Thursday, January 6, 2011

Look - Up in the Air

You know those lights at the top of radio towers that are meant to keep aircraft from running into them? Well, just like our reading lamps, refrigerators, and porch lights the bulbs occasionally burn out and somebody has to replace them. That somebody in a large area of Northern Indiana, for quite a few years in the 1950's and 60's was our dear old dad. We often tagged along not because we were so very interested, but because we needed to "get out of our mother's hair" for awhile. Typically we would be told to get in the car and when we asked where we were going the answer was, "you'll see when we get there."

Here is what our aerialist pop had to say about these photos when he sent them to us some years back:

The enclosed pictures were made in the late '40s by a staff photographer at WSJV. The picture with the chap on the ground was made into a slide used when the TV station signed on the mornings. So you can tell your boys their grandfather was a TV star, for at least a while.

After pressing him for more information we got this:

You have to remember this was a posed photo. Also you can't ascend or descend with a strap in place. Years later OSHA did come along with a ruling requiring a cable on the leg you climbed. You had to wear another belt with a clamp on it so if you lost your footing you were held in place. (We never used the darn things though!) I did have to fill in as platter spinner. I think they were called control board operators at that time. They did have control of things at that time like taking care of the audio and microphones in the studio for the announcers and any live studio programs there might be. Sundays there were usually a lot of churches that used the station, both in the studio and others that were piped in via telephone line. Your Aunt Violet was one of the control board operators. So now you know how I met your mother...

As for the tower, that particular one was 465 feet. There was an FM antenna on top of it. From time to time I made minor repairs on lights, antenna, etc. The highest I have ever climbed was about 1000 feet, to replace a light. Hope that answers all your questions.

Love, Dad

Well,thanks for trying Dad, but we have many other questions starting with - Did Mom know that was what you were doing while you watched us? Was she that desperate for some peace and quiet? Did you carry enough life insurance to pay for the years of therapy we would need after seeing you plunge from the sky and land at our feet had you slipped?

By the way, we had at least one tower in our own backyard at all times for the ham radio operation. We were one of those "interesting" families in the neighborhood.


Angela said...

Many thought/questions come to mind but most important how fun it is that your #3 son is working at a radio station.....

Honeybee said...

Daring-do must come with the name George! My father and brother are proof of that. My daughter was forbidden to date or marry anyone with that name!!!