Dan Marks, ex-K6IQF
(formerly KN6IQF, 1955)
I entered Hami (Los Angeles's Alexander Hamilton High School) in 1955 as a geeky 10th grader. It was, and I guess it still is a 3-year high school. At the time I thought it luck, but now I'm thinking that it was wisdom on the part of my counselor that I was advised to take Electric Shop‑I with Jack Brown in that 1st semester.
The class membership was dichotomous; some smart types on an academic track like me, many of us gawky, and the remainder guys definitely not on their way to college, many of them what we called hoods in those days. There were no girls in shop classes back then.
JB, Mr. Brown, i.e. Jack Brown had the look of a tough longshoreman - the look of a welter-weight with a bunch of fights under his belt. He was a tough guy by demeanor, but what an amazing intelligence and humor was visible in his eyes and came out of his mouth. He taught and handled geek and hood with ease and with much fun.
Well, the first 5 minutes of every day in Electric Shop‑I and ‑II was devoted to learning Morse code. JB would teach us the code for a couple of characters each day, and then using an audible tone oscillator and a simple key, send us messages, in the beginning just words, which we had to copy. I'm not sure why he did that, but I was good at it. We learned Ohm's Law and got to witness it with batteries, resistors, voltmeters and ammeters, and I was good at that stuff too. (I wasn't very good at mechanical stuff - construction, soldering, etc., but JB was a patient if an exacting teacher - one of his favorite epigrams: "Gee Dan, if I'd wanted a sloppy job, I'd have done it myself".) During that 1st semester, he pointed me towards the Radio Club, K6CXI, which he sponsored and which had a "shack" in a corner of the shop.
There, the club members and JB helped me study for the Novice license theory test - up until three years ago when we moved out of the house in which we lived for 23 years, I still had a well worn, stained and musty smelling 1955 ARRL Handbook. Because of the daily Morse code sessions, I was already copying over 5 words/minute on letters and numbers. Then, as I remember it, I went to downtown L.A. to take my exam, and passing it received call sign KN6IQF. My General call was K6IQF, which I got the following year.
After getting my Novice license, JB & the club provided advice on my purchasing and building a Heathkit AT-1 transmitter and buying a surplus receiver from Henry Radio. My folks gave me some room in our garage for my "shack" and I spent many an hour tapping out 35 watt CW signals in the 15, 40 and 80 meter bands - I had QSLs from about half the states and one night with auspicious hop, made contact with and exchanged cards with an amateur in Chile.
I remember going up in the local mountains to my first Field Day with JB, his son and the rest of the club. I only had my Novice license and was only being able to operate CW on the lowest powered transmitter, but had a great time with more to come.
I don't know how active a ham JB was - not very during my stay at Hami - but I'm sure he fostered many a Novice licensee, all of the ones that I knew later getting their Technician, General and Advanced tickets.