Communications in the radio age
When I was born in 1928, Lansing’s population was only about 800 people. I think I knew every one of them, and by the time I was 10 I had climbed just about every tree. Now I am thinking about all the changes that have taken place and all the advantages we have now that we did not have then.
At one time my brothers and I made "telephones" out of two tin cans connected by string and thread. We did a lot of experimenting with the different threads that my mom had in her sewing kit. Thread had much better reception over string so my mom always wondered what happened to her good thread.
I bought my first portable radio in 1946. At the time, I worked in Kansas City and went back and forth on the bus. One time, I took my radio with me and played the Army and Navy football game loud and clear and I got a lot of stares and comments from the bus passengers. They “never heard of such a thing,” a kid having the nerve to bring a radio on the bus and bothering everybody.
About 1947 I bought an Ultra-Mike that I got on sale for $6.63. It allowed me to turn on the radio, tune it and the Ultra-Mike to any clear channel between 1250 and 1700 kilocycles and I could broadcast distinctly between mike and radio without a single connection between the two. It acted as a transmitter from the radio to a range of 75 feet, and I was totally fascinated with this. We had so much fun with it and would sit on the rock wall in front of the grade school and play. Little did I know at the time that I was interfering with a ham operator who lived well over a block away and ran the filling station on the corner of Kay and Main Street. He had no idea where the interference was coming from until I was on the City Council ten years later and the chief of police, Jack Potter, heard me talking about that ultra-mike. He said, “So you were the son of a gun that messed up my reception.” It is funny now but sure wasn’t funny to him at the time. Now I can understand why.
With all the wonderful communication we have now, I wonder how our teenagers as well as adults could handle going back to the tin cans with mom’s thread in between?