potency finds andy hardy

Won’t make the obvious parallel here, in this beautiful scene involving hip adolescents and their befuddled elder.  This is Mickey Rooney declaring (and not for the only time in his movies) the power of technically-empowered youth culture, ‘all over the world’.  Kids were one of the big demographic groups in amateur radio early in the century.  Here, Youth elides with the public service ethic, another powerful strand in hams’ self-understanding.  There were formal and informal traffic nets always listening for messages that needed delivering.  The government allowed licenses to transmit on short waves precisely because amateur radio had been enshrined in successive legislation as a service, for emergency backup of public communications infrastructure.  The licenses were a good idea, too, because the equipment was high-powered, and in the 1930’s usually homemade.  See the heavy loading coil on the back of that transmitter?  Notice the two-gang switch the kid uses, and how gingerly he handles it?  Operating these rigs was not a trivial skill.  Nor was avoiding government and broadcast interference.  The technical advice behind this clip was good.  W8XCR (Michigan, or thereabouts) and VE3AVS (Ontario) are exactly the right formats for callsigns.  (One of these is currently in use, as a matter of fact.)  ‘CQ’ is used differently these days, but ’73’ still means ‘best wishes’ and ‘DX’ still refers to long-distance contact.  ‘Ham’ is probably old rail telegrapher slang for poor operator.  Amateurs were using the term on the air at the very beginning of the century.

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