Dark Hair Versus Silver Hair
By Suellene Petersen, K6CPA
About a year or so ago my husband, Stephen Petersen, AC6P, came into the house waving a letter at me. He had a huge smile on his face when he showed me a clipping from an old newspaper that showed two handsome young men sitting in front of ham radios. The picture was of my husband and a young man that became friends when they were going to electronics school at San Francisco’s Treasure Island naval base. They had discovered that they were both licensed hams. Sometime after that training was completed, they were eventually deployed to other assignments and ended up somewhere doing something during the VietNam war. Both ran Mars stations in addition to other EE Tech duties.
The letter was from the other young man, John Summers, W0DY. John found the clipping in an old scrap book and decided to see if Steve is still around and is still an active ham. He discovered that Steve is an active ham who loves satellite communication, is an electronics professor at UCSC and mentors their college ham club. After they compared notes, they affirmed that John still loves working CW. Both are looking forward to more sunspot activity. Both still love ham radio. Both understand how important it is to keep up with training and to encourage others to enjoy ham radio communications. Both of them have grey hair now.
We have been trading emails since that letter arrived and in the latest one John attached some pictures of himself with his granddaughter who just got her Technician’s license. John was proud that it only took her 16 minutes to complete the exam. She is the only person in John’s family currently interested in ham radio and he is indeed proud of her.
He shared this information: “My granddaughter started attending field days with me when she was a junior in high school and had seen me operate my home station a lot over the years. She enjoyed getting the antennas up and setting up the gear. But year after year she just didn’t put any more energy into getting her ticket. She lives about 100 miles south, so I had little opportunity to encourage her. She is now a junior in college and a straight A student. She just decided after New Years to buckle down and get some study in and take the test before going back to school. The rest is history. She was in and out in 16 minutes. I thought something was wrong when she came out of the testing room so quickly. The VEs were kind of amazed. It was another 30 min before anyone else left the room. She is now back at school but said she would start on the General over the summer break. I gave her a new dual band HT when we got back in the car and she was blown away. I programmed it for the local repeater. She will have fun with the local group, I’m sure”
John sent several pictures of the two of them putting up antennas so that they could work the Winter Field Day, 2021. One thing that stood out to me was that Haleigh, KI5NAR, has dark hair and no wrinkles in her face.
My husband and I actively support our youth in becoming hams and staying active while they are members of the UCSC ham club. We are thrilled to see this young woman learning the art and science of ham radio. So often when those of us attend ham meetings either in the clubs or on ZOOM, most of the folks are sporting silver hair. I know that most of us do what we can to encourage youth participation, but in spite of our efforts, it seems like we have more silver haired folk than those not yet old enough for grey to set in. Why the disparity? Many suggest that because we live in a time defined by our electronic communication systems that the current generation is more interested in web based communications and its gadgets. Of course this also makes folks dependent on having access and power to run their communication devices.
However, when we lose the power, those people are disadvantaged when it comes to communications. In the middle of many difficulties that we currently have to cope with such as the Covid-19 and variants, global warming issues such as our recent fires and current threat of run-off damage, winter ice in Texas and storms on the East coast, it is good to see that old fashioned ham radio is still a beloved hobby and our communication equipment can work while power outage threatens the effectiveness of emergency agencies. It is also good to recognize our expert communication methods still attract a few young people even though we are living in the age of electronics. When the power goes out and cell phones do not work, we are still able to communicate via ham radio. Let us just hope that we can think of more ways to attract the young folk into ham radio. We really need to see more people who have not yet begun to turn grey haired that can carry on the art and science of ham radio for future generations.