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Editors note: While actuality of the Goodboys Radio Relay League remains controversial, its location is factual, a nexus of upstate country roads near Rosendale, New York in scenic Ulster County.


In sleepy Dashville, New York, since the early 1920s, the Goodboys Radio Relay League (GRRL) has annually thrown open the electrified gates of their vast Palladian headquarters/manor to play holiday host to the town’s population of street urchins. Bowing at last to fashion and Title 9, in a desperate bid to maintain their non-profit tax status, the GRRL has extended the invitation to Little Match Girls, in hopes these ragged, pitiful YLs too might become active, tithing amateur radio operators, eager to divert ten percent of their street corner match sales to the higher purpose of new gargoyles for the South Shack fountain.

As legally-disowned great nephew of the late GRRL founder Hiham Pugsley Dashbum, Dash! The Dog-Faced Ham has always harbored no small holiday resentment over this affair, given that League stewardship should have fallen to him, but for some youthful indiscretions during the turbulent late 1960s.  While records remained sealed, the indiscretions were apparently such that H.P. Maxbum’s graveside sensors indicated rollover rates redlining at 2400 rpm. GRRL board members seized the opportunity to annul young Dash! as League heir, and transferred stewardship in perpetuity to a dummy corporation/DX resort in the Caymans. 

A Rabid Radio Radical at the time, Dashiell “Dash!” Hammutt was contemptuous of The System and scorned working for, as he put it, “The Ham.” But as time passed, more and more he rued the day he turned his back on Great Uncle Hiham’s lavish amateur lifestyle, until his bitterness reached a tipping point one recent Thanksgiving.

That’s when Dash! hit on the Great Notion of masquerading as a Little Match Girl – to crash League HQ Holiday Open House and confront the shadowy GRRL Board in the seat of hobby electronics power.

Why, you might ask, would Dash dress up as a Little Match Girl, instead of, say, Oliver Twist or some other proper Victorian urchin?

Yes, his paunchy dog-faced bulk could not be any more conspicuous than dressed in LMG drag. Yet it was well known that the last authentic Little Match Girl seen in town was part of an English music hall act/ traveling flea circus that closed the town’s only theater, the Dashville Hippodrome, for good one woebegone summer of 1895.  By now, no living Dashville soul had ever seen a living LMG, including the ancient and honorable Goodboys Radio Relay League Board Members – which might explain their suspiciously progressive open invitation to an apocryphal Match Girl community at large.  Hence Dash! resolved, “By gosh, I’ll call their bluff!”

On further consideration, our hero realized he needed to research his costume.  Luckily, his childhood storybook case was within arm’s reach, so Dash! pulled out a tome of tales by Hans Christian Andersen and quickly found an illustration of a Little Match Girl in full dress uniform, which he used as a template, sort of.

Matches, check.   Long hooded threadbare cloak, check.  Oh yeah.  High-impedance earphones. Dash! added vintage cans to his ensemble, confident no virtually non-profit 800 pound amateur radio lobby gorilla worried about revocation of its tax status for Title 9 non-compliance would bar any vaguely YL-like creature so adorned.

And so it came to pass.  A week before Christmas found Dash! patiently waiting by the heavy iron gate of the Goodboys Radio Relay League. To our hero’s surprise, no snarling ex-STASI commando appeared behind the gate, but rather a kindly, portly, semi-bald butler.  Clearly, he was dispatched to survey a waiting crowd of Street Urchins and Little Match Girls eager to learn about the streamlined world of amateur radio and enjoy a bit of holiday porridge in the bargain, so long as they stayed for the full two-hour mandatory voluntary character-building code practice session and washed their own porridge bowls before being shooed from the estate.

Poor J____s shook his head and sighed.  The crowd was of but one Jumbo Match Girl of dubious countenance. The long-suffering butler was about to call a taxi for the big waif and have her driven to a nice restaurant in Rosendale for a holiday dinner at his own expense, when his HT suddenly barked…

“Stop dawdling and send them in immediately! Do you copy? Chop-chop or you’ll pull sentry duty Christmas Day!”

J____s' taser ankle bracelet gave the old gent's gent's Achilles' tendon a warning tingle, even as it emitted the quaint mocking tinkle of an antique hand bell, the sort once used to summon staff.

This is not Christmas, vowed J____s, this is the Last Straw.

“Please Sir, may I have some Morse,” pleaded the galoot of a Little Match Girl, motioning with her Ohio Blue Tip bouquet toward the vintage high impedence headphones perched on her hooded fat noggin.

“By Jove, Master Dash!” gasped the butler under his breath, quickly disarming the gate’s security array of rail gunned punji sticks. “Come in, come in dear boy.” he whispered.” But before you say a word, I must insist that you sack your tailor.”

Dash! broke down. “Oh J____s,” he sobbed, ”Look at you, look at me, what’s become of us?”

Just then, the butler’s taser ankle cuff buzzed louder, more insistently, warning of an imminent incentive to get his Gluteus Maximus in gear.

Devastated by the sight his ancestral childhood Elmer’s hideously high voltage shackle, Dash! instantly realized what had to be done with all deliberate speed, a state of mind quite rare if not unprecedented in the Dog-Faced Ham’s lifelong dithering spiral of indecision.

He noted the M_J brand of J____s taser ankle bracelet. Apparently, as a cost-cutting move to facilitate the purchase of more freaky carp for the GRRL Olympic-sized Koi Pond, the League economized with serviceable but frankly Entry Level electronic incarceration devices. Leading J____s to a nearby fountain of the finest lapis lazuli, Dash! splashed water on the buter’s spats and stockings, lit all his matches and melted the thin conductive polystyrene cuff clear off J____s’ ankle leaving hardly a scorch to the butler’s hosiery and just a few ruddy marks on which a little Bactine would work wonders.


Go-Go-Go!” barked Dash! in fluent action movie commando lingo, hustling the stunned gent’s gent to the open gate with a speed usually  reserved for donut runs and couch potato commercial break sprints.

Sirens wailed. Searchlights zeroed on the unlikely duo crashing out the GRRL gate just ahead of one hundred titanium punji sticks converging on a chest high focal point, only to meet precisely tip to tip and fuse into a white hot metal daisy that clattered to the ground as Dash! and J____s made good their escape.

Once beyond Dashville hamlet limits, across the Wallkill bridge, they slowed their pace and gathered their wits.  Safe enough for the moment, they knew the Goodboys Radio Relay League would not rest seeking retribution -- although chances were good they weren’t going to break much of a sweat until after the holidays, maybe not till after GRRL Spring Break, or maybe even not until after Field Day was in the can.

“Merry Christmas, J____s,” said Dash!, bearhugging his long-lost inspiration.

“Tut-tut, I know what you were up to Master Dash.”  scolded the butler, waggling his finger.  “You wanted your due, and yet you let it go for me. I think, somewhere up in the Aether, the Old Man is proud, despite the fits you gave us all.”
“I’m not sure I did you any favors,” Dash! replied. “I mean, you’re welcome to crash at my place, but all we have is a shack.”

“In this life any shack is a castle, so long as the operators are A-1.” dismissed J_____s, adjusting his collar, straightening his tie, brushing his jacket and spiffing his spats. “Shall we, Old Sparks?”

Arm in arm, this odd couple of radio hams sauntered away like boulevardiers, vowing to live every day like the day before Christmas -- which it was.