Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Random Thoughts from our childhood

My sister asked me about the Radio and TV repair shop that our father opened up in Alexandria, Louisiana in 1953 or 1954.


Daddy opened the TV shop up in 1954, I was 11 years old and for the rest of my childhood, I was there every day after school and on Saturdays.  I finally got time off to play Little League and Little Boys Baseball.  But most of my practice was at the shop next to Mack Weldmon's junk pile.  Boy there were some big rats that lived in that pile of junk.  KALB TV came on the air in 1954.  Most of the day all that was on was a test pattern.  Programming did not start until afternoon and early evening.  Before Channel 5 came to town, the closest station was WDSU in New Orleans.  We had a black and white TV.  It was placed in the corner by the front door of our living/dining room on Baldwin Ave.  If you got as far away from it as possible, you could just make out the images in the "snow".  But we thought it was fantastic.

Daddy worked with Francis Trotter for a few years before he opened up 1401 Lee Street.  Francis had a shop at the corner of 10th and Lee Streets.  Daddy was a 35% partner with Francis in the shop.  At first there was just radio.  One of the things I remember is that the chicken processing plant had an electric grid that killed the chickens.  Daddy would have go out and repair it quite often.  Occasionally they would have to bring it into the shop because repairs could not be completed at the plant.  Daddy and Francis had a lot fun telling stories to the local neighborhood residents about the "electric chair".  It was here and later at our shop that Daddy taught me to get under the dash and check the vibrator on the car radios.  If the vibrator was not buzzing, we checked the fuse, if the fuse was good, we replaced the vibrator.  The vibrator was a metal can with 4 prongs to plug into a socket.  All systems were 6 volts.  Later when 12 volts became the norm, the vibrators had 4 prongs and 3 prongs.  So we had to stock several types.  If the vibrator was buzzing, then we tried the OZ4 rectifier tube that was next to the vibrator.  Most of the early radios were in two sections.  The power supply with the vibrator and OZ4 was hung under the dash on the passenger side or bolted to the firewall.  The RF section or controls was mounted in the dash or under the dash in the center of the front seat area.  If the power supply checked out ok, we then took the cover off the RF section and put our hands on the tubes checking to see if they were warm, usually at this time we would find a cold tube.  Replacing the cold tube usually fixed the problem.  I used to laugh at guys that would bring their car in to have the radio fixed and would say to us that they would fix it themselves if they had the proper tools.  Most radios were Motorola.

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