Sunday, December 15, 2019


Having read the first part, I hope you're ready for Part Two.

My Dad and I arrived just as the shop was opening, but even then we weren't the first arrivals. Glancing to the left I could see the Midland inside the display case, while to the right a thick cloud of cigarette smoke hovered around the owner and several of his cronies (It's weird - back then I didn't seem to notice cigarette smoke much, but now, I can't even stand the hint of a cigarette). One thing I did learn about the effects of smoke on a radio was that it was almost like a preservative. A little soapy water and a soft towel was all I needed to get that front panel looking like new again.

The fact that this was a Midland CB was of particular note because neither Rat Shack or Lafayette sold them. You could only buy brands like Midland, SBE, or Pearce-Simpson thru your local garage-shop seller or mail order, and usually a buyer wanted to see/test/hear his potential purchase before plunking down hundred's of dollars. This was one reason why it was such a big deal  when Mr. Chips bought an SBE Super Console. While he was happy to let any interested "local"  come by for a demo he could have easily gotten away with charging a small admission price. But I digress....

Back to the shop in Springfield. 

The owner saw us peering at the Midland and sidled over to the display case. Understandably, he started talking to my Dad, telling him about the benefits of single side-band until my Dad set him straight: He knew next to nothing about CB so he (the owner) should start talking to the one who did (me). Obviously flustered, the owner fumbled around trying to figure out how to talk radio geek  to a lowly teenager, when I quickly let it be known that I had researched the rig and all of it's specifications so he
could cut to the chase and start talking about how much he was willing to knock off his selling price to make a sale. It was at this time that I re-introduced the "bank" to the owner so the adults could formalize a transaction. Shortly thereafter we departed - my Dad in the car and me, floating above it on cloud 9....

Fuzzy already had a side-band rig but it wasn't long after I came home with the Midland before my handful of trusted cronies had upgraded as well. Once my nemesis (the Bald Eagle) realized that I had SSB capabilities he too upgraded from his Browning AM set to a Mark III. Bleedover being what it was I'm pretty sure he could sense me cringe every time I heard that Browning ping.

Looking back, I see that it was just as dead with 23 channels as it is with 40 whenever the Sunspot cycle was low. It was fairly quiet, and just as congested when it wasn't. The biggest downside to having the 13-880b was it's crappy adjacent channel rejection. Having a neighbor as close to me as the Bald Eagle was really made me second guess my purchase, until I added a EF Johnson Messenger 124. It was only an AM rig, but the super adjacent channel rejection
made life tolerable whenever my neighbor was talking to HIS cronies down on channel 2 (as I have come to learn, Midland CB's may have many features at a lower price, but great adjacent channel rejection is not one of them).

One not-so-secret-secret about most 23 channel radios was 2 extra channels you could get (usually) by cutting the "Green" wire on the channel selector. Called 22 "A" and "B" they were actually higher in frequency than channel 23. Whenever you needed some privacy 22 A&B were the channels you went to (although anyone with a CB that had a tune-able receiver could easily listen in)

There were other "A" channels between 1 and 23 as well, with 3A, establishing itself as the official frequency for Browning radio operators to convene using AM (Lord help you if you tried calling DX on SSB). Around the same time the FCC took 1 channel away to created a designated emergency frequency - Channel 9. If I recall correctly Trucker's had been using ch.10 and moved their channel up to 19 to avoid hassles by being so close to channel 10, which in-turn gave us Sidebander's, bleed-over headache's on ch. 16 lsb

So, we gritted our teeth hoping for some help from Uncle Charlie,  and finally began hearing rumors of new channels, moving the CB frequencies to another part of the radio spectrum that wouldn't be as defenseless against skip, and / or a combination of the two began to be circulated. In moving to Texas in '75 I had sold most of my radio stuff to finance the trip, and didn't keep up with Citizen's Band radio like I used to. I didn't fully realize that the purchase of an E.F. Johnson Viking 352 in 1976 was really like me, throwing $300 down the train....

In the future I'll go into my crazy purchase, as well as a segway into the new 40ch. transceivers. But for now - this ends Part two...




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