(formerly WV2ZOW, 1961)
Got a REMCO crystal set for Christmas when in 3rd grade while living in Colonia, New Jersey. Big blue plastic thing. That, and the book "The Boy's First Book of Radio and Electronics" by Alfred P Morgan, sparked my interest in radio. While looking through Montgomery Ward catalog, I spotted the Gateway to Amateur Radio -- the 3 book set from the ARRL. Learning the Radiotelegraph Code, the License Manual, and How to Become a Radio Amateur. $1.50 for the set. Pestered my Mother to get them. Once they arrived, I devoured them. Studied, learned the code etc. When I was ready, my problem was I didn't know any hams! So, at 10 years old, I got on my bike and scouted the neighborhood for antennas, and just went and knocked on the door, introduced myself and was was helped along. The first house I went to, the ham was in the Service, so their father took me arounfd the corner to Bob Brown, K2ZSQ who gave me my code test. He couldn't give me my written test because he was under 21. At the time, ANY General could administer a Novice or Tech code test, regardless of age, and ANYONE, licensed or not, could administer the written test. My Dad gave me the written test. Several weeks later (seemed like forever) my license arrived in March, 1961. WV2ZOW. I still had no clue on how to get on the air, so back on the bike and knocking on doors. I then met Art Lawler, K2HFL. He was my mentor (I cant stand the term "Elmer", especially when its used as a verb). He loaned me an 80 Meter Command Set, and we spent evenings building a 6AG7 one tube transmitter. Underpowered power supply-- only ran about 5 watts input. It did get me on the air, just barely. I would get on the air every day after school and many evenings, but only made 14 HF QSOs during my whole Novice carreer. Sometime late in 1961, I replaced the command set with a Lafayette (really Trio/Kenwood) HE-10 receiver which I saved for with Paper Route money, which allowed me to get on 40 Meters -- however, I never made any QSOs on 40.
I continued to study, and in November I passed my Technician and got anoother call sign -- WA2ZOW. One was permitted to hold a Novice and Technician at the same time, PROVIDING the Novice was obtained first. My parents got me a TWOER and a Big Wheel antenna (I knew they were coming -- I picked them out!) for Christmas. By the time I built the Twoer, weather was warm enough to put up the antenna. 2 meters. Finally, I oculd work stations -- maybe one or two each evening. I was in heaven. After another month or so, my Novice expired and I lost HF. no more CW and no more upgrading until the late 1970s when I finally passed 13 WPM and the General and Advanced theory at the FCC.
So, I was WA2ZOW into the 1970s. When my license came up for renewal, sometime around 1977, the FCC had already done away with special Novice calls. While there was no vanity call sign system yet, there were some provisions for special call signs. Extra Class licensees licensed before a certain date could request a 1X2 call, and anyone, when renewing, could request a call one held previously. I filled in the blank on the 610 form, and sure enough, my renewal license came back as WV2ZOW. Back before the vanity call system, it was worth about 10 dB in the prefix contest. It still generates comments.