CW, or Morse code, is a magical form of communication. You just hear a single tone that’s interrupted by spaces of different lengths.
If you’re listening to a person, you can often sense emotion by the changing tone and pitch of her/his voice. While it’s possible to do this with CW, it’s not practical.
That said, I brought this point up with my CW mentor Jim Cluett, W1PID and he had a much different perspective.
“Morse is one of the most intimate modes. Words… spaces…. circumstances. What’s not said. You can feel things in a fist. You’d be surprised. If you want emotion, listen to the tapes of Morse at sea during a rescue or a sinking. It’s really unbelievable.”
Because I’m so very new to Morse, I don’t have enough experience to have sensed emotion yet in my few QSO’s, but I do know that Jim has yet to be wrong.
The lens I look through at this early stage of my ham radio journey has a short depth of field because my QSO’s are so abbreviated. I’ve had but one 25-minute rag chew and at a receive rate of just 7 or 8 WPM not much can be said when each operator only has about 12 or 13 minutes of the conversation.
I’ve come to discover, so far, when you have a CW QSO, you don’t know the rest of the story, or even much of the story of the person you’re communicating with.
Sure, they might share some of their tale, but it’s rare you glean lots of details about them in that first encounter.
Part of Carl’s story leaked out last week during a CW QSO.
But a few hours ago, after my mail arrived, I was blessed to discover some amazing and humorous details about what was happening in Carl’s life before and during our short QSO.
Carl wrote me a letter about our QSO.
It was such a profound letter, it choked me up when I read it to Jim over the phone. It meant so much to me, I had Carl’s letter and QSL card framed.
The first part of the story is fairly simple. Last week I was in my shack and fired up my ICOM-7000 to see if someone would answer my slow-speed CW.
It was one of those moments in time, like two ships passing in the night.
Little did I know it, but a 90-year-old man in Canada, Carl – VE3DZB – was wanting to get on the air too. He was on a very personal mission.
We both were trying to get something. Me practice. Him validation.
I transmitted my CQ, and Carl came back. I could hear him quite well and he had a great fist.
After exchanging our RST reports, he sends:
“TDAY MY 90TH BDAY.”
WOW! I sure hope I’m able to be on the air at 90. Heck, I hope I’m on this side of the grass when I’m 90!
I sent congrats, we exchanged 73’s, and it was over as fast as it started, both of us steaming towards the horizon.
I was ecstatic because Carl was a DX contact for me being in Canada. He was my third DX contact.
Sure, Canada is not that far from me in New Hampshire, but you know what, I’ll take what I can get.
I sent him my QSL card the next day and pretty much forgot about the QSO.
Then today, I get Carl’s letter and his QSL card – the other side of the story.
There’s no sense me sharing the details. Just dip yourself in the magic waters of a 90-year-old man who satisfied a deep personal goal on his birthday and what he had to do to be able to fulfill the aspiration.
But before you splash yourself with Carl’s story, I hope you take away from it what I did.
You just never know how much pleasure you may bring to someone with a simple QSO.
Carl’s letter is going to be framed and put in my shack on the wall.
Tell me if you don’t think that’s a good idea.
Happy Birthday – again, Carl! And many many many more for you OM!