Re: Hilltoppers

Leland L. Bahr

I remember the name of the FCC inspector that came to my parents home.  His name was Inspector Peterson.  My parents were around 40 years old so he was probably around 50 years old.  One thing was certain, FCC men NEVER smiled!  Inspector Peterson worked out of the Chicago FCC office.  The FCC gave ham exams at the Milwaukee Federal Building twice per year.  The room they gave it in was a totally marble wall and floor room.  It must have handled up to 100 people at a time.  When they sent Morse Code you heard it three or four times as it bounced off the marble walls and floor.  Lots of echo!

When I was around 30 years old, I was living in a Western Chicago suburb and decided to go for my Extra.  That must have been around 1968.  For sending code you could bring along your bug.  Otherwise you use the FCC hand key.  I decided to take my bug and had it on the seat next to me.  As I was driving down the Expressway I needed to stop suddenly.  When I did this the bug went flying and when it hit the floor it was all out of alignment.  So I decided to not take it into the Chicago FCC office.  They first gave us our 20 wpm receiving test.  There were around five other guys taking the test too.  I past it with flying colors.  Now I had to send 20 wpm and I had to use their hand key.  The inspector told me to send 20 wpm for five minutes.  (Mind you this was on a hand key.)  I gave him five minutes.  He looked at me and thought for a moment and then said, "Give me another minute."  So I did.  (By this time my hand was getting tired.)  He said, "I think you sent 19 wpm.  Give me another minute."  So I did and he again said , "I think that was still 19."  (My hand was now really getting tired!)  I did it one more time and he then said, "OK, that was 20!" I then went on to pass the written and got my Extra.  (They NEVER smiled!"

In about January of 1954 my friend Tom Embach, WN9DXS and I, WN9DRC got permission from school to miss school and take the train from Milwaukee to Chicago to take our General exams at the Chicago FCC office in the Federal Building there.  We were I guess around 15 years old.  We made the trip and I passed the General.  Tom had to take the test one more time.  Tom is still W9DXS and lives in Mt. Home, Arkansas.  Tom and I went to Chicago alone and had no parents with us.  I don't think you could do that today.  

Lee, w0vt, w5drc

ex: wn9drc, w9drc

I got my Novice license WN9DRC back in the Fall of 1953.  By Spring 1954
I was a General as W9DRC and 15 years old.  As I said earlier, Bud,
W9HIF and Joe, W9PYM were like oil and water.  Bud teased Joe, but Joe
was serious.  I came home from school one day and was now a ham for
around 6 months.  My mother was waiting for me at the door.  She said,
Lee, there is a FCC Inspector in our living room and he would like to
speak to you.  I went to the living room and this very tall man was
sitting in a chair with his coat draped over the sofa.  (I'm sure my
mother was wondering what kind of trouble I was in when the Federal
government was calling on a 15 year old boy.)  (I think his name was Mr.
Johnson.)  He introduced himself and asked to see my station which was
in our basement.  He looked my equipment over, a Hallicrafters S-38C and
a Globe Scout 40A.  Then he asked to see ALL my logs.  (Back then you
had to log in each time you threw the BIG Switch.  That was true even if
you were mobile.)  All I could think was, was there ever a time I threw
the SWITCH without logging it in???  Then he told me he was confiscating
my logs and gave me a receipt for them.  He said nothing further as to
why he took them.  (I didn't sleep well that night.)  Later on I figured
out why he took them. The FCC took Joe Collins, W9PYM,  to court for
jamming other stations, especially SSB operators with his 813 AM
transmitter modulated by a pair of 810 tubes.  The FCC figured a young
15 year old ham would most likely keep a good log and I lived a couple
miles away from Joe and probably talked to him a lot.  As it turned out
my log had Joe in it when he did not have me logged into his log.  Joe
was not allowed to operate for one year after that trial.  They used the
log books to silence Joe for a year. All this happened during the first
six months of being a ham radio operator.

Lee, w0vt

ex, w9drc

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