Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Heading north from CR after work, I glanced over to the southbound lanes and spotted four logging trucks, alone and single file, deadheadin’home, their log trailers on the truck (is there a proper term for that, Ernie?). I know the song “Convoy” made it on to Eric V. Kirk’s response to richard’s most disliked songs list but if my Mark had been with me, he would have joined me in…. “Looks like we got us a CON-VOY”.

We were married in 1975. I was just a child. No really, I wasn’t “legal” until we’d been married for a month. Before you presume, if you know Monica and can do math, you’ll know I wasn’t even in the “family way”. We drove across country so Mark could work at his dad’s diesel shop in South Carolina. We were there for seven months and money was plenty tight. We had cable spools for tables and some hand-me-down vinyl rocker. It’s hard to imagine in this age of cell phones and an inability to be without a telephone for ten minutes but what we didn't have was a phone. We did, however, have a CB radio in our Dodge maxi-van.

I don’t know if CBs were ever as popular up here without an interstate nearby but Camden was right off I-20 in South Carolina. Everyone had a CB in 1975. We were the Freedom Flyer. The only other “handle” I remember is a guy named “Stump Puller”. If you wanted to get hold of someone, you climbed in your truck and called for “breaker breaker one nine”…..one-nine, trucker talk for channel 19. You'd get a "go ahead, breaker".... to which you'd ask if your buddy "had his ears on". No privacy but odds were you'd find who you were looking for.

When we headed back home to California, we came across Interstate 10. We had our CB. We would flash our lights to let a passing truck know there was room to merge back in. He’d flash his lights, often hundreds of them surrounding the box and cab, in thanks. We’d monitor Channel 19 to find out when “Smokey” was on the prowl or “in the air”. But the ultimate “Convoy” moment was traveling one night, somewhere in Texas, listening to raunchy jokes crackling in the speakers from truckers traveling the same road. Eventually, as we approached the New Mexico boarder, one voice asked where the “front door” was of “this here convoy”? -- the front door being the lead truck. The front door was in Arizona. The “back door” was somewhere behind us in Texas. We, as well as probably more than a hundred trucks were “sittin’ in the rockin’ chair”….filling up the interstate and chiming in with the mile markers we passed.

I haven't heard Convoy in years but….when a clip of C.W McCall was on VH1 last week, damned if we didn’t remember the words. "Pig Pen, this here's the Rubber Duck...."


Fred said...

That brings back some memories. I was into CB radio for a few years back in the early eighties and had more than one radio.

My favorite was a Sears Roadtalker 40 I bought at Sears when it was still at the Eureka Mall.

I still have my two Cobra CBs, both of them with Single Side Band. If you've never used SSB, you can talk all around the world on those if conditions are right.

One of the Cobras is a base station model and I've thought of setting it up again in my garage. I was actually thinking of installing the mobile Cobra in my truck thinking it might be helpful when traveling back and forth to the Bay Area.

Maybe one of these days.

Oh, my CB handle was Klondike Freddy.

Kym said...

We had one too! I was just a kid in the Seventies and my dad had one in the family room. For us though, the constant noise meant we eventually turned it off and once it was off, you couldn't get a call. Thus, probably ended up in a thrift store somewhere.

Anonymous said...

My brother had a CB in his Volkswagen bug. So did all of his friends in their motocross club. Yep, 1975 the year he graduated from high school.

CB's were a big deal out in the hills. And, much more effecient then today's cell technology.

There is still an active CB Radio club in Humboldt County. You can see them helping out at different county events. For instance, doing parking at the Humboldt County Fair. Just so you know...not to be confused with the Amatuer Radio associtations or HAM's. Two different breed of cats.

My brother's was a Midland with a huge whip antenna. Damn, if I can remember his handle.

Great story, beachcomber.