Monday, May 10, 2004

Carl and Jerry “Together again like Fred and Ginger and Lester and Earl” 

Carl and Jerry “Together again like Fred and Ginger and Lester and Earl”

Those of you that are movie buffs will recognize this as a line from the 1977 hit “Smokey And The Bandit”. What you might ask does this have to do with scanning or ham radio? Well indulge me for a bit and I will try to connect the dots for you.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away when I was in grade school there was a magazine published called “Popular Electronics”. Among the regular features of this publication were stories by a ham radio operator named John T. Frye whose call sign was W9EGV. Each story involved a pair of young lads named Jerry Bishop and Carl Anderson. These stories began in 1954 when I was not yet in grade school and continued through 1964 when I was in Jr. High School.

I started scrounging back issues of PE about the time I was ten and was immediately captivated with the “Carl & Jerry” stories. In the first issue only Carl held an amateur radio license but it wasn’t long until both of our heroes held ham tickets. Each month they would find themselves involved with some problem they had been asked to solve or some fix they had gotten themselves into that was resolved with their knowledge of electronics and or the use of ham radio.

This wasn’t the only thing that drew me to amateur radio but I have to admit that it sure did help. And every story taught some lesson about electronics and made it fun to learn. I don’t know if there is anything equivalent to theses stories today in any of the aspects of education public or private but it would be great if there were. Kids are like sponges and soak up information as fast as they can find it if you present it in the right way.

Alas at some point in time I decided that it just wasn’t worth the effort to pack up my magazine collection and move it one more time so I let all of those old issues of Popular Electronics and Electronics Illustrated find new homes. Over the years I have thought fondly of the Carl and Jerry stories so imagine my surprise when I found out that a number of them were available on a web site. Bless the little old World Wide Web and the Internet. Unfortunately they are not all available but enough of them have been preserved to give you a flavor of the times and the writing. Take a look and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Here is a link to the site. http://home.gwi.net/~jdebell/pe/cj/cnjindex.htm

I latter met Henry Hill, WA3CVC, who became my "Carl" and while I became his "Jerry". The two of us never got quite into the types of adventures that some of Frye's stories portrayed but we did become life long friends as a result of amateur radio.

Nice to see this reminiscence about John. He and my father were friends from childhood and operated bootleg amateur stations back in the twenties before John got his ticket. I was licensed in my teens (ex-K9UBK) and with one of my buddies was a frequent visitor to John's shack, right up the street from us. He always had time to teach us and encourage us.

Our offer to provide material for his Carl and Jerry column, however, was met with some skepticism.......guess we weren't quite up to their level of ingenuity.

He got around in a tripod-style wheelchair and a tiny little car customized for his physical condition.....though he did have a full sized Buick with hand controls which he drove on special occasions. His "disability" did not keep him from whatever he set his mind to......and a brilliant mind it was.
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