Author Archives: clem.law@usa.net

Raytheon TWR-9, 1967

 

x

1967OctPE

According to this ad from the October 1967 issue of Popular Electronics, installing one of these babies above the kitchen spice rack would not only earn the little woman’s admiration, but would keep the household running like a well-oiled machine.

Shown is the Raytheon TWR-9, which was a 6-channel, 5-watt CB transceiver, complete with cordless microphone and “touch tap control.”  With the CB radio, “she can talk to you on the way home, and have you pick up those little essentials like TV dinners . . . or the laundry.”

But there was more that the set could do.  It included an intercom function, so as soon as she signed off, she could “threaten junior with disaster if his homework isn’t done before you arrive home.”

And it didn’t keep her tied down to the kitchen.  She would have even more admiration “when she learns that it’s simple to divert the output of the CB receiver section to a remote speaker at poolside so she can still hear your calls from the car even when she relaxes outside.”

A pristine example of this radio can be seen at this site.



St. Paul Mayoral Endorsements

This year’s St. Paul mayoral race will once again feature ranked voting. There is no primary election–everyone who filed to run for office will be on the November general election ballot. Since there are ten candidates, it’s unlikely that any will get a majority on the first round. To make sure that your vote counts, you are allowed to vote for up to six candidates, and rank those candidates according to your preference.

For the official explanation of ranked voting, see the Ramsey County Elections website.

In the first round of counting, if one candidate gets a majority, then the race is over, and that candidate is the winner. This is the same as any other election. But that’s unlikely to happen. So the race will move to the second round. One candidate will be eliminated, and that candidate’s ballots will be physically removed from the count.

For the second round, the judges will take a look at the second choice of the removed ballots, and those ballots will be awarded to the voter’s second choice candidate.

Ballots are counted again, and another candidate is eliminated. This process continues until some candidate has a majority.

The key rules to remember are:

  1. If you really hate some candidate, then you should not vote for them at all. Even if you vote for them in last place, that is potentially a vote for them.
  2. Your second place vote will be considered only if your first choice has been eliminated from the race. Therefore, you should not vote for the same candidate twice. Your ballot will still be counted in the first round, but you do your candidate absolutely no good by voting more than once.  The election judges will only look at the second choice if your first choice is already eliminated.  And if you’re voting for someone who is already eliminated, the vote won’t count.
  3. Ranked voting gives you the opportunity to vote for someone you don’t think will win, without the proverbial risk of “throwing away your vote.” If your guy loses, then your second choice will still get your vote. And maybe your guy won’t lose.  So there is a strong incentive to vote for the person you really want, even if you don’t believe that they will win.  You’ll still get a chance to vote for your second choice.

Therefore, you are faced with coming up with a list of six candidates that you can live with, and you must rank them in order of preference. Since there are so many names, you might want to make a written list and bring it to the polling place. As long as you take your list home with you when you are done, this is perfectly acceptable.

And here is our list. We endorse the following candidates for mayor in the following order. We list only six, because that’s the maximum number we can vote for. The six on our list are better than the other four, in our opinion.

As explained below, here are our endorsements, in order:

  1. Chris Holbrook
  2. Tim Holden
  3. Trahern Crews
  4. Barnabas Joshua Yshua
  5. Sharon Anderson
  6. Dai Thao

You can find the list of all candidates at the Secretary of State website.

1. Chris Holbrook

Our first choice is state Libertarian party chair Chris Holbrook.  Did you vote for Gary Johnson for president in 2016?  We endorsed him, and I voted for him.  I talked to a lot of people who wanted to vote for him but didn’t, because they didn’t want to “waste their vote” by voting for someone they thought would lose.

I never quite understood this.  I thought the whole point of an election was to decide who was going to win, and you don’t know who wins until after people vote.  So not voting for someone just because they’re going to lose doesn’t make a lot of sense.  If you know to a certainty that your guy is going to lose, then you ought to just stay home.  And if the other guy is going to win anyway, then you also may as well just stay home.  But some people think this way, and that is their right.

But thanks to ranked voting, you no longer have to worry if your guy is going to lose.  If he does lose, then your vote still gets counted, because as soon as your guy is out of the running, then they immediately count your second choice.  And maybe your guy won’t lose!

So if you toyed with the idea of voting for Gary Johnson, here’s your chance.  Johnson even endorsed Holbrook in 2014 when Holbrook ran for governor.  Holbrook isn’t spending any money on the campaign.  He’s not putting up signs.  He’s not knocking on doors.  But it’s about time that we elect a libertarian.

2. Tim Holden

pictureOf the remaining candidates, we believe that Tim Holden best supports our fiscally conservative  and free-market principles.  Over the past decades, politicians have been quick to jump on board with programs that amount to welfare for millionaires.  Whether it’s trains or stadiums, we believe that Holden is the least likely of the remaining candidates to advocate raiding the public treasury to finance some private business venture.

3. Trahern Crews

Our third choice is Trahern Crews.  We probably differ with him politically on a great many issues, such as his support of the $15 minimum wage.  But it does appear that Crews has a true heart for the poor, rather than just giving the poor lip service, which seems to be the norm these days.  He opposed property tax exemptions for a private stadium, and he’s expressed skepticism toward organized trash collection, saying that he favors the free market.

We have no doubt that he will serve honorably if elected, and his proven reputation as a peacemaker in the community indicates that he will be respectful of opposing viewpoints.

4. Barnabas Joshua Yshua

We still have three slots we need to fill in order to complete our ballot.  We don’t like many of the other candidates, but we conclude that perhaps Barnabas Joshua Yshua will rise to the occasion if St. Paul voters decide that he should be their mayor.  Mr. Yshua is a resident of St. Paul’s Union Gospel Mission.  He’s never held public office.

But he’s never voted in favor of running taxpayer funded trains down the middle of the street.  He’s never voted in favor of using tax dollars to build a stadium for billionaire owners or millionaire players.  And we hope he never will.  He says that he has no political agenda other than helping others.  We have no reason do doubt him, and without hesitation, he is our fourth choice for mayor.

5. Sharon Anderson

Perennial Candidate Sharon Anderson. MSPVotes photo.

We still have two more slots to fill.  The name Sharon Anderson has been on virtually every election ballot in Minnesota since the 1970’s.  One year, she won the primary and became the Republican candidate for attorney general, presumably because her name was the same as a popular television personality.  In press reports, Ms. Anderson’s name is almost always prefaced with the phrase “perennial candidate.”  If you look up “perennial candidate” in the dictionary, you will probably see her picture.  I’ve never voted for her before in my life, despite her name appearing on countless ballots.  But there’s a first time for everything, and this year I’ll vote for her, because she is better than the other five candidates.  She is my fifth choice to serve as mayor of St. Paul.  I have no reason to believe that she will not serve honorably if elected, although I’m sure her tenure in office will be colorful.

6.  Dai Thao

By the time we get to our sixth choice, we have to start dealing with the DFL, and we recognize that the DFL has made a mess of Minnesota politics.  So we need to start thinking about the least worst of the remaining candidates. After giving the matter serious consideration, we conclude that Dai Thao is the least worst, and he is our sixth choice for mayor of St. Paul.  He’s been accused of bribery, but the alleged conduct doesn’t strike us as being much worse than is typical of DFL politicians.  Thao’s problem in that case seems to be that he was a bit indelicate in how he expressed the kind of proposition that many politicians engage in on a regular basis.  At the very least, as a Hmong American, Thao does bring some needed diversity to city hall.  In short, he’s better than the other four candidates.  So through the magic of ranked voting, we have an opportunity to vote against those other four.  Thao is our sixth choice for mayor.

This page was prepared and paid for by Richard P. Clem, and is not approved by any candidate or candidate’s committee.



1942 Homemade Battery Charger

1942OctPMbatterycharger1The plans for this battery charger appeared in Popular Mechanics 75 years ago this month, October 1942.

The project had a decidedly wartime angle: “Should it become necessary to store your car, this tungar battery charger will keep a 6-volt storage battery fully charged so that you can operate your auto radio indoors. This is only one of many timely civilian defense uses for an efficient and inexpensive battery charger.”

The only electronic part necessary to construct the charger was a GE tungar bulb. The “tungar” name for this type of rectifier came from the fact that it contained a tungsten filament and the bulb was filed with argon gas. The bulb specified by the project had a two-volt filament, and screwed into a standard lightbulb socket, with a separate lead running to the anode. The whole charger was mounted on a wooden board. The article specified that it should not be enclosed, in order to allow ventilation. Thus, the 110 volt terminals were left exposed.

1942OctPMbatterycharger2The transformer was also homemade. The core consisted of strips of stovepipe iron, carefully cut and shellacked together as shown here.  Wood from a cigar box was used as a form to construct the core. The windings went over a layer of electrical tape, with the secondary winding also containing a layer of “empire cloth, available from electric shops.” The iron laminates were clamped together with hardwood or bakelite, bolted together firmly to keep the transformer from humming. The instructions called for the cord to be placed in a “moderate oven” and baked until dry.

The windings in the article were made with wire from a burnt out transformer. The primary consisted of 605 turns, with a coat of shellac after each layer. The secondary had 85 turns to supply 15 volts to the rectifier, with another 11 turns to provide the 2 volts for the filament. Finally, a knife switch was connected to the battery, to be flipped one way to charge, and the other way to play the radio.

1942OctPMbatterycharger3



Hammarlund HQ-129X, Four-20, and Two-11: 1947

1947OctRadioNews

This typical 1947 ham is shown at the mike of her well equipped (apparently ‘phone only) station, consisting of all Hammarlund equipment.  According to the ad, her Four-20 transmitter and accompanying Four-11 modulator are giving her solid R9+ reports from China, Argentina, Hawaii, and Australia.  And she’s pulling them all in with her HQ-129-X receiver.

She wasn’t a QRO operator, however.  The Four-20’s final was the venerable 807 tube, and the rig ran about 20 watts.  And there’s no sign of a VFO, so she was crystal controlled on whatever frequency she used.  But the Hammarlund name and the YL voice were good for several S-units, and I bet she put a lot of DX in the log.  The ad appeared in the October 1947 issue of Radio News.



OSS Collecting Tourist Photos, 1942

1942Oct5Life1Seventy-five years ago today, the October 5, 1942, issue of Life magazine included this nondescript tourist photo as an example of something the government desperately needed.  Specifically, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA, was requesting tourist photos from around the world for use in invasion planning.

1942Oct5Life2To illustrate the point, they provided this map of hypothetical Fitzhugh Island, the site of a powerful radio transmitter being used by the enemy.  To silence the radio station, an invasion was required.  The location of the radio station was clearly visible on the prewar map.  But many details necessary to mount the invasion were unknown.  In particular, it was not known whether the beach was suitable for landing the invading forces.

This is where prewar tourists got involved.  In a dusty photograph album somewhere in America, there probably existed photographs taken during a prewar vacation to Fitzhugh Island.  That photograph, shown above, needed to get into the hands of the OSS to confirm that the beach was suitable.

Many photographs would be useful for things like determining the composition of roads (and whether they would support a tank) and their width.  The photo shown below could be used to measure the width of the roadway, since the tourist’s height was known or could be readily estimated.  The image of the ship in the background also provided valuable clues as to the harbor’s suitability for invasion.

1942Oct5Life3

To get these photographs where they were needed, the OSS was asking for “all photgraphs (stills and movies) taken by tourists outside the U.S., in Europe, Asia, the Philippines, South Seas, Africa.  All types are useful, even family groups.”  To facilitate handling, the magazine asked those in possession of such photos to write for a questionaire (but to complete the questionaires before sending any photos).  The magazine provided the address of the OSS as P.O. Box 46, Station G, New York, N.Y.

After the hypothetical case of Fitzhugh Island, the magazine turned to an actual example of where such photos had been used. On February 27, 1942, British commandos under the command of  Lord Louis Mountbatten launched  Operation Biting, a successful raid against a Nazi RADAR at Bruneval, France, about twelve miles from Le Havre.

The BBC had previously broadcast a plea asking all people who had spent a holiday along the northern coast of France to send in any pictures they might have taken. Among the pictures that flooded in were the two shown below.

1942Oct5Life4

These  photos showed some critical details necessary for planning the raid.  The photo of fishermen on the left showed that there were cars on the beach, thus confirming that the sand would support mechanized equipment.  And the landscape on the right revealed a fence and the exact location of the road to the station.



Sputnik: October 4, 1957

Sixty years ago today, the Space Age started when the Soviet Union stunned the world by launching Sputnik 1, the Earth’s first artificial satellite, on October 4, 1957.

Soviet news agency TASS made the official announcement:

As a result of very intensive work by scientific research institutes and design bureaus the first artificial satellite in the world has been created. On October 4, 1957, this first satellite was successfully launched in the USSR. According to preliminary data, the carrier rocket has imparted to the satellite the required orbital velocity of about 8000 meters per second. At the present time the satellite is describing elliptical trajectories around the earth, and its flight can be observed in the rays of the rising and setting sun with the aid of very simple optical instruments (binoculars, telescopes, etc.).

In addition to reminding the West that the satellite could be seen by anyone, TASS went out of its way to make sure that even radio amateurs could hear for themselves that the Soviets had won the race into space.  The official press release included Sputnik’s frequencies:

 It is equipped with two radio transmitters continuously emitting signals at frequencies of 20.005 and 40.002 megacycles per second (wave lengths of about 15 and 7.5 meters, respectively). The power of the transmitters ensures reliable reception of the signals by a broad range of radio amateurs. The signals have the form of telegraph pulses of about 0.3 second’s duration with a [312] pause of the same duration. The signal of one frequency is sent during the pause in the signal of the other frequency.

Sputnik 1.jpg

Replica of Sputnik 1. Wikipedia photo.

Receivers for the 40 MHz signal would have been a rarity, but thousands of hams and SWL’s had receivers that would easily tune 20 MHz.  The frequency was cleverly picked to be close to WWV’s powerful 20 MHz signal.  Thus, even though most receivers weren’t calibrated well enough to show the exact frequency, the U.S. National Bureau of Standards unwittingly made sure that everyone knew exactly where to tune.

In addition, the signal was so close to WWV, then at Beltsville, Maryland, that the unmodulated carrier from the satellite would create a heterodyne with WWV, allowing it to be heard even if the receiver was a simple one without a BFO.

The national association of amateur radio operators, ARRL, was flooded with calls from reporters.  They gave instructions to listeners to “tune in 20 megacycles sharply, by the time signals, given on that frequency. Then tune to slightly higher frequencies. The ‘beep, beep’ sound of the satellite can be heard each time it rounds the globe.”

1957DecQSTThe December 1957 issue of QST included several photos of hams who had heard the satellite,  And in many cases, those hams made the signal available to local broadcast stations and news outlets.

In Chicago, it was 27-year-old ham Jerome Tannenbaum, W9JJN, of 5240 Harper Avenue. He was described in the October 5 Chicago Tribune as the owner of an electronic engineering consulting firm and radio operator since he was 15. He told the newspaper that he heard a steady stream of “dahs” on 20.005, and definitely believed that the signal was from Sputnik, based upon the fact that it faded out right when predicted.

Hams quickly figured out how to track the orbit and predict the next time the satellite would be in range.  Again, Moscow made sure they knew Sputnik’s orbital inclination of 65 degrees,  and orbital period of 1 hour 35 minutes, by including this information in the first announcement.  The simple locating device shown here was made at ARRL headquarters, merely by mounting a loop of wire around a globe.  Once the satellite was heard, it was a simple matter of predicting where it would be heard next by rotating the Earth 23.75 degrees, the amount it would move during one orbit.

Apparently, Sputnik had at least one deliberate QRM’er.  A letter in the December 1957 issue of QST reports that someone showed up on 20.005 MHz on October 7 with commentary such as, “this is the moon speaking,” sending the safety signal, and signing the call sign UA3ABD.  The letter writer, Dave Harris, K2RRH of Lyndhurst, N.J., hoped “that donkey realizes that he is on tapes all across the country.”

Sputnik 1 remained in orbit until January 4, 1958, having completed 1440 orbits of the Earth.  When it re-entered the atmosphere, WWV played another role.  Hams and others were already familiar with meteor scatter, the reflection of radio signals by the ionized gasses caused when a meteor enters the atmosphere.  Scientists and hams correctly guessed that Sputnik would cause the same phenomenon on re-entry.  As a convenient signal source, WWV was once again used, and as predicted, the WWV signal appeared or got louder as the satellite entered the atmosphere.  With this data, it was possible to track the satellite’s location until it completely disintegrated in the atmosphere.

Thousands of Americans were able to see or hear Sputnik.  In many cases, this sparked a lifelong interest in science, space, and/or radio.  I asked some of the hams at QRZ.com to share there stories about their experiences.  A number of hams posted there or e-mailed their recollections.

Glen Zook, K9STH, currently of Richardson, Texas, shared this story of hearing Sputnik as a 13 year old in LaPorte, Indiana, and he gave me permission to include it here:

Hallicrafters S-40

Hallicrafters S-40

There was a garage shop TV repair facility about a block south of my parents’ house. When Sputnik was launched and was operating, the frequency, 20.005 MHz, and the expected times when the satellite could be heard, were published in the LaPorte Herald Argus newspaper. Orville Hartle, the owner of the TV shop, had a Hallicrafters S-40 receiver and invited my father to come down and listen to Sputnik. I “tagged along” with my father.

As the expected time for the satellite to become in range, Orville started “fiddling” with the receiver. Nothing was heard! Finally, the “beep, beep, beep” from the satellite’s transmitter came faintly from the S-40’s receiver. Today, such a happening would be “ho hum”. However, in 1957 this was very exciting if, for no other reason, that the signal could be received by “Joe Blow” and not just by a very sophisticated scientific or military installation.

The repercussions from this evening, at least in my personal life, were great. Orville discovered that I had a serious interest in electronics which his son, who was about a year younger than I, had absolutely no interest. In fact, his son had very little interest in anything! Orville was an unusual character! He was a graduate EE but worked in the “tool crib” at the local Allis Chalmers plant, ran the TV shop evenings and weekends, and wrote books!

Orville started giving me as many old television chassis that I could “haul off” for the purpose of stripping for parts. I would take my sister’s “little red wagon” (she is 7-years younger than I) down to the TV shop and Orville would put 2, or 3, chassis in the wagon and I would bring them to my house. There were outside stairs to the basement and I would carry the chassis down and put them next to a workbench that my father had built next to the coal bin. My “experiments” were conducted, primarily, on that bench.

Thinking back, I cannot help but believe that Orville was a contributing factor to the fact that for Christmas, 1957, my parents bought me a used Heath AR-3 receiver (from Allied Radio Company in Chicago). Prior to that Christmas, I had been using an old TrueTone (Western Auto private brand) receiver with a shortwave band.

He was not an amateur radio operator, but he did encourage me to experiment with electronics and even gave me a television set, for my room, that was better than the one in my parent’s living room!

With the help of Dave Osborn, K9BPV, I passed my Novice Class examinations on my 15th birthday, 13 February 1959. It took over 3-months for the license to arrive in the mail. The license is dated 15 May 1959 but took an additional almost 2-weeks to come in the mail. I was just ending my freshman year in high school. In October, I took my General Class examinations at the FCC office in Chicago.

Then, in August 1962, between my senior year in high school and my freshman year in college, I took the examinations for my commercial radiotelephone operator’s license. My junior year at Georgia Tech, I got married and also got a job at the Motorola Service Station in Atlanta, Georgia. My senior year, I was hired directly by Motorola to establish, and then manage, the first Motorola owned portable / pager repair facility away from the Schamburg, Illinois, plant. After graduating, I was employed by the Collins Radio Company at the “new” corporate headquarters here in Richardson, Texas, and the “rest is history”!

All of this starting with the listening to Sputnik in October 1957!

Jim Allen, W6OGC, of New Braunfels, Texas, sent this account, which I share with his permission:

Sputnik went up in October, 1957, and lasted something like 3 months

One evening as we sat eating supper, the telephone rang. My dad got up and answered. He recognized the caller, the Superintendent of Schools, then became as flustered as I ever saw him. “Why, yes, he’s here. I’ll get him.”

He gestured to me, I got up and answered the phone. My dad hovered around with a look in his face, “there better be a heck of a good story for this!” He could not imagine why this big shot was calling for me, a 6th grader.

Hallicrafters SX-100. Radio News, ______.

Hallicrafters SX-100. Radio News, Feb. 1956.

The Super, W5FFE, said to me, “listen to this.” I heard the beep, beep, beep, that no one had ever heard before. He explained it was a satellite, the first one, and he was listening to it on his radio, an SX-100 as I knew. I had been watching the launches from Florida, none successful thus far.

A few of us had been going to Novice classes, he knew of it, and had called some of us, each pass.

I don’t think my dad ever forgot that.

One surprise for me was the number of hams (and other members of the public) who saw Sputnik with their eyes.  A number of such reminiscences were posted, although many of the viewers realized years later that they probably hadn’t seen Sputnik itself, but rather the larger covers that had been jettisoned from the smaller satellite.   But still, they were watching with their own eyes something the Soviets had put into orbit.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that so many people saw Sputnik (or the other parts of the spacecraft).  Today, when randomly stargazing, it’s not uncommon to see an artificial satellite cross the sky.  After all, there are thousands of them, and just by randomly looking up, you’re bound to eventually see one.  In fact, it’s almost mundane.  When I was growing up in the mid-sixties, it wasn’t uncommon for my parents to point one out to me.  It was already mundane, but there they were for all the world to see.  It did strike me as amazing.

I remember reading about the Lykov family, who, starting in 1936, lived in complete isolation from society in Siberia for 42 years.  According to one account,  They had noticed starting in the 1950’s that “the stars began to go quickly across the sky.” The father, Karp Lykov, surmised that “people have thought something up and are sending out fires that are very like stars.”

When Sputnik 1 went up, it wasn’t mundane, and the predicted times of orbits were published in newspapers.  Millions of people were looking up, expecting it.  It shouldn’t have surprised me that so many of them still remember.

 

 



Glow In The Dark Home Experiments

1937OctPSEighty years ago, the October 1937 issue of Popular Science showed the aspiring young scientist how to perform  the “most mysterious and beautiful of chemical experiments” by producing substances that glow in the dark. Fortunately, all of the materials required are readily available today. In fact, the young Einstein will probably discover that most of them are already in the kitchen or garage.

While the effect is not as strong as with other chemicals, many of these glow-in-the-dark formulas can be prepared with items already in the kitchen. Among these was chili powder (the stronger the better). The magazine noted that “a single can of chili powder from the grocery store will be enough for innumerable experiments.” Paprika, as well as other items, could also be used. Mom will be happy to learn that it was a “fascinating pastime to try out a little of everything on the pantry shelf, to see what substance will give the strongest light.”

To make these household substances glow, it was necessary first to steep a little alcohol on the item. Then, you would add some lye and hydrogen peroxide.

The final ingredient was new in 1937, judging from the explanation: “One of the newer, ‘made with electricity’ bleaching liquids and laundry whiteners. There are several of these liquids, widely advertised and obtainable at any grocery store. They are solutions of sodium hypochlorite, and you will find that this statement appears on the labels of the bottles.”

Eighty years later, we just call this “household bleach,” and the most famous brand name is Clorox.

For a stronger effect, the article recommended substituting the chili powder with oil of bergamot, which was available at the drug store. I don’t know if you can find it at the drug store today, but as with everything, it’s available at a reasonable price on Amazon, at this link.  According to the Amazon description, this “essential oil” (I’ve always wonder why nobody uses non-essential oils) is “helpful in soothing the mind and body with aromatherapy” and is safe for topical application.  But it’s a lot more fun if you get it to glow in the dark.

For the strongest effect, the article recommended 3-aminophthalhydrazide, more commonly known as luminol  (according to the article, not to be confused with luminal, a barbiturate drug).  It’s also available from Amazon at reasonable price at this link.  With this chemical, spectacular displays, such as the ones shown at the top of the page, are possible.

The article includes even more suggestions for glow-in-the-dark experiments.  The young scientist looking for something spectacular for the next science fair will undoubtedly find much inspiration from this old article.

Of course, you can save time buy just buying a bunch of glowsticks like the ones shown here and just cutting them open.  But it’s probably a lot more fun to make your own, and this old article tells you exactly how.



1937 Parachute Jump for Young Comrades

1937OctPMThis photo should put to rest, once and for all, the myth that commie kids never got to have any fun. Eighty years ago, parents the world over apparently weren’t quite as concerned that their children be protected from all conceivable dangers. Today, we might worry that the playground slide is too dangerous, but at least it deposits Junior in very close proximity to terra firma.

But they didn’t worry about things like that in 1937, and they certainly didn’t worry about it in the glorious Soviet Union.

In this Moscow park, the slide ended twelve feet above the ground, and the kids just had to trust the laws of aerodynamics to see them safely to the ground.  The accompanying text in the October 1937 issue of Popular Mechanics notes that this was one of the park’s most popular features.

The first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, was born in 1937, so my first hunch was wrong, since the young comrade shown in this 1937 photo obviously wasn’t born in 1937. But Comrade Valentina Vladimirovna was an amateur skydiver when, as a textile worker, she was inducted into the Cosmonaut Corps.  And there is definitely a family resemblance.

RIAN archive 612748 Valentina Tereshkova.jpg

Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova. Wikipedia photo.

I’m sticking to my theory that the young comrade jumping from the slide is the future cosmonaut’s older sister.

In any event, if you have kids jumping off twelve foot slides, Hitler should have known that he didn’t stand a chance.



1942: Bringing the Car Radio on a Bike

1942OctPMThere was a war going on 75 years ago, but that didn’t stop this young man from enjoying a picnic with his girl, complete with emergency news and entertainment from the radio, as shown in the October 1942 issue of Popular Mechanics.

The war did, however, make planning the outing a bit more challenging.  Gas rationing meant that the family car was out of service, and shortages of B batteries meant that the portable receiver wasn’t an option. Undaunted, he simply borrowed the receiver out of the family car, along with a six-volt battery, probably borrowed from the same car. Dad wasn’t going to be driving anywhere, anyway, so he presumably wouldn’t miss it.

The radio and battery were mounted in the bicycle’s luggage carrier, and Junior and his girl were off to a picnic lunch at this secluded spot.  Junior works on one of the sandwiches as he tunes in some appropriate musical program, and his girl looks on with admiration at his ingenuity.  Not even Hitler and Tojo can put a damper on their romantic picnic.



1942 Crystal-Tube Set

1942SepPM4

Shown here from the September 1942 issue of Popular Mechanics is a crystal/tube receiver built with junkbox parts. The construction article noted that the set “really goes to town” by combining the fixed crystal with one stage of audio amplification. This set was built into the case of a broken clock, but the article noted that another suitable enclosure could be used. The author noted that many distant stations were pulled in, especially at night.

The batteries were mounted inside the clock case on a base made of cigar-box wood.

1942SepPM5