"Breaker, Breaker, Got Your Ears On?"

The Citizen's Band radio (CB) was a big fad back in the 1970s.
Lots of people had them and everyone had a made up name,
known as your "handle".  Names that sometimes,
but not always, told you something about the person, like ,
"Tripod" (surveyor) ,  "Honeybee" (beekeeper), or
"Dambuilder" (my husband who designs dams...
although you can imagine how his name has
sometimes been misinterpreted)

On the CB, you quickly learn the "10 codes".
For instance 10-20 means your location,
thus "What is your 10-20?", or even shortened to
"what's your 20?" and lots of other jargon
that is unique to the CB experience.

I heard my little girl get on the CB one day and say,
"Breaker, breaker, one nine (channel 19),
this is "Pollywog" (her handle) do you have some ears?"
(Well, the real phrase is supposed to be,
"got your ears on?" ....meaning "Are you listening?"
and she got it almost right).  I couldn't help but wonder
if all this time she had been listening and thinking
we had the occasional "ear check"  on the radio to
see if people out there really did, in fact, have ears.

A lot of the neighbors had CB radios and it was sometimes
better than a soap opera, especially when someone forgot
and left their microphone keyed and you could hear
everything that went on in their house.  Yes, I admit,
it did happen to me once.  I was dusting and
accidentally dusted the mike switch to the "on" position.
 I was quite horrified when someone tracked me down
and called me on the "land line" (regular phone)
to ask me if I was the lady
singing  "Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral", to her children.
They said they really liked Irish lullabies but
would I please turn my mike off now so
they could use the CB radio.

The people who probably used the CB the most,
and still do, are truck drivers.  When we would take a road trip,
we would listen to the truck drivers.  They were better than
the weather forecaster as to the road conditions, and they
kept track of where the "smokies" (highway patrol)
were just in case you needed to slow down.

I will never forget the time we were traveling
near Cambridge, Ohio.   It had rained so much that
they had closed interstate 70 and just turned the traffic
going east around and sent us
back to the west.  We needed to get home and
the flooding was so bad all around that we had
no idea, even with a map, which roads would
not be flooded in this low lying area.
Well, you know who knows the roads better
than anyone, and that's the truckers.
We got on the CB to ask and
a trucker said, "Come on, follow me",
as he told us which route to take.
Even though we traveled some 80 miles out
of the way,  we found out later that it was
indeed the only way we could have gotten through.
 I thank the Lord for good people out there
in the world and a good many
of them are driving 18 wheelers.
Like the man who
once warned me, "Hey, little darlin' in the Ford
Aerostar, this is Big Jim, take 'er easy and stay
on the right, you got a truck jack knifed in
the left lane up ahead 'bout
the 50 mile marker."  If he hadn't warned me,
maybe I would have been in the midst of the wreck.

CB radios aren't used as much these days,
although the farmers and truck drivers still use them,
even with the advent of the ubiquitous cell phone.
A friend told me he never listens to the CB on
road trips anymore because of rough talking
truck drivers.  There's some truth in that
but I've found that when they hear a woman's voice,
they usually become
the most chivalrous of gentlemen.
Anyway, I guess my friend has just never met Big Jim.

Pamela R. Blaine
copyright March, 2001

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