George A Bane Autobiography, Part 2

Read Part 1 here.

Update: The whole autobiography is now collected in one place in a variety of formats (as a web page, a PDF, and a printed book).

Let me digress here for a few moments and say a few words about the aforementioned T Model, the reliant ancestor of the junk that clutters up the roads today. A T Model transmission was a drum arrangement with three bands: low gear, reverse and brake. Believe it or not, this was the forerunner of today's automatic transmissions. When you started up a hill and you had to go to a lower gear, you just mashed down on the low clutch peddle and it would shift to a lower gear and you would go right on up the hill. Unless the low clutch band was worn out! Still, no problem, you just simply turned around and backed up the hill. The reverse clutch peddle had the same gear ratio as the low clutch. It also would substitute for brakes if your brake bands were worn out, which happened quite often.

I mentioned sometime back that my T Model truck had a Wafford gear in it. I doubt seriously if that is the way to spell the name of that additional gear, but that's the way it was pronounced in Neshoba County. To install the Wafford gear, the drive shaft and frame had to be either shortened or lengthened. In this case it was lengthened about a foot. This add on transmission was installed behind the regular T Model transmission. This meant you didn't have any brakes if you got it out of gear.

I was going into town one time with a load of sweet gum stove blocks, and I picked up an old gentleman, and he had to sit on the blocks because I only had one seat. Going into town I had to go up a steep hill and then down a long hill, around a curve and up another hill. Just as I topped the first hill and started down the long hill, it jumped gear. Consequently, I didn't have any brakes at all. All I had was a steering wheel and a prayer. I hadn't learned to pray real good by that time in life, but the old gent sitting on the blocks was doing a mighty good job. The City Cemetery was on our right all the way down, I think this had some influence on him, because his face was a bilious green when we stopped. I tried to give him a ride several times after that, but no way, Jose.

Laying all mirthful banter aside, this old truck was a valuable asset to me then. I would come in from school, go to the woods and load the truck with stove wood or fireplace wood, and bring it to the house. The next day after school I would haul it into town (I already had it sold.) It was 6 miles into town and the roads were red clay dirt, and when they were wet, I had to rap long chains around the wheels to make it up the hills. It would be dark before I unloaded and started home. There was no protection from the weather, no cab, just a windshield. I drove home many times in a cold winter rain, and I remember a few times having ice on my jacket when I got home.

The money I made was used to buy my clothes, books and whatever else I needed to go to school, and some went for household expenses.

By this time, I was quite a shoot em up fan. I looked forward all week to going to the movies on Saturday. If I missed a Bob Steel, Buck Jones, or John Wayne movie, it ruined my week. I also kept up with the Saturday evening serials: Buck Rogers, Spiderman, The Green Hornet, etc. After the movie, I always treated myself to a Powerhouse candy bar and RC Cola. I never did care too much for the Moon Pie bit.

I started working in a radio shop when school was out. I had already built a Crystal set, and a one tube TRF, and a two tube regenerative set. Old Dr. Brinkley's station in Del Rio, Texas came in loud and clear, peddling his monkey glands to the old Codgers that were still chasing women, but with worn out equipment. It didn't take long before I was holding my own as a radio service man.

The shop also did electrical work, so the boss started taking me with him on a house wiring job or any other outside electrical work that had to be done. It wasn't long until I was doing most of the outside work. I remember I was replacing a ceiling light fixture in one of the upper crust homes, when about a sixteen year old well stacked young lady came walking into the room and sat down on a couch just a few feet from where I just happened to be standing on a eight foot step ladder. I started paying more attention to what was sitting on the couch than what I was doing. I fell off the darn ladder and like to broke my neck. She was wearing only a brassiere and a pair of panties! This was more than a country boy that got his sex education from the Sears Roebuck catalog could take. What made it worse, she almost passed out laughing.

At 19, I joined the CCC Camp in March of nineteen and thirty-nine. For about a month I went to the field and dug ditches. Somehow they found out I knew a little about electricity and pulled me from the field. The only way I can describe my position is that I was the official camp flunky. I did all the electrical work that was needed and helped gas up the trucks when they came in from the field and whatever else they could think up for me to do. I suppose the next thing that happened in my life had more to do with the direction my life took career wise than any other. Ole Static, the camp education advisor, called me in to his office and asked me if I wanted to be the camp radio operator. That Sparkey's enlistment was out at the end of the month. This was quite a surprise to me, because I never thought about becoming a CW radio operator. I told I didn't even know the Morse Code. He told me I was relieved of all other duties, and I had better be able to take over the radio room at the end of the month. This meant I would be promoted to Assistant Leader and my pay would go from $21.00 dollars to $35.00 a month. That don't sound like much, but it was a lot to me then. I put together a code practice oscillator and studied and practiced 8 to 10 hours a day for the balance of the month. By the end of the month I could copy five words a minute, and I took over the radio room. Call sign WV99. It was two days before I was able to contact Headquarters at Fort Maclellan. Alas, the first message I received was about two pages long, sending a boy to Maritime School up in New England. I will say this for the operator on the sending end--he had the patience of Job. Within a couple weeks, I was doing pretty good. It didn't take me long to build my speed up to twenty words per minute.

The transmitter I had used a pair of tens in the finals and was put together by the Corp Area Signal Officer. The receiver was a Hallicrafter Skyrider, I copied with a stick (pencil) and used a hand key to send. My speed increased to about twenty-five words per minute. That was about the limit without using a mill (typewriter) to copy with. Headquarters sent me a brand new Hall Sky Champion receiver, and believe me, that made me very happy. In fact, it gave me the big head. We moved Camp 3494 from Dekalb, MS to Brookhaven, MS in the summer of 1940. As soon as we got set up there, I set my radio equipment up in the office building. All of my traffic (messages) was to and from Camp Beauregard, LA.

I got an appointment to attend Maritime School, and after finishing, signed an agreement to work on a merchant ship as radio operator for three years. I was only nineteen years old, and had to have my parents' consent. They would not sign the consent papers. It made me mad as the devil, because I really wanted to go.

Read Part Three Here
Read Part Four Here
Read Part Five Here
Read Part Six Here
Read Part Seven Here