Blue Bandit (Whitey) was an older adult "mentor", who I first met in the beginning of 1974. Whitey had gotten a general coverage receiver as a Christmas present at the end of the previous year (1973), at the same time that I got my 1-Watt Midland W-T, and while listening around, he had discovered the CB band. He then started listening regularly and not long afterward, he decided that it would be fun to interact with all the new voices that he heard chatting it up around the channels. Whitey had the good fortune (Or misfortune, depending on your perspective) of living next door to Steve, who was more than happy to help him satisfy his desire to become "radioactive", by selling him his Midland 13-885 and a Lafayette HA-250 amplifier. He then erected an Antenna Specialist's "Super Magnum", 1/2 wave ground plane antenna, and was finally on the air. Because he had spent so much time listening to us, he already knew who we all were, pretty much where we lived, went to school, and other things. So when he first broke in to say hello on his new base setup, he played a few head games on the locals by using the information he had gathered from all his listening. It didn't take him long to get into the thick of heavy duty CB'ing and, as a result, Whitey would go though many different radios over the years, including the 13-885, an SBE Trinidad, a Midland 13-898b, and (2) Hy-Gain 623's on his base. He also had some "heat" on tap as well, provided from the aforementioned HA-250, then a Palomar 200X, and finally a Wawasee JB-450. He had an equally diverse list of radios in his mobiles including an SBE Cortez, a Royce 1-600, a Tram Diamond 40, a Midland 13-895, a Johnson Viking 4740, and then finally a President Jackson. Like many other CB enthusiasts, Whitey also dabbled in different antenna schemes as well. After running the Super Magnum for the first year or so, he "upgraded" to a Antenna Specialist's "Super Scanner", which was mounted on a 40' section of black pipe. One of my more memorable antenna raising parties, was the one where a half dozen guys tried to lift that heavy pipe and the Super Scanner into place. The pipe ended up bending in the middle and the antenna fell, breaking one of the arms. We ended up fixing it by mending the broken arm with a piece of angle iron. Eventually though, we did manage to get it up in the air although it took 3 guys pulling on a rope from the roof, and another 3 or 4 pushing up from the ground. That Super Scanner turned out not to be the greatest antenna from a performance standpoint, and Whitey was more than a little disappointed by it. So in later years, he obtained a second hand and somewhat rare, locally produced "Super Starburst" antenna and then, even later, an imported copy of the Avanti Sigma 4. His mobile antennas were also a bit over the edge. After starting out with a relatively innocuous base loaded 42" trunk mount antenna, he soon opted for a full 102" fiberglass whip, and then later co-phasing a pair of them. These two large antennas were mounted on the bumper of his yellow 1973 Subaru coupe, which soon earned the nickname of the "tuna boat".
Whitey was like a surrogate father to me for a couple of years, and a good friend after that. He was instrumental in finally talking my mother into allowing me to put up a full sized base CB antenna, (something she had been very much against) and he also hooked me up with my first 2 radios; the Pace 223, and Lafayette Comstat 25. He is also credited with introducing me to what would become my favorite camping and boating spot at Lake Wallenpaupack in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pa., and igniting my interest in performance boats, and water skiing. By taking me out on the lake in his 1971 Sidewinder jet boat (named "Blue Bandit", for which Whitey got his handle), which would do an uncommon (for an off-the-shelf production boat in the mid 1970's) 60 MPH, I caught the adrenaline rush that comes from high speed. Something which I still enjoy today.
Whitey had a twisted sense of humor, with a quick wit, and he enjoyed tweaking some of the more gullible and dense guys, his favorite targets were Dennis The Menace and, of course, his neighbor Steve. Dennis was just plain gullible, and almost begged for people to play tricks on him. On the other hand, Steve was more of a pest, and was always hanging around Whitey's house trying to get Whitey involved in his latest strange off-the-wall "project". Whitey's standard answer was along the lines of; "If it saves me money, or otherwise helps me out, I'm interested. Otherwise, go home". Due to his lighthearted personality and quick wit, he often found the teenager's channel more interesting and fun than the sometimes grumpy, and humor challenged adult channels. Whitey was a salesman and designer for a kitchen remodeling company and often worked from home. This allowed him ample time to be on the radio at most times during the day. He would dial around the channels and find people to talk to, when he was in a talking mood. He also had incredible discipline, where he could actually have the radio on listening and not be tempted to key up and talk when he really had to get his work done. In the later years, he actually preferred listening to talking, and he earned the title of the area's most informed sandbagger. He also made a bunch of tape recordings, throughout the years, of some of the more "colorful" CB conversations. I could kick myself for not making copies of them to add to my own collection when I had the chance. Whitey used to enjoy popping out of the woodwork after a long (long could mean anything from a month to 6 months) absence just to say hello, but also making it obvious that he still knew exactly what was going on. During this time, he also contracted and beat cancer, not just once, but twice. Whitey hung in there with us on the various CB channels, on and off throughout the 70's and into the 80's. Toward the early 90's, when most of us had pretty much migrated to ham radio, Whitey surprisingly showed no interest in following, although he still listened to many of us on his scanner. When most of the original gang had moved on, his interest in radio waned and he passed on one of his Hy-Gain 623's (his Pocono base radio) to me to add to my collection. Not long afterward, he soon sold his summer place in the Pocono's, as he was getting too old to deal with it, and his family had all grown up, moved on, and also lost interest in it. When there was a small resurgence in CB activity in the mid to late 90's, he made a few appearances, but he never got real serious in radio again.
Today: The last time I saw Whitey was shortly before I moved out of the old neighborhood in the fall of 1999. Subsequent trips back to the old neighborhood have revealed that his house had been sold. He is in his 70's now, and was fighting yet another bout of Leukemia, so I'm unsure if he's still alive or not.
Update 2004: Thanks to Mitch, who was able to dig up some information on Whitey, it appears, sadly, that he had passed away in April of 2004. R.I.P. Whitey, you will be missed!