Breaker, Breaker One-nine

Breaker, breaker one-nine. How ‘bout ya, Good Buddy? Got your ears on? What’s your handle? Where’s your 20? Over.

Those were phrases heard around our house back in the early 60s. They were slang terms used by people that owned a Citizens’ Band radio, or CB radio for short. Yes, my dad had had a CB base unit in our kitchen as well as a mobile unit in his car. Yup! We had cutting-edge technology in our remote rural area near Chatt.

The CB radio was invented in 1945 for short distance communication between people. Owners were initially required to have a license but that law was eventually dropped. By the late 1960s CB radios were popular with motorists and particularly popular with truckers. I don’t know if many truckers still use CB radios. I imagine cell phones have pretty much taken their place.

The mobile CB unit could be considered the bulky equivalent of today’s cell phone, with a few other differences. A cord was attached to the mike so you were physically connected to the mobile unit while talking. There was a talking range of a few miles. An antenna had to be affixed to the car. My dad had a long whip antenna that gave his car a look that was not appealing to me. CB transmissions were noisy and difficult for me to understand. What could be deciphered was not private and everyone within range on that particular channel could hear and join in on the conversation. But that could be part of the fun. Despite all of this, it was a way to talk to others while driving. And that was pretty cool back then.

Herb Miller "The Railsplitter" postcard from the 1960s.

Herb Miller “The Railsplitter”  CB postcard from the 1960s.

When you got your CB license back in the 60s you received your own call letters. Our call letters were KNM-2696. My dad even had postcards that gave our CB information. You get an idea of his wacky sense of humor from the little cartoon on the postcard. My mom’s name is on the postcard but I don’t think she ever talked on the CB radio. I think my dad also had a bumper sticker with his call letters. He had an hour-long commute to work every day and I’m sure he used his CB a lot while going to and from.

The “handle” was the CB user’s nickname. After all, you wouldn’t want to use your given name. My dad’s handle was The Railsplitter, chosen because of his WWII service in the 84th Infantry Division, aka The Railsplitters.

Joe put a CB radio in my car not long after we were married. My CB radio was mainly to call for help in case I ever had car trouble, and I rarely used it. My handle was Tooth Fairy, a good nickname considering my profession.

Truck & Car

CBers have their own long list of slang terms. Many of the terms were used to warn of upcoming traffic conditions or problems but they were mainly used to warn of police cars up ahead. A few slang terms that I remember:

Back door—area behind a vehicle

I got your back door—I’m watching your back

Bear/Smokey Bear—police officer or highway patrol

Bear in the air—police in aircraft

Bear in the grass—speed trap

Bear taking pictures—police with radar

Bear with ears—police officer listening to others on CB

Blinders—high beam headlights

Breaker—letting others know you would like to start talking

Breaker One-nine—you would like to start talking on channel 19, a widely used channel

Clean & Green—no police ahead

Convoy—group of 3 or more truckers in a line

Double nickel—55 mph speed limit

Eighteen-wheeler—semi truck

Four-wheeler—car or truck with only 4 wheels

Good Buddy—friend or acquaintance on CB radio

Got your ears on?—asking someone if they are on the air and listening

I’m gone/We gone—end of transmission

Picture-taker—police with radar gun

Pony Express–mail carrier

Put the hammer down—flooring the accelerator

Ratchetjaw—person talking non-stop

Ten-four—affirmative, agreement

Ten-twenty, or Twenty—a location

If you enjoy reading these slang CB terms, Wikipedia has a long list of others. You can also read about The History and Use of CB Radios.

Well, I’m done ratchetjawing. We gone, Good Buddy. Ten-four. Over and out.





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    • Joe on February 15, 2013 at 10:12 am
    • Reply

    You would have made a good trucker. I can almost hear the “twang” in your voice.
    We gone bye bye!

    1. You must be referring to my west-central Ohio twang. Over.

  1. Love the CB identifier sign with the outhouse and paper slogan. Following the tradition established by my father-in-law who always sent his best friend an outhouse birthday card every year, we have established an outhouse motif in our guest bathroom. Always raises some interesting questions or responses. There are also a number of the toy outhouses with “guests” inside that seem to enchant the children. Our youngest grandson has to close the door on each one before he uses the bathroom, apparently so the little characters sitting in the tiny outhouses are not “WATCHING” him.

    1. What a funny story! And a great idea for a bathroom. We have an old outhouse in our back yard, as an accessory and for lawn equipment.

  2. INterestingly, I doubt that calling other guys your “good buddy” as was common on the CB in those days would be met with the same enthusiasm today.

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