William F. Buckley Meets Amateur Radio

In a personal essay published in the April 7, 2008 issue of The National Review, the late William F. Buckley Jr described a fascinating story involving himself, Senator Barry Goldwater, K7UGA (SK), and of course ham radio. It seems that Mr Buckley was part of a 12 man trip to Russia’s Vostok station, a very remote outpost at the magnetic South Pole. In addition to his brother, Senator James Buckley, their old pal Barry Goldwater and his son Barry Jr were also members of this expedition. Buckley described being in a crowded Soviet igloo, entertained with “trays of caviar and tumblers of vodka.” After toasting his Russian host, he was suddenly taken aside by Barry Jr. “Dad wants to see you” he said, pointing to the door. Buckley was taken to another igloo, apparently the radio shack. “Thought you might like to talk to your wife,” the senior Goldwater said. Buckley describes the prideful look on Goldwater’s face, having maneuvered the Soviet radio to contact his wife back home in Arizona! Although he was a man famous for his complete control of the English language, Bill Buckley said he was “speechless” as he heard the telephone ringing and his wife answering the telephone! He said, “It’s me darling” and his wife responded, “It’s three o’clock in the morning!” Buckley exclaimed, “I’m calling from the South Pole!” This story reminded me of the many nights back in the late 1970s when I gladly helped with phone patches from the US Navy base at McMurdo, Antarctica. Just as Senator Goldwater did, I awakened many people in the wee hours of the morning with a phone call from their loved ones on the bottom of the world! — Bruce Jackson, KA5ELC, Cordova, Tennessee

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