Yeah, I admit it. I was a CB (citizen band radio) junky in the 70s and early 80s! We had a home base unit and a mobile unit in every car in the family and all our friends did, too! I worked at GE in Brockport on the second shift for years. We’d all get on our CBs and talk all the way home – about a 30 minute drive, depending on traffic and weather. It was nice – like having a bunch of people in the car with you on a long, tiring drive home after midnight!
The “handles” in my opening paragraph belong to me (Shortstuff), Mom (Lady Luck), and my Dad (Candy Man). Funny thing – my Dad’s name was Charlie and his CB handle was Candy Man and, in CB lingo, both Charlie and Candy Man refer to the FCC! (I think he actually took the handle from the Sammy Davis Jr song Candy Man) 🙂 I don’t remember a lot of my friend’s handles – my brother was Muddog….I had a friend that went by Sparkplug (Sparkie)…..and my boyfriend, at the time, didn’t have a CB but we referred to him by his nickname – Beefy!
The problem with talking on a CB, though, was that nothing was private! Anyone tuned to that channel could listen in on your conversation and, if they never chimed in, you may never know they heard you! Sandbaggers, we called them – people who sat quietly and just listened in on other people’s conversations! That could prove risky! Case in point – I remember one night in the late-70s I left work at midnight, met up with some friends at the Barge Inn for whatever the special was that night (most likely either 3 OV splits for $1 or 3 shots of schnapps for $1 or 3 Miller ponies for $1……get the picture?), went to the Brockport Diner for breakfast and coffee after, and headed home about 3:00 or 4:00 am…..or so! I was on the CB chatting with the others that had been out with me and on their way home, as well. I told my friends, “I need to watch the pavement, I have a local smokey on my tail and I can’t afford to feed the bears” (translation: I need to drive carefully cause I have a town cop behind me and I don’t want a ticket). I then turned up the street that my grandparents lived on to jog around through town in hopes he wouldn’t follow me, but he did! So, I pulled in to my grandparents driveway and turned the car off. The cop drove right by – probably figuring I was home and off the road. I then told my friends what I did and that I was going to sit there a couple of minutes and then head on home once I felt the coast was clear! Well, the next response I heard was a voice I didn’t recognize that said “Watch it, this bear has ears” (translation: the cop that was following me had been sandbagging our conversation – OMG!). I made it home without a ticket, but I was much more careful about what I said on my CB after that! 🙂 I had my CB on while driving on a trip, once, and overheard some truckers talking about a woman in a mini-van full of kids weaving in and out around the trucks on the interstate – passing them, cutting in front of them, etc – they were just ahead of me – she passed me, too. They said they needed to “contain the kool-aid mom in the four-wheeler cause she’s on a suicide mission”. Within minutes, there was an 18-wheeler in front of her, beside her, and behind her – boxing her in and they rode like that for miles!!! It probably irritated her that these truckers had the nerve to block her in, like that! But, they may very well have saved her and her kids from a potentially deadly situation the way she was flitting around those trucks driving at high speeds with tons of weight behind them!
CBs were very popular in the 70s and a little into the 80s. There were several movies made about truckers and CBs (Convoy, Smokey and the Bandit – and multiple sequels, etc.) and TONS of trucking related songs. And the lingo took on a life of its own! It was a whole separate language of 10-codes and phrases that were usually longer to say than just saying what they meant in the first place! They were meant to only make sense to truckers, but so many people had CBs and watched the movies and listened to the songs, that it wasn’t such a secret language anymore! 🙂 But, it did help me have a lot of fun with truckers when I was a shipping/receiving supervisor and saw several truckers on a daily basis!
So, I’ll close with this classic trucker song…….enjoy!
(Translation for opening paragraph: Permission to speak on channel 19. My handle is Shortsuff and I just left work. I’m driving carefully, avoiding a ticket, and keeping my speed at 55 mph. Is there anyone out there listening, but not talking? Mom – where are you? Charlie – are you on your CB? There are no cops or obstacles along the way. I made it home. Talk to you on the return trip. Drive safe. I’m signing off.)