Guest Post: Remembering our Elmers

Photo: Mario Filippi (N2HUN)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mario Filippi (N2HUN), for the following guest post:

‘Tis the Season to be Jolly and to Remember Our Elmers

by Mario Filippi (N2HUN)

At this time of year when we gather with friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances to share the bonhomie and joys of the holidays let us fondly remember those who brought us into this hobby, our dear Elmers, those individuals who’ve given of their time teaching us the basics of ham radio, answered our endless questions, inspired us by their shacks, guided us through the difficulties of radio theory and good operating practices and proctored us through our first examinations. If it weren’t for these selfless individuals, who followed a time-honored tradition of mentoring budding hams, the hobby would not continue on and most of us might have taken other paths and missed out on a life-long, very rewarding hobby.

To start the ball of reminiscences rolling, take a seat with me in the time machine of memories and go back to the early 1970’s, to the suburbs of White Plains, NY, the home of my Elmer, may he rest in peace, George Buchanan, WB2FVX (SK).

George held Novice classes once a week in the basement of his home where he tutored a gaggle of ham wannabes consisting of grammar school kids to those of advanced age, some of whom were old railroad telegraphers schooled in the use of sounders. We’d have an hour of lecture, followed by code practice, then the class would end with general socializing amongst the students as to what transpired along with our future plans for our “shacks.”

You know, George did not quit his day job to train us through our larval stages of the hobby; as a matter of fact he commuted to the city every day and still found the time once a week to start his 7:00 PM class for his eager students, and always had energy after a long day’s work to stand in front of his chalkboard and work out the numerous electronic calculations (OHM’s Law, parallel and series circuits of resistors and capacitors, antenna resonance and impedance ) and list important regulations that would be included in our FCC Novice exams. At the conclusion of the three month course, George sat through our Novice exams and mailed them off to the FCC Office in Gettysburg, PA. Back then it took a few months before you’d get your license and hold in your hand the fruits of your (and your Elmer’s) labors.

George has been a silent key for decades now, and he frequently comes to mind, especially during the holiday season, when thoughts of Christmases past and all of the pleasant memories of almost forty years in the hobby occupy my mind. Indeed, George and all the other Elmers out there, living and deceased, have bestowed upon us one of the greatest gifts of all – Amateur Radio.

Think back on your Elmer and do so with fondness and when the opportunity presents itself, take an inexperienced ham under your wing, guide them, inspire them, show them your shack, answer their questions, help them pick out a rig or accessory, have a QSO with them, help them with troubleshooting, accompany them to a hamfest, share the joys with them when they purchase a piece of equipment, and most of all, be there for them.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Thank you, Mario, for sharing these special memories with us! George was an ideal Elmer indeed–he had the ability to share his enthusiasm and passion with others and helped them obtain their license during a time when study materials were not so readily available (and the test was much more challenging!).

Thank you, Mario!

Spread the radio love

5 thoughts on “Guest Post: Remembering our Elmers


    This was very well said! Elmers have a lasting impact on our lives in some shape or manor. My late father, W0RWA Bob, was one of these people who was my elmer. His impact on my life will last forever in many ways!

  2. Price Kagey

    Well done. My Elmer was Harold J Klaiss, W4QN, Orlando, FL, unfortunately long deceased. When I was 12 years old I set out to build a 1tube(1H5-GT) regenerative receiver. Never had seen a schematic, and had built only a XTAL set when 10 years old. W4QN(80%) and I (20%) finally got it working and with a 40 foot long wire strung between orange trees it was a darned good RCVR. Radio Peking, Radio Moscow, BBC, Netherlands, etc. I kept up with Harold through graduate school days, and he was always available with radio help.

  3. slim

    My father (K1YGG now a silent key) was the Elmer for my brother and I as well as many other people. I remember one family where the mother, father and two daughters all passed their novice licence exam on the same day.

  4. Robert Gulley

    So very well said, Mario! In this hobby people make the difference in every way. The radio hobby is about people at its core. Every form of radio involves at least two – one to send and one to receive. Even when I hear a utility station, someone was behind its transmission.
    I am grateful for the ongoing Elmers I have now in life, people such as you, Thomas, and the many folks who write about the radio hobby in such a way my excitement is raised almost every day. Elmering is not only limited to the fresh-faced amateur hopefuls, but also in what we share with each other along the way. And as I learn I share with others and become a part of the perpetual motion that is the radio hobby!
    Many thanks to you all!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.