(formerly WV2REC, 1961)
Fond Memories of Charlie Finkelstein, FCC Examiner
The year was 1961 and my Novice ticket was scheduled to expire in a matter of a few months. My call at the time was WV2REC and in order to swap that V for an A in my call sign, it was mandatory that I visit the local FCC office in New York City to be tested on my knowledge of the requirements of the General Class license rules, regulations and electronic theory. We mustn’t forget the skillset needed in both copying and sending the International Morse Code at the rate of 13 w.p.m. utilizing an old brass pounder while wearing a pair of very uncomfortable headphones (cans).
The morning finally arrived for me to upgrade my Novice license to General and I hesitantly made my way from the subway station to the FCC office in uptown New York City where the exams were being administered. There I met the man who was destined to become my personal nemeses, Mr. Charlie Finkelstein. I was 14 years of age at the time and felt extremely intimidated by the man during our first encounter… He was quite gruff and to the point, a man of very few words… This was evident while explaining how to fill out FORM 610 as well as how the exams were to be conducted. He was a middle aged man of short stature who wore “half-moon” eyeglasses that seemed to always slide down onto the tip of his nose as he incessantly smoked an old stogie while grading both the code and theory exams. The room which the exams were administered seated approximately 20 applicants and was not air-conditioned, adding to further discomfort and angst on this hot and humid summer day. Each time an applicant hesitantly approached him with his completed multiple choice answer sheets, Charlie would slowly glance at the poor soul for approximately 10 seconds, and then proceed with grading the papers. If the applicant was successful, Charlie would look up, nod his head and say something to the effect of “You did good kid!” However, if you were one of those unfortunate individuals that had failed to attain a passing grade, Charlie would glance up at you, look down his nose and slowly shake his head back and forth while mumbling, “See you in 30 days,” all the while, chewing on his cigar. I had the unfortunate experience of visiting with Charlie 3 months in a row before I received “the congratulatory nod” and my new General Class ticket and call! I must say that Charlie definitely challenged me as a young teenager to not give up, no matter how intimidated or defeated I felt, until I finally triumphed and attained my goal. Thank you Charlie…