3 of Us Get Our Cables Cut
The timeframe was during the summer of 1982, one of the most fun summers I would ever have. The Channel 30 CB group was running hot and heavy back then as well. Most of us would start doing our radio thing in the later evenings, which would then usually last well into the wee hours of the morning. I had been recently laid-off from my job, so I was around quite a bit, both during the day and at night. Not too many nights were spent at home on the base either. Instead, I found myself either at "Uncle" Chuckie's or hanging out at the nearby Park Ridge shopping center parking lot with some of the other locals. There were also occasional impromptu road trips, as well as some cool parties. Most of us had a real blast that summer. But beneath that air of joviality, and free flowing fun, there was a sinister element of two-faced backstabbing festering in the background.
Sometime between the demise of Channel 13, and the formation of Channel 30, I had met up with three guys who were squatting on Channel 14, David, Frank, and Mark. After an initial confrontation, we would eventually hit it off and spent the fall/winter of 1981-82 talking and goofing around on the radio, raising a little hell, and running the New Jersey nightclub circuit (The legal drinking age was 19 in Jersey and those guys were 20 at the time). They were also friends with Ray who, like me, was another cast-off leftover from Channel 13 and who was probably the person who first introduced me to these guys. I should have been more suspicious of the tenuous "friendship" that existed then, but I was a lot more trusting back then. But truth be told, we did seem to get along pretty well for a while.
When the Channel 30 group formed in late '81 and started growing as the year rolled over into 1982, David, Frank, and Mark moved up there with the rest of us, but they kept somewhat aloof. In retrospect, it seemed that these guys didn't trust too many people outside of their own circle. David especially, looked at many activities with suspicion and a trace of paranoia. At some point, David began dating one of the Channel 30 regulars, a girl named Patti. Patti was a bit wild and crazy, and enjoyed flirting, and playing around over the radio. Naturally David (who Patti gave the not-so-flattering nickname of "Stubby"), was suspicious and jealous of Patti's interactions with other guys on the radio. David would have a problem with even the most innocent fun and truly believed that people were talking smack about him behind his back. I attempted to ease his suspicions, but he seemed to be getting fed contrary information from another source which only helped to re-enforce his initial suspicions.
Eventually, he began to believe that I was one of those people who was plotting to undermine his "relationship" with Patti behind his back . Some of this suspicion may have been perpetuated by Patti herself, as I truly think she got a bit of warped pleasure seeing David get all worked up and jealous. In the very beginning, I was unaware of the suspicion which was slowly being cast in my direction, as I was just doing my thing like normal, and didn't get involved too deeply in "soap-opera" like gossip. Things would take a turn for the worse though, when I helped Patti put up her base station antenna. I was around during the day, and was glad to help other people with their radio projects. But David was convinced that there was more going on than just an antenna party. When he gave me the third degree later on, I denied that anything was going on. But I could tell that he didn't quite believe me. Things were never quite the same between us after that. Maybe it was just that I finally got a glimpse of how he really felt.
Then there was Marybeth. She was a friend of Patti's, and was also not one to keep her feelings to herself, and over the course of time she had had a few "scuffles" with David and Co. Marybeth was a bit overweight, and David and Co. liked to bust her stones about it. She made it known that there was no love lost between herself and David. It didn't take long then, for "The King of Paranoia" (David) to align Marybeth in with the "conspiracy" to stab him in the back. Somehow, even "Uncle" Chuckie got caught up in the conspiracy, perhaps because most of us hung out at his place at various times and he knew almost everything that was going on with the channel regulars.
Things started getting really ugly when I met up with some of the crew at a local carnival one night and returned to find a knife wound in one of the tires of my truck. Then one night shortly after that, I returned home to find that one of the windows where I ran my coax cable into had been mysteriously broken. Further investigation revealed that someone had attempted to damage my coax cable by taping an M-80 to it. When it went off, it did nothing but scorch the cable. But the force of the explosion broke the nearby window. Suspecting further incidents, I rigged a Rube Goldberg "alarm" trip out of monofilament fishing line and a micro switch. This would sound a buzzer in my room, if anyone approached my antenna mast and tripped the line. Despite my precautions though, a few nights later, I came home to find that my receive was awfully dead. A quick SWR check showed an off the scale reading. Looking outside confirmed the worst, as my coax cable had become 2 pieces. Even in the total darkness, the vandals must have somehow saw the trip line, managed to step over it, and performed their deed unhampered. Using a handheld radio, I contacted Art (Who lived up the street) and told him what had happened. He relayed to me that he had just heard activity outside of his house, and that whoever was out there had made hasty retreat when he went outside to check. Art then jumped into his mobile, came by to pick me up and we took a quick run around the neighborhood. After finding nothing, we then headed over to Uncle Chuckie's. When we entered Chuck's radio room, he didn't say a word, but he reached over to his TRC-458 and cranked the volume full clockwise, in a dramatic gesture to demonstrate just how quiet his receive had suddenly gotten. With a quick look outside with flashlights in hand, we determined that his cable had also been cut. But Chuck was lucky, as he had 2 antennas, and the "cutters" had only hit the cable for one of them. It started to looked like a bunch of us had been targeted. So we took another drive to ascertain the extent of the damage to the locals. We eventually ended up at Marybeth's house, and found out that she too had been "hit". The final tally of people who had their cable's cut was 3; Chuck, Marybeth, and myself. Art may or may not have been an intended target. But nothing further ever occurred, so we were never really sure.
The aftermath of this action was not all that great. Chuck simply switched to his other antenna, until splicing his cut cable. I had a spare run of RG-8/U, which I put up the next day. Marybeth did most of her talking from the mobile, so she wasn't affected all that much. But these nefarious activities started a whole bunch of finger pointing, and even more suspicious gossiping. Based on who was hit and the timing of it, it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who the likely perpetrators were. Past history had shown that David was brash enough to carry out this type of deed (I was with him a couple of times in the past when he did). He never denied the act and, needless to say, he became an instant outcast. This probably suited him fine, since he no longer had to put on the pretense of amiable interaction with the people that he felt had "betrayed" him. His close friend Mark had started pulling away from David, and had hooked up with a girl who was friends with a few of the radio regulars. Frank got involved in other activities and spent less and less time on the radio. Ray came clean and admitted his part in the whole thing, which surprised even me, since even though Ray was somewhat sneaky, he was not known for damaging property. Ray even offered restitution to Chuck for the cost of new cable (Although none was offered to Marybeth or me). Things settled down and eventually got better after this episode, once the cancer had been removed from the group.......