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Monday, November 24, 2008

Convoy by C.W. McCall

I caught a few minutes of a hilarious television program currently running on CMT called 20 Great Redneck Moments.

One of the moments centers around the success of the song “Convoy” by C.W. McCall. If you are older than 40, then you remember the song. It went to number one in January of 1976 and it featured McCall carrying on a conversation over a CB radio in an almost rap-like fashion. The started a CB craze across the country. One of the guests who was interviewed on the CMT show said that the CB was the redneck’s Internet.

The funny thing is, I totally got into CBs for a while. My dad had one in his work van and I would try to talk to other people on it. First I had to learn the lingo. “Breaker breaker” meant that you were trying to break in on a channel. If you were really cool (or a redneck—it’s all about perspective, isn’t it?), you included the channel number like McCall did, so you’d say, “Breaker breaker 1-9.” Then you’d give your “handle” to identify yourself. Your handle couldn’t include any part of your real name. I was 11 or 12 at the time and since my favorite football team was the Steelers, I became the “Pittsburgh Boy.” Yeah, it was lame, but give me a break. I was a kid. So you’d say, “Breaker breaker 1-9, this here’s the Pittsburgh Boy.” Then you would ask if anybody had their ears on—which simply meant that you were asking if anybody was available to talk. If somebody responded, you’d ask them their twenty (which meant location).

I once reached a kid who referred to himself as the “Cincinnati Kid.” The connection was full of static and we didn’t talk long, but it was nice to make a connection nonetheless. Once in a while I’d hear a female chatting and of course, that caught my attention. Dad wasn’t crazy about that though. He later explained that prostitutes sometimes used CBs to set up their future “engagements.” I don’t think he used that word, but you get the idea.

Dad eventually paid to have a CB radio installed in the house I lived in with my mom and sister (my parents divorced when I was eight). He even had a huge antenna put on our roof so I could get a decent signal. I jabbered on the CB for a couple of years—probably never getting out of it when dad put into it. But, as a shy kid, it was my first attempt to break out of my shell to connect with people. And while it never really led to any real friendships, it always gave me hope.


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