Arthur S. 'Art' Westneat Jr - W1AM|
QCWA # 5781
To my friends in QCWA -
Here is another tiresome history by someone, licensed continuously for the requisite 75 years, who got invited to tell his long story to QCWA. But, its been an exciting time for me, and hasn't seemed so long.
I got my oatmeal box, wire, Galena crystal, and head phones together some time in 1934, in the slums of Jersey City, and heard my first radio signal. Added an 01A, and then a second, and found I had a radio. Exciting! lwas 13 years old. Got a Ford spark coil, maybe the next year, and succeeded in a one way contact with a buddy a block away. A ham was born.
Those were awful times, my father was out of work for seven years, we were often fed by charity, and on bread lines. Zero money, much hardship. Obviously, it was a mind numbing time, a destroyer of ambition. But apparently not for me, I had caught a glimpse of magic, - RF propagation, and I felt unbound. The potential of building systems to reach out across space stimulated me for many years.
Of course, an amateur license was inevitable. No, it wasn't really. I failed the test four times, driven too much by insatiable anxiety to get going, the last failure coming on just that day in 1936 when the code speed changed from 10 to 13 wpffi, and caught me flat, But in Jan '37, after my fifth try, the ticket did arrive, and with it the start of a new life.
Amateur Radio was my focus, ffiv drive, my stimulus, my joy, and the source of a huge amount of personal growth. A major emphasis on Science in High School resulted, and the choice of Electrical Engineering at Purdue, and then Graduate School followed. Wartime research at Columbia University Underwater Sound, and MIT Radiation Lab, were followed by years of relatively successful electronic roles.
Hey, that's not Amateur Radio. But all that resulted though the ham radio vision of the magic and potential of Electronics, and is story of my life.
Meanwhile, I was constantly hamming, mostly on CW. I got interested in DX, and chased the rare ones for a long, long time, until I got some 345 countries confirmed. Plus lots of fun in contests. To tell the truth, I had a very good life, due in part to the stimulus that the hobby gave, and the career that followed.
Those days that generated all the drive that pushed me along, died down soon after I passed through them. The young ham of today probably is not pushed as much toward great adventures. I was one of the luckiest people around to have found Amateur Radio when I did. The hobby has changed hugely over those years, with new issues, goals, and certainly technology. I am grateful for this experience that I have shared with you.
With my best wishes to all my friends whom I have found on the bands.
Arthur Westneat W1AM
15 Davis Ave
Durham, NH 03824
westneat at comcast.net
Art Westneat, W1AM - a Newport County Radio Club member - circa 1970
June 22, 2012