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Friends Remembered Home | Friends Detail

John Mensing (W4MFL)


June 5, 1997


In 1977, when I was 13 years old, I met John W4MFL quite by accident, and he was forced into Elmer status whether he liked it or not. At 74 years old at the time, I'm sure he had better things to do! You see, I was riding my bicycle in my neighborhood in Port Orange, Florida one morning when I passed by a house with an open garage a few blocks from my home. I heard a "strange beeping" coming out of the garage, and I had to stop and investigate. I was already a "CB" operator much to the dismay of the local CBers in the area. It was hard to peer into the garage, because there was a boat on one side, and a large car on the other. I got off the bike, walked closer, closer, closer and finally saw an OT, smoking a pipe, sitting in front of a huge gray metal desk. To his left was a large Heathkit DX-100 transmitter sitting on top of a barrel beside the desk. On the desk itself was a black Collins receiver and a Swan 400 next to that. I stood there in awe as I saw John swing a tattered looking Vibroplex "Bug" from side to side. The "beeping" of course, was Morse, and was coming out the speaker hooked to the Collins. Of course, I didn't know what anything was at the time. I got his attention, and it startled him. He motioned for me to wait while he signed off his CW QSO. He wanted to know what I wanted. He probably thought I was selling something! After an hour visit, I was riding away from his garage with a tube type code practice oscillator and a J38 straight key strapped to my bicycle. I remember the unit was in a wooden box with a hinged top cover, and that it had a cloth covered power cord. That evening, my mother drove me to Radio Shack where I purchased the book, "From Five to One Thousand Watts". There was something magical about the beeping and the meters swinging on that old equipment on John's desk that I had to be a part of. Within a few weeks, John administered by novice CW and theory tests. He let me take them in his garage inside his boat. He never allowed me into the house for some reason. He mailed off the envelope and wished me luck. A few months later, I received my novice license in the mail. I still remember exactly where in my parents house I was standing when I opened the envelope. I remember that I got all teary eyed with I slid the "ticket" out of the envelope and said outloud, "K A 4 D Y U". I remember my dad getting mad at me for crying. It was truly one of the happiest days in my life. I saw John and few times after that, but eventually lost touch. Like him, and because of him, I became a CW operator. It was several years before I even operated a radio with a microphone. It was A DX-40 and SX-100 for me, and then a Ten Tec Century 21. I never got the chance to tell John the profound impact that he had on my life and to properly thank him. He accidentally introduced me to ham radio, and gave a young teen something productive to do that turned into a life long love. Wherever you are W4MFL, I hope the DX is good and the "bugs" are made from solid gold. Thank you.

Contributed by: John Bayne (NE4EB)


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