I’ve been thinking about my DJ Blogs…..and as memory returns to me, (on some days). I recall, that my father was an early entrant into the world of the “general public’s radio”. Now Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) has been around for years and years..in fact during WWII, Ham Radio operation was banned. But it was in the late 1950’s, that citizens were allowed to have a “Citizens Band Radio” without being tested.
I have talked to many a person who believes they were on the “ground floor” of citizens band (CB) radio. They claim something like a call sign of KAA1111, was proof of an early CB activity——sorry—-I hate to burst their bubble, but our (actually, it was my fathers) first FCC CB radio license was 18W5566. This numbering system was consistent with the then Ham Radio licensing. Sometime in the late 50’s after CB’ing came out, a new international “call sign” distribution system was created. So, my father’s call sign was changed and re-designated from 18W5566 to KHD2529.
Some of you may know that I am an only child. (Before you say aha!!, that’s why you are the way you are; you didn’t have to “share” things growing up…. Continue on.) It seems that my main Christmas present was often the responsibility of my father. There are Christmas movies of yours truly, sitting in the middle of some toy set; while my father and grandfather played with it, I WAS allowed to watch. Like many people in the depression, my father, had a fairly poor childhood. My Christmas got to be his Christmas.
This Christmas present selection continued into my teenage years…..in 1960, we moved from Lake County Indiana to rural, central Indiana. CB radio was at a low ebb on the sunspot cycle, making communicating across the driveway as difficult as across the county. It was about 1961, my father thought becoming a Ham Operator would be fun…..so for my “big” Christmas gift, dad picked out a general coverage Short Wave Receiver, Hallicrafters S-108. The radio was pretty good at receiving general foreign radio shows, Voice of America, HCJB Quito Ecuador, Radio Moscow, etc…..but it wasn’t very good for Ham Radio. He also brought home an instructional LP record called “Learn Morse Code”….Ugh!!! I can say this, it REALLY was a surprise, caught me off guard. My interest didn’t lie there…
Fast forward 20 years. My family and I are now living in Minnesota and one of my good friends is a Ham Radio operator and an industrial arts teacher in a local high school. Three of the church guys (me included) decide to become Ham’s (in the radio sense!!!). Yep, I finally did it….and guess what my favorite radio contacts became….. 🙂 Morse Code!!! Until recent changes (caused by cell phones and internet connections), we could test for 5 different levels of licenses, each one allowing more privileges. Yes, I eventually passed all five, and changed my call signs along the way, KA0NLD, N0EBD, WY9I, and finally W9WTG.
My wife became excited that I was doing something other than couch-potato(e)ing, little did she know that would merely move from in-front of the TV to in-front of the radio.. 🙂 Speaking of which, she would get visibly upset if I didn’t just jump right up when dinner was called. So, it was this particular evening, I was pounding out the morse code to a Japanese ham….when I was called for supper, (a couple of times). Now, communicating in morse code takes just a little longer than voice communications—-just think of all the dits and dahs to write out this paragraph…then again maybe you wouldn’t understand. Anyway, I was finally through with my Japanese contact, about to scoot the chair back when BOOM, like a bomb, this signal explodes in my ears calling me! Now, some people have these real expensive antennas, that can point their signal any direction and connect a booster to be very powerful. Those of us without those funds just use a small wire, and a lot of patience. At times patience wins out, I had just finished with Japan, and this booming signal shouting in my ear was a radio operator, on a Coast Guard Cutter in the Atlantic!! WOW, east and west, my signal was super…super??? Oh, yeah supper!!! The Cutter Operator was off-duty and just looking for a chat…..I finally got that one finished and ran upstairs for supper…..it seems the conversation was NOT as friendly around the dinner table as it was in-front of the radio… 🙂
I became my father about Ham Radio……we had a class for our children, my oldest son earned the second license (KA0YEG)–but wasn’t into it…and my daughter started and then determined right away, that she and Mr. Morse weren’t compatible.
Lest I forget…..at this time my father retired and wintered in Florida, where he met some Ham Operators, yes, he finally got his wish and obtained his license, N9HEY. In the winter, we scheduled Sunday evening radio contacts….usually he couldn’t hear me, nor I him, or someone would crowd onto our frequency. We usually had to use the telephone to call each other, attempting to find a frequency we could make contact on…which usually opened the door for my mother and wife to talk….and make unkind comments about this Ham Radio stuff…. 🙂
Hams we became and hams we are 🙂