Log

Surviving Youth

My Parents Were Awesome

My parents were amazing (still are) but, as wonderful as they were, I wonder if they'd be thrown in jail today. After all, they let us play. Outside.

Not just play, either, but climb trees, build jumps, ride around public streets on skateboards, explore woods, get dirty, and all manner of other horrors. They even left us at home, sometimes alone, oh gasp.

But one particular activity stands out. At 15 years old the CB craze was in full swing as cable TV was pouring into households, obviating the need for all those TV antennas perched atop steel towers.

My friend, Rick Gercke and I, saw an opportunity.

First off, we were full into CB's and wanted towers with high gain antennas. So we hatched this plan: go around to neighbor's houses and ask if they wanted their unneeded TV tower removed for free. We would refurbish and sell the tower, after putting up our own, of course.

If you hired out this service it would cost over $100 so this was a win-win. We got a tower to use or sell and they got rid of an eye sore.

We borrowed a "Jim Pole" from another friend and started taking down towers. The Jim Pole mounted on an existing section of tower with a pulley, allowing a new section to be lifted up or an old section lowered more easily without worry of toppling.

The hardest part was getting over being terrified of open heights. Mind you, I was already flying gliders and airplanes but, as any pilot will tell you, being up on a tower is waaaaay different than being up in an airplane. Pilots hate ladders as much as anyone. But I worked up to it gradually and eventually became quite comfy atop 60 feet of braced steel.

And my parents let us do this.

We had safety gear, of course, but still. Do that today and the parents would probably go to jail.

Part of it might have been their desire to let me learn about business which indeed it did. I was working another job anyway but this added a few dollars to our bottomed out line. More than anything, it gave us both some of the highest gain CB gear around!

A shout-out to my neighbors, the Descensos, who tolerated my occasional intrusion into their TV shows. I'm sure I limited my use of the 100 watt extra oomph to avoid being a complete nuisance.

I suppose it's a tradeoff. Let your kids enjoy life, let them explore, but the downside is they may fall out of the tree, off the tower, get run over by a truck or eaten by a bear. If they survive youth, it will be a much richer experience.

This is the directional antenna that adorned our Mansfield house for many years. It beamed between 4 and 100 watts of youthful exuberance all over Richland County from about 70 feet high. It could be switched from vertical to horizontal polarity and was good for "talking skip" which let us talk with folks many hundreds of miles away under the right conditions.

On the other side of the house was a 5/8 wave ground plane antenna at about 50 feet for more mundane communications.


2015 Jeff Goin   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!