(formerly WN5CTC, 1963)
I was 13 at the time of the Novice Roundup and to my knowledge I was the only Novice at Fort Sill. The post MARS station was 2 blocks from my house and I would sometimes go there and hang out or operate under their station's license. The station ran a Johnson Viking Invader with the desktop amp behind it so as a Novice I couldn't run the equipment under my call.
In 1959 my dad had orders for Germany and we went to Louisiana to visit the relatives before heading to Europe. My uncle was a ham, K5LHV - Louisiana's Heavenly Voice, and he got both my dad and myself interested. When we arrived in Germany my father got his Conditional license, K5SBE (Sad Brown Eyes), and I prepared for the Novice exam. We discovered that since Germany didn't have a license class equivalent to the Novice then I couldn't operate there and the license would expire before we returned home. Being 9 years old the General was a little above my ability so I had to wait until we returned to the US to take my Novice exam.
While in Germany my father brought home one of the Army's CW training machines which used a paper tape on a reel and a photocell for detection. The machine was variable in speed up to 35 WPM. As an incentive to practice code, my dad told me when I could copy/send at 18 wpm he would take me to his unit's communication center and let me operate on their CW net. By the time we left Germany I could outrun the CW machine. Needless to say, the 5 WPM requirement for Novice was a rather simple task. So at the age of 13 we were back in the states and I was finally in a position where I could join the ranks of ham radio. At the end of my Novice year I passed my General and became WA0JUX.
I had been around quite a few hams and had heard the term "lid" and knew its meaning. So here I can run somewhere around 40 WPM in my head and I'm feeling pretty cocky when I get on the 40 meter novice band for the 1st time. I answer someone's CQ and my heart pounds when I hear him reply to WN5CTC (Carbon Tetra Chloride). He sends me his preliminaries and I then send him mine. The next thing I knew he deflated my ego something fierce. He sent "so lid cpy" at the beginning of his message. I'm wondering how he knew that I was a brand new operator and what had I done that classified me as a lid. It wasn't until my 2nd QSO that I realized they were sending solid copy hi hi.
My father and I built the 6L6 transmitter as a father/son project. The schematic was either out of QST or the ARRL Handbook. My 1st receiver was a used Hallicrafters S20R that was followed quickly by a S38 that was given to us by another ham. At the time of the NR we had graduated to a Hammurland HQ180. The transmitter would not run on 15 meters so I ran 40 meters exclusively. My dad and I raced to see who could complete WAS 1st. I had 49 states and he had 48 when one night I finally snagged Hawaii. The next morning when I left for school I noticed that the dipole had come out of the tree and was laying on the ground ... a new meaning for ground bounce hi hi!
When I got my General ticket my mom and I were living in Colorado while my dad was commanding a communications center in Turkey. I bought a Knight kit T-150 and put it together. As soon as I put up the dipole in the back yard a retired general, who lived across the street, came over and told me he was a ham. Unfortunately I can't remember his call now but he was a 1x2 which at that time meant he was a true "old timer".
Strip started talking about his early days in ham radio running spark gap, making capacitors on the kitchen table using wax paper and tin foil, and winding their own transformers and chokes. When he was a kid one of the main producers of vacuum tubes (I won't mention the name) came out with a new transmitter tube that he wanted very badly. So Strip started building the transmitter with the intent of getting one of the new tubes as the final piece. He got a paper route and worked every odd job he could find to save enough money to buy the tube. Finally the day came when he had enough money and he made the purchase. He rushed home with excitement, plugged the tube in, and low and behold the filament didn't light. He checked everything and couldn't find the trouble. He called a radio engineer, his mentor, who also checked everything and found no problem. So obviously the problem was a bad tube.
Strip took the tube back to the seller but he was told by the manufacturer that the problem could not have been the tube but was caused by his homebrewed transmitter. Even with the engineer's support they wouldn't replace the tube for this young lad who had worked extremely hard to make the purchase. During a 4 year period of General Stripland's career he was the head procurement officer of electronics for the Air Force. He told me that he wouldn't authorized procurement from that particular tube manufacturer unless they were the only company that produced a particular vacuum tube that the Air Force required. How many millions of dollars did that company eventually lose because they screwed a young kid? The moral of the story is that customer service matters! In my 32 year engineering career with Hewlett Packard I was always guided by that story!
So I had built the Knight T-150 and got on the air and Strip was like a little kid with his excitement. Strip mentioned that he had some of the pieces from several scrapped transceivers and said he just might have to call Art and see if he could talk him out of the parts he needed. I asked him Art who and he replied; "Art Collins of course." Well I'm 14 years old and thinking yeah you know the head of Collins Radio about as well I do and blew it off.
Several weeks passed and Strip gives me a call and said to walk across the street to his house. So I go over and there on the living room floor was a brand new KWM-2 and 30L1 linear. He hands me a letter from "Art" and it turns out they are old buddies from their early ham days as well as their professional careers. Besides several pages of personal banter the essence was that Art told him that he wouldn't supply him with the parts because neither of them could afford to waste time building rigs. "Enjoy these rigs and remember the good old days ... your dearest friend, Art"
And that's the way it was!