Wanted by Uncle Sam: 2000 Amateur Wireless Operators


A hundred years ago, Uncle Sam was looking for amateur wireless operators, and the ARRL was doing everything within its power to make sure the need was met. The July 1917 issue of QST came complete with the application blank necessary for young hams to sign up:


It was explained that applicants were to take the filled in enrollment form to their nearest Navy Recruiting Office. (If they didn’t know where it was, ARRL HQ could provide the address.) At the recruiting station, the officer there was to certify the applicant’s physical condition. Then, the applicant would return the form to ARRL HQ, which would send it to the proper headquarters. “They will notify you when and where to report.”

The accompanying article explained that 2000 wireless operators were needed by the Naval Reserve. “At the outset all will probably agree that this is a call of humanity and before it is over every one of us will have to play his part. To play your part and do your bit,–does not mean you must shoulder a gun. Your part if you are a radio operator is to serve in that capacity. Your duty is to enroll today. Uncle Sam must have wireless operators. You must not fail him in this hour of need.”

The article explained that enlistment was for the duration of the war, and that reservists would be able to ask for discharge during times of peace. It stressed that enlistment would give one of the finest educational courses in the country, comparable to a college education.

1917JulyQST3Two schools were in operation by the Navy. Harvard University had turned over to the Navy Pierce Hall, in which at present 150 radio electricians were being trained. A smaller school was in operation at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. And as enlisted man, the recruit would have the opportunity to enter the Naval Academy by examination. Pay ranged between $32.60 and $72.00 per month, plus uniform and subsistence.

An accompanying editorial, probably written by Hiram Percy Maxim, admonished “hurry up and enroll.” The Old Man notes that the “engineering course given is unquestionably one of the finest things offered in this country in the way of a practical training in electrical engineering.”

After mentioning the pay, the Old Man opines that “any amateur radio operator who does not take advantage of it ought to have his head examined.”

The editorial concludes by admonishing young men to think it over, “and make Mother and Father read this editorial.”

Archie Banks, 9AGD, Radio Amateur & Beekeeper

1917 Archie Banks 9AGD

A hundred years ago, American amateur radio operators were off the air for the duration of the war. All stations, both receiving and transmitting, had to be dismantled, and antennas lowered to the ground. But the July 1917 issue of Electrical Experimenter detailed the activities of 24 year old Archie Banks of rural Delmar, Iowa. Banks lived on a farm about a mile out of town, and when he was sixteen, he developed an interest in electricity. He had the house wired with electric lights powered by batteries, and within two years, he was dabbling in wireless. He reported that his first set didn’t work well, and he could only communicate the one mile to Delmar.

But his second station was considerably more successful. He was licensed as 9AGD, and among other things was able to reliably copy the twice daily news and weather reports sent by the stations at the Illinois State Agricultural College in Springfield, and the Iowa State Agricultural College at Ames.

Rather than keep these important bulletins to himself, Banks took it upon himself to share the information with neighbors. Initially, he shared the information with anyone who desired to phone him, and the service was popular. Area farmers had access to immediate weather reports, rather than having to wait for the daily nespaper to be delivered by the R.F.D. carrier.

But Banks decided to carry it a step further, as shown by the sign here. In addition to his labor on the family farm, Banks had a side business consisting of about a hundred hives which he used to raise honey. The honey was advertised by a roadside sign. He added this sign, encouraging passers by to stop and read the news and weather reports. Initially, the sign was placed as a public service. But Banks soon noticed that those stopping to read the weather would be in a good position to buy some honey.

Banks had his beekeeping-wireless enterprise in operation as early as 1913. In that year, he had a paper read at the state bee convention, published in the Report of the State Bee Inspector, an essay entitled, “The Art of Selling Honey From a Producer’s and Retailer’s Point of View.” This paper reveals that the wireless was but one advertising mechanism he employed. He recommended advertising which included a few recipes. “This will make the housewife anxious to try them out just the same as one is to try a new car.” He recommended giving out samples, since they “create an appetite for more and the neighbor or friend will probably purchase a case or more the next time he sees you.”

His main sign (not shown in the Electrical Experimenter article” was eight feet by two feet and “hung across the road,” which was a main highway. It read, in large red letters, “Eat Honey,” with the phrase “for sale here by the section or wagon load” in large black letters. He states that he also had “a large signboard on which is printed the weather report which I receive daily by wireless. Passerby stopping to read this report get a view of the honey sign also–thus killing two birds with one stone.”

Banks is also described in an article in this 1917 issue of The Country Gentleman.

According to this link, Banks was born in 1892, the son of B.D. Banks and Hannah E. Banks. According to this 2016 obituary of his son Harlan Banks, he later married Edna Bowman and had multiple children. At some point, he moved to California, since the son’s obituary shows him graduating from high school in Santa Barbara.

Archie Banks Santa BarbaraAccording to this site, in 1925, Banks was one of five hams in Santa Barbara when an earthquake struck the town on June 29, 1925. The city was completely cut off from the outside world, prompting the hams to patch together a CW station to send out an SOS. Help was summoned when an operator aboard a Standard Oil Tanker heard the SoS and summoned help. This photo, appearing in a Russian language book, shows Banks operating from Santa Barbara after the earthquake.

According to the Social Security Death Index, Banks died in October 1984 in Santa Barbara. According to his gravestone, he served in the U.S. Navy both World War I and World War II.

Banks is listed as 9AGD in the 1916 callbook with an address of R.F.D. 2, Delmar, Iowa. He doesn’t appear to have a listing, either in California or Iowa, in the 1922 call book.

DelmarIowaStreetViewInterestingly, I think I found the location of Banks’ 1917 honey sign, which would be this Google street view.  According to the Electrical Experimenter article, Banks’ station was about one mile from Delmar and eight miles from Maquoketa.  This farm house is about that distance from the two towns, and seems to match the house shown in the article, assuming the magazine photo below was taken from the rear of the house.  The location is on Iowa Highway 136, just west of US Highway 61.


Lafayette, Nous Sommes Ici!

File:Pershing at Lafayette Tomb.jpg

Gen. Pershing at Lafayette’s Tomb. Wikipedia image.

On this Fourth of July a hundred years ago, 1917, American troops had just arrived in France, and they used the occasion of the anniversary of American independence to march through Paris.

Col. Charles E. Stanton made a speech at the grave of Marquis de La Fayette at which he famously announced:

America has joined forces with the Allied Powers, and what we have of blood and treasure are yours. Therefore it is that with loving pride we drape the colors in tribute of respect to this citizen of your great republic. And here and now, in the presence of the illustrious dead, we pledge our hearts and our honor in carrying this war to a successful issue. Lafayette, we are here.

General John Pershing was present, and the quote is often mis-attributed to him. But it was Stanton who spoke these words.

Planning for Eclipse Gridlock

C3 Hotel & Convention Center

OneTubeRadio.com eclipse headquarters.

The official eclipse headquarters for OneTubeRadio.com is the C3 Hotel & Convention Center in Hastings, Nebraska. If you happen to be in Hastings for the eclipse, please stop by and say hello. We’ll be viewing the eclipse, and participating in some citizen science regarding radio propagation. We’ll be posting more details in coming weeks.

Quick Links

We’ll be staying in what looks like a very nice hotel with an indoor pool. While we haven’t decided on our exact viewing location, the hotel parking lot appears to be perfectly adequate. The cost of the hotel room was very reasonable, and we’re paying the normal nightly rate. Since Hastings, Nebraska, isn’t normally a major tourist Mecca, the normal nightly rate is quite low.

However, if you decide that Hastings, Nebraska, is where you want to be, there’s a zero probability that you’ll be able to find a hotel room within a hundred miles (although there are still a handful of hotel rooms available in some cities in and near the zone of totality.) We made our reservations last August, but now it’s too late.

How Many Last-Minute Eclipse Chasers Will There Be?

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1911 Eclipse Crowds. Library of Congress.

1911 Eclipse Crowds. Library of Congress.

There has been very little media coverage so far of the eclipse, and most Americans probably haven’t heard about it yet, or have only vaguely heard about it. It seems likely that there will be a lot of media coverage in the week or two immediately prior to the eclipse. And many Americans will realize that they live within driving distance of the eclipse, and that the eclipse is a big deal. I predict that millions of them will decide, perhaps on the spur of the moment, to go see it.

According to Michael Zeiler of GreatAmericanEclipse.com, 174 million Americans, 53% of the population, live within 400 miles of the total eclipse. I happen to be in that category, since I’m just under 400 miles. At his website, Zeiler makes some estimates as to how many of those people will decide to get in their cars and go visit. To come up with an estimate, he makes some assumptions, and those assumptions sound reasonable to me. Zeiler estimates that persons living within 200 miles of totality will have between a 0.5% and 2% probability of deciding to go visit.

This certainly seems reasonable. Think of a group of between 50 and 200 people that you might know. Think about the people where you work or where you go to school. If there was an eclipse 200 miles away (normally, about a four hour drive), do you think that there is one person in that group who would take the day off and go see the eclipse? Obviously, I’m in that category myself. I’m even an early adopter, since I made my hotel reservation last year. Most people will be late adopters. They’ll see posts on social media a week before. They’ll start hearing about it in the news. And some of them, like me, will decide to go see it. And I think one person in 200, or even one person in 50, is a very reasonable estimate of how many such people there are.

Zeiler adjusts his estimates as people are further away from the total eclipse. For people in my category (200-400 miles away), he cuts the estimates in half. He estimates that the probability of their deciding to go is between 0.25% and 1%. Again, think about a group of people you know, such as people at work or school. Do you think that if you took a group of between 100 and 400 people, that there is one person who would drive 400 miles (normally, about an 8 hour drive) to go view the eclipse? That seems like a reasonable estimate to me.

As the population gets further away from the eclipse, Zeiler’s estimates go down. For example, he estimates that those 400-600 miles away have a probability between 0.125% and 0.5% of going to see the eclipse.

All of these estimates sound relatively conservative to me. Again, it’s not too hard to imagine that out of a group of 200 people, one or two will decide to take the day off from work to see a free event that’s being heavily hyped on social media.

But the effect of even this small percentage deciding to see the eclipse is quite staggering: If these conservative assumptions are correct, then between 1.85 and 7.4 million people will go visit the path of totality.

Where WIll the Visitors Go?

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Where will these people go? They will probably drive to the closest point where the total eclipse will be visible. They’ll look at a map, determine the closest point, and then figure out the shortest route to get there.

In my case, the closest point where I can view the total eclipse is near Lathrop, Missouri, population 2086, just northeast of Kansas City. I go to Google Maps, where I am told that it’s a 403 mile drive from Minneapolis to Lathrop, and that it normally takes just under 6 hours. So in theory, I can get up early the morning of August 21, drive to Lathrop, Missouri, and view the eclipse. Then, I simply turn around, and get home by early evening.

But there’s a problem. A lot of other people will be descending on Lathrop, Missouri. It’s the closest spot for me, because it is where Interstate 35 intersects the path of totality. But it’s also the closest point for 12.5 million other people who live close to Interstate 35, including most of Minnesota and Iowa, as well as parts of Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

Here is Zeiler’s map showing the shortest travel route for these people to the eclipse, and every single one of those people has a preferred destination of Lathrop, Missouri:

Caption goes here.

Map courtesy of Michael Zeiler, www.GreatAmericanEclipse.com.

If one percent of those people decide to make a day trip to view the eclipse, then there’s a good chance that many of those 125,000 people will descend on Lathrop, population 2086.

That’s not quite as bad as it sounds, because those people don’t need to drive all the way to Lathrop. They’ll be perfectly happy being on a 70 mile stretch of highway north and south of Lathrop. That works out to 1785 people per mile. If we assume that there are two people in each car, that means 893 cars per mile. Since the freeway is two lanes, that’s 446 cars per mile in each lane. That’s about 12 feet per car. But according to Wikipedia, a full size car is about 16 feet long.

This means that if Zeiler’s predictions are correct, there could be a monumental traffic jam of greater than 70 miles, meaning that some Americans will miss the eclipse because they’re stuck in traffic just a few miles away from the path of totality.

And Lathrop, Missouri, is not the worst choke point. Zeiler has idenified many others that will be traffic nightmares the day of the eclipse, since they represent the point where major highways cross the path of totality. Lathrop is only the ninth worst. The largest choke point is where Interstate 95 meets the path of totality near Santee, South Carolina. This represents the closest point for most of the Eastern Seaboard. If anyone in New York or Philadelphia or Washington or Miami wants to visit the eclipse, then Google Maps will send them to Santee, South Carolina. For 74.6 million Americans, Santee, SC, population 740, is the best place to go.

For example, if you live in Jacksonville, Florida, and want to see the eclipse, then Google Maps will send you to Santee and tell you that it’s 240 miles and you’ll get there in 3-1/2 hours. But Google Maps will potentially also send 74.6 million other people there.  There will be a traffic jam.

Then How Can You See the Eclipse?

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Does this mean that you should skip the eclipse? No, it does not. It doesn’t even mean that you shouldn’t make a day trip. After all, even in the worst case scenario, most (but not all) of the people stuck in the traffic jam on Interstate 35 near Lathrop will be stuck within the zone of totality. For those people, the traffic won’t be moving anyway, so it won’t really do any harm to get out of the car and look when the eclipse happens. And almost certainly, some of the people stuck on the freeway will take an exit as soon as they are within the path of totality and find a legal parking place on some other road.

But if you do decide to make a last-minute trip to view the eclipse, you’ll need to allow much more time than it ordinarily takes. If you don’t have a place to stay (and unless you act fast, you won’t have one), I think the best strategy is to leave Sunday and plan on driving through the night. Take turns driving, and sleep when you can.

I also encourage you to avoid the choke points, most of which are located along major north-south interstates. For example, from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, it seems that Nebraska is a much more convenient destination, even though it’s more miles. Nebraska’s main choke point is in the extreme southeast corner of the state, and actually lies mostly in Kansas, since most potential visitors from Texas and Oklahoma will be routed to this point. Notably, a full 252 miles of Interstate 80 are within the path of totality. So even if you get stuck in a 252 mile traffic jam, you still won’t miss the eclipse.  But you do need to plan your route, and do your best to avoid the inevitable choke points

How Else to Prepare

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The other thing to remember is that the communities in the path of totality may have seriously underestimated the number of people coming. Lathrop’s Wikipedia page optimistically states that “plans are in the works for Lathrop to host observers that come to Lathrop to view the eclipse.” But I wonder whether Lathrop (population 2086) is really prepared for 125,000 people.

Apparently, a solar eclipse festival is being planned for Lathrop, but according to the festival’s website, they still need volunteers, food vendors, and local land leases for camping, viewing, and parking. They do have buses scheduled from Des Moines and Kansas City.

Those buses will certainly help, but the Des Moines bus leaves at 5:25 AM and is scheduled to arrive at 8:00 AM. It will probably make it in time for the eclipse, but if Zieler’s predictions are correct, it might not.  I predict that it will not arrive as scheduled at 8:00 AM.

The massive number of potential visitors to a small town highlights another point: It is very likely that there will be shortages of gasoline, food, water, and toilet facilities. If you are making a last-minute trip (or even one like mine that’s been planned for months), it seems wise to bring enough food and water for yourself, without having to rely on potentially strained local resources. Also, fill your gas tank before you leave home, and keep it topped off. It seems very likely that gas stations will run out of gas at some points close to the line of totality. At the very least, there will be long lines as those 125,000 visitors decide to fill up their tanks.

Since you don’t know exactly where or when the gas will run out, it’s a good idea to keep your tank as full as possible.  I would fill it up when you’re a hundred miles away, and then again when you’re 50 miles away.

Make Travel Plans Now!

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Vista Inn & Suites Airport EastIt is still possible to make hotel reservations in and near the zones of totality. This is especially true in the eastern United States, where you can still get hotel rooms. I have links to available hotel rooms at this link. The situation in the western U.S. is much more tight, but some hotels are still available at this link.

Camping is now the only option in some areas, and will be soon in most other areas. Temporary campgrounds are being set up in many areas. I don’t think the current number of campsites will meet the demand, but there are quite a few campsites where you can make a reservation, guaranteeing yourself a spot. Even if you don’t normally camp, knowing that you have a safe place to sleep will allow you to make a much more leisurely drive on Saturday or Sunday, before the huge crowds arrive. Even an inexpensive tent and sleeping bag and a reserved campsite will be preferable to the uncertainty of having to sleep in your car in an unknown parking lot or at the side of the road. Since camping reservations are still available, this seems like inexpensive insurance. I have links to available campgrounds within the eclipse area, many of which are taking reservations.

Eclipse Opportunity for Churches and Non-Profits

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Black-church-clip-art-free-clipart-imagesFinally, the possibility of large numbers of unprepared travelers seems like an opportunity for churches, schools, organizations, and even businesses within the eclipse area. If you are within the area of the eclipse, it seems quite possible that your area will be besieged with persons in need of food and lodging. While licensing requirements might not allow you to go into the hotel or restaurant business for profit, you can potentially provide a valuable service to eclipse travelers. Thousands of people might be grateful if you gave them a place to park, a safe place to sleep, food and water, and a place to view the eclipse. And frankly, most of those grateful people will probably be inclined to make a donation to your organization.

It seems to me that if your place of worship in the eclipse area has a parking lot, a fellowhip hall, a kitchen, and a restroom, then you should be prepared to extend your hospitality by using them. It might not be necessary. But if you make some minimal preparations before the eclipse, then you would be prepared if the need arises. The main preparations would be to have some of your members be willing to volunteer, and perhaps purchase enough non-perishable food to feed a large group of people.

If I were doing this, I would stock the church kitchen with pancake mix, syrup, spaghetti, canned spaghetti sauce, and powdered drink mix. It would not provide a gourmet meal, but it would give your unexpected visitors a filling breakfast and lunch if the local restaurants and grocery stores are overwhelmed by the crowds. And, of course, don’t forget the coffee.  Even if you don’t need to house anyone, a coffee pot set up outside the church will be a welcome sight to many visitors, and the accompanying basket for free-will offerings will probably fill up rapidly.

If I am right, then all you’ll need to do the night before or the day of the eclipse is to have your pre-arranged volunteers come to the church (where they can view the eclipse along with your visitors). If the town is gridlocked and unprepared, then all you need to do is put a sign out front reading, “Sleeping Space and Meals: Free Will Offering.”  And if I’m right and you tell the chief of police or mayor, “we can take a hundred people,” then I think you’ll have their gratitude as well.  If you are in the eclipse area but off major highways, then an announcement on local radio stations may allow you to take the pressure off overwhelmed neighboring communities.

If I am wrong, you have little invested, and you can donate the food items to the local food shelf.  But I think I’m right, and if I am, you want to be in a position where visitors to your town can tell you, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”

See Also:  Omaha World Herald article.

1942 One Tube “Beginner’s Special” Receiver

1942JulyPMSeventy-five years ago this month, the July 1942 issue of Popular Mechanics carried the plans for this simple one-tube regenerative receiver. The set was designed with wartime parts shortages in mind, and most parts were non-critical, and could be found in most junk boxes.

Future issues of the magazine would carry improvements, and most parts would be reused. In addition, the suggested breadboard layout was such that there would be room for more advanced designs to be built on the same board.

The set used a single 1Q5GT tube. It used one flashlight battery to run the filament, with four in series to provide the 6 volts B+. A battery eliminator was promised for the next issue.

Coils were wound on the cardboard tubes salvaged from D cell flashlight batteries. The article called for an external antenna and ground. Tuning was accomplished by setting regeneration to maximum, and then tuning until a squeal was heard. At that point, you would turn down the regeneration control just enough to listen to the station.



1937 Weather Balloon


Shown here from 80 years ago this month is a weather balloon from the cover of the July 1937 issue of Shortwave and Television magazine.

1937JulSWTVschematicThe accompanying article explains the operation. The transmitter consisted of two type 30 tubes operating push-pull, as shown in this schematic. The system was developed under the direction of National Bureau of Standards physicist Dr. L.F. Curtiss, who chose the type 30 tube due to their low cost, since there was no guarantee that the set would be recovered, and also due to their low filament drain.

The 45 volt B battery was specially designed and built by Eveready, and represented the lightest weight B battery ever built.

When the hydrogen balloon was launched, it began transmitting pressure, temperature, and humidity. Keying was done by an electric motor. While the article didn’t provide details, it appears that the length of each signal encoded the data. On the ground, a superregenerative receiver hooked to a strip recorder was used, allowing the duration of each pulse to be measured accurately. A vertical dipole was used for reception of the signals, which were on exactly 55 MHz.

Not surprisingly, the airborne signals could be received over a long distance, despite the low power. The article noted that signals had been received over a hundred miles, and from altitudes as high as 127,000 feet (24 miles). When the balloon reached maximum altitude, it burst, with the transmitter descending on a small parachute. The article noted that the parachute was mostly to prevent damage to persons or objects on the ground, recovery of the transmitter apparently being a secondary concern. Dr. Curtiss noted that it was his hope that the transmitters would soon be made so cheaply that it would no longer be worthwhile to attempt recovery.

Dominion Day, 1867

220px-Canada_flag_halifax_9_-04Today marks the 150th anniversary of the formation of the Dominion of Canada. The British North America Act, which served as Canada’s constitution until the constitution was “patriated” with the Canada Act of 1982, was approved by the British Parliament in February 1867, and received the assent of Queen Victoria on March 29, 1867, with an effective date of July 1, 1867. The Act united the colonies of Canada (which was divided into Ontario and Quebec), Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.

1957 Underwater TV Camera


Shown here on the cover of the June 1957 issue of Radio Electronics is a demonstration of an underwater TV camera, namely a special version of the Hancock Vicon IV made by HEC Corp., Redwood City, California. The camera was housed in a stainless steel cylinder with a small window on one end.

The camera itself was billed as extremely sensitive and not requiring additional lighting in most situations. The entrie camera weighed 95 pounds on land, but dropped to 12 pounds in the water. It came with a 500 foot cable, and could either be maneuvered by a diver or lowered by crane.

One valuable application was said to be in offshore oil drilling, or for inspections of canals, dams, irrigation canals, and ship hulls.

The original customer was the Department of the Interior, Fish and Wild Life Service, for underwater exploration of marine life. The Navy’s bureau of ships had also placed an order for hull inspection and salvage operations.

The camera, compatible with U.S. broadcast standards, came with a 500 foot cable leading to the associated controls and monitoring equipment.

Eclipse Links

NASA image.

NASA image.

Here are some links with more information regarding the August 21, 2017, solar eclipse:

General Eclipse Information:

Radio Links

Since radio propagation is affected by solar radiation interacting with the ionosphere, the brief period of “night” in the middle of the day can have measurable effects on radio signals, and some of these effects are not completely understood.  For that reason, there are some opportunities for citizen science by amateur radio operators during the eclipse.

I haven’t decided exactly how I am going to participate, but what I will probably do is send some beacon transmissions which will be picked up by stations of the Reverse Beacon Network.  This will allow me to participate with relatively little attention required by me while I watch the eclipse, but I’ll be able to review the data later and see how the eclipse affected my radio signals.

I will make this information available live during the eclipse, and you will be able to monitor how the eclipse is affecting the propagation from my transmitter.  At this point, I’m considering doing these experiments on 30 meters (10 MHz).  Effects will probably be more pronounced on lower frequencies, but higher frequencies will allow a more efficient antenna.  I think that 10 MHz probably represents the best compromise, but I’d welcome any input.

The following links include information on radio experiments to take place during the eclipse:

Eclipse Camping Links


The following campsites and dorm rooms are still available as of June 28.  Many of the campgrounds are temporary campsites with limited amenities.  In most cases, you’ll need to make reservations by phoning the owners.  Update July 24:  Additional campsites have been added.  If you discover that any of these are no longer available, please let me know.  Also, if you have a site to add, please let me know.

A few of these links are to Facebook posts, and you’ll probably need to be logged in to Facebook to view them.

Note:  I don’t have any direct knowledge of any of these links, other than what they have on their websites.  Please contact the owners directly and ask any questions before making reservations.  The sites listed here range from very expensive “glamping” locations to inexpensive spots to pitch a tent in someone’s back yard.  Some will take self-contained RV’s only and no tents.  Others will take tents only and not RV’s.  So please do your homework!











South Carolina


Links to My Previous Posts

1957 Boys’ Life Hallicrafters Ad

1957JuneBLHallicraftersAdSixty years ago this month, the June 1957 issue of Boys’ Life carried this Hallicrafters ad, highlighting the excitement available on the shortwave bands.

The comic book style ad featured a young hero with the unlikely name of Billy Hallicrafters. Billy and his friend Tim have been out boating and were securing their boat after a quick storm blew up. Billy agrees that the storm is a bad one, and invites Timmy to come tune the marine frequencies on his Hallicrafters S-85.

An amazed Tim asks whether it’s really possible to listen to the fleet talking, and Billy assures him that it is. In addition to the exciting traffic from ships, he tells Tim that he can tune in police, fire, amateurs, planes, and foreign stations.

They get to Billy’s receiver, where on an international emergency frequency they hear a desperate distress call from a ship run aground on a reef and sinking. The ship tries in vain to raise the Coast Guard, but to no avail.

Our hero Billy quickly gets on the phone to the Coast Guard and gives the ship’s position. The Coast Guard tells him that they didn’t pick up the SOS, but had a cutter and plane in the area. Twenty minutes later, the Coast Guard has rescued the ship, which included an injured man.

In the next scene, Billy and Tim are down at the dock talking to the grateful Coast Guard officer, who tells them that this proves that shortwave listening is both exciting and fun.

An ambulance is seen waiting to take the injured man to the hospital, and it turns out that Billy had taken it upon himself to have the ambulance standing by.

Tim adds that he’s going to get his own Hallicrafters shortwave set.

Billy’s S-85 is revealed to have a list price of $119.95. For the more budget conscious Scout thinking of listening for distress calls, the ad also showed the venerable S-38D with a list price of $49.95.