"the Tennessee Coffee Bean"

My introduction to CB radio...

While contemplating military service in the mid 1960’s I found myself caught-up in the latest craze among the citizenry of my hometown - citizens’ band or CB radio. Everyone was doin’ it! I don’t remember just when or what prompted me to purchase my first CB, but after saying just a few words in the handheld microphone and immediately receiving a ‘come back’, I guess was more than I could deal with. The mere idea of speaking in your natural voice and then hearing an immediate response from somewhere else, clear across town perhaps and learning that this conversation was carried over the airways without any wires was both amazing and mystifying at the same time even to an east Tennessee college student.

CB radio
CB radio

choose a ‘handle’...

I found a neighbor who just happened to have a slightly used Courier 23 channel CB radio for sale and I snapped it up for $100. As we sat down at his kitchen table to discuss terms of the sale I received a crash course in the proper CB etiquette and procedures followed by the local CB community while his wife kept making pots of coffee which we all drank as I listened with interest while establishing these new friendships. Of course I understood that I would have to apply to the Federal Communication Commission or FCC in Washington DC for the required license and call letters to make everything legal and that all took a little time, but he said the first thing I needed to do was to choose a ‘handle’, or name that would identify me exclusively each and every time I was ‘on the air’, or broadcasting until my required license and ‘call numbers’ arrived.

Did you ever talk on a CB radio?

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coffee break
coffee break

‘Breaker, Breaker 1 – 9’

My head was spinning as I left his house that night in 1965 with so much new information bouncing around in my head and not knowing just how I was going to retain it all. After a somewhat sleepless night, early the next morning I placed my completed application along with a check for twenty buck in my mailbox for pick-up by the mailman and then began installing my ‘new toy’ under the dash of my 1962 Chevy Corvair. I had bought coaxial cable and antennae and by mid-afternoon was ready to try it all out. Since I hadn’t yet thought of a suitable ‘handle’ for myself, I listened a lot more than I spoke that first day but later that evening I caught a conversation and just as it was closing I pressed the mic button and said, ‘Breaker, Breaker 1 – 9’ and waited for that all familiar response “come on in there breaker”. I began chatting back to the voice not knowing who he was or just where he was located but noticed the signal was strong and clear. As we talked back and forth he said he didn’t recognize my voice and ask if I was ‘new’ to the community. At which I responded that I was and saying I had just bought my unit from Leo Trivette the night before and had installed it all that very day. Being neighborly he asks if I would like to stop by and have a cup of coffee and ‘eyeball’ each other stating that everyone addressed him as ‘Smokin’ Joe’. Then he ask me what my ‘handle’ was and I had to admit that I hadn’t thought of a good one yet and before either of us could say anything else we both heard “Breaker 1 – 9” at which Joe stated “come on in there breaker”… it was Leo who quickly stated that inviting me over for coffee would be a big mistake. Leo then proceeded to say that sure enough I bought that rig from him the night before, and then he added that I had his wife make so much coffee for me that she had to go back to the store today because I had drunk all they had the night before. He also told Joe that I was just a regular ole Tennessee Coffee Bean, which somehow just caught on and became my new handle…

© 2011 SamSonS

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Comments 13 comments

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

This is one craze I avoided.Cell phones have made it obsolete, I think.

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 6 years ago from Tennessee Author

thanks dahoglund for your rapid reply. Yes, cell phone are more practical today, but fifty years ago there were no cell phones...

Kristeen profile image

Kristeen 6 years ago from Michigan

Your hubs always bring a smile to my face Samsons. I enjoyed this one!

lifegate profile image

lifegate 6 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA


I never had a CB, but my friend did and we would spend hours driving around town going back and forth on it. Memories of much fun! Thanks.

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 6 years ago from Tennessee Author

*thanks Kristeen for you many nice comments.

*and thank you lifegate for sharing your nice reminisce and comments.


matt6v33 profile image

matt6v33 6 years ago from Bangkok, Thailand

hello young man,

"Breaker Breaker 1-9, This is the "Duck", I Believe You've started a "Convoy"!Here! Beware All of "Smokey The Bear"!

Love your Hubs Sir, always brings back wonderful memories for me. Pray u will keep sharing those God given talents you've clearly possess, for all of us to enjoy out here!

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 6 years ago from Tennessee Author

thanks Jimmy for your kindest in words. Sounds like you have some remembrances in the line of CB's and such. Did you ever talk 'skip', like on Sunday afternoon to far away places like maybe California or Texas from somewhere east of the Mississippi? Those were the days!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

Corvair! Those were special cars. So you were the Tennessee Coffee Bean, eh? I have people in Tennessee (my Dad is from there) in Kingsport, Nashville, Lexington, and Dyersburg. I enjoyed your Hub. :D

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 6 years ago from Tennessee Author

thanks James for your nice comments; Yes, I was (and still am I guess) the TN CoffeeBean. Kingsport is one of the TriCities. I was raised in Bristol, but now live in Johnson City. Have friends and relations in Kingsport though, small world...

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

David and Johnnie Hennessee are my cousins in Kingsport. They buy and sell gold in the mall. I was there two years ago today to visit with them.

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 6 years ago from Tennessee Author

hey James, the name sounds familiar but I don't think I know them. When your down this way again, give me a holler...

oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Enjoyed your hub, Samsons! A great story, I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing it, and it reminded me of my first time my cousin and I got on my uncle's CB. Those were fun times. I like your handle, and how you came to get it.

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 6 years ago from Tennessee Author

thank you oceansnsunsets for your most gracious comments. I truly miss those days talking on the ole CB...

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