We live in an a selfish society and I suppose that is "normal." Young people today, primarily because of a lousy educational system that does not educate, know nothing of the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean Police Action, or the long Vietnam war. What does that have to do with Amateur Radio? Well, the same attitude of selfishness precludes young people from even caring about the pioneers of Amateur Radio or of the work of Old Timers in providing the stimulus, the money, the ideas the advancement, and the stepping stones to make this avocation what it is today.
These days a radio enthusiast can take a multiple choice test and become an Extra Class operator and that test is given by another ham at a convenient time and at a convenient place. Those of us who started in the '50s began as a Novice, which we were. The Novice license was an incentive license good for only one year. We were restricted to narrow portions of the bands, required to pass a 5 wpm code test, use no more than 75 watts input power, CW only, crystal contorted transmitters (no vfos) and we had to build our code speed to 13 wpm within the year to pass the General Class license test.
What was that like? In my case it was a 6AG7 oscillator to a folded dipole and a $40 Hallicrafters receiver (That's $387.00 in today's funny money). For me it was a week's salary. Being crystal controlled on one frequency required hand-keying CQ for a LONG time -and then tuning the WHOLE band to see if someone was answering on another frequency.. If You answered a CQ you had to wait for that station to tune the whole band to see if he had heard you calling him. Was it a pain in the ass? Yes! It was. That's why most of us spent more time practicing Morse Code than operating so we could reach that magical 13 wpm plateau so we could roam the bands with our General Class license. And dud I mention that we, in most instances, had to drive a long distance to an FCC office to take those tests? For me, working a dusk to midnight shift at a broadcast station and then driving a hundred miles to an FCC office for an 8 AM test was not fun.
Am I bitter that it is so much easier for anyone to become a ham these days? No, I'm not. Today's applicants take the tests the FCC requires, and so did we "back in the day." Do I regret having to learn Morse Code and then pass a20 wpm test for an Extra Class license? No. Because I was forced to develop a skill that still enables me to copy and send CW without the crutches of a computer to read it and a keyboard to send it.
I am extremely grateful to those pioneers who worked so hard to give us ham radio. My call sign goes back to 1932 and a fellow who started with a spark transmitter and only kept the license for five years (the limit until modern times). What I do want from newbies is no superior "me too" smart ass attitude and a little respect just as I have it for those who came before me. Perhaps that is why I don't operate much anymore. The only sure thing in life is "change." Everything changes over time. Ham radio has greatly changed and not all changes have been for the better.
Thank you for dropping by. . Send comments HERE. Until next week 73 and Straight Ahead ->