My friend Bob W3BBO was on 40 Meters a few weeks ago, finishing up a QSO, when he was called by a very weak station. Bob fought the QRN and QSB to dig the station out of the mud - it was KØBFT up in Minnesota. Conditions were bad; but Bob was able to make out some stuff about WN3BBO and KNØBFT.
It turns out that Bob worked Jim some 50 years ago, back in 1955 when they were both Novices. Jim was KNØBFT back then; and Bob was WN3BBO. Jim still had Bob's QSL card from those days hanging on his wall because Bob was Jim's first out of state contact back in those days.
Bob told me he recalled using a Heath AT-1 transmitter and a National NC-98 receiver. His output power was a whopping 35 Watts or so. It's funny how things come about though; because both ops are QRPers now, too. When Bob's not chasing DX, you can often find him on his K2 or one of his other QRP rigs. (Bob was the one who introduced me to Elecraft gear and is directly responsible for my addiction!) Jim was using a Wilderness Sierra at 4 Watts when Bob just recently worked him.
What was really neat about this whole thing though, is that Jim included Bob's Novice QSL card in the envelope with his QSL from their recent contact. Since Jim requested the card back, Bob took the opportunity to take his old Novice card down to Office Max to have it scanned so he can keep it on his computer as a memento.
If you look at the card closely, you can see that Bob inserted a tiny "N" between the "W" and the "3". Since Novice licenses were only good for one year and not renewable, you can see Bob's determination that within that first year, by hook or by crook, he was going to be W3BBO. He did it; and he's held that callsign ever since.
73 de Larry W2LJ
Blogger's Note: By the way, when Bob and Jim first QSOed, Bob was 16 and Jim was 14. I wish we had more kids that age interested in Ham radio today. The magic is still there; but that's a post of a different color. Bob told me that his original QSL card from KNØBFT was carried by the USPS to his home in Erie, PA from Minnesota for the mind-boggling sum of 2 cents. That's how much postage was for a postcard back then - another sign of the changing times!