Bob Silverman, WA6MRK
(Formerly WV6MRK, 1960)
I have always been interested in electronics from the age of 6 and on. I couldn't wait to visit my older cousin to see him work with a new invention, the transistor. I also was totally fascinated when my family visited my father's college friend's family whose son was a ham operator. With this background, reading just about any electronics magazine or book I could get, and a desire to build anything electronic, I built a CPO (code practice oscillator) and taught myself the Morse code so that I could get a Novice license. I don't recall exact dates but I do know that I had received my call sign, WV6MRK, before my 13th birthday in September of 1960. My first rig was a National NC-109 receiver and a Globe 90, CW transmitter (with a pair of big, glowing 807's), a Moseley vertical antenna and a J-38 key. Later, I replaced the key with a Vibroplex bug and really enjoyed trying to improve my code skills so that I could eventually get a General class license. I eventually got my code speed up to 20 WMP.
I was also interested in the 2 meter band since it allowed AM voice operation for a novice. Whenever my family took car trips up to San Francisco, I would plug a Gonset Communicator 1 into the cigarette lighter connector in the dash and QSO as we went. Plus there were these fantastic "T-hunts" when a bunch of guys would get together in Darby Park in the Baldwin Hills with 2 meter rigs in their cars and directional yagis to track-down the elusive transmitter ("T") somewhere in LA County. I took part in these because most of my ham fiends by then were older than I and had driver's licenses and vehicles.
My electronics hobby and interest in ham radio had always taken place mostly outside of public school. After transferring from Louis Pasteur Jr. High School to Palms Jr. High School at about the time I had my novice, I learned that the electric shop teacher, Harvey Siepel, was also a ham and had a station in his shop. However, I really remember little about any public school ham radio experience until I got to Hamilton High School with the late, great Mr. Jack Brown. By then I was a General and spent much of my free time in the electric shop building equipment for the radio club or myself and using the school station, K6CXI. I never took a class from Jack but certainly knew what was going on in the electric shop.
Since I am getting well past my Novice year, I'll reminisce no more but finish with this epilogue: In 1998, I accidentally allowed my license to expire. By the time I realized it, I was too late to renew. In 2000 I brushed-up on current regulations and my code (5 WPM came back to me very quickly since I was able to make use of an internet website to get code practice) and visited a testing session of the local radio club. At that time, I started testing at the lowest level license, and took tests in succession ending with the amateur extra. I was assigned a new call sign but then applied to "Friendly Cousin Charley" to get back my original: WA6MRK.