Thinking About Johnny Johnson, W1JY/SK by Jim Cluett W1PID
I've been thinking a lot about Johnny, and as it turns out he's inspired some New Year's resolutions.
Johnny was a magician. He knew more about the magic of radio than anyone I've met. He didn't just use magic like many of us. He understood magic. He made magic and he explored and mastered every new piece of magic he could lay his hands on. He felt the magic of radio and radiated that magic even though he played with radios for the better part of a century.
We go to HRO and buy a box filled with little colored things and wires and we talk to each other... and we call ourselves magicians. Johnny designed those little boxes. He built them. He knew everything that is inside them and how they work. And what he didn't know about, he studied and learned, not superficially, so he could pass a multiple-choice test, but like a scientist, like an engineer... like a real ham.
Maybe it's that simple: Johnny was a real ham. He grew up with radios. He built radios. He tinkered. He could throw together a couple of tubes, a handful of resistors and capacitors and coils and make a rig that could work the world... and he could do it in his sleep. He knew just as much about solid state circuits and the newest SMT techniques. He knew about test equipment and antennas and repeaters and packet and satellites. He'd done everything there was to do in ham radio, and he thought about things that hadn't been invented yet.
And if that wasn't enough, he was always an absolute gentleman, both on the air and in person. He never showed off, never criticized, didn't bicker about petty things. He didn't act superior with newcomers or whine about people who didn't like CW. If you were trying something new, he'd encourage you and give some pointers if you asked.
So I started to wonder if anyone could or ever would fill the gap that Johnny left. And I realized there isn't anyone like Johnny around and there won't be... unless we get off our duffs. We could all be knowledgeable, could all be enthusiastic, could all be radio pioneers if we follow the example that Johnny set.
Toward that goal, I've made a few New Year's resolutions:
1) I'm going to build some stuff again. I built my first rig nearly 40 years ago, and haven't really built much since. There's no way to duplicate the thrill of making a contact with a piece of equipment you build yourself.
2) I'm going to try to get to know some of the guys in our club a little better. We've got some great hams amongst us... lots of old timers with a wealth of knowledge. Lots of new hams who would do anything in the world to help a fellow ham. While I'm at it, I'll start writing some of those short profiles of club members for the Communicator again.
3) And I'll put in a little more time on some of the club projects. If we're going to fill the void left by Johnny Johnson, we'll all have to do that!
Happy New Year and thanks Johnny for leaving us a great legacy, for sharing the magic of ham radio with us and for giving us an ideal to strive for.