A Christmas Story – Part 3
“Whoa, pardner! That’s a big jump from what you’re using now! You’ve only been at this for about a year and a half”, the older Ham reminded him. Sometimes George tended to think that Ham Radio was still the way it was back in his Novice days. Then, some if not most, Hams had to work a long time to build up their code speed and it generally took longer for them to work their way up the ranks. He sometimes forgot that his two prize students were already General Class license holders, having upgraded from Technician Class.
“I know Mr. Mason, but most of that time was spent with you, so I’ve learned from the best. You’ve shown me how to build a kit the right way and you’ve helped me get my code speed up. I’ve almost got all 50 States under my belt and over 40 countries in my log …. and I’m good for about 18 words per minute in the code!” Davey was proud of his accomplishments, and he hoped Mr. Mason was too.
Little did Davey know just how proud George Mason was of the two boys. Under N2EBA’s tutelage, the two younger Hams didn’t get stuck in the VHF/UHF rut that many newcomers find themselves in. George got them interested in HF radio operating from “Day One”, and to his delight they took to his favorite mode, CW, like fish take to water. The way they had increased their code speed so greatly in such a short amount of time constantly amazed him. His personal theory now was that since Morse Code was no longer an examination requirement, people who really did desire to learn the code, took to it more quickly.
Confirming his respect for Dave and Jimmy’s achievements, George stated, “You and Jimmy were top notch students, Davey. I am proud of both of you, and how far you’ve both come since you started. Amateur Radio is a lifelong hobby that can serve you well. How has Jimmy been doing?”
“OK, I guess”, Davey started to explain, “But he doesn’t get as much on-the-air time as I do. I have the kits that you and Mrs. Mason gave me, and that you helped me build. Jimmy doesn’t have a shack at home … his parents can’t afford it right now. So I have him come over and use mine anytime he wants. At home, he keeps an ear on the Ham bands with an old Hammarlund receiver that his uncle found for him, but it‘s not the same as having your own station set up, and actually making QSOs“, Davey responded.
“Well, you’re a good friend, David Bolton. Other people aren’t so generous. Helping other Hams and passing on Ham Radio traditions are part of what this hobby is all about. Amateur Radio helped to teach me the electronics skills that I needed and used during my 40 plus year career. I like to think that now I’m doing my part to keep the hobby alive. It looks like you’re setting out on the right foot in that regard, too.” George Mason was indeed very proud of his young students.
And right then and there, the seed of an idea took root in Davey’s brain. He didn’t know exactly how he was going to accomplish it, but he knew he still had a little time before Christmas came.
The time before Christmas seemed to be speeding by in the blink of an eye. There was school, chores to be done around the house, and of course radio time whenever he could squeeze it in. And there was Christmas shopping to be done! Davey used what money he had to buy Christmas presents for his Dad, the Masons and Jimmy. Jimmy’s present was going to be a special one this year – he just had to figure out how to go about getting it.
One evening after school, while Davey and George were in George’s shack, trying to get into the log of an fellow Amateur that was on a DXpedition to a far away island in the South Pacific, the doorbell rang, and Davey’s father showed up to bring him home.
“Thanks so much, Jeannie, thanks so much George”, Jason Bolton offered to the Masons. “Davey’s not being any trouble, is he?”
“You’re kidding us, right?”, the Masons both asked with one voice. Jeannie said, “Jason, Davey’s as good as gold and no trouble at all. He’s a fine testament to the job that you and Abby have done bringing him up”. George added, “Davey’s my star pupil Jason, he can spend time in my shack any day”.
“Hi Dad!”, Davey greeted his father as he bounded up from the basement.
“Ready to go, Sport?” Jason asked his son.
“Any time that you are, Dad” Davey told him.
As the two walked home, Davey asked his father if there was going to be much more overtime. “I realize the medical bills were high Dad, but I miss spending evenings with you. Think this will be over soon?”
“Well Davey, I am seeing a light at the end of a tunnel, and I don’t think it’s a train”, he joked with his son. “I think that the last week before Christmas will be the last week that I’ll have to work late. Then things can go back to normal. Hey, I’ve been so busy that I forgot to ask you what you wanted for Christmas this year – anything special?”
Davey wanted to just burst open about the QRP rig that he wanted so badly. But he knew the price and he knew his Dad’s financial situation. So instead, he said,”Not really, there’s some books and a video game or two I would like”.
“Hmmmmm …… no radio gear?”, his Dad asked. “I know there always some kind of key or accessory that you have your eye on – nothing like that? There‘s still time for me to order something, just point it out to me, as I don‘t know a transmitter from just about anything else you use!”
“No Dad – not this year.”
“Have you gotten all your Christmas shopping done; or do you need me to drive you over to the mall again?”
“I’m just about all done Dad, but I need a huge favor”, Jimmy asked.
“And that would be …….?” his Dad asked.
“I need you to write out a check for me.” Davey’s entire plan seemed to tumble out of his mouth in mere seconds. “I want to buy Jimmy a rig of his own for Christmas. Just a small kit, nothing too big – I know his parents can’t afford it and I know that Jimmy really misses not being able to get on the air as much as he wants. There’s a place where I can order one, that will get it here in time for Christmas, but I don’t have a credit card or a checking account, so if I give you the cash, do you think you could place the order for me?”
His father was quiet for a few seconds, and then asked, “Davey, are you sure you want to do this? I know you’ve been saving up for something that you’ve been wanting very badly. Isn’t this going to deplete your savings?”
Davey replied, “That doesn’t matter, Dad. Jimmy’s the closest thing I have to a brother and he loves Ham Radio as much as I do. It kills me that he can’t spend as much time on the air as I do”.
Jason Bolton sighed, ”OK then; but only if you’re sure. But then again, you did inherit your generous streak from your mother. So ….. you’re really set on doing this?”
“Sure am, Dad!”, Davey answered. And that night, they ordered the kit that Davey had in mind, on line. They got the total and Jason Bolton put the order on his credit card. As Davey was handing him the money, he said, ”Wait a sec, Davey. How about we split this? As much as I admire your generosity, I hate to see you eat up all the rest of your savings”.
“Thanks, Dad, I appreciate the offer; but this is something I’d like to do on my own”.
“All right, we’ll do it your way this time. Your Mom sure would be proud of you, and so am I”, his dad told him, and giving him a big hug, said ”You’ll never be too old to get one of these from your Old Man.”
To Be Continued …..
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP – When you care to send the very least!