Grover Cordell, WB5FSP
(Formerly WN6YRV, 1967; WB6YRV; AB5FSP)
My days as a Novice class ham started almost 40 years ago. Those days were probably not much different than the days experienced by thousands of other Novices and ex-Novices. I'm sure I didn't set any records that will be recorded in Novice Amateur Radio history. I am a part of that history tho...so here is my little story.
My interest in radio started back in the early 1960's while listening to an old Zenith radio. It would receive the shortwave bands and I learned that there was such a thing as two-way radio communications. It was probably on the 80M band that I listened to the AM phone operators...now that was exciting! I don't recall when or where I first heard about Morse code, but for me... Morse code is Amateur Radio.
I'm not sure that I had heard of ham radio at this time. It wasn't long before I began to hear about CB radio...some of the customers that came to the grocery store where I worked in Pomona, CA had radios in their cars. I soon applied for a license and received the callsign KFA7575. I used this service in my home and car for a short while...that is until Ken - W6IEU - became my elmer.
He came weekly to the store on business and was very friendly and we often talked for a long time. At some point I had told him about my CB operation. Then, one day he suggested that I go on my lunch hour and buy some study materials for the Novice license. That done... I began to study in earnest and Ken was always ready to help with any question or problem I had. He loaned me his code tapes and an old tube-type keyer (sans paddle) with which to learn receiving and sending the code (sending with a straight key). I due time, Ken obtained my Novice test papers and gave me the tests. When it came time to take the code sending test, Ken said that he would give me a practice test first.
Well, as you probably know, he told me that I had just passed my 5 WPM code test. What a relief! Ken's next project was to help me set up a Novice station...I didn't know one piece of equipment from another. It was decided that he would go to Mission Ham Supplies, in Riverside, CA, and pick up some gear for me. He returned with a Hallicrafters SX-101 MK3 and a Globe Chief 90-A. Now I was ready to burn the ether, well not yet...no ticket.
My Novice ticket "finally" did arrive in the mailbox...don't we all remember the wait. Now I was WN6YRV and a licensed ham...wow! That same evening, 5 September 1967 at 2145, I had my first QSO...and it was with W6IEU. Ken's QSL card read..."vy good sending Grover - like a champ”.
Being a young man with a family and working six days a week, I was on-the-air as often as I could be. With 75 watts and a few crystals I made 257 contacts over the next 7 months and 18 days. One fond memory I have is of the time I worked Ken while he was driving the freeway using his mike for a key on CW. Thank you Ken...and all the other elmers who have helped so many of us get into Amateur Radio.
Today...and for the past 33 years, "my thing" is ragchewing running QRP CW with 2 watts. I'm still not burning the ether...ha. My Heathkit "peanut whistle" gives me the excitement of that Novice that I was 40 years ago. 33
73 de WB5FSP...Springdale, AR