Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Breaker 1-9, this is the Bumblebee. Come Back.

 Back in the late 70s, CB radios were all the rage. Kids nowadays probably don't even know what a CB radio is. For those of you who don't know, it's a radio you put in your car that has a hand held microphone that has a little button on the side of it that you push when you want to talk. You had to have a special antenna on your car so the signal would be broadcast. Truckers used to use them to notify one another of traffic snarls and warn speeders to where the highway patrol officers were hiding. Movies like "Smokey and the Bandit" made the devices even more popular.

CBs were around before there were cell phones. In their day, they were really sophisticated. It was important to have a good "handle" - that's the name you gave yourself for identification rather than using your real name. In the movie mentioned above, "Smokey" was the name for the police. When listening to your radio if you heard a warning that smokey was at mile marker 114, you knew to watch your speed when you got around that particular stretch of the highway.

I was 11 or 12 when my Dad got a CB. I thought it was so cool. He used to play tennis and I'd sit in the car talking on the radio the whole time. I had what I thought was a great handle. Mine was "Bumblebee." I had a friend about the same age and his handle was "Even Stephen" and we'd burn up the airwaves talking. It would go something like this:

Me: Breaker 1-9. How about you Even Stephen? You got your ears on?
Stephen: Roger Bumblebee. Jump to 1-5 (that meant go to a different channel so we didn't clog up the main one).
Me: Roger that

Then we'd proceed to yak until we ran out of stuff to say. We thought we were so cool. I'm sure we annoyed all the legitimate conversationalists with our childish banter but at the time we were oblivious of that. We just knew that we were super cool because we knew all the CB jargon and could talk ninety to nothing on that thing.

My Dad had a friend who had a super cool CB in his car. What made it super cool was that instead of having a hand held microphone, he had one that was just like a telephone receiver. It was so....James Bond-ish! It made him look like he had a real telephone in his car! And only spies and government men had those! Some people went overboard with their antenna systems. They might have multiple CBs in the car and having all those antennas on the top made them look super legit (in their minds).
(The picture you see is an actual car I found in Google images. I highlighted the antennas so you could see how many were on the car. Crazy, isn't it?)

In the early 80s, cell phones came into being so the CB slowly faded away for the most part. I sort of miss them because it was always interesting to listen to the jargon and hear what the truckers were up to. Of course, the cell phones today do everything but wipe your hiney and that's pretty cool too, but there aren't any special terms to use like "smokey" and "taking pictures" (that's the use of radar guns to catch speeders), and 10-98 which I think means you're going off the air if I remember correctly.

The only cool codes I know now are the ones Mr. Wonderful uses in his police work. And unfortunately, the main one I remember is 10-96. Which means a crazy person. That's me.
10-96 for sure! Well, I guess this 10-96 is 10-98. Over and out!

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