V Mayree Tallman, K4ICA
Mayree on her wedding Day, January 18, 1947
Vera Mayree Tallman K4ICA Sidebander #1
V. Mayree (pronounced, Marie ) was born in Arkansas on January 20, 1902. Her mom, Anna Jeanette Duke was 16 and her dad John Duke was 20.
V. Mayree wrote ―On a cold, stormy January night, in a log cabin situated beside a country lane in Arkansas, I came kicking into this great big wonderful world. Snow and ice and sleet lay heavy upon the land. A thundering gale was blowing up a blizzard. Streams were long frozen over, and outside was not fit for man nor beast.
She goes on, ―On that fateful night no doctor was available to deliver me. Grandmother Doshia chanced to be present and officiated. What a dreadful time I chose to be born!
Grandpa Hezekiah Duke ―stalked into the cabin, shook snow off his coat and gave me the once-over. She‘ll do he said with a proud chuckle, I think we‘ll keep her.
She says, At the exciting age of 6, replete with first grade reader and a lunch bucket, I literally walked on air of happiness as I clipped off the two miles to the little one-room country schoolhouse called ̳Alpha.‘ This was in deed a magic moment! I felt so important, so alive, running through me was an enthusiastic approach to the big exciting world…
When she was baptized in the Arkansas River at the age of 12 her dad said to her mom, ―behold our daughter. I do declare, today I have high hopes for our maverick. Somehow I think she‘ll make it after all.
Years later and after graduation, her mom‘s cousin, Senator Price talked mom into him taking V. Mayree to Little Rock where she became the Enrolling Clerk in the state legislature and where she played the organ at church on Sundays. Eventually, she went into nurse‘s training at St. Luke‘s Hospital.
While at St. Luke‘s she boarded at Mrs. Brown‘s where she met Higgason. Everyone called him Hig, they became close friends and thought they were in love―but for the present, phone calls were enough. Later she decided to do private nursing at the Research Hospital in Little Rock and was thrilled when her sister Verda who had also been in nurses training also came to work at the Research Hospital.
While at the Research Hospital she married Hig, had a son they named Gene (KØICA) and then lost Hig after he suffered a ruptured appendix. This was a second husband for her to lose since at age 15 she married, had a daughter, Gradi and her husband died later of Typhoid Fever.
V. Mayree states the most traumatic experience in her life was losing Gradi in later years to lymphatic leukemia. She wrote, ―and so it was, we stood in the wind-swept cemetery at Mt. George, beside a mound of red clay which marked the remains of what had been a vibrant, beautiful young girl. She now rests beside Grandpa Hezekiah Duke, under the same scraggly elm.
Later, after having lost two husbands, she met Dr. Christian and eventually they married and she had her second son, Bill. After experiencing his quest for whiskey, her dad suggested she leave this man before he ruined her life.
After this she did private nursing for a while and worked another session in the State Legislature, had an apartment near the State Capitol and began putting her life back together.
She said there were two things she really wanted to do – expand in music and learn to fly.
V. Mayree says, thanks to the old pump organ experience, piano was a natural and saxophone a breeze and around 1919 she formed an all girls band, the ―Versatile Melody Maids. The band was an instant success and played at many prestigious county clubs. About a year later she told her girls that the past year had been one of the happiest times of her life but that she was leaving to learn how to fly.
She went to flight school and one afternoon at the airport, her good friend Col. Carroll Cone, asked her to stay and meet a friend of his. A plane landed and out stepped a flying ace of world-war fame, Eddie Rickenbacker. ―Eddie he said, ―I‘d like you to meet a good friend of mine. She‘s no Amelia Earhart yet but has high potential… Enchanted he said ―glad to see ladies taking to the air. With that he removed from his lapel a small set of wings and placed them in V. Mayree‘s hand.
During her training she did learn to fly, including two engine aircraft and later had the pleasure of meeting Jimmie Doolittle.
Shortly after this the great depression hit and she went to dad‘s at Centerville where she got occasional brief nursing jobs. Then once again she found herself employed in the Senate, this time as Engrossing Clerk at $5 a day.
One day, Col. Cone called to tell her American Airlines was adding flight stewardesses and that he thought she was a natural. She applied, got the job and flew for many years experiencing great fun and a few close calls including a ―one engine out landing in a farm field and another fiery landing in Cincinnati.
With one million miles in the air coming up, she planned to retire. On a flight to New York her boss, Mr. Hugh Smith was on board and she informed him of her plans to leave. With that he said, ―You‘re kidding! This very day, when we land in New York, I wanted to inform you that I have chosen you to be Chief Flight Stewardess, now you tell me you are quitting?
One morning a few weeks later, after she had retired, on the front page of the Arkansas Gazette, glaring headlines blared: ―American Airlines Crash. All Aboard Killed! ―This was my crew, my flight. Had I been still flying, I too, would have been with them in that swamp.
She had been back home with mom and dad in Centerville only a few days when dad announced he had leased a mountain farm for a year. While there she worked in a lawyer‘s office in Paris, Arkansas. She also began writing short stories which she sold to the Saturday Evening Post. She saw an opportunity to sell her writing in Florida and moved to Miami. However, after 9 or 10 months in Miami, she decided to travel to write. This took her to Houston, Albuquerque, Los Angeles, San Francisco and then back to Miami in 1940.
Between then and the war, she went to work for Dr. Tallman, one of the world‘s foremost physicians and surgeon.Dr. Tallman set up a clinic at Tavernier in the Keys where they treated thousands, and families of service men were never charged. Then on January 18. 1947 she married Dr. Tallman.
In the mid fifties, Dr. Tallman decided it was time to slow down. They decided to go West, bought a trailer and a Jeep and were off. On June 1, 1956, they waved good bye. Months earlier, her sister‘s husband Wally, who was a Ham suggested that she become a ham. She had done so and was sporting a whip antenna on the rear bumper but had not yet passed the General exam, although she had mastered CW.
They went first to Centerville to visit mom and dad and then on West. Their travels took them to Nevada, and on to Idaho. Next came Oregon and she could see that Dr. Tallman was rested, relaxed and enjoying life. However, while walking near their camp, he walked into a nest of Rattlesnakes and barely escaped without being bit.
Then back to Winnemucca, NV and on to San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles to see son, Bill. When time permitted she studied for her General ticket exam and then passed it first time. In time they moved on to Kingman, AZ While there they decided to go home to Miami for Christmas.
She drove alone and he was to follow by air. She recalls when she was mobile at the Continental Divide and stayed there for a while for the hams that wanted a mobile contact from the top of the world.
After Christmas in Florida, they travelled west again and while in Arizona, had the opportunity to collect gold nuggets while visiting with friends and then moved on to hear many stories from the Indians.
Travels ended with a drive from New Mexico to Centerville where they spent time with mom and dad and then on to Hot Springs where they purchased a home on Lake Hamilton. One day Dr. Tallman asked, what would you say if I told you that I‘m ready to go back to Miami if you are? She leaped three feet into the air and yelled, I‘m ready!
So, it was back to Miami where in the early 60s she began to realize that the media of communication afforded by Amateur Radio had much higher potential than just as a hobby. She set about organizing a world wide emergency communications system, the YL International SSB‘ers, Inc.
She says that, like a flaming star shooting around the world, beaming its Torch of Friendship, its phenomenal growth astounded me. In a few short months members had poured in by the thousands…All 50 US States and 247 foreign countries became members.
In 1965 she flew with Dr. Tallman to Mexico City to a world wide convention of Amateur Radio Operators . At the banquet, Mr. Hoover lifted his glass to her and invited her to the podium. The place went wild with cheers and she almost died in her tracks. Here said the man beside her is a lady who has set the radio world on fire with the one and only world wide emergency communications system.
For a moment she was petrified but came to her senses and since most of those present were Spanish speaking, she addressed them in Spanish. When she finished they rose to their feet and cheered until, in her words I was darned near dead with embarrassment!
Now, please read on and, enjoy the history of the beginning days of the YL System — in her words.
As you read about the years prior to the System being formed, you will see V. Mayree and her lady friends around the world were called FINS. I have emailed Old Timers all over the world in an effort to determine what FINS stood for but have not been able to find out. If you know, please contact me.
Dick – K3CDQ
The following is taken and quoted word for word from the ―SSB‘ERS VOICE Newsletter No. 14 – August – September 1969.
EDITORIAL – by V. Mayree Tallman, K4ICA, YL ISSB‘ER #1 Foundress, President Emeritus & Awards Manager of YL Int‘l. SSB‘ERS, Inc.
First, my gratitude to our President Jessie, WA6OET, her officers and staff, who are continuing to bring to YL Int‘l. SSB‘ers not only charm and grace, dedicated directness, but also a Gung Ho spirit of ―Let‘s keep moving, which exhilarates and inspires. By repeated requests of the membership, and with pleasure to me its foundress, I have begun a chronicle a true and factual history of YL Int‘l. SSB‘ers; its beginning, its founding, its phenomenal success, its trials and its tribulations. In this limited space is presented only a brief review of the groundwork preparatory to the founding, long before YL Int‘l. SSB‘ers became a reality. Upon completion of this volume it will be available to members desiring it. This is right & just as YL Int‘l. SSB‘ers enjoys today the most unique and universally acclaimed position of any organization in the annals of amateur radio. Big things, important things, usually have humble beginnings. The idea for YL Int‘l SSB‘ERS (SSB‘ers for short title) was conceived in my mind two years before I officially organized it 9 Feb. 1963. It was my belief then, as today, that to correctly engage upon so vast an undertaking, a proper foundation should be prepared. YL Int‘l SSB‘ers was to be no house built upon the sand.
The most remarkable beginning of what ultimately was to become YL Int‘l. SSB‘ERS, my big dream, began in 1961 when a small feminine voice in far off Africa, running low power, crying in a wilderness of KW‘s and big beams, futilely attempted to be recognized by some stateside stations. Her low power obviously was anathema to the Big Boys for how dare this low power female attempt to invade their inner sanctum? Preposterous! I zeroed her and called. We moved off frequency. Would you be receptive, I inquired, to the idea of a DX YL Net or system especially sympathetic to low power stations and for YL‘s only?…
Would I? claimed, but is it possible? The stateside KW curtain…we have always hoped for such a miracle…indeed I would… That‘s all I want to know, I told her. Stand by for action. You will hear from me soon. Next day I posted 49 airmail letters to 49 YL‘s in 49 separate countries asking the same question…Would you be interested, etc… Forty nine airmail Yes replies returned and we were over the first hurdle. Like wildfire, by word of mouth, by letter, telephone & over the air the DX YL‘s spread the news, i.e., There‘s a W/K YL, V. Mayree Tallman, K4ICA, in Miami, Florida who wants to give us a break, YL‘s and XYL‘s only, check in at 1800 GMT, etc…
We adopted a title: YL FINS. Our initial over the air session was launched 7 Dec. 1961. The DX-YL check-in was unbelievable! Sixty-seven YL‘s from 67 separate countries graced our logs that day. So numerous were the stations calling we could never recognize them all. It was immediately apparent that the one day a week schedule, which we had planned was sorely inadequate and was scrubbed. In its stead a 5 day week began and even then we were forced to allocate certain days for W/K YL participation, by areas, 3 or 4 each day. This spectacular YL Event attracted DX OMs in droves. However, the DX YL‘s, so elated over at last finding their spot in the sun, zealously guarding their new found niche, strenuously objected to an OM invasion.
This decision, I felt was theirs. After all, the YL FINS was originated by YL‘s for YL‘s. Eventually, they relented but only permit- ting the OM‘s the privilege of contacts after all YL‘s had concluded their last transmissions. It amazed us that these DX OM‘s would patiently stand by for hours to have their chance. The DX YL‘s were still dubious.
The OM‘s will soon dominate us they remarked. But we are so delighted to be a FIN, perhaps we should permit them to become FINS also… This decision was greeted with an enthusiasm seldom witnessed. The OM‘s realizing their admission had been a rather painful decision for the ladies, comported themselves with great dignity and appreciation, courtesy befitting the continental. And even though they still were required to stand by until YL‘s had concluded, the were now eligible to become FINS and meeting the requirement of a YL FINS certificate which also they could receive. This, they felt, was a step forward. Then came the day when a vote by the FINS members opened the door for full OM participation. The mad scramble was on! But we loved it. It appeared that the whole world wished to become a FIN. This pleasant interlude of Getting to know you, even tho only a prelude of greater things to come, was proof positive that if we extend our hand in sincere friendship, light a little candle in a dark corner of someone‘s life, we meet a need both to them and to our- selves. After many, many months of this ―fun side operation, having solidified a proper foundation for my big dream, I began casting about in my mind for tangible ideas for new dimension – a more meaningful objective, an organization of service to mankind, embracing both the ―fun side and the serious side. To a few Florida friends I confided my plan. Their eyes widened. An impossible dream, they said, Your mountain is too high to climb…
I was unimpressed with their negative attitude. A quotation came to mind Think no little thoughts, because they do not stir the minds of men, and immediately launched into details of my envisioned plan which was to become YL Int‘l.. SSB‘ers, Inc. Now, this organization was to be no prototype of any other existing in amateur radio. It must be unique, superb in every way, the zenith of organizations, nothing short of this would be considered for this world-wide YL venture. It must be majestic, distinguished courtesy a hallmark and completely capable to cope with any emergency, sympathetic to the rights and needs of the lowest power station, and no matter what the provocations we must always, in any event, exercise complete fair- ness, consideration and logic.
The soul searching questions behind me and a clear cut agenda ahead for the new dimension, I publicly announced the imminent dissolution of the YL FINS and offered instead the vastly enlarged program. This news was greeted with both enthusiasm and sadness, an admixture of fear of the un- known, the untried, and a subconscious clinging to the known. Our FINS had become enamored of their much loved program and a bit of time was required for the import of change to dawn upon them. ―…But V. Mayree, wailed a little YL from Asia, ―We love the FINS, we are so very proud of the FINS…what will be our role in the new plans? Can‘t we still be FINS as well as members of the new?… This sentiment, I realized, was in the minds of many
Carefully outlining the new, emphasizing service, deeply moved by their concern, I concluded my dissertation with a question, prefaced by deep conviction you will always be FINS, I told them, only our title will be changed. For it will be you, the YL FINS, among perhaps thousands of others, who will make possible our projected humanitarian YL Int‘l. SSB‘ERS… ..We have enjoyed ourselves hugely, can we not now reach out our hands and our help with our emergency communications system?… They Agreed.
The FINS, I further consoled them, will be the solid foundation, the new beginning of a new era in amateur radio. And YL Int‘l. SSB‘ers will be your organization just as the FINS have been…it will be up to you whether it works or fails for you are its pillars of strength. …Then can‘t we, someone asked, ―continue meeting and be FINS until you have the new one founded and ready for us to join?… Indeed yes, I told them, carry on as usual. It will be soon… I was ecstatic! Armed with a tentative constitution and by-laws I sought out Dr. Tallman‘s attorneys (and here again nothing but the best) for formal and legal determinations, couched in layman‘s language at my insistence, these documents were prepared post haste. The law firm of Barfield, Sinclair, Lewis and Sand, had performed an assignment heretofore unknown in Florida as YL Int‘l. SSB‘ers was the first amateur radio organization to seek incorporation in the state! Even they were enchanted by it all. Already I had designed our first certificate-The King Neptune Award. Then came the day, 9 February 1963, a day to live in my memory as among the happiest of my life…my big dream was to become reality. I could scarce contain myself waiting for 1800 GMT to roll around. But it DID arrive. ―Fellow FINS, Ladies & Gentlemen I began excitedly, ―Today we reach a milestone in our upward journey into infinity—we hitch our wagon to a star. No longer are we adrift on a sea of uncertainty—our course is straight and true– and from this high road we shall never deviate, nor shall we quail before responsibility to our fellowman.
Rather shall we face the future with courage, dignity, determination and compassion. As YL Int‘l. SSB‘ers we shall stand before the world an open sesame of honesty and integrity, earnestly endeavoring to lend an ennobling quality to the institution of amateur radio.
For today, YL Int‘l. SSB‘ers is born!…
Our Credo shall be—‘we believe in the dignity of man.‘
Our Motto: Dedicated to the building of friendship among all the peoples of the earth through amateur radio and to be of service to our fellowman wherever they may be… ―Our insignia the Torch of Friendship… The enormity of it all, the total commitment, was now history. Excited comments of praise and delight were expressed around the world.
Their hearty approval was like manna from heaven for I had worked hard and long to present to them a magnificent plan. When excitement had given way to normalcy, I said: Your approval means more to me than you can ever know. But now we must be about the business of your official membership…
As your area or your country is called, please indicate to me if you desire membership in YL Int‘l. SSB‘ers… The favorable response to enrollment was tantamount to acclamation. There was not a shadow of doubt but that YL Int‘l. SSB‘ers was on its way. Our attorneys attended to our incorporation and by the Secretary of State of the State of Florida we were assigned the incorporated number –23-08- NP-705929. Dr. Tallman, (My OM) affectionately referred to as Dr. T., although not a ham himself, whole heartedly endorsed YL Int‘l. SSB‘ers in all its ramifications, its concepts and its precepts. He instructed our attorneys to proceed in the long and eventually successful vigil to have SSB‘ers declared tax free. The Internal
Revenue Service number is as follows: 59-6167640. Since the day the Small voice of the YL in South Africa, running very low power, cried out into the wilderness of KW‘s and big beams, we have come a long way. She now is carefully listened for on a reasonably clear frequency, given a voice in the administration of YL Int‘l. SSB‘ers. She has a vote in our election of officers. She now, and others like her, can state with pride and dignity: I am a SSB‘er! The theme echoes around the world, in 250 countries, from the lowest power to the KW‘s, from the key to the microphone, the same refrain coming from grateful members, from ships at sea to aeronautical mobiles, from home stations and mobiles, from the smallest hamlets, the jungles and cosmopolitan cities, it is the same: I am proud to be a SSB’er!” What greater reward could I, its foundress, experience than to know that in my small way I have contributed help and happiness to almost 8,000 world-wide members? And all because I listened with my heart to a small cry in the wilderness. And so it is, this brief history of our humble beginning in the year 1961. This is but the first chapter in the ever upward movement of YL Int‘l. SSB‘ers, Inc. Its astronomical growth, its everything, made possible by you its members, its officers & staff who have given unstintingly of your time & efforts. I shall be eternally grateful.
And may God Bless you, everyone. V. Mayree, K4ICA.