HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
This is where it all started for me. The original Amateur Radio Station WB5CYS. Tom Barton, 408 Fannin St., Center, Texas. Tom is on the far right in the picture above, taken at a hamfest at Toledo Bend Lake in Texas in 1977. Tom was my Elmer. He got me started in amateur radio. Tom was also my beloved Uncle, and he taught me a lot about life. I was so very lucky to have him in my life during my formative years.
Tom was paralized from the neck down in a diving accident in 1945. He was 17 years old at the time. Doctors gave him eight days to live. He died in December of 1978 after 50 years of the fullest life anyone could ever hope to experience. Tom had movement in his neck and in his arms down through his wrists, but not his fingers. He had no other voluntary body movement. Despite this rather significant limitation, he drove his own car, piloted his own boat, was an expert marksman with rifle and shotgun, designed, built and sold custom fishing rods, and operated a very active amateur radio station. Tom taught me how to hunt, fish, water ski - so many different wonderful activities. Despite spending 33 years confined to a wheelchair, he loved life and life loved him.
It is understandable that Tom would have a vast circle of friends with a wide variety of interests. Some of those friends were ham radio operators and it was natural that Tom would develop an interest in amateur radio. Tom was a very social person. Communication on any level was always very important to him. He loved to visit. Since his injuries made it difficult for him to travel very frequently, radio was a wonderful and meaningful conduit for his social interaction with his friends. Ham radio was not just a hobby for Tom. It was a lifestyle.
Tom was active during the 1970's on 3.930 Mhz each night. Those of you who were listening at the time will well remember this frequency and the group of amateurs who operated there. It was an interesting and exciting bunch. Many of the hams that operated on that frequency back then are still active. If you get a chance to talk to them, you will get a feel for what amateur radio was like during it's golden era - back when fun and fraternization were the order of the day and egos were left out of the mix. I miss those days.
Station of WB5CYS - Tom's gear consisted of a Heathkit HW-101
and a homebrew 4-1000A amplifier built for him by W5SOP.
I spent many weekends during my school years helping Tom with various radio projects, from antenna building to amplifier troubleshooting and repair. Tom was the brains, I was the hands. We had fun. It was inevitable that I would study for an amateur license. This was before the days of VEC administered classes and testing. I found an amateur radio club at the university I was attending, so I signed up for evening study sessions, and in the mid 70's I became WD5KGG.
My first rig was a beautifully constructed Heathkit HW-101, built by Tom's friend Doug Loftin (WA5QPJ). This radio was flawless and it was more rig than most novices were fortunate enough to start out with. I pounded out countless CW QSOs on this radio. All these years later I still own this radio and it will be a permanent part of my hamshack. It still performs as it always did and I still work DX on 20M with it on a regular basis.
Later callsigns were KB5IEX, then N5RNL. Eventually I applied for Tom's original call sign via the vanity call system. I received WB5CYS as my call sign in May, 2002. I have progressed through the amateur license ranks, holding all license classes from novice to extra. I am a casual operator. I don't chase much DX and I don't contest - at lease not yet! Anything is possible. I do, however, remember my beloved Uncle, Tom, and try to maintain the standards of good operating and good citizenship that I learned from him.