OOOH!, using CW as a language instead of simply printing letters on paper was a battle for me! Eventually, using a loaner (read: nearly dead) Eico 720 and one crystal with a constantly changing bevy of drift-o-matic receivers from the club and local hams who took pity on me, I began to actually talk with other hams via my Army surplus knee key (I still have one in the mobile) . Once I busted in on my parents, yelling that I had just worked Japan on the 15 meter band! They stared at their dolt of a child in silence... However, the big break came when my Buddy Tom (now AC7A) actually provided my first QRP mountain top QSO while on a camping trip, by encouraging me to use his home brewed QRP rig on battery power! That set the hook deeply into me for wilderness radio operations. The Army had a bit more of that for me later in life as well. . .
These days, we know our frequencies to the Hz (CPS) if desired and all the paid-for gizmos inside of the expensive boxes we buy from manufacturers do amazing things. However, it is always a special a thrill for me to chat with Hams in CW using my home brew QRP rig or to listen on a tube, short-wave regen receiver. Some things -once tasted- just run too deeply to forget.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane.