Paul Johnston, W9PJ
(formerly WN9OPD, 1955)
I received my Novice Ticket in February of 1955. I moved from Minneapolis, MN to Maywood, IL in 1954. While attending Proviso HS, I ate lunch with some guys who were hams and some who were preparing to be. I decided to go for my Novice ticket too. I borrowed an old ARC5 receiver to listen to 80 CW and some 78 RPM code practice records that got me ready for the test. The code was always easy for me, I had to work a little harder on the theory. I acquired an SX-42 receiver and my dad drove me down to Allied Radio to buy a Viking Adventurer kit. I saw a used Stancor ST-202A with an 812A final and decided to buy that instead. I put up a Windom antenna and ran it from a tree in the parkway to a mast I built on the roof of our garage. My first contact was a W2 in New Jersey. I remember calling my mother from school almost every day to see if I received any new QSL cards. I still have all of my Novice QSL cards. I ended up working 47 of 48 states, Delaware was the lone holdout, and all continents except Asia. I worked about 35-40 countries as a Novice. The DX really improved when I built a rotary dipole for 15 meters. I graduated to a MonKey electronic keyer and got my 25 WPM code proficiency sticker as a Novice. It was a great time to get into amateur radio. I joined a radio club, the Chicago Suburban Radio Association, and people were really nice to us kids. People used to stop by whenever they saw an antenna to meet and introduce themselves. I have been active for 53 years and still love the hobby. I don't think I ever surpassed the thrill of radio I experienced as a Novice, even with all sorts of modern gear and old gear I have collected. Kind of like a kid with a cane pole and a stringer of fish, compared to someone with fancy tackle and a creel.
You can see my current station and picture at QRZ.com.
Paul Johnston, W9PJ ex WN9OPD