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Years Gone By

I found this little bit of nostalgia on how the cb world affected someone. Here it is, read and enjoy......

Years Gone By "Breaker, breaker channel 10 for a smokey report.".......boy how times have changed! In the summer of 1974 I bought my very first CB radio. It was a used Robyn WV-23. I also bought top of the line antennas, factory co-phased Hustlers on gutter mounts. I got a radio check from Virginia and I was in the hills of Kentucky. I didn't have a clue what "talking skip" meant. Within a week I was invited to a local house to see a base station. It was a five-channel Johnson. Not channels 1,2,3, but channels A, B, C, D, E. I was amazed. The CB was now my hobby. I spent hours in my car, day and night, just so I could "ratchet jaw." Later I would learn, quite by accident, exactly what skip was. While babysitting for my sister and her husband in 1977, I was talking on his base station. A lady in Texas, while I was in Florida, said hello and asked me where I was. When I told her, she surprised me by telling me where she was. I was so excited. I didn't know what to do. I wished her well and signed off with my brother-in-law's F.C.C. issued license number. When they returned home, he was, to say the least, adamant in teaching me the do's and don'ts of skip talking. Don't give out your address or "call numbers" while talking skip, (more than 100 miles away). He assured me it was an engraved invitation to Uncle Charlie, the F.C.C.

Soon after I got my Robyn, the CB took a drastic redirection. The truckers moved from channel 10, (where they interfered with channel 9, the emergency CB channel) to channel 19. The 23 channel radio became a thing of the past when the new 40 channel models hit the market. Cobra, Pierce Simpson, Browning, Tram, Teaberry, Radio Shack, J.C. Penney, Sears, and all others were forced to conform to the new F.C.C. regulations. I used my Robyn for three years before I sold it. I bought a Sears 40 channel mobile and by 1978 I decided I was ready for my own base. A radio friend, (by now the term 'good buddy' is getting old) built a four-element beam for me. Another friend accompanied me to Sears where I bought the biggest mobile they had. It came with a matching power supply so you could use it as a base. I was thrilled. Now I thought I was big time..... A way to meet all the people I had made friends with on the air was to attend the local CB jamborees. What fun....there were booths set up with equipment for sale, refreshments, contests between clubs (most dressed in club apparel, farthest traveled clubs, first club there, etc.), raffles, dances, and fun.

The Top 20 jamboree was held in a different state each year. In 1978 it was held in our area. Being a three-day event, we got rooms at the Holiday Inn and stayed for the duration. It was so much fun meeting people from all over the country that I had talked skip with. Skip talking was becoming more and more interesting to me. I listened a lot at first, but by the end of 1978 I was getting quite good at talking skip, too. Of course skip talking was illegal, by F.C.C.'s rules. So was using more than four watts of power, cursing, playing music, dead keying, etc. Some folks don't know it, but it's still illegal. These days the F.C.C. really doesn't have the man power or the interest in policing 11 meters. But, in 1979 they did. Early one morning that year, the F.C.C. descended upon our town. They would, before the day was over, inspect, fine, and confiscate equipment from 58 of the illegal base stations and one mobile. They would revoke the licenses of two CB shops and close their doors for business, forever. The one mobile that was cited was a female friend of mine. She was sitting by the bayfront shooting skip with 100 watts, completely unaware of what was about to happen. Elsewhere, another friend of mine had just been fined for extra frequencies, (channels we're not supposed to have) in his base station, while still another friend (by now 'good buddy' sounded goofy to us) was having his Phantom 500 amplifier confiscated. I was glad I was at work and not sitting at home. Otherwise, I would have been number 60. Before it was over, there were considerably fewer stations on the air and everyone was quite humble. Some regrouped and reloaded, while others gave up the ship for good. In other parts of the country D&A (formerly Phantom), Browning (makers of the famous Golden Eagle), Tram and their fabulous D201, Dak, Maco (who later recovered) and others were also feeling the heat. The mighty businesses were all leveled in one blow by Uncle Charlie's heavy hand.

We would now see the end of an era. It was a scary situation. It was a very slow recovery for us. After having all the radios, amps, and air space we wanted, we were now reduced to paranoid little mud ducks. All you had to do was mention Uncle Charlie and people ran for cover. There were still a few of us adventurous types who found occasion to use a little extra power, but we knew we weren't out of the woods yet. In 1982, Charlie was still keeping a watchful eye on us. Occasionally they would pay someone a visit just to keep us on our toes. In 1981 while people were still trying to get over 1979, a new and exciting experience presented itself to 11 meters. The 11 year cycle. It seems that every 11 years, for a full year or more, we can talk all over the world with little or no power. It was amazing. I was still, for the most part, a rookie at skip talking. But, I learned even the most inexperienced operators can talk around the world during this time period. I talked to France, England, Egypt, and South Africa. It was incredible. As the years went by, so did Charlie's interest in 11 meters. More and more Cbers were turning to ham radio and computers. Satellite and cable TV were more of a concern. Uncle Charlie no longer required Cbers to buy licenses. After all, the F.C.C. could make considerably more money off other media.

By 1985 the CB was starting to pick up again. Beams started being raised, amps started warming up, extra frequencies were becoming more and more popular. It looked like the CB would live again. I had been dodging Charlie for six years by now. I had successfully avoided him while running a Pride DX-300 (a highly sought ceramic tube amplifier built by predominantly disabled personnel) on an eight-element Wilson Shooting Star beam antenna since 1979. In 1985 I bought a used Laser 400 (also made by Wilson) and (because I kept blowing capacitors in my Pride) a Yeasu ham radio amp. I was getting about 600 watts and was considered one of the loudest stations in Florida. I have to chuckle ....these days 600 watts will barely get you to the next county, let alone another state. Unfortunately, it was fire that confiscated my station, not Uncle Charlie, in April of 1987. The only equipment I had left was the Laser (standing 54 feet tall with the charred coax blowing in the breeze) and incredibly, my rotor control box. At least I wouldn't have to replace the beam. Wilson had sold the design and rights for all their beams to Maco, who were famous for amplifiers and who somehow survived the Bust of '79. The prices of the beams would rise considerably. I started over with a Cobra 2000 base station. Slowly but surely I bought an amp, a watt meter, extra channels, a D104 microphone, etc., etc., etc. I had been talking skip on channel 32 since 1978. My beau, being as curious as he was about radio, started surfing the channels. Before long he had made friends (by now 'good buddy' is an insult) on channel six. I was always reluctant to talk there because they had enormous radios. I was sure that everyone there was running a KW, (1000 watts) or better and I didn't think I would be heard. I had a couple of radio friends there, but I was still too timid.

I'm over that now. The longer we talked on channel six, the more we knew and understood The New CB. The old CB jamborees are now called Breaks, or Functions, or Keydowns, or Shoot-Outs. The major yearly breaks are like the old Top 20 jamborees except now they include contests between mobiles. The vehicles line up like race cars and "shoot- out" (also called 'keydown') to a distant station to see who is the loudest. I remember my first linear. It was an Outcom (now Texas Star) 200 and that 200 watts made me one of the loudest mobiles in the county. Now days the big radios are running anywhere from 3,000 to 75,000 watts. The "top of the line" Hustler antennas are practically extinct. Now huge coil antennas and antenna arrays are the way to win contests. And my little Outcom 200 ran fine on my factory alternator. Nowadays a stock alternator is for headlights and turn signals. Two or three or five or six alternators are a normal sight, as are two or three or six antennas in an array on a car or pickup truck. The D/C amp is declining in popularity, also. Now A/C boxes are the King of the Hill. Unfortunately, A/C amps emit a dangerous amount of RF and can cause cancer. I lost a good friend in the 80's who constantly had his face in his A/C amp. He developed lymph-node cancer and passed away at the tender age of 26. The folks who talk on channel six in New York lost a friend and technician when he got zapped by an A/C amp. It's not a fluffy hobby anymore. People have invested enormous amounts of money, time, blood, sweat, and tears in the CB. It annoys us to hear a non-CBer ridicule our hobby. To us, it's not just a radio, it's part of life. Times they are a changin'..... ICE, ICE, AND MORE ICE MR. ICECOLD BIG APPLE TREES JUST GOT DOWN........

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