Ok, I'll admit it: I was a CB geek in the 70s.
In 1975 when I was about 18, I acquired my Dad's 1972 Chevy Vega GT station wagon. My Dad, who was 6'5", bought the economy car about a year previous hoping to save money on gas during the first "oil crisis", but soon found it simply too small for him, so he went back to his usual full sized Chevys, paid for the gas, and let me drive the Vega. At the time, it had about 30,000 miles on it, and it was already starting to burn oil, but I loved it. It was a sporty little number, with leatherette bucket seats, 4 on the floor and room in the back for my whole drum set. I was styling.
About that same time, CB radios were becoming the rage thanks to C.W. McCall's "Convoy". I couldn't have cared less, until a friend of my Dad's gave me his old CB which he was replacing with a new 40 channel unit (until that time, there were only 23 channels). It was a Mobile unit, so installation in the Vega was a must, but this radio was a step above most 'em. It was a "sidebander", which meant that each channel had an additional upper and lower sideband, or channel. Sidebands were almost like a step toward Ham radio, as you'd get a clearer signal and the range was extended. More about that later.
Another goody that came with the free CB was a fully illegal power booster. As I recall, the maximum power allowed for broadcast was 5 watts, but with this thing, I could do 25 watts. Fuck all y'all! More about that later too.
So now I'm cruising around in my new ride with this huge antenna clamped to the rain gutter and I'm checking out the local CB scene. Lo and behold, there were a lot of kids my age who were not truck drivers speeding up the 405 hoping to hook up with a "Teddy Bear". These kids were looking to hook up with each other. On any given day, I could listen in on a casual but flirtatious conversation featuring no doubt nubile, willing young ladies who knew how to key a mic. Soon I found myself joining in the conversations, and before long my handle, "Onion Breath" was becoming, well, mostly ignored.
Occasionally I'd drive up the hill to a spot that overlooked the city. From there I could explore the world of sidebands, which was completely different than the regular CB. The high elevation, combined with optimal atmospheric conditions enabled me to talk to other sidebanders as far away as Colorado, and once even Florida. I learned that sidebanders sent post cards to people they had conversations with, so I opened up a PO box for that purpose.
The power booster came in handy sometimes, but I had to be careful as the FCC monitored the Citizen's Bands regularly in search of such violators as well as people who would use the Lord's name in vain or utter the dreaded "S" or "F" words on the public airwaves. The booster was a great thing to have though when some asshole wouldn't shut up, or if I felt like being an asshole and fucking up everyone else's conversations by "stepping on" them.
Quite by accident, I found another great usage for the power booster. I was driving along, talking on the CB when I heard my own voice broadcasting on the PA system at a car rental lot I was driving past. So, I parked across the street, turned on the power booster and had a little fun. A customer was checking out his rent-a-car, so I keyed the mic and said in my best announcer voice, "Did you know that Budget Rent A Car will ruin your Budget?" Sure as hell, my voice was booming from the lot PA system. The customer and the salesman were looking around like "what the fuck?!". I continued with some more stupid shit until one of the employees spotted me across the street, so I turned the power booster off and gunned the Vega out of there.
In the mean time, I was not making much of a splash on the local CB scene. Try as I might, I couldn't impress the CB babes like some of the other CB dudes seemed to. Finally, I decided to cross the line in a desperate quest for CB pussy: I attended a CB break. A break is a party, where people who have only heard each other's voices got to meet each other in the flesh. Attending the break was a big step for me, because I was kind of shy and not good at meeting people. Still, these were people I kinda knew, so I put on my brave face and went on down to the Moose Lodge where the break was held on the last Friday of each month.
It didn't go as bad as I thought it would. First of all, there weren't that many guys there, or at least not very many that were the least bit intimidating. There were a few girls, and although none of them were real lookers, one of them was ok. For some reason I decided to go downstairs to the Moose bar, where I found a few old timers sitting around watching the ball game. I strutted up to the bar and ordered a few beers for me and my friends. I'm sure the bartender knew I was well under 21, and had probably never ordered a beer in my life, but he didn't bat an eye and served 'em up. I walked back upstairs a returning hero. At last Onion Breath had arrived.
I wound up in the Vega with the "ok" CB babe and some other kids from the break heading up the hill to my favorite sidebanding rendezvous with a couple more cars in tow. We all blathered away on the radio, our very own convoy raising hell in suburbia. Once we got there, nothing of any significance happened, at least not that I remember, and I don't think I was that drunk on just one beer. We parked, looked at the lights below, goofed off on the radio some more, then headed back down to the flatlands.
I soon lost interest in all things CB. I finally decided I just wasn't the outgoing type. I'd listen to the truck drivers who seemed to inhabit channel 14 all the time go on and on about God knows what, and I knew I could never be like that. And I got a real bad taste in my mouth for the geeky kids who sounded oh so cool to me at first, but revealed themselves to be lonely people who wouldn't have anyone to talk to if not for the wondrous CB. Plus I was beginning to feel like I was following a shallow trend that was going away fast, and for good reason. The Vega started burning oil like a mofo, with billows of white smoke pouring out of the tail pipes. We sold it to some unsubspecting victim along with the CB and the illegal power booster. The poor sap was probably arrested by the FCC and has been languishing in prison ever since.
I can look back fondly on this period of my life now, no longer worried what someone might think if they knew I was a CB nerd in the 70s. As you Robot fans know, we're big on truck driving songs and CB records around here. We hope you like them too. I couldn't believe my eyes when I found All Ears. For one thing, my Realistic CB is featured prominently on the back cover. Radio Shack did a heck of a job putting this thing together too. Of course you've got your trucker/country/CB songs, but there's also "adult contemporary" pop stylings (Honey Bee), funk (Come On, CB Baby) and even Christian (The Night I Talked To The Lord). Too much good stuff to choose one or two tracks to put up. So, in a Record Robot first, we present to you the entire All Ears album. I'm gonna go 10-7 now, so get your ears on, keep the shiny side up and the dirty side down and watch out for the local yokels. Good numbers to all my good buddies!
Onion Breath Mike
:: Hey Shirley (This Is Squirrely) ::
:: Honey Bee (Please Answer Me) ::
:: Come On, Come On, CB Baby ::
:: Everybody's Somebody (In Our CB World) ::
:: Hey Good Buddy (Where's My Baby) ::
:: The Handles Hall of Fame ::
:: Listenin' CB Blues ::
:: Ain't Ever Gonna Be Lonely Again ::
:: L.J.'s CB Radio ::
:: The Night I Talked To The Lord ::