Chas Shinn, W7MAP/5
(formerly WV6GUL, 1958)
I cannot remember how I came to be a radio ham. It wasn't an exact event- more like a series of accidents. As close as I can recall, it began as an interest in electric trains, followed by afternoons spent with names ike Philmore and Remco; both famous for crystal sets and other electronic project kits advertised in the back of Boys Life magazine. This was about 1957 I was 12 years old.
My Mom had remarried and we moved to a new neighborhood in a suburb of Philadelphia. Things were good. I even had a new dog. This dog required some excercise and I had to brave the cold Philadelphia winters by taking my dog on very cool after dinner walks. It was on one of these walks that I discovered a ham radio antenna in our neighborhood. This antenna was a stately affair; and rare too but I didn't know it at the time. What I had discovered was the home of Karl Krech, W3BS. This man had a beam antenna in 1957! A 3 element yagi on top of a 40 or 50 foot tower. I had never in my life seen such a thing.
I immediately modified my dog walking pattern to include Karl's home so that perhaps, just maybe, serendipity would prevail and I may actually get to see his radios. Serendipity left me in the cold that winter. Either that or Karl was having too much fun with his radios to come outside-ever. Remember, this is 1957-58; the Mother of all Sunspot cycles!
It took me until spring of 1958 to work up enough courage to knock on Karl's front door. But knock I did and he allowed me to enter a new world, a world of big antennas, shiny new radios and to talk to a foreign country. You see that Saturday morning I knocked at Karl's door he was on 10 meters AM talking to an English station with his NC-303 receiver and his B&W 5100 transmitter. I had no idea what I was looking at but after he let me talk to England (where is that?) I was hooked and wanted some more of this fun stuff. Karl was a kind and patient fellow. He was the real genius for my interest in radio. He took the time for fostering me along and really helped take some mystery out of things while not diminishing my enthusiasm.
I wasn't able to keep things going in radio too long as my Pop had an extended business trip to San Diego; a trip which we all would get to go along. It was to last nine months so my Mom and Pop packed us up and off to Clairmont Mesa, CA. we went. I was now in a new school and had to make new friends etc. so radio took a back seat for a while. When we got back to PA from the nine month business trip he helped me make an 807 based (surplus 1625's actually) transmitter from plans published in a GE application note. Antennas remained an issue but I eventually got a trap dipole strung up between two trees at about 10 feet.
All things considered this was a good trip. I eventually met some other fellows that were interested in radio and eventually I obtained my first radio callsign; WV6GUL in the fall or winter of 1958/59. I cannot remember those fellows names or many details of my later quest for my novice ticket. I don't believe the license was ever used. I may have got on the air from one of of my friend's stations but I know I wasn't able to have a station of my own. My Pop was Pennsylvania Dutch and pretty strict about stringing wires up about his home. At least at first he was strict. Then he relented, but that isn't a Novice story. Suffice to say, since I am still active these many years later, things worked themselves out.
Later I joined the Navy during Viet Nam and spent 10 years learning my craft (electronics technician) and it provided me with an income for life. I am retired now in Dallas Tx and my family was raised on the fruits of those early High School experiences.
Chuck Shinn W7MAP/5