When I was a young lad, I don’t know, maybe about 10 or 12 years old, my older brother became interested in Amateur Radio. I remember looking through his ARRL publication “How to Become a Radio Amateur” and being especially fascinated by the pictures of radio shacks plastered with all those interesting looking QSO cards. I wanted some of those!
Fast-forward to the early 1980’s, some 30 or so years later, I finally resolve to obtain a Novice license. I was in the Navy at the time, doing my tour of shore duty with the Submarine Sonar Calibration Team in Oahu, Hawaii. We had a civilian “rider” that worked with us named Al Bear. Al was an amateur radio operator and was willing to administer my written and CW tests. By this time, I think I was on my third or fourth phase of learning morse code (I would learn it, not use it, forget it, and have to learn it all over again, and again and again…).
Hooray! I finally had a Ham License! I don’t remember the call sign that was allocated to me (I have it written down somewhere – I just have to locate that ‘somewhere’). Sadly though, I was in the Navy, earning Navy pay and had to take care of my wife and new baby as the main priority – hence, I had no money to get a ham rig – I couldn’t even afford a Heathkit SB-101 (the Navy electronic/sonar maintenance training prepared me well for building electronic kits) – heck, I couldn’t even afford a reasonably good morse key. So, I had to forego my foray into Amateur Radio – for the time…
A few years later, I left the Navy and relocated to England (another childhood fantasy). While I was there, I did investigate applying for a reciprocal permit (I didn’t, for some forgotten reason, qualify for that route) and having failed that, looked into relicensing for a UK license. I either couldn’t do that either or, more likely, got too busy doing other things, so for the next 15 or so years that I lived there, I was “Ham-less”.
Fast-forward again to this century. I’m back in the U.S. and after about 5 years or so, my interest in Amateur Radio was rekindled. Quite a lot seemed to have changed over all those years so this time, not having to relearn morse code for the umpteenth time, I obtained my Technician License. Add another six months to a year and I decided to go for my General License.
Having obtained my General License I pledged to myself that I would get on the air and ‘learn the ropes’ for a couple of years before applying for my Extra License. Made sense to me and I didn’t fancy being labeled a ‘lid’ operator and besmirching the good name of the Extra Class License. Now, I had some money to equip a ham shack, I had a license but, damn the luck, the physical and community restrictions were so tight and imposing, I couldn’t safely erect an antenna anywhere. So close, yet so far away…
Finally, we arrive at the present.
I have relocated. I still have some community restrictions regarding antenna structures, but they are far more tolerant. I do not have a whole lot of space, but, dag nab it, I am determined to get a useable antenna erected and get on the air!
God willing, in a few short weeks, I will finally be able to nab my very first QSO! It will only have taken me some 50 years to get to that point, but determination rules!