[TowerTalk] Anniversary

ersmar@comcast.net ersmar at comcast.net
Wed Nov 9 13:07:27 EST 2005


     I just looked at the calendar and remembered that it was forty (!)
years ago today that I passed my Novice Morse code test!  My Elmer, Harry
Schaefer (callsign forgotten by me, sorry) of Coaldale, PA had just given me
my test at 5 WPM send and receive.  He then showed me his station -
Hallicrafters receiver sitting on a large wooden desk in his attic and Globe
King 500 Watt floor rack-mounted AM and CW transmitter feeding a tuner and a
dipole just outside his window (in the days before RF exposure rules!)

     He tuned across a couple of QRQ stations in the low end of 80M.  Of
course, I couldn't copy them and asked what they were saying.  Harry cocked
his head for a while, listening intently AND COPYING IN HIS HEAD (My hero!)
He said one Ham in Massachusetts asked another Ham in New York state when
the power came back on in New York.  The NY Ham said his town hadn't been
affected by the power failure.  The next morning I read in the paper about
the Great Northeast Blackout of 1965.  (
http://blackout.gmu.edu/events/tl1965.html .)

     Since then we Hams, and the rest of American society, have witnessed
momentous changes in electrotechnology.  In commercial radio broadcasting,
FM supplanted AM as the delivery method preferred by more in the listening
audience.  The Carterphone decision of the FCC in 1968 opened the way for
interconnected devices such as phone-patches (remember when they were
illegal?) and, ultimately, alternative carriers such as MCI, to connect to
AT&T's telephone network.  We no longer hear, "The following program is
brought to you in living color on NBC."  Fiber-optic cables are now as
ubiquitous as copper wires.  Television sets went from using external
converters for tuning UHF channels to mandatory built-in tuners that covered
up to channel 83 to tuners that covered only up to channel 69 (the missing
14 channels had been assigned to something called "cellular telephone"
service.)  And my kids are texting each other on their own wireless
telephone devices.  (Remember when Ham autopatching was all the rage on
VHF-FM?)  And computers in the home?  Only on The Jetsons.

     Thanks for letting me wax nostalgic a bit today (not that you had much
of a choice, I suppose.)  I'm sure we all have similar stories, but for me
it's been an extremely enjoyable trip down this path of Ham Radio.

     Now if I could just work KL7 on Topband!

73 de
Gene Smar  AD3F

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