By Gus Browning, printed in 73 Magazines in 1965-05 reprint by PA0ABM Gus Browning story, Part 01 How it started, I would like to start this story by telling you that at this very moment I am setting at mv typewriter in my bedroom at the home of N. Chhawna, AC5PN, in Dechencholing, Bhutan, in the High Himalyas. At this moment all ham bands are closed. But to do the story up properly I must start at the beginning of my life so that you can understand how all this business of traveling around the world just to put one of these rear countries on the ham bands so that the world's hams could get a chance to contact a "new country" got started. I was born on Nov. 25, 1908 on a Tuesday (according to an electronic calculator in Schneider-Kreuznach in Bad Kreuznach Germany it was a Tuesday) in a small town in South Carolina. At the age of some few months my family moved to the small town of Elloree* South Carolina. That's where you might say I got my start— and boy what a start it was! Ever since I was a young kid down on that poor cotton farm I have wanted to see the world. To be truthful I never had any hopes of seeing further than maybe Orangeburg, a small city 21 miles from my old home town of Elloree, But you will see that things did happen to change all of this. I well remember one Sunday when our old cook who had been on a visit to Orangeburg returned home and told us all about the Aeroplane that she saw. She told us that there were some folks sitting in rocking chairs on the wings and that they were rocking while the plane flew over. Now this set my mind to wondering about the world. Just where would you be if you were to sit in one of those rocking chairs for one whole week, and the plane just kept flying all that time? I figured you might be in Arabia where all those veiled ladies were with the camel caravans coming in from across the dessert. Maybe you would be in the middle of Tanganyika with all the natives with the big spears and long ornaments hanging from their cars, or again you might be down on one of the palm covered islands in the Indian Ocean looking at the island ladies dancing under the palm trees under a big full moon! Well, I did get to all those places and a lot more, many years later on* I can truthfully say if there were one thing I was sure of it was never seeing such sights. Even getting to Orangeburg once each year to visit the County Fair was a real adventure that we talked about many days and nights before and after each visit. I didn't think I would ever get to go to those far away places in North Carolina or down in Georgia. Things with us on the farm were very bad then they got worse. The boll weavil that got in my dad's cotton did not help much either. But I suppose I should thank Mr. Boll Weavil because he assisted my dad in making up his mind to leave his cotton fields in South Carolina and head for that "easy money" down in Florida. He told us that there was plenty of money and oranges in Florida. Now that statement "plenty of oranges" interested us kids because if we got one orange a week in South Carolina we were lucky of course on Christmas we always got two oranges. Finally, we sold the farm and my father said we were moving down to Florida, There was a lot of celebrating that night, and we stayed up real late (nine o'clock) and did a lot of talking and planning. To make this trip my dad bought a third hand model "T," and you talk about a time! We all wanted to learn to drive that thing it was one of those arm breaking model "Ts." My dad got it twice and my oldest brother Bud twice, and a few of our friends had an arm or two broken also. None of us had ever driven a car up to the time Dad bought this one* I remember my oldest sister Lorena and what she did to that Model T, We got it going and she drove it OK, but she forgot to put on the brakes and right through the garage she went, right on out in the plowed field, where it stalled. Now it was my father's turn. He got it going down the road and headed in a countrv church yard to turn around. Church was in full swing, and somehow he forgot how to stop the thing up the steps it went and if the church doors had not stopped him, right on in church he would have gone, all the time hollering, "Whoa, whoa, consam it, I said whoa," After a few months of practicing, Father, Lorena and Bud did learn more or less to control that Fliver, So we started in earnest getting ready for that trip (my first DXpedition) to Florida, (At this time I was not sure whether the world was flat or round, as our school teacher said it was. It was flat to me because there was only flatness everywhere I looked,) We packed up that fliver with 6 kids, Mom and Pop, a few chickens, Lord knows what all else, and away to Florida, the land of plenty of money and oranges. Back in those days there was not a single inch of paved road between Elloree, South.Carolina. and Orlando, Florida, It was a real American Robinson Crusoe trip all the way: lots of mud which we got stuck in many times and very few bridges. We crossed mam* rivers on a ferry pulled by a horse on the other side, I suppose this trip made traveling get into my blood. Well j when we got down near Orlando, Florida and started seeing those orange groves, my father, being a regular fellow, stopped any number of times and let us kind of *borrow" a gunny sack full of oranges. Boy, did we eat oranges! Even to this day I love to eat oranges by the sack full and have never got tired of them. When we got about 5 miles northeast of Orlando , Florida, we just pulled up under a big shade tree and we pitched camp. No one seemed to mind the fact that we did not inquire who owned the land. My father took his few hundred dollars and went looking for land. He found a nice little tract almost on the shores of Large Lake Fairview and he bought it. But his money was almost all gone, so we went to work with someone who was wrecking some houses in Orlando. Every night he brought home a big pile of that used lumber and a bucket or two of bent used nails. It was the kids' job to straighten those bent nails and to assort and stack the lumber. This kept up for a number of months until we had enough nails and lumber to build a house. My father quit work for a month and all of us pitched in and built the house, I don't think there was ever a house built in Florida am cheaper. Well, school time finally arrived and we walked the two miles to meet the school bus to take us all to the Winter Park school. Over in Winter Park I heard about a man who was a radio amateur (at that time I had no idea what one was). His name was W, J, Lee and his call sign was 4XE, I made it my business to meet him, he turned out to be one of the nicest men I have ever met. I remember him trying to explain to me that he was one of the very first people in the world to use quartz crystals to control his transmitting frequency (Mr, Popoff excepted, of course). At that time all this was miles over my head. In fact my knowledge of radio was zero minus I had never heard or even seen one yet. But the bug had bitten me and I decided that I must learn more about this radio business. Somehow I got some kind of a radio magazine describing how to build a L. M. Cockiday one tube set (why I picked such a circuit I am still wondering). My problem was to get some money to buy the parts and boy, that $8.50 tube looked like a gold mine, I sold newspapers on the streets, and mowed lawns every afternoon for months and months before I scraped up enough money to order all the parts except that $8.50 tube. I wired the radio on one of my mother s breadboards (they said breadboard and I was very careful to do just exactly what they said). I guess I checked that circuit over hundreds of times and it looked good to me. After a few more months of scrimping and saving I had my $8.50 and ordered that tube (I think it was a WD-11). When it arrived I guess I was shaking like a leaf and in the excitement somehow the 45 volts got hooked to the 1.5 volt circuit and that tube went up with a flash. I went running in the house crying my head off saying I had blown up my tube. My father said, "Didn't I tell you not to throw away your money on that radio junk?" Well, my Aunt Polly, who was teaching school was staying with us said, "Gus, I will give you the money so you can get another tube " Away went the money to some company up North for another tube. This time you can be assured that those battery wires were wired up right. Of course the set didn't work, and I monkeyed with it for about 6 months before I got a signal from it. To this day I don't remember just what was wrong. But you should have seen the excitement around our house that night. The only signal I could tune in was old KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My father was the first one who heard it work, and he said, “I knew Gus would make it work”. Then I became a "radio expert" and got a job working in the afternoons in a radio store in Orlando. My job was sweeping out the store every day, dusting off tubes, and later on I was instructed on how to test tubes, My salary was 25 cents per day and 50 cents on Saturdays. But I was in "Radio," that was the main tiling. You know how the bug bites, and it had me good and proper. Along about this time I met NU4ACZ, good ole Tony, and he told me all about ham radio. Now you talk about the Radio Bug nibbling on a fellow! This one really had the hammer lock on me, But old Tony told me that the first thing I had to do was to learn the code before I went any further, I went home and told the folks about this and mv sister Lorena said she wanted to learn the code too because she wanted a job at Western Union. I got a door bell buzzer and made a key with an old hack saw blade, and my sister and I learned the code, though it took us six months. But we had learned Land Morse! To make matters even worse my sister had learned Land Morse but on a door buzzer! This really put me in the dog house sure enough. Tony had forgotten to tell me that there were two codes! My mind was made up, I would learn this darn code or bust, I had by that time built a short wave receiver and by the hour I would sit with a pencil in my hand and write down a stray letter every now and then, I learned it after about a years practice. Then, after a few more months of study, I felt like I could pass the Ham license test. After three trials I did. I was now "one of the boys." I got an old Hartley circuit going on 40 meters, operating on a 6 volt battery and 180 volts of "B" battery with an input that was all of 6 watts After trying out many different aerials I finally got up a % wave with a counterpoise and the fun really started. I had heard Ole Tony working DX ? places in Germany, Belgium, England, etc, and I had made up my mind that I could do it too. For over 6 months I had tried using an aerial and ground with no results at all, as far as working stations out of North America, But boy, when I put a counterpoise in place of the ground, I hit pay dirt! I worked stations in Europe, South America and even Australia. Their prefix was then OA, the letter O standing for Oceania and the letter A for Australia. The prefixes in those days were very simple, nothing like these new prefixes you hear now. My Pop was an Old Timer and a kerosene lamp was good enough for him. He absolutely refused to have electricity wired to our house* I was stuck on batteries and it looked like that's all I would ever be able to use. My brother Bud moved up to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and he wrote me I could get a good job in radio if I came up too, I was not interested in the job, what interested me was that if I went up there I could have a transmitter operating on the ac power mains. Have you ever tried to go from Orlando, Florida to Philadelphia with $2,50 in your pockets? Have you ever spent nights in jail while hitch hiking? One jail in North Carolina would not let me out the next morning, as the man who let me in went on vacation that same night. Here I was in a mess boys, and not the only mess I have ever been in. MORE NEXT MONTH. Did I get out of that jail? Did I serve six months on then' chain gang? Next month tells about that!

Gus Browning, W4BPD

T-Ford 1917 The 1917 Ford Model T Touring Car was priced at $360.00. A minor change under the hood is the fitting of an electric horn mounted on the right rear side of the cylinders between them and the steering column. The horn is of the vibrator type and is arranged to operate from the current of the flywheel magneto and the button is mounted on the steering column just under the wheel.
The WD-11 tube
Remarks Gus had a funny style of writing. Therefore I did copy the stories from 73- magazine as it was, including the typo’s. According to this first part of the story, Gus was in March 1965 in Bhutan. The illustrations are added by PA0ABM Happy reading
Elloree, South Carolina
Hams - W4BPD - Gus Brwning 01