One of the first things that I did after making my first few QSOs as a Novice was to purchase an ARRL General Class License manual. Even though the Novice license had become a renewable license class; I decided that I would pretend that is was "old school" and that I would upgrade within a year.
Many QSOs and listening to W1AW got me up to 13 WPM rather quickly. I buried my nose in the license manual for what seemed like months. Finally in either June or July, it was announced that the FCC was going to be appearing at a Hamfest up in Morristown, NJ to administer exams. Wow! That was not a common, everyday occurrence. The rule of the day was that you had to appear before the FCC at their offices. This was truly the exception to the rule.
The day for the Hamfest came. I remember that it was ultra hot, humid and sticky; and I was as sick as a dog! I had some kind of summer cold; and as hot as it was, I was shivering. I must have been running one heck of a fever. My sister was kind enough to drive me up to the Hamfest and wait for me while I tested. I wasn't feeling well enough to drive myself.
I remember going in there and putting on those antiquated headphones to take the Morse Code portion of the exam. I remember that they started with the higher speed 20 WPM exam and work their way down. This was good; because after listening to the code at 20 WPM, 13 WPM actually seemed slow! This was still at the point where you copied a QSO and they checked your copy for at least one minute of solid copy. I must have done all right; because the next thing that I remember was someone shoving a copy of the written exam to me along with a sheet on which to mark my answers. I answered the questions the best I could and then this grumpy older lady who worked for th FCC was shoving a white cardboard slip into my hands which informed me that I has to sign as KA2DOH/AG until the permanent version of my license came through the mail. I was happy, I was proud; and I was feeling miserable. If I didn't want to stay for the rest of the Hamfest, I must have been doing pretty badly. I remember crawling into my sister's car so that she could drive me home. I didn't even get on the air when I got home. All I remember at that point was crawling into bed and falling asleep so fast that it was like I had passed out.
The next thing to happen over the next few days changed my Ham radio life forever.
73 de Larry W2LJ