Jonathan (jack) Demaree the life of
Jonathan (jack) Demaree the life of
I was born to Charles & Grace Demaree on September 13, 1945 at Whitlatch Clinic Milan Indiana. I was raised on a farm just West of Versailles, Indiana. I had many farm chores, also my Dad was a farm implement dealer, this created more work with painting and restoration of equipment. I never had the opportunity to participate in after school or sports activities. I did have many friends from town that thought it fun to play on the farm. I would have them help with my after school chores before we could play in the hey or ride the caves playing rodeo. There was a place about ½ mile North called the High Wall and many hours were spent camping and climbing there. Later, I hunted squirrels and deer there. Dan Halcomb, my nephew, was only one or two years younger than I, he was my best childhood friend. We spent many hours hunting and fishing together. My father never had much time to spend with me, a mater of fact I avoided him as much as possible because he would always think of some work that needed done. He did take me to a circus once, but that is all I can remember doing together. I did learn a lot from him though. I was permitted to listen when he was selling or making a trade. I was not allowed to make any comments; I just had to set quietly with no distractions to the customer. My Dad was an extraordinary salesman to say the least. I had some of this rub off on me as I have found in later years. I did join the track team at school but this only lasted a week or so. The coach made me run laps around the gym floor and also run up and down the bleacher steps. I decided this was nuts, as when I got home I was double tired even before I started my livestock and implement jobs. I have always felt I missed a lot by not playing with the other kids after school. My Mom and Dad got a divorce when I was about fifteen or so. Mom and I moved to town just north of the Tyson Church. This was a big change in my life and I must say these few short years were some of the happiest years of my life. I gained many friends and was able to do many things that were not possible living on the farm. I even went to the Indy 500 and to a Reds baseball game. I worked before and after school at the Pure Gas station, also I spent time helping at an electric motor repair shop. I bought a 55 Chevy car when I was sixteen, this the open door to the world. I never went further than Cincinnati or Indianapolis but this seemed like a very distant trip. I had a few girlfriends and was very serious about one but her Dad thought little of me, so it never worked out. I often wonder how my life would have been if we had married. I think it would have been much different. I married Carol Ann Lanham at the age of 18 ½. I guess she did not like me very much as she pulled a Hank Snow after a year and a day. I received my divorce papers and my army draft papers on the same day. This was one of the most un-highlighted days of my life. I reported to Ft. Knox for basic training. The weather was cool as it was October, but as November came it was snow, blow, and cold. I don’t know how it took place but I was lucky enough to get a drivers license for everything but a troop bus. This helped with staying warm inside a truck or ambulance. I did jump off the back of a deuce and a half and broke the arches in both feet. My feet swelled up like footballs and this curtailed the one mile run that was performed before morning chow. My friend Ken Myers drug me the mile for a solid week. This kept me from taking the eight weeks of hell over again. God bless Kenny. When basic was over I was sent to Ft. Ord, California. This was my first commercial airplane ride also. It was a prop four engine plane, a Connie I think with three rudders. I reported in to the reception station and handed the CQ runner my orders, He said,” What the hell is this”. He had never seen orders that stated “OJT 11H4H TRAP”. He gave it to the Capt. And he said, ” What the Hell is this”. I knew I was in trouble and I had just arrived. I was sent to an old wood billets and before dark eleven more privets showed up. We all had the same orders “OJT 11H4H TRAP” and no one knew what that meant, other than OJT, “on the job training". They did not know what to do with us, so they put us all together and told us not to leave the company area. It was like being in jail; this went on for a week. After this long week we were told to report to the commissary to stock shelves starting a 11 PM till 7 AM. Boy was this fun and went on for two weeks. One day at 7:30am I was shook from a deep sleep, The E-7 Sgt. Said, “you Pvt. Demaree? I said Yes, he said get dressed and I will take you to range 44 ATW. I said what for? He just said get going, I’ll be in the mess hall getting coffee, meet me there. Well I did not have a clue what or where range 44 ATW was, but after a short rough ride on some dirt tank trails we arrived at what would be the best place of duty on post. Range 44 was a place where AIT troops learned how to knock out tanks with explosives. You see I come to find out “4H” stood for instructor, and now I am one. The army works in mysterious ways. I got out of the truck and reported to a very small tin hut. Inside was a E-8 Sgt. The NCOIC of range 44, Sgt. Famaria. He looked at my name tag and said” Dee mar ee report to Sgt. Dean, you will take his place in a week. You don’t have much time so get up there,” he pointed and I went. Sgt. Dean was giving a class to 250 AIT troops that were seated in bleachers. Dean was out front on an old wood platform giving a fifty minute block of instruction. I stood next to the end of the bleachers and listened to the rest of the class. He was talking about dynamite, C4, tetratal, and other types of explosives. The class came to an end and Sgt. Dean walked over to me and said “so your it” I said, “I guess so”. He said he only was going to give that class two more times and then it would be mine. I thought how the hell am I going to talk fifty minutes on something I knew nothing about at all. The week went by and now it was up to me to fool the troops that I knew all about explosives. It was a warm day about 80 degrees but it felt like 105. I started out following the quoted words that Sgt. Dean used. I felt a stinging in my eyes so I rubbed it and found I was sweating like I was in a cloud burst. I went on and felt like I did a decent job for the first time. I walked the path to the warm up shack; there were the rest of the fellows that worked there. One said is it raining? Looking at my soaking wet uniform. They all burst out laughing. One said your going to make it OK, I listened to part of your class and you did better than I did the first time. As time went on and I read lots of manuals and it became second nature to talk fifty minutes. I even thought I knew some of what I was teaching. We had a lot of time to kill on range 44, as I only had to work 100 minutes a week. We flew kites, made fireworks, and rockets. I could go on forever about working there but I will just say it was very good duty. Rank came as soon as I had enough time in. I was holding an E-6 slot while starting out as an E-2. After about six months I went home on leave. Did you know you can’t get to Versailles from Indianapolis without a car? I went back after a nice two week stay at home. Things went back to army life but I had been dating this little gal named Betty and I sure missed her. I wrote her and told her to ask her mother if she could come to Ft. Ord to get married. In a week the letter came telling me her parents would allow it. I thought winning the lottery would have a better chance than that. I went to Monterey or I should say Sea Side, a suburb, looking for a place to live. I was making $94 a month at this time, the cheapest livable place I found was Harcourt apartments. Very small but nice, just what we needed, but did I mention the rent was $105.00 per month. I had some money saved and it was used to make up the shortage. I barowed dishes, glasses, and silverware from the officer’s mess. We eat a lot of peanut butter and corn flakes. I would pull KP and guard duty for others and this helped pay the bills and buy food. The mess Sgt. would always give me food after KP, his name was Deloche, and I will never forget him. It was hard to say the least, but we were very happy. I made E5 Sgt. About three months before my time was up and the dumb army wanted me to move on post. They were only about sixteen months too late.
I found that the other 12 fellows that had the same MOS orders as I, had brothers killed while on active duty in the armed forces. Much later in years after my Mother had passed away I was told she had written a letter asking that I not be sent to Viet Nam. The reason was She had a Son, my half brother, (Jim) killed in WW2. The secretary of defense responded with a letter telling her I would be assigned to a duty station out of a war zone.
Betty and I returned home and lived with Mom till I bought a monstrous 10 by 50 trailer. We lived at Pierseville for about a year then bought a home in Versailles where we still live. I worked for my brother operating a bulldozer while living at Pierseville, but while on my way home after work I passed the United Parcel Service building, then in Osgood. I seen Pickle Ellerman standing out front, he yelled at me and I went around the block and stopped. I said what are you doing here, he said he was applying for a job, why don’t you put in for it too? I looked like a mud ball after working in the dust storm of the dozer all day. I thought what the heck, I’ll give it a try. To make a long story short, I was hired and Pickle was not. He has told me lots of times he wished he had never yelled at me that day. He will never know how lucky he was. 26 ½ years will be left out of this story because about all I did was work. UPS has made me what I am today but at a huge cost. I almost remember nothing of those years. I would not recommend working for this company at any pay rate. Nuff said.
I now live very comfortable with a nice pension. My wife Betty works still at the Super-Val here in Versailles. I pass time repairing computers and creating home pages on the Internet for small companies. My hobby is Ham Radio as it has been for the most of my adult life. I am active in the Versailles legion Post where I have a great many friends.
To end, I will say I have left out a lot and may be I will continue adding to this mess later.
Story later, but I want to remember to ad this.
David Stoneking and Dan Mulford have made my life unbearable for years. If any or all attend my funeral or send flowers, Please ask them to leave at once or throw the flowers into the street.
Jonathan (jack) Demaree
Jack Demaree WB9OTX
When I was about five my brother Eddie was sick in bed with the mumps. It was a tradition that when we kids were sick we received a toy. My brother had me check the mail daily to see if a package was in the mailbox. I opened the mailbox and a small brown paper wrapped package was inside. I ran to his bed and gave it to him. I said,” what is it”? He said it was none of my business, get lost. This made me all the more curious about the contents. I slipped into the room later when he was asleep to take a peak. It was a crystal radio set. I looked at the small leaflet but I could only look at the pictures, as I could not read. I put it all back just as I found it. The next morning I ask if I could listen to it. He said it did not work you can have it.
This started my addition to radio. I did get it to work just by looking at the pictures. He did not have a good enough antenna and no grown at all. I used my Dads empty cigar boxes for insulators and wire that I found in our machinery scrap pile, we never through anything away. You had to listen very close and guess at what you were hearing, but it did work.
Later on while on a visit to my grandpa’s house I spied an old up rite wood cabinet radio. I ask if it worked ? The answer was no. I ask if I could have it, but my grandma said no as she had knick-knacks placed on top of it. Grandpa said he would take the insides out for me and I could take it home the next time I was there. I kept asking when we were going back to see them, it seemed forever, but the day came in due time.
It had a big round glass dial and lots of knobs. I wiggled and tapped everything but nothing was ever heard coming from it. I know now that a detector tube was bad, but then I had no idea what the trouble was. I finally gave up and cut every resister and capacitor from it and placed these in cigar boxes for safekeeping. You never know when you may need stuff like that. As I said we never put anything out for trash.
I had a nephew, Dan Halcomb, that had an uncle George, that we visited sometimes on the weekends. As boys will be boys, we were snooping in a shed to see if there were any neat stuff there. Wow ! look at that I yelled to Danny. It was an Echo-Phone short-wave radio just waiting to be turned on. I had seen this very radio in catalogs I had sent for. We got it down, plugged it in and the most beautiful static filled the air. I moved the tuning knob and there was WLW 700 on the dial coming in load and clear. I moved the dial some more but not much else was heard. This radio had to have an antenna wire hooked to it to work proper. WLW is a 50,000 watt clear channel station and was being received with no antenna because it is so strong.
I ask the uncle about the radio. He told me where he got it and a few other things, but all I wanted to know was would he sell it to me. I ask how much would he want for it and he told me I could just have it as it had been in that shed for years.
I took it home and went to work on the antenna. I unwound the wire from the coils in voltage regulators that I got out of the trash at a truck repair shop next to our farm. The wire was very small and would break several times before I gave up. I then went to the hardware in Versailles and ask the clerk Ralph Sheets for some dynamite wire. His eyes got big and said, “What are you blowing up”? I explained I was making a radio antenna.
He said lets look over here. He showed me a real live store built radio antenna. I had never seen real radio insulators before. The price marked on the box was $1.95 and as soon as I seen that my heart almost stopped because I only had one dollar. I told Ralph I didn’t have enough money to get it. He ask how much did I have, I said one dollar. He said if I would not tell Roy, the owner, I could have it for the dollar. He said they would never sell it anyway as no one used outside antennas anymore. What a guy that Ralph was. There were a lot of good people back then.
Home I went and started putting up the antenna. It ran from the upstairs window to a very tall sycamore tree. I had a very hard time climbing the tree to get the wire as high as I wanted but I did it. With antennas, the rule is the higher the better. I connected the lead in wire to the radio, and the power switch was turned. Oh boy, the first sound that came out of the speaker was the song “Cathy’s Clown” by the Everley Brothers. The band switch was set to the broadcast band. I then moved it to a shortwave band and tuned the dial to 5 megacycles. That’s what we called megahertz back then. WWV is a time signal that is broadcast from Ft. Collins, Colorado and is very strong. It was coming in very loud and clear. I tried some other stations from Europe and South Africa and all were there for me to listen to, I had arrived.
Other radios have come and went and so have the years, but I will never forget that little gray Echo-Phone.
Now I’m going to skip a few years if you don’t mind.
I went to the army and was stationed at Ft. Ord, California and after getting settled at my temporary home I began to get the radio itch. I had a Lafayette short-wave receiver setting on the small table in my cubical in short order. I had remembered the antenna made from truck voltage regulators. A quick trip to the TMP motor pool with five Lb. of coffee under my arm. You see in the army you get nothing if you don’t have anything to trade, this coffee was worth a few regulators I figured. I swung a deal with the motor Sgt. and back I came to radio central. The wire was unrolled and after feeling like an ape by swinging around under the eve or overhang on the second floor the antenna was up and hidden from view. The lead-in was run and screwed to the receiver.
California was quite different listening from Indiana. You could hear the West coast stations like locals, because they were. These stations were very hard or impossible to hear from Indiana. stations from all over the Pacific were tuned very easy. As darkness fell I was tuning the AM broadcast band to see if WLW in Cincinnati could be heard, nothing. I found it had to be later after dark, about 10 PM before the Midwest could be heard. WOWO Ft Wayne and WLW Cincinnati came in pretty good at this time of night.
I came home on leave a few months later and this little gal named Betty thought she might become my wife. To summarize, She did and we lived near the base in the town of Sea Side. We lived in a very, and I mean very small apartment there. I still had the radio bug so one day while we were shopping I seen a store call Zack-Kit. I went in and looked at all the nice new Ham equipment setting on the shelves. I told Betty when I get out of this mans army I was going to get my Ham license. I had a few extra dollars in my pocket so after looking at all the radios I could not afford I settled for a low band radio. This was before police scanners were made, and this was a tunable 30 to 50 Mhz. Radio witch covered the local police in Sea Side. I ask the salesman what frequency was Monterey police on, he told me 42.42. This is the same frequency that the Versailles State Police are on. I thought what a coincidence that is.
I took the radio home, plugged it in, hit the switch. This is going to be hard to believe, but I swear this is the honest to goodness Sunday school truth. I heard Jim Evens from Versailles State Police come out of that speaker. This is what is called skip. It happens ever so often and is caused by E-layer charged clouds. I heard this many times after this too.
Home from the army
It wasn’t long before I took the test for my novice Ham ticket. Al Smith gave me the test in the back room of the drug store. Red Lorem was there also looking over my shoulder. He said I think you passed. I watched the mail and it seemed like forever, but it was only six weeks or so. I ran from the mail box to the house. I had my station ready to go, the switches were thrown and I was calling CQ within minutes. My first contact was a fellow from Euklid, Ohio. His name was Ellis, but I forget his call sign as it was 35 years ago.
This was the beginning of a wonderful hobby and would entertain me till my death.
Moving on up
After a year as a novice I took the Technician class test and passed. With a novice ticket you can only use code or CW as we call it. With a tech ticket you can talk using a microphone, but this is only above 50 Mhz. and for the most part this is very short distances. Indiana to the West coast was rare to say the least. It was fun but I wanted to talk to people on the other side of the globe. After about nine or ten months I traveled to Indianapolis to take the general class license test. The man from the FCC was a smart a** and made me take the sending code test over because he said he was distracted. I passed but I didn’t see how because my sending hand was shaking like a leaf. I was so happy I stopped at Shelbyville and called Ray Roberts (WA9LAG) to tell him the great news. What a day. As soon as I returned home I went straight to my Ham radio setup. I was talking to Japan, Europe, Africa, and oh yaw a few from state side.
After I had talked to about everywhere I began running phone patches for military personal on distant Islands and navy ships at sea. I ran a lot for the marines on Truk Is. These guys were stuck in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the Pacific and Ham radio was the only way to talk to anybody anywhere. I would spend about three hours a night with them, great guys. I was up late one night listening on 14 Mhz and heard the word Lawrenceburg. I listened till the two fellows finished talking. By the call sign (KC4AAA) I knew one was at the South Pole. I called KC4AAA and he answered, he told me his name was Pat and he was from Lawrenceburg, Indiana. I told him I lived in Versailles. He asks if I had a phone patch and if so could I call his Dad and Mom. The
time was after midnight, but he said to call them anyway. I did and they talked for over an hour. This was the start of a nice friendship for Pat and his family. I made these patches for two years. When Pat returned home the newspaper did a two-page story, Pat praised me over and over in this story. I have to tell you I felt real important and proud.
The Air Drop
I think it was the winter of 82 at the Pole. This makes it June or July here since the seasons are reversed or opposite in the two hemispheres. On one of our scheds Pat told me they were going to have an airdrop. This had never been attempted before because of the great distance and weather conditions the planes would encounter coming and returning from Christ Church, New Zealand. The planes would be a pair of C-130s with no skies, as there would be no landing and hopefully a round trip. The planes would have to be mid-air refueled coming to the Pole and returning to Christ Church New Zealand, so you can see it was quite a complicated trip to organize. I think we talked about it for more than a month. The families of the men (and one woman) were contacted and told they could send a package. Each person at the Pole could make one request for anything in reason. Most wanted some type of food ranging from ice cream to kiwi fruit, did I say ice cream, yes he wanted chocolate flavor. Pat told me I could send a package too, so I sent some things about Ham Radio and a 5 X 7 photo of myself. I told him to hang it above the radio to keep the mice away and do you know it worked, as there has never been a mouse in the radio room to this day. I hope it is still hanging there. The packages were to be sent to New Zealand for relay on the airdrop. The day came and all the crew were lighting flairs (it is dark for about 3 months) to mark the drop zone and trying to call the planes that were coming. I was at my radio listing and could hear the Pole calling the planes and I could hear the planes call the Pole, but neither could contact each other. I called the Pole and told them I could hear both of them. The planes were on a frequency that I was not allowed on, but they were also listening on the Ham frequency so they could here me. I transmitted in the Ham band and I listened on the military frequency, this is called operating split. It worked very well, I relayed the location and arrival times to the Pole. It worked great and I have to tell you I thought I was really something being able to relay the como for this big adventure. It all went off without a snag, there were a few things that took place when the planes made the drop, but I am sworn to secrecy, I can say they were pretty low to the ice when they kicked the freight out of the plane.(nuff said) To end this story and to get the point across that I wanted to make, all the crew got sick, about a week or two after the air drop. There are hardly any germs as we call them at the Pole because it is just like the inside of your freezer here at home, it’s just too cold for them. All the packages and food were carrying loads of bacteria and viruses attached to them. It all was brought inside the dome that is heated and spread to the crew. Almost all came down with a nasty cold or worse. No one thought of this, but that ended all future airdrops. I always think of the story ‘War of the Worlds’ that is what killed the aliens that were from Mars as you know. They could not tolerate the germs here on earth that we are all immune to.
I hope you enjoyed reading this, as most people know little about the South Pole. I will tell you that things have changed with all the satellites and Internet. The crew at the Pole now can communicate just about as well as you and I do now from our homes here in the good ‘ol USA. But back 20 years ago and longer, the Ham Radio fellows sure provided a wonderful service to the stations in the Antarctic.
A sad morning
Three Ham friends and I were running phone patches for the aircraft carrier Nimitz, one of the fellows was in Michigan, one in Florida, one in Texas, and myself here in Indiana. Who ever were closer to where they wanted to call ran the patch. We would spend about two hours each night, letting the shipmates call there loved ones. The radio officer on the ship was a real strict operator; I can’t think of his name or even if he gave it out. He would read the Hams a paragraph that we had to repeat to the people we called. It was based on not giving away the ship’s location. No mention of time, weather, location, or anything about what kind of ship it was. Heck I did not even know where they were. All I knew was my antenna was Northeast to hear them the best. I had to be ready to cut the audio when the people might have said, “Is it hot where you are”? I worked for UPS and across the street was a little food mart and I went there for coffee each morning. I walked in the door and seen a newspaper rack with a very large photo. There was arrow pointing into the Mediterranean Sea with the word Nimitz Location. I felt like a dope after seeing that. I told the other guys and we all got a big laugh out of it.
One night we Hams were all there on frequency waiting for the ship but it did not show up. We talked for a short time deciding they must have had a drill or something. We signed off with each other and called it a night. My wife shook me from a deep sleep and said you had better get up and look at the news on TV. It was telling of the rescue attempt to remove the hostages from Iran. The copters were launched about the time we usually ran the phone patches. This was the reason they were not there. We never had any contact with the ship again after that awful night.
Dr. Mulford to the rescue
While listing to a 15 meter calling frequency I heard this Ham located in South America calling to see if he could contact a doctor. I let him call several times with no reply. I called and ask if I could help by phone patching a doctor to him. He said oh yes please do so. It was a Sunday but as luck would have it Dr. Mulford was at home. I explained there was a male nurse in South America trying to get help from a doctor. I told him he had to say “over” when he was through talking and wanted the other party to speak. The nurse, telling Dr. Mulford the patient’s semtems and vital signs. Dr. Mulford replied with the diagnosis and prescribed what was to be done. I closed the patch and thanked the good doctor. I heard later that the patient was recovering nicely.
NASA is still looking for that guy
NASA had a 7 Mhz link from Texas to Florida just outside the Ham band and was relaying to the moon.
Someone said to Buzz, “Hello Buzz” while he was walking on the moon. He replied, “Hello there” then Buzz said to Neil, “Who was that?” Neil said, “I don’t know”.
Ham Radio Now
I am not as active on the Ham bands now as I was a few years ago, but I still fire up the little CW radio and run very low power, (we call it QRP) about 1 watt. It is fun to see how far you can communicate with as little power as possible. By the way one watt will not even light your tail light on your car.
My wife was away for an overnight stay in Indianapolis with the youth group from her church. When I fell asleep in my recliner she was not here to shake me and suggest I go to bed. I awoke at 3:30am, made coffee, and turned the dogs out for their duties.
This time of the day is when my mine seems to work at its best. Many thoughts seem to run wild and I seem to think the clearest as the sun peaks over the hills to the East of my home. I always stair for awhile at the upcoming sunrise, its always a beautiful site.
My thoughts took me to a friend’s funeral that I attended last week. I thought how different his life was from mine. He was a very well liked man; the church was overflowing with his friends. I was thinking I wouldn’t have enough friends for Mike and Eric to call for pawl bearers. I’m the kind of person that CNN calls a loner after something weird or awful happens. Its not that I don’t have friends, I just don’t have very many that I consider good friends. I’m getting way off track with this. I started out thinking I was going to write a short story about the things I’ve done in the past.
When I was very young I dug holes in the ground then covered it with tree limbs. I noticed it was warm in the makeshift shelter. A candle was added to help pull out the moisture and provide some added warmth. I didn’t read how or why to do this, it just was a trial and error thing I did.
I lived on a farm with a large barn full of hay bails. These hay bails were used to build very long tunnels and hidden rooms. The entrance was always a secret entranceway for some unknown reason. Another thing I did on the farm, as a kid was to insert chicken tail feathers into the large end of a corncob. A long string was tied to the cob and was swung around in a circle. Much time was spent experimenting with the angle and shape of the feathers and the tie point of the sting to provide the best flight characteristics. This was my first lesson of center of gravity, but I didn’t realize it at the time.
I also had two crank telephones that were retrieved from my uncle’s attic that connected the barn and the back porch together. That didn’t work out too well as I found it impossible to talk to myself. I did get them working but my Mom did not want to take the time out to test them too often. I later installed a radio in one of them at shop class in school.
At about fourteen I built a few crystal radios. I borrowed all of the three books that the Tyson library had on the shelves and I built all of the crystal sets but there was plans for a one tube A.M. receiver that stumped me because I could never find the tube it took. I tried a few substitutes but they never worked. I never could find the money for a new one. Later on I received for my birthday a Knite-Kit 3 tube regenerative A.M. radio. I had a neighbor friend help me build it as I had no soldering iron. We used a wood burning iron that did a very good job although it was not meant for that job.
This was my start in Ham Radio. I stung up wires from wall to wall in my room. It looked like a giant spider web near the ceiling. My mom took one look at my masterpiece and that was the end of that, from then on the antennas were constructed outside. Over on the hill across the creek was a seventy-five foot sycamore tree. This tree was about 800 foot from my room’s upstairs window. I thought of where I could get 800 foot of wire for days, then I found an old voltage regulator. I unwound the wire from it and found I needed four or five more to reach the tree. I started looking in the trash barrels at gas stations and car repair shops till I had enough. They were unwound and spliced together making a piece 800 feet long. The antenna had to have two insulators, and I had none of them. I used electric fence insulators that I got from my grampaw’s shed and they worked just perfect. I started dreaming of the stations I was going to hear when I had the antenna installed. But how am I going to get the wire up in the top of that tree? I found out I couldn’t throw a rock with a string tied to it that high. I tried climbing but I chickened out at about 40 foot. The light bulb went off ! I loved to fly kites, so I rigged a box kite to fly the sting over the tree then connected the wire to the string and pulled it over the top of the top limbs. What a piece of work I thought to myself. That night the antenna was ran threw the upstairs window and hooked to the radio. The bakelite headphones went on and the power switch flipped. Wow ! it was the Everley Brothers singing Cathy’s Clown load and clear. I listened to hear the station ID and found it was only coming from Cincinnati, I tuned the radio on the 7 Mhz. Band by manually changing a 4 pin coil. I then picked up a Ham from Alabama. Yep the antenna was a winner. I was so proud of it.
I told my dad what I had heard with the radio, He said, “that’s great, did you feed the cows”? It broke my heart, but that’s the way he was.
I think I was in the 5th grade when I made a transmitter out of a model-T Ford coil. It was a carbon copy of the one Marconi used at first. I thought of it all by myself without knowing anything about Marconi’s, I was born too late. It could be heard in town, this was a whopping one mile or so. It was a spark-gap transmitter and sounded like buzz buzz in the intended receiver. The only drawback was it could be heard in all of the radios in a one mile radius of it. I would call my friend in town on the telephone and he would hold the receiver of the phone next to the speaker and I could hear the buzz from my transmitter, and I can’t tell you what a thrill it was to hear that raspy buzz.
I began learning the Morris code so we could send a few short messages to each other, but this came to an end when a man ask me if I had been hearing all of that static on the radio? He said it sounded like some sort of code and a lot of people were trying to find out what and where it was coming from. This ended all the fun we were having.
I spent a good deal of my time reading and studding about Ham Radio, but I never got the license because you had to take the test at Indianapolis or Cincinnati and that was like going to a city in Europe for me, just not possible.
I never lost my interest in the radio hobby though. I was drafted in the army and applied for radio school but I was put in the infantry, big mistake for Uncle Sam.
I was given the job of operating a movie projector that showed training films. The projector made so much noise you had a hard time hearing what was said. I thought it would be a great idea to build on a small room to the back of the theater to house the projector, this would keep the noise down so the troops could hear. I ask if I could do it and the NCOIC said try it. I had lots of time to kill and I was a very good scavenger. The room was built from used ammo boxes and the roof was old tin and tar-paper. It was a work of art when finished. I tested it and it showed threw the screen just like when the projector was out front. I had the NCOIC look at it and he said its great but all the words were backwards ! What a stupid mistake I had done. I never gave it a thought. This was a miner set back as I went on Post and payed the supply room a visit. I returned with a nice thick over the sink mirror. The mirror was set at an angle, then the projector was repositioned to shine on the mirror. The switch was thrown and I went out front to see if it was reversed to make the words readable again. I yelled whoopee, it looked great.
I got the job of being the boss of three men over the next few weeks of installing rear projectors in all of the training ranges. What good duty it was.
I was discharged from the Army and went to work for United Parcel Service. After a few months I began studying for my Ham Radio license. I received my Novice ticket and had a ball tapping out code and communicating with all fifty states and about fifty countries. A year later I upgraded to the Technician class, then to General. The Advanced class ticket came hard, I failed the test three times, but the fourth time was the charm. I have never went further as I don’t think I need an extra ticket.
.......................... More to come .........................