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The Magic Of Radio

Growing up in the 60’s was a wonderful time to be a kid. An army “brat” in Fort Benning, GA.,all of my friends were also army kids. We spent our weekends and summers taking all day hikes into the woods and hills in the surrounding area. We would walk for miles and never worry about what to eat or when to come home. We were the “Kings of the woods”. Our gang was 4 or 5 kids, and when we ventured out to the woods we were in our element and feared nothing or anyone. We would fish, hunt snakes and frogs and live like the Indians did. During several of our excursions into the woods we would pass by an old auto junk yard, and on our way back home we would stop there to scrounge for “treasure” in and amongst the old cars. I had an interest in electricity so naturally many of the lights , wiring, and old car radios were “liberated” from their rusty graveyards. I’d take these things home and perform all kinds of fantastic experiments with the loot, building electro-magnets and hooking up auto lamps for light in my room. Needless to say my mother was not very thrilled with much of junk that we brought home, but didn’t object too much. (I think they knew we were learning things, and besides it kept us out of trouble.) One evening while riding my bicycle around the neiborhood , I heard the strange sounds of ‘Morse code’ and “Donald Duck” noises coming from a little shack out behind one of the houses and decided to investigate the source.( Many hams of that era actually had their stations in a shack separate from the house so as not to desturb the XYL and other family members.) I poked my head around the door and got an eye full of radios and wires! The ham’s name was Ben and he was running phone patches from Viet-Nam to some of the wives back here in the States. Neat , I thought,as my own dad was currently serving a tour of duty near Pleiku , and the only way we had corrispondence with him was by letter. ( No cell phones or internet back in those days!) Ben’s shack was to small to get anyone else in there, but he didn’t mind my watching from the doorway. I don’t remember very much about Ben , but his radio equipment sure impressed me, and all to soon I had to go home to bed. I did not get to Ben’s shack to many more times because most of my time was spent playing with my buddies, but I’ll always remember that “shack” full of wires and gear. Very Cool to a sixth grade kid! Time went on and I continued with my electrical experimentation. Christmas time was just around the corner and I had asked for some electric stuff , not knowing quite what I’d be getting. As it turned out Christmas time 1965 was the best one of my entire life. I awoke early on x-mas eve morning to the sound of my Dad’s voice! He was home safe and sound! I jumped out of bed like a rabbit and ran to Bear Hug him! Our family was together again! What a wonderful Christmas this would be! I was so happy I could have gotten a lump of coal in my stocking , and would still have been overjoyed! Yes miracles do happen! That Christmas eve was the greatest . not only did I get my dad back, but I also got quite a bit of loot under the tree! My brother, sisters and I tore into those presents with glee. The present I’d asked for was there too! A Remco Radio Lab, complete with crystal set, code sender and mic for broadcasting through a nearby AM radio. The next few days I was building and performing all of the experiments in the little kit, and I would listen to the local radio shows on that crystal set, in bed, falling asleep with the headphones still on. I didn’t have to worry about turning it off. There were no batteries! It was just like magic! The magic of radio.

Here’s hopeing you and yours a wonderful Christmas. 73’s Gregg WB8LZG