Tim, W1MKA, formerly, WN2MKA and WB2MKA, is one of the oldest friends through ham radio. I have known him as "a pen friend" since jr. high days back in '60s. I can't remember how I have known him but knew he was a ham radio operator.
We used to try a schedule on 40m later. He would operate W2JTA, his high school club station, while I was running a home brew barefoot with a low wire antenna those days. It was a day in winter, I believe. The band was quiet but his call was not audible at all. Later, I knew it had been impossible for us to work with such a set up on my side if the band condition was favorable to us. In a year or two, we have spontaneously stopped corresponding by mail.
In 1980, when I came back on the air, I was curious to know how he had been doing. The condition was so good on the higher bands those days. Even with a simple set up, it was quite easy to talk to the East Coast. I asked W2RRN in NY to get in touch with him one day when the band was wide open to the East Coast. He kindly gave a phone call to his home in NY. His mother was on the phone telling him he had moved to TN then. We have exchanged letters once or twice. Graduating from a university, he has been working as an engineer there if I remember it right. He might be involved in his work and had not spent time for radio until he retired.
It was a fall day in 2010 when I had a call from him on 15 or 20m. Slow CW with a bug key. He told me he had got the present call W1MKA recently and used to be WB2MKA. He was settled down in CT enjoying his retirement with boating, "playing cello" and ham radio. I was falling down on the floor from chair. If I remember it right, it has been our only contact on the radio.
This is his portrait at that time. Even with grey hair...he used to have dark hair in his youth...he looks so handsome.
Ever since, we are in contact, not quite often but in decent interval good enough to prove our existence, by the e mail or comments on my blog. He is a kind of dilettant enough to surprise me with good knowledge of Japanese old poems and to send some of them to me even in Japanese font. He also played cello like I did...
It is his 72nd birthday today. I have sent a birthday message to him calling him a '49er colleague. In the reply to me, he told "Another 72 years to both of us". There are some '49ers in ham radio comrade. It is the generation who competed in the baby boomers in the society and has been interested in ham radio as the king of the hobby in young days. All of us are getting into the last chapter of our lives. Even with the same milestones we had gone through looking similar, we might have quite different lives. Admitting that, I hope to get along year by year in good health keeping in touch with each other either on the radio or by e mail.