Growing up in a multilingual home gave me the impression everyone spoke three languages. Mom’s family was French, Dad’s family was Dutch, so I learned French and German along with English. I thought it was sorta cool, like a special code between family members and English was the common denominator.
At age 11 while in the Boy Scouts I earned a merit badge for learning Morse code and another for building a crystal radio set inside a cigar box. Suddenly I found this magic world of Radio and could use the Morse code.
Back then the FCC required sending and receiving tests in Morse code before giving you the written exams receivers, antenna’s and transmitters.
Exams passed and license in hand I began my adventure and the first night contacted UA3AB in Moscow Russia. This was back in the day that they were the bad guys but Andy and I were a couple of 11 year old’s, became friends and met on Morse code each Saturday morning.
Fast forward to after college I decided to go to Moscow and meet Andy and his wife Elena. Wonderful country, warm friendly people but I wanted to understand their language.
I stayed for two years and attended Moscow State university and studied conversational Russian. Wow, what a wonderful day when I could understand what was being said around me.
One of my classmates was Albert Chang, also a Ham operator, from Beijing. He invited me to China the next year to see his culture and meet his family. I was stunned by the warmth, friendliness and culture in China. I enrolled in a Mandarin class and stayed for 18 months learning Chinese.
Nowadays Andy, Albert and I meet weekly on the Ham Radio, sometimes in Morse code, sometimes using Voice, but always in friendship. Andy’s kids have stayed in my home and my kids in his. Albert and his lovely wife Xiaoxiao have visited with me twice.
I have been blessed by this hobby, with many friends around the world.
The Boy Scouts set a foundation for life which I still stand upon today.
FCC license “W6OM”