When I first became interested in Ham Radio at the age of 14, I started taking classes at the home of Johnny Taylor W7EAH. He had a shack (literally a shack, behind his house) where classes were held. His wife Betty, W7GFF always had freshly baked cookies for the students. Johnny took to me right away, I think he saw the passion I had for CW immediately. It was just my second week off class when Johnny took me into his radio room and started testing me on CW. He had me copy a few minutes of text at 9 wpm, then he set a newspaper and a straight key in front of me and said ''send that paragraph to me'' so I did. When we were finished, we were walking back out to the shack (classroom) and I asked him ''do you think I can pass the morse code test yet'' and he said ''you just did!'' I'll never forget that!

A few weeks after I ''passed'' the morse code portion of the test, my written exam arrived in the mail at Johnnys house. I took the test in the radio room in his house. I finished the exam handed it to him, then walked out to the classroom to finish class. He came out a few minutes later and smacked me in the head ''How many leads on a transistor?" he said. ''Three'' I said, ''well you called it a diode on the test'' oops. Oh well, two weeks later I got my ticket in the mail. KA7BNM is my callsign!!! So now I gotta get on the air!

I bought my first radio from Johnny, an old Galaxy III. I couldn't wait to get that dude home and fire it up, and that I did, literally! I plugged it in, connected my coax, turned it on and started calling CQ. Got a reply immediately and as I was giving his signal report, my Galaxy III started smoking. Well, turns out you should used a tuned dipole, not just a piece of wire hanging out your window, and a ground might be good too! I was young, a rookie! Well, Johnny to the rescue, he fixed the radio and helped me with a proper dipole, and from that point on, I was on the air every single night pounding out CW on a straight key!! My very first CW contest was at Johnny's house, November Sweepstakes, we used a Ten Tec Century 21 and a single lever paddle. That rig is next on my list to purchase, I've been watching Ebay, waiting for this one to come up.

I continued going to Johnny's classes to upgrade my license, I liked getting there early, to smell his pipe, listen to his stories of the old days at Western Union and eat Betty's cookies! He had a Kenwood TS-520, (brand new rig back then) and every now and then we go in his shack and fire it up. He had friends all over the country, I loved watching him talk on the radio, he had an Old Timer flare about the way he spoke on that thing. Maybe that's why I have a TS-520 on my bench now! Anyway as time went on, I met a girl, got married, and had a baby, I saw Johnny less and less, and eventually never again. He never knew that not only did he launch my hobby, but my career as well, as I am a communications technician. I regret not visiting him as an adult, and recently I started looking him up on the internet to see if I could find some photos or something to put on this site. I came across an article in the newspaper from 1994 "House Fire Claims Life of Man, 94" apparently he was smoking his pipe and fell asleep. I was saddened to read this, but happy because much of the article was about his Western Union days, his Ham Radio days and all the hams in Tucson that got their first license at Johnny's shack.

I will continue to search for photos of Johnny and when I find them, I will make a page dedicated to him on this site. One thing I did find while searching, is that Johnny was ARCA Ham of The Year in 1974! I started his classes in 1978, never heard him mention it once, humble guy!

Wish me luck!! 73 Tom K7TPD