You Learn Something New Every Day

On the Elecraft mailing list, there was some talk about the term “Elmer,” which in amateur radio parlance is someone’s mentor. I thought that the term was of ancient vintage, but apparently, it was coined as recently as 1971.

According to Norm Fusaro, W3IZ, The term first appeared in QST in a March 1971 “How’s DX” column by Rod Newkirk, W9BRD (now also VA3ZBB):

Too frequently one hears a sad story in this little nutshell: ‘Oh, I almost got a ticket, too, but Elmer, W9XYZ, moved away and I kind of lost interest.’ We need those Elmers. All the Elmers, including the ham who took the most time and trouble to give you a push toward your license, are the birds who keep this great game young and fresh.

So, not only is the term of fairly recent coinage, but the original Elmer was fictitious. Even so, I beam proudly whenever someone calls me that.

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