Memories of Uncle Wally
by his niece, Shirley Ellen Blackmer Tyler
The home of my grandparents, at 1224 North Center in Pocatello, Idaho was a big, two-story brick home with large rooms and an upstairs where Uncle Wally had his short wave radio set up. That upstairs was off limits to us kids, but sometimes I would sneak halfway and sit quietly and listen to him rattling off the Morse Code so fast and wonder what he was saying. Sometimes he would laugh out loud while he was receiving and answering his messages.
One evening, my curiosity got the better of me and so I went up to the top of the stairs and asked if I could sit and watch him if I didnít interrupt or bother him or touch anything. He looked pretty stern, but finally agreed to let me stay if I didnít talk. I thought I was in heaven to be allowed that privilege.
Sometimes he would tell me what country he was talking to and sometimes a little of what they were talking about. I was in awe that such a marvelous machine existed that allowed people from across the ocean to communicate with one another.
He played games of chess with a man in England. He left a chess board set up with the pieces arranged for both of them. He would make a move and then he would wire his move to the Englishman. Than the man would do the same. He would move and remove the pieces as the game progressed. Uncle Wally won most the time, but when he did lose, he would laugh and wire to his friend, ďGreat game! Your move next.Ē
Once when I was up there, Uncle Wally heard an S.O.S. from a ship at sea, but there was interference and he couldnít hear the name of the ship or what it was. There must have been very storm weather that night and he worried about it. When Mother called to me it was time to go home. He was still trying to get it more clear, so I just left and didnít bother him.