
Bud S. (firstname.lastname@example.org)