Paula Keiser, K8PK
(formerly WN2FJC, 1957)
I belonged to a radio club in New Jersey at the Metuchen YMCA (K2YNT), beginning in 1956. In May of 1957, having passed the Novice exam three months earlier, I finally received my first call, WN2FJC.
The club met every Saturday afternoon, and George Hyde, W2FFY (SK) would fill our (about 15 of us) little brains with all the comings and goings of electrons in their various environments. The highlight of the meeting, though, was that George always brought his Gonset Communicator II, THE 2-meter rig of the day, with him to the meeting and we sub-Novices would be allowed to make contacts with it (under George's control, of course).
When the license arrived, my Dad notified my uncle, W2MUP (SK). The next time we got together with my uncle, he offered me the use of his Gonset Communicator I. Wow, was I ever the celebrity at the ol' radio club then!
I had set up a small Heathkit station using a borrowed AT-1 transmitter and an AR-3 receiver I had received that past Christmas, but the low-band rig gathered cobwebs as I had the time of my life on 2-meter phone. The impending expiration of my license after only one short year was at the way bottom of my list of concerns. Christmas Eve of 1957 was the next time I saw my uncle, who, of course, asked me if I had my General yet. Sheepishly, I bleated that I hadn't, that I was spending all my time on Two. Well, "Unc" was livid! He threatened to take back his rig. Then, when I showed signs of starting to cry, he softened, and made me the following offer: if I got my General before the Novice expired, he's GIVE me the Gonset.
The next few weeks were spent copying code and studying the license manual like a person possessed. Then in late January I made my first trip to New York for my first visit with the legendary Charlie Finkleman. I sat down at the code desk - and froze! I was scared TO DEATH! (Charlie had that effect on people, especially kids.) I couldn't write. My hand wouldn't move! Thirty days later, though, I was back. Knowing what to expect from Charlie, though, I breezed through the two exams that time, and passed. My beloved Gonset was mine! My cursed "N" was gone from the new license I received the customary 3 months later, but, thanks to 2-meter AM phone privileges as a Novice, it almost never happened.
I suspect that the 2-meter privileges did in a LOT of Novices, back in the day.