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REMEMBERING FIELD DAY
I was thinking about Field Day coming up this year and I realized that this will be my 32nd Field Day. WOW , how time flies when your having fun! Field Day has always been very special to me, not only for the valuable experience gained through each new hurdle to overcome, but mostly for the time spent with good friends and more experienced hams who helped me along the way when I was younger. Many of the hams I knew at past Field Days are now silent keys. I would like to dedicate this article to them, my Elmers. Lyle Brooks W8TIJ, Howard Hawkins WB8IGU, John Hewitt K8DHN, and Bill Chapman W8TJQ, with fond memories, 73.
It was June 1972. My first Field Day. I had just joined the Central Michigan Amateur Radio Club as a new Novice earlier in the year, and I was invited to come along and join in on the clubs Field Day.
Being only 16 years old, my only mode of transport was a small motorcycle. Having first secured permission from my Mom, I prepared a small ditty bag with some extra clothes and a sleeping bag, put on my helmet and headed out to the site. The Field Day site that year was a large farmers field on Stoll Rd. just northwest of the Lansing, Mich. Airport.
I pulled in to find about 40 people all hustling and bustling around setting up camp. Some were pitching tents, others were digging holes, and still others were putting together antennas and tower sections. The club was “4 alfa” that year and the gang had erected 2 full size towers with tri-banders, and half a dozen or so other wire antennas. There was wire all over the place! It was an “Antenna Farmers” dream come true! Being limited to just 1 dipole at the home QTH it was too much for me to behold. All those wires in the air just waiting to capture some far away signal ! I was soon “grabbed” and instructed to “pull on this rope!” They made me feel just like one of the bunch. After the antennas were in place I could hear some of the stations tuning and testing their equipment. We had a little lunch and then the starting bell.
I heard Morse Code and Donald Duck voices coming from 4 stations in all directions, all at the same time. I was mystified. All this teamwork ticking like a fine tuned Swiss Watch. I visited each tent one by one grabbing an eye full and an ear full at every stop.
Early evening found me in the novice camper with Howard Hawkins, another Novice, who was busy making CW contacts on a Heathkit HW-16. He showed me the ropes and answered some of my questions about Field Day QSO procedure, then helped me gain enough confidence to answer that “first CQ”. I was a bit nervous and I made a few sending errors but after my initial “radio fright” I managed to “Put one in the Log”. A smile came to my face as Howard and I looked at each other. I didn’t make to many more contacts before turning it back over the the more experienced operator, but the few QSOs I did make put a spark in me that I’ll never forget. As I held the “Heathkit Grey” tuning knob of the trusty HW-16 I daydreamed a little, ZZZZZZZZ------- Whew!! What ! Ahh, Er, I must have dosed off a bit. I sat up in my chair trying to stay alert. I looked up at the clock, 3:30 in the morning June 2002. I answered another few CQs and put a few more in the log. I sorta like to work the late shift but I can’t stay up as late as I used to when I was young. I gently turned the knob on the ICOM and thought to myself. “30 years of Field Days, and still hooked.” I looked over at Joe and motioned him to take over. “I’m gonna grab a few winks Joe”.
I unfolded my sleeping bag , lay down and let my mind wander back to all those great Field Day memories. Meeting old friends and making new ones , and all the wonderful times. And then I thought back to my “First Field Day”…………….
73”s Gregg WB8LZG