My radio adventures started at an early age In Travelers Rest, South Carolina in a grocery store parking lot in about 1962. I was 9 years old and I watched a man talking on a radio from his truck. After that I was hooked but it would be years before I got reeled in and got that ticket. I checked out books and looked at all the neat electronic wonders that I could build and or buy. I should have taken the time to read them!
My next step in radio was playing with my new 11 m 100mw or less walkie talkies. I grew up ¼ mile from anyone. I heard nothing but squeals and skip on that rush box. Now, the skip was interesting, but I never worked any, honest! So I started in radio as a QRP operator. I did figure out that if I climbed the huge white pine tree in my yard I was able to talk to my play mate and gained valuable experience in climbing and working extended groundwave. But unfortunately the telescoping whips soon wore out and broke and that was about it for 11 m.
Fortunately for me, my sister married the son of W4NWB. My sister and her husband lived in W4NWB’s older family home and I stayed with them some during the summer. That was when I made a big discovery! There was a small building outside (a shack with a large window) that had the W4NWB call sign painted on it. At the age of 11, I found a small ladder and climbed up and looked inside. I was hooked again, looking at racks of homemade tube equipment with keys and mics. I never got to talk with W4NWB and sadly, Al died before my radio career got started. I couldn’t find anyone to be my Elmer and give the code test.
I was 16 before my dad found an article in the paper about a local club having a licensing class. Whoopee! Now the code was a bit of an obstacle since I had learned it as dots and dashes in the Cub Scouts, but I got through it. From Novice WN4TNQ to WB4TNQ, then AJ4N for 20 years and 21 years ago W4IT.
I operate lots of modes, love old boat anchors and AM. Career wise it varied but was always something to do with technology. I managed to get educated along the way with a couple of degrees. Also did a stint in the Air Force during the end of Vietnam as a cold war veteran. I got into broadcast engineering early on in AM and TV, both studio and transmitter duty. Then I worked in a telecom career as an electronic repair depot manager. And I did build, repair and test the information super highway! The last years I worked as a senior manufacturing engineer in the auto industry until retirement in 2017. Other hobbies included private pilot, fishing, fox hunting and contesting. My XYL, daughter and sister are all hams. W4NWB’s grandson, one of my best friends, has that call. CW forever!