The History of W4SV

I received the callsign W4SV when the first vanity "gate" opened up for Amateur Extra operators in Nov. 1996. W4SV was my first choice on the application, although I filled out the full list of 25 callsigns that were allowed to be submitted. I wanted to make sure that I got some kind of preferred 1x2 callsign, fearing that most would be quickly issued with the new vanity program (and they were).

With the very special help of Jim Walsh, W7LVN (SK), who was then General Manager of the Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA), I have learned that W4SV belonged to Paul L. McGinty of Boynton Beach, FL from at least 1931 until his death in 1986. I really appreciate Jim's willingness to search through their old callbooks for me, even though I was not a QCWA member at that time. I wasn't even eligible to join yet. I have since become a Life Member of the QCWA, due in large part to Jim's generous spirit. The QCWA General Manager job has evolved into an Executive Administrator, and he does not have time to look up general requests for callsign information (except with applications for membership).

However, Steve Melachrinos, W3HF, may can help if you are trying to research an old callsign. Also, the HamCall Callsign Database has created searchable databases by scanning old callbooks for the years 1921, 1954, 1960, 1969, and 1983 (plus 1995-present which were already created with digital records). If you just type in a callsign, it will give you the current record. But if you want to search the older records, enter the call followed by a colon (:) followed by the year you want to search, like this... W4SV:1954 (and then click the "Look up callsign" button). You can also use their Advanced Field Search to search by name or other fields, but some of the information results are restricted unless you purchase a subscription. It is well worth it! Be sure to check the box that says, Include archive/deleted/expired callsigns. Oh, and watch out for their 1921 records... this was a time before the "W" and "K" prefixes had taken effect. So you will find Hiram Percy Maxim listed as 1AW, and not W1AW.

I tried for a long while to learn more about Paul McGinty or to find one of his QSL cards, but without much luck at first. Then surfing the web one day for "old QSL cards" led me to the website of Bob Green, W8JYZ. Bob has THOUSANDS of old QSL cards (over 43,000), indexed for easy searching in a master PDF document. Bob graciously scans cards from his collection and will email a nice quality image for free, but he also will send you the real card for a small donation. I have now received three old W4SV cards from Bob, for the years 1931, 1936, and 1958. I'm very grateful for Bob's work to preserve this heritage of amateur radio, and I hope that you will visit his page at I also hope that you might consider donating your old QSL card collections to him. The 1935 card at the top of this page is the only one of the four I have that was personally signed. Many thanks to Pete "The Greek" Varounis, NL7XM, for providing that one!

1931 W4SV
  1936 W4SV
  1958 W4SV

The year 2013 has become the time when I have learned the most about Paul McGinty, and his younger brother Thomas. It seems they were somewhat famous amateurs in the scientific field of mollusks (malacology), or at least in the sub-field of mollusk shells (conchology). Their passion for collecting shells was gained from their father, who moved with them (probably in the 1930's) from Detroit, Michigan to a vacation home he had built in about 1923-24 in Boynton Beach, Florida (later renamed Ocean Ridge). The McGinty brothers never married and lived in the same house built by their father for the rest of their lives, visiting many places up and down the Florida coast, as well as Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Panama Canal Zone, in their search of shells. Though they are often credited together, the evidence points to Thomas as being the more active participant in the science, and he authored or co-authored a number of papers in scientific journals.

This year, I had the great fortune to meet Mr. Richard (Dick) Petit via email (now deceased). Dick was also an esteemed malacologist and knew the McGinty brothers personally, and had visited them at their Florida home. He showed me my first glimpse of Paul McGinty, W4SV, in a snapshot dated March 23, 1966. After more than 15 years of searching off-and-on, Paul McGinty finally had a face! Dick also gave me the contact information for the copyright owner of the photograph, Mr. Roger Portell, the Director of Collections in the Department of Invertebrate Paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, Florida. It is with Roger's kind permission that I am able to share this photo here on my website. My sincere thanks to both of you gentlemen! From left-to-right is Paul L. McGinty (W4SV), his cousin Pomeroy L. Dunbar, Thomas L. McGinty, and two unknown females. Please click on the photo for a larger view.

Digital image provided by the Division of Invertebrate Paleontology, Florida
Museum of Natural History, University of Florida
Digital image provided by the
Division of Invertebrate Paleontology,
Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida.
Used by permission.

I have now had W4SV for almost 20 years, but I'm too old to expect to keep the call as long as Paul McGinty, who had it for at least 55 years. Yet I hope that the next person who might want W4SV will find this web page, and will be glad to learn a little about me, and a little about the history of W4SV.

Stan Vandiver
Valparaiso, IN

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