I must be getting old, because of the amount of nostalgia that comes to mind when special days are mentioned. Today, in American style date numbering, is 10/4/2018 with the short version being 10/4. There is an unofficial holiday named with that in mind, 10-4 Day.
10-4 is one of the phrases of the 10-Code used in emergency service radio communication and by CB, citizens’ band, radio users. These days, the vast majority of CB users are truckers, like my friend Jorge.
However, CB was a major social phenomenon during the 1970s. Not only were semi-trucks equipped with citizens’ band two-way radios, but so were millions of everyday cars and pickup trucks. CB was a full-blown subculture. This coincided with the popularization of “trucker culture”. There were popular Hollywood movies like “Smokey and the Bandit”. Advertising producer William Dale Fries, Jr. aka C.W. McCall recorded popular songs like “Convoy” and “Wolf Creek Pass”.
A year or so before the CB fad exploded into popular culture, one of my coworkers, Don Langston, was already into using the transcievers (transmitter/receiver). It made perfect sense that he was, because Don was the technical engineer for the radio station and one of the engineers for the Nebraska educational television network’s relay station in the area.
Don was a very enthusiastic advocate for his CB hobby. Both of his family cars sported CBs bolted under their dashboards and had “whip” antennas on the rear bumpers. Don had a top of the line “Midland” citizens’ band base station in his living room so he could monitor conversations whenever he wanted to.
During his off-cuty hours, Don volunteered as a storm spotter. Whenever severe thunderstorms were predicted, he drove into a particular rural area to search for signs of tornadoes and other harmful weather conditions like hail and heavy rain. His volunteer work as a spotter extended into the winter, with observations of blizzards and highway surface conditions, downed power lines, and so forth. He communicated with his fellow spotters and law enforcement agencies with his CB radio.
One of Don’s endearing characteristics was his use of trucker lingo and the 10-4 code in regular, non-CB communications with friends and family at home and at work. I remember casual conversations with Don when he liberally used the phrase, “ten-four, good buddy”. He said “10-4” when most people would have just said “OK”.
When it was time to say our good-byes, Don always said, “I’ll catch you on the flip flop.” That habit eventually rubbed off on me. I caught myself using the flip flop phrase with other people besides Don. This annoyed most folks, so I made a conscious effort to stop using it.
So, today, I’m feeling nostalgic about Don. He was one of the most kind-hearted, friendly, generous men of his day. He also was a chain-smoker with the seasoned type of voice and laugh. He would literally give his pearl snap western shirt off his back to anyone in need. Don would have loved 10-4 Day.