I think that as a child, I was amazed at a radio that could receive signals planet-wide. To me, that was very powerful. My dad had a Lafayette portable and I would spend hours tuning from one end of the band coverage to the other. My friend's father had a S-53A that we dug out of his closet and played for hours with.
The strange sounds encountered on the shortwave bands intrigued me and I knew that it just had to be martians from outer space.
My first hamfest was in 7th grade, I bought a boatanchor CRV-46151 that I still have. It was converted to AC and can drive a loudspeaker.
AM-DX also intrigued me. I had a Bulova pocket AM-SW radio that I would listen to under my pillow at night. Stations from Cincinnati, Chicago, Knoxville, Detroit, etc came in like locals on the winter evenings.
I used to bring home discarded radios and TVs in my wagon on garbage day. Many still worked or could be fixed and I looked at my acquisitions as winnings. My parents were OK with me removing the back of a working TV set as long as I didn't touch anything stupid.
I joined the Radio Club in jr. high and got my Novice ticket. Both parents were music teachers and I played instruments. Learning Morse code is easy if you have a good ear for pitch, cadence and rhythm.
In high school, the CB craze hit and all my friends were on it. I left ham and did cb for awhile.
Today I build and test Harris radios. It is a completely different animal than any consumer electronics and most of the radios I work on begin at 30 mc, instead reaching up to 30 mc.
I listen to SW nightly before going to bed. Lots of religion and politics. Maybe it was always like that. I just don't remember it being this bad.
SWL is like fishing. It relaxes me. You explore, you might get a nibble and never know what you might pull out next.