(Formerly WN9UTC, 1972)
I must be the only former novice who remembers that his year as a novice stank. I didn't know what I was doing, my antenna sucked, Xtal control, 15 watts cw....I couldn't wait to upgrade so I could use a VFO. I can't believe any ham really thinks those days were his best in the hobby--that must be why so many hams are inactive now. My best days as a ham are right now because I can afford halfway decent gear and antennas. If I need to find out about anything the internet and Google is right there. In 1972 I was like a blind, deaf guy feeling around in the dark.
I had to pay for all my equipment with money from a paper route. My parents took me to hamfests though. At one I actually won something, a 3 year subscription to Ham Radio Magazine, which turned out to be the most boring ham magazine ever published--it was like an IEEE Transaction journal. I know some guys had a good time-- they had 15 meter beams and gear like the Drake novice twins but that was stuff I only dreamt about. My first qso was exciting while it lasted which was I think, around two minutes.