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Friends Remembered Home | Friends Detail

James Hodge (W5AEQ)

December 1981

James E. Hodge, W5AEQ (SK), gave me my Novice Test (that's how it was then done) in August 1969, when I was a teenager living in the (then) fairly small town of San Marcos, Texas (between Austin & San Antonio). Mr. Hodge had himself grown up in San Marcos about 50 years earlier, with his first ham transmitter having been built using a spark coil from a Ford Model T. He spent much of his adult life working in Houston, with he and Mrs. Hodge moving back to San Marcos after he retired in about 1967. I'd gotten interested in shortwave listening in 1964 (while in Junior High) but didn't have anyone in my family, or know anybody, who was involved with the technical side of radio communications. So when I'd become interested in Amateur Radio, as a result of listening to hams on my shortwave receiver (a Lafayette HE-30), I didn't have anyone to turn to for support and tutoring (or 'elmering' as it would later be called). I can remember the first time I heard W5AEQ on the air, telling someone he'd recently moved back to San Marcos after retiring. There was a ham in town ! It was about two years after first hearing Mr. Hodge on the air that he gave me the Novice Exam, with me passing the 5 wpm CW portion after having Mr. Hodge send from something other than the current Heathkit Catalog. That was a time in my life when I didn't have much money and so I read and re-read anything having to do with Amateur Radio, including the Heathkit Catalogs ! When Mr. Hodge first began sending me the Morse Test I quickly realized that I 'knew' the text and (wanting to have no doubt in my own mind that I'd really passed the test) asked him to use another source. By December (1969) my Code speed was improved enough such that I passed the Advanced Class Exams given by the FCC in Houston, and that was the last time I'd taken a Morse Code Exam until quite recently. I later went off to college and got a Degree in Electrical Engineering (with a 'vacation' in the middle courtesy of Uncle Sam) and have spent my career in communications. There is no doubt that Amateur Radio played an important role in determining the direction taken. The reason this now 'ancient history' has been on my mind lately (April 2000) is that I passed my Extra Class 20 wpm Code Test on the 2nd day of April, only two weeks before the rules changed and the 20 wpm requirement was done away with. For years-and-years I'd been telling myself that I'd 'someday' get- around to upgrading to Extra but it was only the news this past January, about the FCC doing away with all but a 5 wpm Code require- ment, that I realized this was a case of 'do-or-die'; either pass 20 wpm before April 15th or have to live with the fact that I let it 'get-away'. When told that I'd passed the Code (I'd passed the written Exam a couple of weeks earlier) I was elated and more than a bit in 'shock'. I'd been practicing 'furiously' for several weeks beforehand but had been worried I'd 'freeze-up' during the test. Driving home from the Exam site, with all manner of confused thoughts churning though my head (trying to realize that I'd finally passed my Extra), I suddenly thought of Mr. Hodge and that August afternoon he started sending me 5 wpm Code from the Heathkit Catalog. TNKS OM ES VY 73 W5AEQ DE WB5AGF SK

Contributed by: Paul N. Nix (WB5AGF)

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