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Cody SINPO

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Fall In!

Ham radio is a cult.


There, I said it. Witchcraft. Wicca with knobs and dials. Don't let anybody kid ya, bub. Been that way since Marconi, who, like many geeks of his day had a weak spot for lah-dee-dah spiritualism, seances, and all that drawing room woo-woo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Which leads me to the above meditation on this very propitious time of year, ham radio included.

For this kid ham anyway, autumn couldn't fall into place fast enough, when my mom stopped bugging me about playing radio in the basement instead of playing outdoors in the nice sunshine. Please.

I might have spent more time above ground out and about if I had a good reason, like an Elecraft KX-3, but my rig was a DX-40/VF-1 combo and a Hammarlund Super Pro weighing-in at 100 pounds if you counted the power supply, which taught me everything I needed to know about inertia.

All right, oh man, September turns October, just enough time to pedal down to the library for an inspirational Ray Bradbury book or two, October Country or Something Wicked This Way Comes, before it gets too dark, just in time for a heaping plate of Tuna Wiggle and then to hell with Social Studies and hit the bands running.

Now, this is fall ham radio from a kid's POV, when your sense of mortality tends to be a little more abstract. But whether your stick with or return to our hobby as an adult, the bitter necessarily mingles with the sweet at this complicated time every year, when even the distant past can seem close as the Vibroplex Lightning Bug on your operating desk.

In this altered state, you can imagine a sked with your SK Elmer. You can imagine raking your leaves into lobes pointed at Oceania. You can imagine smoking a Dunhill bulldog charged with Half & Half, tobacco smoke mixed that of burning leaves.

For a moment you can see him leaning on his rake in his yard, wearing Sears work clothes, just like he did the day after school you screwed your courage to the sticking point, rode your bike up his driveway, awkwardly introduced yourself and asked him, sheepishly, to administer your Novice test.

That scene comes back to me every fall, this very strangest time, when the mind's eye plays tricks, and about which Ray Bradbury wrote the book.

 

Jeff K1NSS