I kept my interest until 1955 when I found a group of like minded school kids and we began studying the then available ARRL License Manual. As it turned out, I was the only one to follow through and get a license.
I learned the code by building a ‘clicker' key made from a piece of wooden siding. I pounded 2 nails into the top side and another 2 at the bottom. A third nail at the bottom was bent to hold a rod from my erector set. The rod was about 6 inches long and I hooked a rubber band over the far end and back to the front nails. This provided tension which gave a feel to the key.
I had been listening to a local ham (W0FNF Grant Mecham?) on 20M and he didn't live very far from me. I went to his house and asked him if he would administer the Novice Exam. He agreed. I took the test sometime in September 1955.
Over the Christmas holidays, my father was found to have brain cancer. He had given me a Modified Command Set for 40M and an S-38D Hallicrafters for Christmas. These plus a 40M folded dipole w/ 4:1 Balun made up the station. Due to his condition, he never saw me in action. He passed away in July of 1956.
My license arrived on January 23, 1956 and I was ON THE AIR. The power supply for the Command set had exposed plate 816 rectifiers and my antenna change-over was a knife switch in back. After a few instances of contacting my forearm to the plate cap, taught me that HV HURT.
I had met a local ham a block away (KN0AVW, the late Don Murkins) . Besides having a beautiful daughter my age, he also had a fully operational station and was very active. I got my Novice the same day as he got his Conditional. My Callsign, KN0DON. He was soooo mad.
I was very active and had a crystal for 7180. I managed to rack up 30-some states in short order. My first DX was a VE6 and shortly afterwards, WH6BRF.
I went back to W0FNF and took the Conditional exam. The license arrived in September 1956. K0DON.
Since then, I have held K7TNW, W2GPA, W7KVE and currently K7NO. There is no doubt that my Novice days were the most memorable. I still have all my logs from the first QSO to current. I can look through those lags and remember most of the contacts.