Since I had always been interested in amateur radio and there were a half dozen hams in the Instrumentation Branch, I started practicing Morse code with these Elmers and before I knew it I had taken the Novice exam by mail and was on the air on 80 meters with an end fed wire antenna, a homebrew 807 transmitter and borrowed RCA AR-77 receiver. My Novice license was issued on 3-19-56 and I had KN9CTD as my call sign. This was all great fun and the magic is still there.
My first crude homemade QSL card was a photograph of a 155 mm gun firing at night. A copy of my QSL and a copy of my Novice license are attached.
After being on the air as a Novice for a few months I took the Technician test by mail and dropped the "N" in my call and became K9CTD. This license was issued on 10-8-56. The FCC didn't bother to cancel my Novice license probably because it was only good for a year.
The FCC only traveled to neighboring cities every six months to give exams. I drove down to Louisville, KY, and successfully took the 13 wpm code test. My General ticket was issued on 1-14-57.
When I moved to Maryland the FCC gave me the call sign K3BXP and when I later moved to Florida I was given W4STX. After moving to Florida I received my Advanced license and then an Extra class license with the 20 wpm test.
I have been a continuous ARRL member for over 50 years and a QCWA member over 25 years and, yes, the magic is still there.