Patience can save your radio’s life. A tale from an era long gone

cassette tape eaten player

Twenty-miles off the San Diego coast. Floating aimlessly. Several of us on the fantail relaxing in the sun and in scattered small groups listening to various music types played upon the portable AM/FM cassette players. Could not use the radio since every time the powerful air-search radar twirled and pointed our way a horrendous screech came through the speaker.

A boot new to the ship was fresh from boot camp and this was his first trip to sea. Lucky for him it was incredibly calm thus no hugging the shitter to expel the effects of sickness-of-the-sea. Boot walked out onto the fantail standing there observing the inaction and hearing some music muttered to himself “I need a radio.”

Turning about Boot headed for the tiny ship’s store that sold smokes, shaving cream, work uniforms, geedunk (candy and assorted edibles) and a radio and a small ghetto blaster with a cassette player. Slightly high-priced but the small profit from the store went into the ships’ welfare and recreation fund that bought the mounds of ten-cent beer overseas for the occasional ship’s party ashore.

Boot returned to the fantail and plopping down said aloud to those that were mainly strangers to him “I will show you guys what good music is.” Activating the FM radio he turn to KGB-FM a popular rock & roll station spewing the tunes upon San Diego and nearby areas. As he smiled with satisfaction the radar beam struck and “SQUAWK!!!!!!! SCREECH!!!!!!” He grabbed the volume button to turn down that wretched nerve-rattling assault upon the senses. Boot fiddled with his newly-bought device but the “SQUAWK!!!!!!! SCREECH!!!!!!” struck again. Fiddle fiddle. “SQUAWK!!!!!!! SCREECH!!!!!!” Shake. “SQUAWK!!!!!!! SCREECH!!!!!!” Slap a few times. “SQUAWK!!!!!!! SCREECH!!!!!!” Boot is getting pissed. All present are staring and before anybody has time to enlighten him Boot jumped to his feet yelling for all present to hear that the piece of crap is broken etc etc etc etc and in a rage he dashes to the lifeline at deck’s edge and sends the device into the salty sea. Splash. Glub.

Boot stomped off and we look at each other and murmured our comments as the doobies reappear for subtle toking (the fantail was a regular doobie-break place) that had stopped when Boot arrived since we did not know if he was a long-hair (generic term for person cool with toking).

There were a few laughs, of course, but mainly shock at what we had seen. It happened quickly. If Boot had waited just a bit one of us would have pointed out it was the radar causing the obnoxious noise, not his unit being defective. However, it was great fun to watch and well-remembered nearly a half-century later. I wonder if he recalls the event?

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