Well, let's see.... got my novice in December of 1974 at Myrtle Beach AFB, SC. The test was given by a 1st Lieutenant (as I recall). There were four of us that passed and I became WN4LQO.
My tour in the USAF ended and I went home to St. Petersburg. Back then, you had to upgrade after 2 years or start over again. In 1976, I went to the FCC Field Office in Tampa, FL and took my Element 3 exam. No instant upgrade then. Received a letter from the FCC Field Office a couple of days later. I could see through the envelope "Notice of Failure of Amateur Radio Examination." My heart sank as I opened the envelope. This was my last opportunity to upgrade before my license expired. Looking at the form, there was nothing checked... what the heck? I flipped the card over. The note on the other side said I had passed Element 3 and they were forwarding my paperwork to Gettysburg for processing. I was now WA4LQO. Wow!
I went to college in Boca Raton, FL and, having finished my student teaching early, I worked on getting my code speed up to 13 WPM and studied for the Advanced Class license. In March of 1982, I drove to the downtown Miami FCC Field Office for the tests. First came the code... I put on an old set of wireless headphones and the code test started... my "magic pencil" started to copy every word, number and punctuation. I began to relax and tilted my head. The code faded away and I almost got whiplash snapping my head back upright. Just missing a couple of characters, I copied the rest of the QSO. The test was 10 questions, fill the blank. No problem with that or the Advanced theory.
In the late 80s, some of my ham friends said I should become a volunteer examiner. Wanting to be able to give all the exams, I began to work on my code once again and studied the Extra Class theory. After a few months, I felt I was ready, so I went to a VE session in Lake Worth, FL. This was in April of 1991. The lead VE would ask, "Did you study?" If you answered yes, then he said, "Then you'll pass!" I had and I did. I worked with this VE group for a number of years.
The code tests I took at the Miami FCC Field Office and the Lake Worth, FL VE session were both one side of an amateur QSO.
I became W4WLR in 1996 and, when my YF and I moved to AR, I became K5WLR.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!