Friday, November 12, 2010

Breaker Breaker Good Buddy, Got Your Ears On

While at a garage sale that turned out to be at the place of an acquaintance, we ended up with some stuff that we really didn't want. When I saw that nothing even remotely interested me, I tried joking about not realizing he was a huge Richard Marks fan as I rummaged through a box of old cassettes to get me off the hook for buying something but even then, it still didn't feel right.  So feeling awkward, we picked up on thing for our daughter and immediately had a half dozen more things thrust into our hands that she would 'like'. Fortunately, they were all labeled for ten cents or so and our total bill came to only sixty-five cents. I gave a buck and told them to keep the change for their five year old son's candy fund.

One of those unwanted items was a pair of Diego walkie talkies, one of which had a broken antenna. I certainly wasn't optimistic that they would work at all. But when we got home, my daughter and I started playing with them and they worked as far as transmitting voices back and forth though some of the extra features were finicky. Later, while the wife and I were doing a bit of yard work, my daughter and the neighbor girls were playing with the walkie talkies and soon found out that they could hear local truck traffic chatter with them. I thought it was all fun and games until I happened to walk by as one of the neighbor girls was having a conversation with some trucker who hailed from South Dakota. I knew right then that I wasn't too thrilled with the thought of my four year old daughter or the nine year old neighbor girl for that matter having a conversation with some long haul trucker from South Dakota. After the novelty wears off, I'm certain that toy might end up swimming with the fishes wearing a pair of concrete galoshes if you know what I mean.

The whole thing however, brought back lots of fond memories. Growing up on a farm in the 70's and 80's, most communication was done with Citizen's Band (CB) radios. Our channel was 33, our neighbor's channel was 21 and I believe most truckers 'had their ears on' channel 19. When parental communication was reliably non-existent, I would sometimes tune into channel 21 to talk with the twin boys who were the only other two boys in my class of eight students, and we would pass away the time talking about everything under the sun. If they weren't 'online' at the time, I sometimes would turn the squelch back so that I could hear most distant conversations and listen in. It could be quite entertaining.

Sometimes while taking long road trips, we would often have a CB in the vehicle to pass the time away and to be alerted if there were any 'smokies' in a one hundred mile radius. At a young age I learned about the heartache of breaking up as one trucker who evidently was heading the same way we were tried to pawn off an engagement ring to what seemed like every trucker heading the other way. I also learned that even truckers were sensitive to being made fun of as two truckers once arranged a fight at the next exit because one of them was talking on a 'cheap mother fucking Japanese radio' and the other man disagreed. Despite my suddenly new found need to pee at the next exit, my father just kept on driving as I looked out the window looking for the fight.

Like so many things, the CB radio has largely become a relic in our area due to the farm crisis of the 80's. As more farms disappeared, the distance between them grew and bordered on being out of range for communication. Two-way radios with private channels became cheaper and soon the CB's disappeared from our tractors and replaced with a unit that held one channel and one channel only. Although my parents still have their two way radios, even those are on their way of the CB and are being replaced by cell phones. It makes me quite nostalgic which is why I spent a fair bit of time this weekend talking over a walkie talkie to my daughter and teaching her CB-speak. She now ends her sentences with the word 'over' and asks if I 'have my ears on' to see if I'm on the other end of the line. I'm not sure what the preschool teacher will say when she asks my daughter if she did something and she replies 10-4.

8 comments:

Bone said...

My parents had a CB radio in the car when I was little. I recall them talking to truckers on long trips, and talk of smokies and such. I remember they each had "handles" too, but I can't remember what they were. I think I'll bring that up next time I talk to them.

Good post.

Three Score and Ten or more said...

Fun memories. Used tha dang things for all kinds o things. I miss the use occaionally (Just tossed my last two away about a year ago.)

R. Sherman said...

I dated a girl in high school whose dad owned a CB store and repair shop right off the interstate. I did land office business for a few years and wound up retiring to Boca Raton. Lesson: Get in early and get out at the right time.

Cheers.

geri said...

brought back memories to me too but mostly of my siblings who used them for fun with their friends (I didn't). The CB radios were lifesavers during that big flood in our city when all phone and power lines were down. I can imagine it being loads of fun and wonder to Little Abbey and her new lingo should be very funny =)

Vince said...

They took off here also but for some reason they wee not liked by the forces of law and order. In a hangover from the English system the airwaves are seen as belonging to the State and the police and wireless telegraphy people would confiscate the radios.
They always wheel out some hooey about air-traffic-control or the maritime distress frequencies as if listening in will cause some catastrophic drain on the radio wave.

warren said...

I got my grandpa's base station and I love it...we just turn it on and listen a lot of times...

sage said...

Nice post... Some good laughs and I agree, I don't want my daughter talking on to truckers...

I was an amateur operator during the CB days so I was kind of a snot (kind of like my other sport then--kayaking--and looking down on those in rafts).

TC said...

I donno about truckers from the Dakotas, but I know of a good one from Wisconsin they'd be fine chatting with ;)