K4KIOcleanedup-305x166Hugh Louis (K4KIN) led in our interest in electronics and somehow got plugged into the hobby of ham radio. I quickly ramped up with him in this although he always did and still does to this day, keep a big stretch ahead of me on the technical knowledge.

But we both studied the theory and practiced morse code until the day we went to Louisville and sat down nervously for our tests before the Federal Communications Commission. Both of us passed and after the weeks waiting for our licenses to be issued we began the greatest excitement, building equipment and making short wave radio contacts with other “hams” across the country. We saved our money until we could afford to buy some equipment while also buying parts to make some of it ourselves.

In those days, there were no cellphones, no internet or e-mail and unlike today, long distance
calls were terribly expensive. So the idea of sitting in our “shack” and making a radio contact with someone across the country was really an achievement, especially if it was with equipment which we built ourselves. Some of the equipment was surplus WWII radio gear we converted to amateur use.

We also converted the old no-longer-used privy to a radio shack and used an electric reflector
heater to keep it warm enough in cold weather to spend our days there with the new hobby. We erected an iron pipe mast in the back to support the long wire antenna. I’m pretty sure we were the first, and maybe the only, licensed amateur radio operators in New Haven.

One day while transmitting we had our first serious case of TV interference when a neighbor
came over a bit past his limit waving a pistol and threatening Daddy if we didn’t stop messing up his favorite program.

On another occasion, Daddy himself was a bit past his own limit and came out to the shack while we were gone. He threw some switches and began calling CQ, the general call to anyone who might be listening. But, not realizing the need to tune the transmitter, he managed to burn out some components and embarrass himself with his solo performance.

It was his last experience in ham radio but not ours. Hugh Louis continued his activity more or
less from then on. I dropped out during my college years and resumed only near the end of my
career with the same call sign I was originally issued in 1956.