I personally have people that I met through amateur radio that live in Louisiana and out on the East Coast. I also have tons of friends locally, that had it not been for the amateur radio hobby, I never would have known. I now know lawyers, educators, human resource personnel, mechanics, electricians, radio personalities, and a host of other job classifications that are just too numerous to mention. I have met children, teens, young adults, older adults, and some really senior adults. All of these friends and acquaintances have the same interest of amateur radio.
There is a myriad of different options to hold our interest within the amateur radio community, but all of us will go back to the roots of amateur radio. I remember the first time I listened to the amateur radio in my car. I would sit with my wife, Rebecca (kc9cij) and we would listen to a group of guys that would get on the radio around 9:00PM every night. We started referring to them as the “geezer net.” These older gentlemen would discuss the events of the day, and at some point they would always discuss what Juanita had fixed for dinner that evening for Joe (NØZZV). When Rebecca and I would start joining in on the conversation, they were full of information and advice and always willing to talk to us and teach us more about the amateur radio hobby. Rebecca and I did this completely while sitting in the car in our driveway because that's where our mobile amateur radio was located. In the winter months, that made it a little interesting and a little chilled. We were very eager to get back inside, but we also wanted to participate in the “geezer net.” These guys were the first friends we had developed in amateur radio, and we have managed to have eyeball QSO’s with every one of them. Unfortunately, some of them have become silent keys but I dearly enjoyed the time I got to spend with them on the air.
One other example of having friends on the amateur radio would be the day when I called Rebecca using the phone patch on the repeater to let her know I was going to be running late because the car was acting up. As soon as I finished my QSO with Rebecca, another amateur radio operator I had never met, got on the radio and offered to come give me a hand. He did not know me, he just knew there was another ham radio operator out there who needed assistance, and he was willing to lend a hand. This is what amateur radio is all about. Developing friendship with others who share our interests on the radio. We like to chat, rag chew, and sometimes even argue over the air.
All of this came back to me recently when an amateur radio operator on the East Coast contacted our club because he was looking for a friend he used to know. They had worked September 11th together shortly after the disaster. The two of them got on the radio, and operated communications to help deal with the communications blackout that occurred when the Twin Towers collapsed. Every couple of months they would touch base to see how each of them were doing. The gentleman that was here in St. Louis was now in an assisted living area. The two of them had not talked in a while, and our East Coast ham was getting concerned. After multiple attempts of trying to reach him, the radio operator from the East decided to contact our radio club to see if we knew the gentleman. Within a couple days we discovered this man had become a silent key. Rebecca informed his friend on the East Coast. He was very thankful for the friends in Saint Louis that were willing to help him find out what had happened with his friend. This friendship between two men started with a disaster, but had a strong link to amateur radio. This is why I am involved with the radio hobby.
I want to develop relationships and friendships that span the generations and the economic divides of our nation. We need to remember that as amateur radio operators we are ambassadors of our hobby, not only to the public but to each other. We need to remember that it is a friend on the other side of the wavelength that we have just not met.