Posted by: morgan1965 | November 5, 2017

A Saint In My Life

“For all the saints, who from their labors rest,

Who thee by faith before the world confessed,

Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.” (UM Hymnal, #711)

On All Saints Sunday, in my local church worship service, we were encouraged to remember the saints in our lives, and to consider one saint who was very special to us. I am grateful for all of the saints in my life who now rest from their labors on earth. One such person in my life was Earnest L. Jones.

When I was in Junior High School, I became interested in shortwave radio listening. I enjoyed listening to the foreign broadcast stations that I was able to hear on my one tube shortwave radio set. Several times I participated in the Boy Scouts of America shortwave radio listening contest. The objective was to keep a log of all the foreign broadcast stations that you were able to hear in a set time period. A variety of prizes were awarded to the winners. Once or twice I won a small prize.

As I pursued the hobby of shortwave radio listening, I began to learn about the hobby of amateur “ham” radio. Amateur radio is a hobby that enables the hobbyist to transmit and receive radio signals on different frequencies assigned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Pursuit of the hobby also required an FCC license. I realized that I needed a mentor to help me, and steer me in the right direction.

One day I visited an electronics store in Wilmington, Delaware that catered to amateur radio operators. One of the clerks engaged me in a conversation about my interests and what I hoped to do. I told him that I wanted to become a licensed ham. He asked me If I knew Earnest L. Jones, because he was a man who could help me to get started with the hobby. I did not know Ernest Jones, although he only lived about five blocks from our house.

When I called him on the telephone, he invited me to come to his home for a visit.On a Saturday afternoon, I visited Mr. Jones’ home for the first time. His wife answered the doorbell, and welcomed me to their home. She immediately took me to the basement door, and instructed me to go down into the basement where I met Mr. Jones. That encounter was the beginning of a relationship of mentoring and friendship that lasted until his death.

Mr. Jones had been a ham operator (W3KU) since he was eight years old. He worked as an electrical engineer at the Philadelphia Navy Yard where he specialized in submarine radar, among other things. On that Saturday afternoon, Mr.  Jones welcomed me to his home and his “ham radio shack,” where he could be found on most Saturday afternoons. He was never too busy for me to visit with him.

Over time, Mr. Jones shared with me a wealth of information about electronics and amateur radio. He administered for me the examination for the Novice License, which included a five words per minute Morse code test, and a written exam about amateur radio rules and basic electronic theory. I passed the examination.

Earnest Jones encouraged me in the hobby of amateur radio, but he also challenged me to be a learner. He explained to me how to go about building my first “home-brew” transmitter. In keeping with a longstanding ham practice, he would give me electronic parts to help me in my various radio projects. He even gave me a few pieces of surplus electronic equipment, including an old shortwave receiver and a transmitter. I deeply appreciated his generosity and helpfulness.

Earnest Jones, was perhaps one of the first African American ham radio operators in the United States. After serving in World War I, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. I admired his intellect and his courage. His character and integrity inspired me to strive for excellence. I appreciated learning about his Christian life as an Episcopalian. He was my mentor and my friend; he remains one of the saints in my life. I thank God for Ernest L. Jones.

“O blest communion, fellowship divine!

We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;

Yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.”

Who are the saints in your life?

Think about it!

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