Naughty QSLs From Ecuador

In late 1964, DXers around the world were thrilled and puzzled to get this QSL card from Radio Catolica Nacional in Quito, Ecuador, featuring an anything-but-pure Virgen de Quito. The back of the card was a full-data Spanish veri signed by Sister Marta Elena, who was known to be the 74 year old station secretary. The station was soon flooded with reports and by the end of the year at least 400 DXers had received one of these unusual cards. The card at the left is from the collection of Max Conlon of Jugtown, PA.

The mystery of just why an official Catholic radio station was issuing such a blasphemous QSL was solved in early June when Swedish DXer Lars Carlson (uncle of Sven Gonzalez) visited the station. The QSL was supposed to feature a photo of the Virgen de Quito statue, which overlooks Quito from El Panecillo Hill. However, the printer accidentally switched the photo with one from a calendar they were printing the same day. The QSLs were delivered to the station in a box, face down, and Sister Marta Elena never bothered to turn the QSLs over as she took them out of the box, filled them out, and then stuffed them in the envelope. When Lars showed Sister Marta Elena what was on the front of the card, and she realized that she had sent out hundreds of these, she immediately fell dead from shock. It is not known what happened to the remaining QSLs, but no more were received by DXers. During the confusion caused by Sister Marta Elena's untimely death, Lars was able to stuff about a dozen blank cards under his shirt, although a few nights later he lost them in a poker game with some Australians in Loja. The remaining blank QSL cards then disappeared for nearly three decades until they were found in 1992 in the archives at an anthropology museum in Perth, Australia, where they are currently on permanent display in the lobby.

At least one DXer had the course of his life changed by this Radio Catolica Nacional QSL. When fifteen year old DXer Gregg Townsman of Salt Point, NY received his, he took it as a divine sign that he was to become a priest. His long career included over two decades as a missionary in Rio de Janeiro and several South Pacific Islands. Today he is Archbishop of the Diocese of Las Vegas, Nevada.

The picture of the Virgen de Quito statue intended for the QSL ended up as Señorita Mayo on the 1965 Cerveza Sapo Negro calendar. Today the calendar is considered highly collectible by collectors of religious imagery.

Unknown to DXers until recently, the same thing almost happened to HCJB in 1963. In late 1962, HCJB used the same print shop to print its 1963 Station Staff QSL series. Again there was a mix up at the print shop, and Señorita Septiembre from the Cerveza Sapo Negro calendar was switched with the one of announcer Mildred Reed. The message on the back of the QSL reads Announcer Mildred Reed has been a missionary in Ecuador for nearly forty years and has eleven grandchildren. Obviously, there wasn't much similarity between Mildred and Señorita Septiembre. This time the mistake was discovered before any QSLs were sent out the door. It had been believed that all these cards had been destroyed, but in 2001 Mildred's children found several of these in the personal effects of her husband Bill Reed, when he died at the age of 99. Since then, the family has been selling one card on EBay each year. The card at right was purchased by DXer Bill Rumbley for $3,215 in 2005. While the card isn't yet part of the Dead DXers's Stuff collection, we are eagerly awaiting its arrival (and the arrival of the rest of Bill's collection).