I'll be the first to state that I was hoping to be posting more frequently on here, but I've been dealing with a customer issue at work for the last two weeks, and I've been more focused on spending time with family than with my hobbies. This post is one that I started writing before even the first blog post, but I saved it away in Evernote for a rainy day (if you don't use Evernote, or a similar tool, you're really missing out).
Everyone I've come across in ham radio has a story of how they got started, so why should I be any different. Unlike many people I've come across, my parents weren't into technology. My mom was a secretary before I was born, and my dad was a truck driver. Both thought I was crazy when I spent the first fistful of cash I earned mowing lawns on a Commodore VIC-20 computer (man, do I wish I still had that...). My dad played with CB radio a bit, and we had a 10-channel Regency scanner (that I still have!) to listen to the police and fire in our city and the surrounding towns. But that was the extent of radio and electronics in my early years.
In the fall of 1986, I was on a Boy Scout camping trip at the local scouting reservation. They were having a 'scouting jamboree' with other troops also setting up demos. Our troop was demoing ropes and knot tying, and while wandering around, I came across a table with a radio, a machine making all these beeps and boops while displaying letters, and this thing that the operator was tapping on. I stood there for a few seconds and heard a familiar note. 'dit dit dit'. And the letter 'S' popped up on the screen. Then a few minutes later, more tones, and this time I recognized the letter 'O'. These were two letters I learned for my Wilderness Preparedness merit badge. Everyone learned S-O-S!
I started chatting with the man that was running the booth, and quickly became more interested. He was the leader of ham radio Explorer Post 73 (which I later found out was pretty common, for obvious reasons). His name was Franny, and his call was W1SPG. I found out his post met once a week about 15 minutes from where I lived. I took down his name, phone number, and left to keep thinking about that cool setup. I ended up joining that Explorer Post, and remained a member for almost 7 years. At that time, I moved up to be an assistant leader, a position I held until the group broke up due to lack of membership in 1997.
Franny was one of two mentors that taught me so much as a young adult. He became a Silent Key a few years back, but left such a legacy for all those that met him. It turns out, Franny was a driving force in the Worcester, MA area for many years. While I can't put a finger on it, he was easily responsible for getting over 100 hams licensed in the Central MA area. For the years that I was in the post, he was responsible for over 30 young hams getting their first license. My good friend Howie, KA1NAH, put up a great little memorial post for him here.
Next time, I plan to write about my interests in this hobby, others that have influenced my like, and a bit about the friends that I've had for over 20 years. Until then, have fun!