(formerly KN1BOW, 1957)
I got interested through Boy Scouts, my first merit badge was Radio when I was 11 years old. I never had an Elmer before I was licensed. I probably could have if I had looked around or if a local club had an outreach program, but if there was one they missed me. It took me until I was 14 to get my code speed up to 5 wpm, and I passed my Novice and Technician together in February 1957. The tickets for KN1BOW and K1BOW arrived in April. I struggled to make contacts with a QRP homebrew rig and inadequate antennas, and my code speed increased very slowly. I failed my first two attempts to pass the 13 wpm test at the Boston FCC office, and finally succeeded about a week before the Novice was due to expire. But the FCC folks endorsed my Technician license for General privileges -- I never used the Technician privileges, but the ticket allowed me to stay on the air on h.f.
My true Elmer was a friend a year younger than me, Cliff Anthony, K1BYL, who helped me build rigs that really worked and who was fearless at climbing trees to get antennas into the air. I lost contact with him after the late 1960s and was saddened to learn much after that fact he had become a silent key.
I have a current project to reproduce my original Novice station. I know a lot more about making antennas and getting power into them than I did 50+ years ago. I frequently operate QRP, but do not recommend the challenges of QRP to newbies without operating experience.
I've never let my license lapse, although there were inactive years during college, Peace Corps service, and early parenthood. I have held K1BOW, W7FHK, and W1GSJ as I moved around the country and back to Massachusetts, and I have been N1AW since the mid-1970s when N calls were first issued in the first round of what is now called the vanity program. I've also held YN1ASW during a couple of teaching sabbaticals in Nicaragua.
Albert S. Woodhull
Amateur Radio: N1AW