Jamie Markowitz, AA6TH
(formerly KC6DCD, 1988)
My Novice days were some of the best times. Naturally I mostly worked CW. On 15 and 40 meters. SSB was available on 10 Meters at that time, but the code just appealed to me more, and I'm glad it did.
My code mentor was Bill WF6W. Before I got my license, I would practice sending for hours on an old Heathkit oscillator and straight key. I literally would take a section of the newspaper and practice sending for one minute. Then I would take and divide the numbers of words I had sent into the time and see just how FAST I was going. Before long I was sending at some ungodly rate... maybe 80 or 90 wpm. Boy I thought I was doing soooo good... little did I know!!! I was so excited to show Bill (my code mentor) just how well I was doing. I went over to his shack and demo'd my new found and simply amazing skills. When I got done, I asked him what he thought of THAT! He said, and I quote, "Sounds like $h1T... you're blending everything together. I can't understand a word of what you are sending."
Needless to say, that deflated my ego some, but Bill was careful not to burst my balloon. I learned that it wasn't how fast you could send code, but how well. The general idea was to communicate (not confuse someone). The crispness and consistency of the dits and the dahs... the letter and word SPACING. I soon learned that if you were 'easy' to copy... then people would want to talk to you. It then became enjoyable. From that point on, I never even thought about speed. Bill really made me work hard on the quality of my fist. He told me that if a 1x2 Ham called me that was a real complement to my fist.
I remember Ted Ryan, WB6JXY (sk) saying that the bond I would make with other hams during my Novice days would create many lasting memories. He was right. I think my favorite times were round table CW QSO sked's in the middle of the night. I'm glad I worked my self up through the ranks... starting at Novice. Too bad it's not there anymore. People don't know what they are missing.