I’m assuming that most readers here spent their childhood roughly like mine: when not plowing, feeding cattle, or chasing butterflies you chatted from a room in the attic with Russians on Morse Code, using a lashed-together contraption made out of salvaged TV tubes.
Ok, maybe your youth was a bit different; (I used the 6AG7 as an oscillator and the 6V6 as a Class C amplifier stage, but there were other options of course. I know that.
Seriously, Morse Code done got in my mind, camped out there, built concrete foundations… and just, like took the place the hell over. And now I can’t even hear conversational speech without interpreting it as code letters, according to the rhythm of the syllables.
Morse is, as you know, made up of dots and dashes. A dash is three times as long as a dot. We ‘spell out’ the words, but, with an abundance of abbreviations, conversations proceed surprisingly quickly. At 35 (standard 5-letter) words per minute, my usual speed, you know each other’s name, city, weather, and equipment within the first minute. Usually the guy’s name is Vlad. If not, then Val or Yuri. And the more plaintive, chirpy, and weak his signal the more likely it is that your on-line friend is transmitting from the Siberian side of the great Russian expanse. Cubans and Dominicans, in the 60s, were also chirpy as hell. One of the true talents of a good op was to be able to separate an almost un-readably weak station from the overwhelming cacophony of stronger signals very near it in frequency. I learned to appreciate the fact that they too were struggling to copy my signal, and often with a set-up even more primitive than mine.
And now we finally get to the ‘F’ word.
Di di DAH dit. That’s an ‘F’. ‘Fed-er-a-tion’ is an ‘F’ word. Note the ‘longer’ third syllable.
‘Alabama’ and ‘Tallahassee’ are close, but really don’t quite make the cut.
We use ‘CQ’ as a shorthand general query for contacts. Dah di dah dit/ Dah dah di dah. Try saying: ‘Stands to reason, too loose to goose.’ and you can’t help but sound out the rhythm of the two-letter combo, CQ.
‘In a New York minute’, as you can probably guess by this point, is .._ _.. Morse for the question-mark sign. That’s what you send if you suspect the guy’s name isn’t Yuri. Or Val or Vlad.
And just for fun(?) here’s the alphabet, with some quick examples I just thought up which seem to mimic the Morse:
A ._ A-lone
B _… Bees in a box
C _._. Candelabra
D _.. Deal wid-it
E . Eat
F .._. Fotographic
G _ _ . God you’re hot
H …. Hemoglobin
I .. Is it?
J . _ _ _ Jurassic style
K _._ Kangaroo
L ._.. Leviathan
M _ _ Mau-Mau
N _. Normal
O _ _ _ Oh… my… God!
P ._ _ . Parisian nights
Q _ _ . _ Quick, slick, an’ thick.
R ._. Renaldo
S … Satellite
T _ Tea
U .._ Unaware
V …_ Vanilla-gram
W ._ _ What ails you?
X _.._ ‘X’ in the box
Y _ . _ _ Yank a door knob
Z _ _ .. Zebras did it
Whew, dat weren’t easy. (And no, I don’t know what a vanilla-gram is either.) I’m off to California in my
Winnebago to buy some
Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll just say ‘F-it!’
Wu: I dunno, I remember the alphabet with:
‘A bad child dies every Friday. Good heavens I just know little Manny needs octopus parts quickly, Reader, so that under-water vessels’ll xerox your zebra.’
Me: ??? Not sure we’re on the same frequency, Wu. Can you QSY up 5 khz?