Back when we were in elementary school, a buddy and I fiddled around with crystal radios. I got a 10N1 kit from Knight Radio for a birthday. We obtained some WWII surplus radios, and spent hours listening, to what we couldn't imagine. It probably was aviation navigation beacons coming from a nearby air force base. A local ham, who was a friend of my buddy's dad started up a local radio club and began holding classes at the county court house on Tuesday nights. Part of the time we copied code, part of the time we learned electronics, rules, etc. We sometimes went over to this fellow's "shack" where we became transfixed with the idea of hearing and talking to other hams all over the place. He arranged to get surplus gear from MARS, and we worked on converting the aircraft ARC-5's to usable ham gear. Some of us took the Novice test and mailed the results in. It took about 3 months for the license to arrive in the mail! One night, a local amateur who was also the Superintendent of Schools, called our house. My dad answered the phone and was astonished when the older gentleman, a prominent man in town, asked for me. The occasion was the launch of the Ruskie satellite Sputnik, and he was listening to it on his Hallicrafters receiver on about 20 MC (in the old days Hertz were called "cycles!") So he, and I, became among the first to hear the new satellite, what turned out to be the dawn of a new era. My grandmother bought me a Heathkit DX-40 which I put together. It didn't work at first, but with the help of another ham, we got it on the air, with an old Hammarlund HRO-5 receiver and a 40M dipole strung between the garage and a 2x2 a-frame mast. While all this was going on, my younger brother and dad got licensed. One night, my dad made a contact with California! Holy moly! That was where Disneyland was, and Annette Funicello lived, and Ricky Nelson, too! For a couple of kids who had seldom been out of the Texas hill country, it was like talking to someone on the moon. Then a few weeks later, he made a contact in Hawaii!!! If California was the moon, Hawaii was like Mars! There was so much excitement we didn't know whether to run in little circles or jump up and down! That December, after only a few months as a Novice, I went to Houston over the holidays and took and passed my General test, on the first try. We got a tri-band beam and 40' tower for Christmas that year. Now we were really into it! This month I celebrate 50 years as a licensed amateur. My dad dropped out of ham radio after we were in college, and my brother is on the top of the ARRL DXCC Honor Roll.