The Early Years
(excerpt from "Woody's World of CB")
|The hey-days of Citizens Band radio may have seem to have come and gone for many, and I'm sure that, to some folks, Citizens Band radio (C B) is nothing but 40 channels of garbled transmissions, many of these using objectionable language, however to me CB has been a constant companion throughout the years. I was only 13 when I received my first radio; a used Lafayette Comstat 23, for Christmas the year was 1969. I had to wait until my dad applied for and received his license before I could transmit, so I spent the next three months listening to the radio and learning who the locals were and how they talked. The Joker said "Go ahead" you can talk before the license comes, but, my dad was a stickler for Federal Regulations...|
Purchased second-hand from our neighbor down-the-road, the "Joker"
| Unlike the "Smokey and the Bandit" or "Convoy" movies, the lingo back then was mostly plain talk and the occasional 10-code. Yes, the truckers on channel 10 had their own brand of CB Slang, but it hadnt caught on to the majority of us yet (and thankfully). In Enfield Connecticut, the 23 channel spectrum was sparsely populated: the largest group was on channel 2, followed by the "geezers" on channel 8, with the local calling channel being ch.11. Un-licensed 100mw walkie-talkies (remember Radio Shacks "Space Patrol"?) almost always came with channel 14 installed, so it was dubbed the "Kiddie Channel". Even though I was "older than my age", I found it hard getting adults to take me seriously on the airwaves with my squeaky voice. But once word got out that I had a CB, it didnt take long for several other teens in school to either get one themselves, or use their parents rig.
Most CBs were found in one of two places: The kitchen, or the basement. CB radio was a family event for most folks, so it was very common to hear the sound of pans being washed in the sink in the background while someone talked. My CB "Elmer" was a fellow who lived down the road called the "Joker".
|His main job was furnace repair and furnace oil delivery, so he had plenty of time to yak on the radio. The Comstat 23, which I owned, came from the Joker when he upgraded to a Tram Titan. It was always pretty neat when we visited his house because he was one of those kind of guys who didnt care if you were 13 or 33 he talked to you as an equal. When he decided to replace his current antenna with a Moonraker 6, I got first dibs on his old one, which we called the "Beast" (a Hy-Gain 5 element "Long John" beam. It was dubbed long john because of its 24' boom length).
It wasnt until the following year that I got the bug to leave AM and go Sideband. While I had read many articles about it, the fascination didnt start until one evening when I visited the Joker and saw his new base, a Tram Titan II. He was talking with "Mr.Chips" who lived in the center of town, and I was fascinated by the technology. Mr. Chips had also just purchased a new rig- an SBE "Super Console" complete with wood cabinet and everyone was making the rounds to his home to see it. I left the Jokers house and made a beeline for downtown. Once there, again seated that the kitchen table, and after an hour or so of listening to sideband transmissions, I knew that this was the mode of operation for me! Sideband was a whole new world, with its lack of 10-code usage and use of everyday English. This marked the beginning of my "Yankee Trader" career I bought used radios "low" and sold "high" using loaned money from my dad, and, following the lead of another local, set up an account with a distributor in Boston and sold new rigs for small profit ..but just enough profit to afford a used Midland 13-880B am/ssb base station.
|For AM yakking, this Johnson 124 was THE best! Not only did it offer great adjacent channel rejection against my neighbor the "Bald Eagle", but it would occasional shock me with a loose ground in the microphone connection!|
ANTENNA SPECIALISTS "SUPER MAG"
|It was the 70s now, and with most of my friends running LSB, Enfield Connecticut now had several sideband frequencies in use: Channels 16, 17, and 18. With the designation of channel 9 as our national emergency channel, trucker traffic moved from channel 10 to channel 19, creating a realistic bleedover problem for those of us just one or two channels away.
While I dont feel like it, I guess Im considered an "Old-timer" and I guess Im probably the same age as the Joker or Mr.Chips were back then.
S9 and CB Radio Magazine were the two magazines available to me (along with special issues by Popular Electronics, and Mechanics Illustrated). These, along with my faithful Lafayette, Echo, and Henshaws catalogs were always in use and became "dog earred" in no time at all! (Be sure to check out my "Virtual" Henshaw's section)
Later, in the mid-to-late 70's, and as the CB craze took the World by storm, magazines relating to CB seemed to multiply overnight. Some of these were:
|Enfield had a good group of operators although you couldnt get around having a few butt-heads trying to mess up communications. Profanity? Rare. Citizens Band was rated "G" which is why many parents let their kids use it. Linears? Amplifiers were used infrequently, and usually bought to maintain local communications over the roar of noise, which came from a very strong sunspot cycle. The average amplifier put out 50-100 watts. The few people I knew that had them ran 75watt amps. I think that CB has become more of a jungle for two reasons: Dropping the license requirement/fee (along with that, a lack of enforcement), and secondly Price. In 1969 you couldnt buy a CB for $30 spend a hundred and you might get a nice six channel transmit/23ch receive base. And sideband? Try $270 + for a mobile and $400+ for a base, then consider inflation and how much that really was compared to todays economy. At these prices, you really had to have a desire to use a radio properly to buy one, whereas today, at $30 (or $2 at a garage sale), any "Agitator" can pick one up and ruin communications between your local group.
There were times we thought CB was the greatest thing in the world, and then other times when you couldn't talk a half mile and wanted to chunk the rig out the window - much like it is today / some things never change!
You'll find a few "links" on our site, but we're not into that so much (Almost every CB related page you go to is 90% links). At WoodyWorld we're (hopefully) "Center slot" in the kind of stories, ideas, and pictures you'd like to see. It's a little cryptic navigating the our site, but that's part of the fun - so sit back and spend some time here at WoodyWorld, where memories rule....
No longer living in a house, my CBing was limited to mobile use, and I ended up selling my equipment before moving to Texas in 1975. Later that year, after watching a "Sea" of CB antenna's drive by me on the freeway, I dropped into a local Radio Shack and picked up their least expensive sideband unit, the TRC-47
Which served it's purpose (SSB) but lacked standard features, like an "S" meter. I used this for about a year and decided to plunk down some serious money for the new EF Johnson Viking 352.....
This radio could really talk and I had no problems parting with $400 to get it however - I also had no idea that these would soon become relics of the past with the proposed NEW 40channel band plan. I used this radio to make many contacts during several driving trips I made from Houston to San Diego, and thus have many warm memories of this fine radio. In less than a year though, the Viking 352 (along with all 23ch radios) plummented in price to only $50!
Needless to say, many sideband operators moved from channel 16/17 to channels 35-40, making expensive rigs like mine a nice looking paper weight.
Between that time period and the early 80's it was "On again, Off again", but I finally returned to the radio fold in 1984 (Episode IV: "Me and Doug"), got my ham license, and have been radioing ever since. Pictured below is a 3-element beam I used back in 1984.
Like many other ham and CB radio operators, I found myself flush with rigs while the cash flowed, and then "Selling out" six months later when a new hobby took my fancy. It only took a few years to realize that I was spending money each time trying to rebuild the station I had just previously sold!
I went through a divorce in 1989 and repopulated my shack in my new apartment-
I was always a fan of S9 Magazine, and CB RADIO Magazine, and found the lack of reading material unbearable, so I started the WoodyWorld Newsletter - a one/two page newsletter trying to recapture some nostalgic moments that I could share with others. The CB GAZETTE/WoodyWorld Website began in 1994 with the help of Rob Bellville, let me use a few pages on his website to begin my foray on the Information Highway. I knew NOTHING about html, or web pages, and Rob was great in helping me get started (thanks again Rob). This grew into the WoodyWorld CB Gazette, and went from newsletter form to a small magazine in the S9/CB Magazine "Small" format, before the publishing costs overtook me. The Gazette was a great hobby while it lasted, and it did last a lot longer than the six issue CB MAGAZINE re-birth, but it was just took expensive to continue. This website is in the spirit of the printed Gazette, and while I don't run a visual "Counter", I did recently peruse the stats and was surprised to find that from March 1999 to July 1999 (4 months) I had over 41,000 visitors from all over the world!
CURRENT PROJECTS: As I've mentioned in the past, I'm working on a book about CB Radio. This seems to be an endless project, much like a bottomless pit, because it doesn't matter how much I write, or how many images I scan, it doesn't seem to be enough to cover the entire subject! Needless to say, I'm working on it, and updates to this website whenever possible. However (There's always a "but" or "However"), I also have a full time job and family to support and spend time with, so hobbies like this (The website is supported via my "pocket change") and projects like my book, are often over ridden by other needs). Thanks for all of your E-mail, I really enjoy hearing from you and about your own personal CB "History"!