I grew up in Southern California and got interested in radio at a young age.
I started out as a SWL or short wave listener in 1964, I was 12 years old.
I built my first station which was a Heath Kit DX-20 transmitter & HR-10 receiver. Every day after school I would come home and work on the kits. Then we upgraded our station to a ARC 5 and a Globe Chief 90 xtal controlled. Then one day in 1965 I attended a ham fest and won a Swan 500 transceiver. At the same time my father WN6SSQ purchased a Drake R4A receiver, I was in heaven. My antennas were the 2 element Gotham Quad and Dipoles. We did not have enough funds for a rotor, so we cut a hole through the roof for a 3h pipe that I would turn using a ring that went around it.
When the wind blew I had a heck of a time trying to turn it being 12 years old. My Keyer was also homebrew and I used two J38 straight keys back to back for paddles, also a cotie key. Finally we bought a TO Keyer and a Autronics single lever paddles that I used for the first 20 years.
Then in 1966 I received my novice license WN6SSO which was only good for 1 year. It was administered by one of my elmers Bill Johnson WA6JMN (sk).
On the 4th try I finally passed my general license at the FCC office in Long Beach, CA on the day my novice expired. My father also took it 4 times and passed the same time I did. He would always flunk on the code and me on the theory. After many months of waiting I recieved the call WB6SSO and he got WB6SSQ.
I was now able to transmit on AM and SSB modes and tried them out for the first couple years. My main interest was CW, and it didnt take long before I was hooked.
I use to go down to a local ship to shore station KOK and watch my buddy work.
I couldnt believe they paid him to sit and work CW, That was the job for me, but it did not work out.