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Breaker Breaker 1-9: Keep On Truckin’

It was about 1977 when my friend Mike Walton came over to tell me that his dad had just put a CB radio in their car. It was at a church function and so while all the adults where inside doing their church-social things, we were out in the parking lot teenage-boying this newfangled communication device.

  • I Become a CB Geek At 16
  • Citizen’s Band Radio and Truckers
  • My 1979 Cross Country Drive Talking With Truckers
  • Truckers?

I Become a CB Geek At 16

Smartly, his dad had wired it directly to the battery, so the car’s ignition didn’t need to be turned on. We were engrossed for what must have been hours listening to a lot of people chatter on and on about whatever things. The principal curiosity was clues as to their locations. Way across town and even off further earned a look up and eye-contact with facial expressions of wow.

There’s really nothing like being a teenage boy in the grips and throes of discovery.

..My entire boy life was a series of months to years of getting so absorbed in one new thing that I could not think about or focus on any other thing. I wanted to know—not everything—just enough. Dinosaurs, volcanoes, motorcycles, sports cars, skateboards, choppers, R/C airplanes…to name the most prominent. Then came the Citizen’s Band Radio. Technically, you needed a “license,” but it was really a registration. You simply filled out a form that went to some FCC office and you got back a “license.” Probably most dispensed with the formality. How would they enforce it? But at that age, you’re at the level of indoctrination where you take pride in such things.

YEAH, I’M APPROVED BY THE GOVERNMENT!

So it’s my new thing and I’m engrossed. In those pre-internet days you relied upon magazines. Books are generally outdated on the day of publication—and this is fast-moving high-tech stuff—but in the 70s there were magazine niches for everything, including CB radios. I began informing myself and, of course, pushing dad to install a CB radio in our own car. But they were relatively expensive. I finally got my dad to pop when a big offer came in a full-color gig in the mail from Chevron, his gas card. It was a Midland 40-channel, full spectrum from 26.965 to 27.405 MHz. All the bells & whistles. Mike’s dad’s radio was a Cobra, and that was high end.

I can’t recall the cost exactly, but $235 in 1977 seems to stick in my head. It arrived and I installed it myself, directly to the battery with an in-line fuse. I was too impatient to do a decent antenna installation so I had a magnetic doohickey with a cable coming in from the hatchback of the family Mazda RX-3 wagon. I was never satisfied with that antenna installation—it was embarrassing—so I endeavored to find perfection. I did, and it required that I drill a 1″ diameter hole in the center of the roof of the car.

I’m amazed my dad let me do it.

But I did, it never leaked, and the cable was totally pro—under the headliner, under the front-right roof-strut trim, and into the underfoot stuff, to the radio. It was quite super duper.

I was finally proud of my installation.

I spent many nights sitting in the driveway listening to folks all around the outskirts of Reno, Nevada and the locals all around the former Stead AFB, all on CB and many with home-base stations. It was captivating for a 17-yo; and highway 395 was only a bit away and Truckers would be weighing into conversations during their few minutes of connectivity.

Citizen’s Band Radio and Truckers

I soon learned that the truckers were the masters at this marginal and outlier social craft. I’ll remind you: I was 17 years old.

It was popularized by the money makers for a while and a lot of it got incorporated into the various creations of the day in radio, TV, and film. Scroll down the lingo and see if you recognize any of it. How about #smokey? And you thought hashtags and other meme-markers were created on your 12th birthday… in 2010. This shit was going on LONG before you were even born—speaking to the current crop of societal morons—you young solipsists with bereft smartphone educations.

The truckers were the impetus of the Citizen’s Band Radio phenomenon because most of their hours were on the road, every truck had one, and it was their means of intra-communication. I like to think of it as them keeping it real amongst themselves as they deliver almost everything the thankless and near worthless population clamors for.

Their connections were solid, real, and intense. Far better than a text, they had a voice on the other end and they engaged for hours every day on the road.

I know a little bit first hand.

My Cross Country Drive Talking With Truckers

After I graduated high school in 1979 and the family immediately moved to the Portland, OR, area, I had three months to go-time. That’s where I would drive across the country to college—Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga. Long drive. I’d be driving the former family-car, now mine, that I bought from my dad for about $1,000. It came with the CB radio I installed.

I set out on an early morning one late-summer day from Troutdale, a suburbia enclave east of Portland. I didn’t really have a plan. Chattanooga, TN was the destination and that was southeast all the way, about 2,500 miles.

I knocked off about 1,000 of them day 1 when I got a cheap motel at about 11pm in Rock Springs, WY.

I’d listened to trucker chatter and banter throughout the drive on the CB. I was too intimidated to weigh in myself. There’s a sense this is a private club and you’re not welcome; but in retrospect it’s a public frequency, so it’s more likely that maintaining a certain aura keeps down the smiling-dummy time-wasters.

I slept for only 4 hours and when I woke up at about 3am I was ready to hit the road again and so off I went. I decided to skew down off the I80 to Denver, CO, catch the I70 due east, landing eventually in Kansas City, MO late evening.

That’s where I got into trucker CB heaven over the course of the straight line drive east.

Yep, I started chatting them up on CB radio. Convoy after convoy for a thousand miles. It’s hilarious in retrospect and the weird thing is that it seems astounding to me now, but in 1979 it was nothing. Of course they were uniformly nice and good dudes. Salt of the earth shit.

More in retrospect, I think I have a better bead on who they are.

Truckers?

They’re people who like to work hard, perform a good and essential service, and in exchange they like to just be left the fuck alone.

Nope.

Once heroes and essential, now bandits and insurrectionists.

Well, this post is intended more to just relay my experience at 18 years old, to you. The dot-connect and integration is that they have been communicating amongst each other in a sort of brotherhood for decades, and using radio technology before most of the worthless wankers trying to tell everyone what to do, were even born.

That would include the Fidel “infidelity” Castro shitstain spawn that Canadians are finally waking up to in enough raw numbers to ensure its demise.

Current trucker revolts and demonstrations are breaking out around the world, the latest one I saw today, Israel.

It’s rather perfect, and in so many ways, I’ll leave you all to figure it out.

I like to think of it as a gross integration.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

6 Comments

  1. GEORGENE HARKNESS on February 15, 2022 at 22:18

    That was a good read, Richard. I’m a bit older than you… I remember when my dad bought a CB radio and installed it in our home. I can’t remember him actually using it, but he wasn’t a trucker and didn’t spend much time in his car anyway. As a lowly female, I’d have never thought to infringe on his CB time, but I was always interested in everything, so I learned a little about it.

    Nice memories. Looks like you really enjoyed your CB time! Dumb question: what do truckers use now while they are driving? Still CB, or has something supplanted it? It wouldn’t make sense for them to text. Of course there are phones, but that leaves off the “group chat” type of experience.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 15, 2022 at 22:21

      That’s my question too.

      I’ll see if I can get my bro in this thread. he did long haul for a while.

      • Michael Nikoley on February 16, 2022 at 10:38

        I bought a Cobra CB first thing when I got my own truck. I don’t remember the model but it was a nice one. Unfortunately there wasn’t much chatter at all with truckers. Guess it just faded out. I mostly used it pulling into shippers contacting the office.



      • Richard Nikoley on February 16, 2022 at 10:50

        What do they use now for communications?



    • Holly Champaign on February 16, 2022 at 00:51

      In western NYS, and probably many rural areas, CB’s were used for volunteer fire departments. Many kids who’s fathers were volunteer fireman had CB’s installed (and police scan radios).

      • Richard Nikoley on February 16, 2022 at 00:54

        Kids of the internet age have little idea that us old folk had means of communication far more human-like than they ever imagined.



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