Friday, November 12, 2010
Breaker Breaker Good Buddy, Got Your Ears On
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.