Author Topic: A Trip Up Memory Lane.....  (Read 4050 times)

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Offline W1RC

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A Trip Up Memory Lane.....
« on: May 23, 2007, 11:10:32 AM »
Yeah, I know, this doesn't have a lot to do with NEAR-Fest and is probably off-topic but it will be (hopefully) interesting to many New England amateurs licensed prior to the mid 1980s so here goes.....

Yesterday I had a pretty incredible trip down (actually UP) memory lane......

Most amateurs who took their tests in New England prior to the establishment of the VE program twenty odd years ago did so at the FCC Field Office that was located on the 16th Floor (1600) Customhouse in downtown Boston Massachusetts.  This beautiful old building still dominates the downtown Boston skyline and is instantly identifiable. 



My experiences at the Boston FCC Field Office have already been recounted in the WHAT'S YOUR CALL SIGN HISTORY article that appeared here on AMFONE a while back.  For those of you who may have missed it you can find it here:

http://amfone.net/Amforum/index.php?topic=10847.20

In the nineties the FCC Field Office moved from The Customhouse to Batterymarch Park in Quincy MA where it is located today.  However by this point in time the Volunteer Examining Program was well established so most amateurs never had the occasion to visit their offices so it is not a familiar venue is it was when exams were administered there.

The rumor was that the building was sold and being turned into condominiums.   However every time I drive through downtown I see the building and it brings back memories.  I'm sure this applies to anyone who took their tests there as well.

Yesterday I took the family down to Boston to visit the fabulous New England Aquarium.  Knowing well what parking downtown is like (expensive!) we took the 'T' (subway) from where we parked the car to our destination.  As it happens we walked down State Street right past the the Customhouse on our way to the Aquarium.  As we walked back to the 'T' after a pleasant afternoon my wife happened to pause at the Customhouse side entrance for a moment so I thought I'd just wander in and see what was happening inside the grand old building.  Here's what I learned:

The old Customhouse was purchased by the Marriott Corporation and looks very much like the upscale hotel that it is.  I chatted with the concierge who told me that it is actually a "vacation club resort" or an urban time-sharing condominium.  It is possible to rent some of the suites on a nightly basis but it ain't cheap.  I told the concierge about my connection with the building and she graciously invited me to visit the observation deck and gave me a card-key required to operate the elevators up to the 26th floor.  We had an outstanding viewing experience of downtown Boston, the harbor and the surrounding area for about an hour and I was able to take many excellent photos. 



You can see the observation deck above the clock.  It is covered by wire mesh because the tower is home to several Peregrene Falcons who nest on the nooks and crannies above the deck. 

Yes, the clock works and keeps excellent time, thanks to my friend Ross Hochstrasser, W1EKG, who along with his brother rebuilt the clock some time ago.

Naturally on the way down we stopped at the 16th floor.  The ghosts of "Uncle Vinny" Kajunski, Jerry Sarno and others were instantly present as we stepped off the elevator. 



Actually the 17th floor today is the old 16th floor.  The Marriott people appear to be superstitious and Customhouse does not have a marked 13th floor.  So Room 1601 is actually on the (old) 17th floor.

Back down at the lobby I returned the card-key to the concierge and thanked her.  She was kind enough to give the card to my daughter as a souvenir of the visit.



So if you happen to be on State Street in Downtown Boston be sure to stop in at the Customhouse and see Karen the concierge.  She's only there on Mondays and  Tuesdays.  Tell her you just love the magnificent old building and have fond memories of the FCC office on the 16th floor.  Maybe, just maybe she'll extend to you the same courtesy and allow you to visit the observation deck. 

What a wonderful experience!  Next time I go I wanna see the CLOCK that was, incidentally rebuilt by none other than our own Ross Hochstrasser, W1EKG in 1987!!!!  Took In fact if you ever have occasion to visit his shop in Whitman MA (40 Walnut Street) you will see the old minute hand from the Customhouse clock on the ceiling of his shop.  It runs the full length of the building.

73,

MisterMike, W1RC

Offline ab1dd

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Re: A Trip Up Memory Lane.....
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2007, 05:51:28 PM »
Cool, Mike.
I was there in the mid 70s for what was then the 1st class commercial license. Brings back a few memories for me, too!!

Carl
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