And as fate would have it, there were also curiosity inspiring large antennas nearby belonging to Bill, WB6KBS, an active ham and Lockheed engineer who was just starting a Novice class after hours, at the local doughnut shop. Could I join too? Why sure!
I read, re-read, and plain wore out my copy of "Tune in the World", took to morse code like dust on glass, and was easily up to 15 WPM for my novice test. Seriously. I practiced sending from every page of "Tune in the World", could not get enough of the code tapes, listened endlessly on my DX-160, and translated street signs and the like to CW at every opportunity. Yeah. I'm a code-geek.
I passed my Novice test late that November, and my ticket dated December 19, 1978, arrived from Gettysburg on Christmas eve. Best present ever! I was now, officially, KA6DHH. By this time I had found, for the princely sum of $9.00, a decrepit Heathkit DX-35 at the local Goodwill complete with VF-1 VFO.
I made my first, and very nervous first contact with Bert, WD6CPE, now KB6O.As a sidebar, I Googled Burt just a couple of months ago and thanked him via email. He's in his 80's, in good health, and still active on the bands. What a great hobby!
So as I think back on those days, I find I MISS being a Novice. I MISS getting home from school on rainy afternoons, calling CQ and being surprised who, from where, might answer. I MISS the excitement of seeing new QSL's in the mailbox. I actually MISS the big cold war broadcasters rolling in on 40 meters as the sun fell. A challenge on a DX-160 to be sure, but I didn't care. It was the part of the din of static and radio signals falling from the night sky and I loved, and still do love it. Though despite my nostalgia for the '160, I am sure glad I do not own one anymore. It is nice to be able to listen to just one signal at a time.