January 1963 Popular Electronics
Table of Contents
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
Here for your New Year's Eve
entertainment is a new-old adventure story of
"Carl & Jerry" titled, "Stereotaped New Year." In the same manner that author John T.
Frye's highly regarded "Mac's Radio Service Shop"
technodramas had themes echoing the time of year they were published, this appeared
in the January 1963 issue of Popular Electronics magazine, which would have
arrived in subscribers' mailboxes in December. Carl & Jerry, if you are not familiar
with the dynamic duo of the teenage electronics and Ham radio enthusiasts, routinely
got themselves involved in police investigations, creature comfort inventions, and
practical jokes involving tape recorders, disembodied spirits, and remote controlled
models. By 1963, they were out of high school and matriculating at "Parvoo
University," which many people believe is a reference to
Purdue University, given the
boys' Midwestern locale. Admittedly, this plot is not as exciting as most are, but
what you have to know to appreciate it is that in the era tape recorders and
stereophonic music systems were all the rage to those who considered themselves to be
technically savvy. Electronics and mechanics magazines were filled with stories on
Carl & Jerry: Stereotaped New Year
By John T. Frye W9EGV
It was early afternoon on the last day of the year. Carl and Jerry, home from college
for the holidays, were lounging in the living room of their favorite young-woman neighbor,
listening to the stereo tape recorder she had received for Christmas.
"That's certainly a fine recorder, Norma," Jerry said when the prerecorded tape ended
and she switched off the instrument.
"Yep," Carl agreed, his words a little blurred by a mouthful of Norma's homemade fudge,
"that stereo really makes everything sound alive and real and right here - say, there
goes Mr. Gruber for his walk. Do Jerry and I imagine it, or has our old friend lost some
of his zing lately?
"I've always admired him for being such a non-typical old man," Carl went on, before
Norma had a chance to answer. "None of that living-in-the-past stuff for him. Instead
of reading the obituary and the 'fifty-years-ago' columns, he reads science-fiction;
and he knows more about recent developments in space exploration than either of us. We
both feel, though, that he isn't himself this vacation. He hasn't been picking our brains
for things we've learned in the labs down at Parvoo, and he showed only faint interest
in the university's new nuclear reactor. That just isn't Mr. Gruber."
"I intended to talk to you about him," Norma said. "For one thing, he misses you fellows
a lot when you're away at school. On top of that, the bad winter weather has kept him
cooped up in the house. At any rate, there has been a change in his outlook. I didn't
realize how much of a change until Mrs. Gruber told me yesterday that he isn't going
to stay up tonight and welcome the new year in. He says New Year's Eve celebrations are
for young people with a future ahead of them, not for old people who have only the past.
You both know what an enthusiastic holiday-keeper he has always been up to now."
"I'll say!" Jerry exclaimed. "It just won't be New Year's Eve if Mr. Gruber doesn't
turn loose that old 10-gauge Baker shotgun of his at the stroke of midnight. He's been
shooting it off ever since I can remember. This is serious. We've got to do something
"I'm not sure there's anything we can do," Norma replied. "Mrs. Gruber is plenty worried,
and she has done her best to talk him out of this mood with absolutely no success."
"It will take more than talk," Jerry said slowly and thoughtfully. "But I've got a
kind of half-baked idea. You have any plans for tonight, Norma ?"
"None I won't cancel to get in on one of those fiendish schemes you two dream up,"
she said promptly. "Some of the girls from the office are planning on taking in a midnight
show, but you can count me in on anything you have in mind for Mr. Gruber."
"Good! The first thing I want you to do is snag Mr. Gruber when he returns from his
walk and hang on to him for at least an hour. Think you can do that?"
rise to the occasion. What are you two going to be doing?"
"We'll be making a few changes in Mr. Gruber's room. Carl, you get those powerful
little speakers from the stereo system in your room and bring them over to the Grubers'
while I pave the way with Mrs. Gruber. Also get that roll of twisted-pair from the lab,
and bring along an intercom speaker."
He was putting on his coat while issuing these
instructions, and soon both boys were gone, leaving Norma watching out her front window
for the return of Mr. Gruber.
Jerry quickly outlined his plan to Mrs. Gruber, and she agreed to it gladly without
understanding a word of what he said. Carl came in the back door with a compact speaker
cabinet under each arm, and the two boys went upstairs to Mr. Gruber's room.
One of the matched speakers was placed behind some boxes on the floor of a clothes
closet, the door of which was normally left open. The other was hidden behind the curtain
of a bookcase sitting against the opposite wall. The intercom speaker/mike was placed
beneath the bed. Leads from all three speakers were concealed beneath rugs and along
baseboards until they fed out through the window and then across to Carl's bedroom window
that was directly opposite it.
Heavy gray clouds, carrying a promise of snow, had started rolling in from the southwest;
and dusk came early. In fact, it was growing quite dark as the boys went out the back
door and across the yards to the entrance of their basement laboratory. Just as they
started down the steps, they saw Mr. Gruber come out of Norma's house and head for home.
Norma came over to Carl's right after supper, bringing her new tape recorder with
her. The boys had been busy rounding up some stereo sound-effect records from their friends,
and soon the three of them were busily engaged in a recording session. The session was
interrupted twice for mysterious missions. Once Jerry scurried over to his house and
came back with a basketball in the hollow of his arm. Another time Norma went home and
returned giggling and carrying her best pair of dress-up spike heels.
Some of the sound effects were transcribed from the records onto the tape, using Carl's
stereo pickup and his stereo preamplifier. Other sections of the tape were recorded "live,"
using both mikes. The latter required quite a bit of experimenting and redoing to get
exactly the effect desired; so time slipped past quickly.
It was just eleven o'clock when Carl and Jerry were finally satisfied with what they
had on the tape, and it was then that the light came on in Mr. Gruber's window across
the way. He was all ready for bed, attired in an old-fashioned nightshirt.
After raising his window a bit, Mr. Gruber got into bed, took off his glasses and
placed them on a table beside his pillow, and turned out the light. Through the sensitive
intercom speaker/mike, the three young people in Carl's room could hear the old man's
Carl plugged a pair of earphones into the intercom unit so that Norma could listen
on one of them while he monitored with the other. Jerry started the tape recorder that
was feeding the twin stereo amplifiers. The output of these amplifiers was now connected
to the two matched speakers installed in Mr. Gruber's room.
Through the earphones, Norma and Carl heard the plop-plop-plop of approaching hoofbeats.
They grew louder and louder and then slowly faded out. That is the way it sounded over
the earphones, but they knew that in Mr. Gruber's room the stereo effect from the two
separated speakers would make it sound exactly as though a horse had walked through the
wall of the clothes closet, had plodded across the floor into the bookcase, and then
had gone on through the wall and away.
The light snapped on in Mr. Gruber's bedroom, and they could see him fumbling for
his glasses. He had barely put them on when an invisible player began bouncing a basketball
on the floor in his clothes closet. Very deliberately this ghostly athlete dribbled the
ball out across the floor of the bedroom to the bookcase, bounced it a few times there,
and then turned around and dribbled it back into the clothes closet. Mr. Gruber's nodding
head followed every movement of the invisible player.
The ball had scarcely ceased whumping the floor when the distant lonely whistle of
a locomotive came faintly into the bedroom. Rapidly the puffing of the steam exhaust
and the clatter of iron wheels on the rails increased in volume until, with a roar and
a Doppler-modulated shriek of the whistle, the unseen train drove straight out of the
wall behind the bookcase, ran across the room into the clothes closet, and kept right
on going. Involuntarily Mr. Gruber shrank back to let the train pass.
As the clatter of the train died away in the distance, another interesting sound filled
the room - a most intriguing sound to masculine ears. It was that of a young woman's
high heels clicking along on a hard surface. She marched straight to the door of the
clothes closet and then broke into a little run as she dashed over to the bookcase, where
she stopped. Over in Carl's darkened room, Jerry stopped the tape recorder and switched
in a live mike in front of Norma.
"Come now, Mr. Gruber!" she said throatily. "What are you doing lying up here in bed
when the New Year is waiting for you to welcome it?"
Jerry cut Norma's mike and turned up another in front of Carl.
"Come on downstairs and join the party," Carl's voice urged from the clothes closet.
"It's almost New Year's Eve!"
In one continuous movement Mr. Gruber threw off the
covers and put his feet on the floor. He ran over and pulled back the curtain of the
bookcase, revealing the concealed speaker. Then he went into the clothes closet and soon
discovered the other unit and the wires leading away from it. Returning to the middle
of the room and looking across at Carl's darkened window, he said with a grin:
"All right, you young rascals; I'm sure you can hear me. Wait until I get some duds
on and I'll be down. I might as well. I'd like to see the color of a man's hair who could
sleep in this room tonight!"
The three young people dashed across the back yards to the Grubers' back door, where
Mrs. Gruber, laughing happily, let them in out of the snow that was just starting to
come down. A few seconds later, Mr. Gruber, looking a little sheepish but still smiling
good-naturedly, came down the stairs.
Just as he reached the bottom of the stairway,
Mr. Gruber glanced at the clock on the mantel and then made a quick dive into the front-hall
closet. He emerged carrying a long-barreled shotgun, and all of them followed him out
onto the front step. Pointing the muzzle up into the swirling snowflakes, Mr. Gruber
pulled the trigger; and the 10-gauge Baker went off with a full-throated roar.
"Happy New Year!" Mr. Gruber shouted as he grabbed his wife and kissed her soundly.
They all stood out there in the snow, shaking hands and embracing each other while
the whistles and the bells and the ragged popping of guns marked the end of one year
and the beginning of another. The Grubers laughed heartily as Norma told how the boys
had her mincing up and down past the mikes in her high heels while they made a recording
.. Finally they filed back into the house where Mrs. Gruber had prepared a midnight lunch.
"Martha," Mr. Gruber said in high good spirits, heading for the cellar stairs, "this
occasion calls for a bottle of my wine."
Every fall when the grapes turned purple, Mr. Gruber liked to fancy himself as "that
little old wine-maker," and he made a great to-do about preparing a few bottles of the
juice. Thanks to Mrs. Gruber's close supervision, the brew was most innocuous. When their
glasses were filled, Mr. Gruber raised his and made a little speech:
"Let's drink to this New Year and many more to come. Martha and I have seen lots of
New Year's Eves, many pretty much the same; but there certainly is nothing stereotyped
about this happy stereotaped one I thought was going to be so dismal.
"You, my young friends, have taught me a lesson. Beginnings are for everyone, not
just the young. Life is a mystery story, and who will say that turning a page near the
back of such a book, where the mystery is being cleared away, is not as interesting as
turning a page at the front? From here on in, that old 10-gauge Baker and I will be waiting
eagerly to welcome each new year!"
"Hear! Hear!" the young people chorused as they touched their glasses to his.
Posted December 31, 2018
Carl Anderson and Jerry Bishop were two teenage boys whose
love of electronics, Ham radio, and all things technical afforded them ample opportunities
to satisfy their own curiosities, assist law enforcement and neighbors with solving
problems, and impressing – and sometimes toying with - friends based on their proclivity
for serious undertakings as well as fun.
Vox Electronik, September 1958
- Pi in
the Sky and Big Twist, February 1964
Bell Bull Session, December 1961
Boogie, August 1958
- TV Picture,
Electronic Eraser, August 1962
Trap, March 1956
at Work, June 1956
Aweigh, July 1956
Bosco Has His Day, August 1956
Hand of Selene, November 1960
or Not?, October 1956
Electronic Beach Buggy, September 1956
Extra Sensory Perception, December 1956
in a Chimney, January 1956
Performance, November 1958
of Judas, July 1961
- The Sucker,
New Year, January 1963
Snow Machine, December 1960
Extracurricular Education, July 1963
Slow Motion for Quick Action, April 1963
Sleuthing, August 1963
- TV Antennas,
a Soroban, March 1963
Fair --", September 1963
Worm Warming, May 1961
Joking and Jeopardy - December 1963
Santa's Little Helpers - December 1955
Two Tough Customers - June 1960
Pocket Radio, TV Receivers
Yagi Antennas, May 1955
Stomping, March 1962
Blubber Banisher, July 1959
- The Sparkling
Light, May 1962
Research Rewarded, June 1962
- A Hot Idea, March
- The Hot
Dog Case, December 1954
A New Company is Launched, October 1956
Under the Mistletoe, December 1958
Electronic Eraser, August 1962
- "BBI", May 1959
Sound Waves, July 1955
- The River
Sniffer, July 1962
- Ham Radio,
Torero Electronico, April 1960
Wireless, January 1962
Electronic Shadow, September 1957
Elementary Induction, June 1963
- He Went
Electronic Detective, February 1958
Aiding an Instinct, December 1962
- Two Detectors,
with a Tachometer, July 1960
and the Pirates, April 1961
The Crazy Clock Caper, October 1960
Carl & Jerry: Their Complete Adventures is
now available. "From 1954 through 1964, Popular Electronics published 119 adventures
of Carl Anderson and Jerry Bishop, two teen boys with a passion for electronics
and a knack for getting into and out of trouble with haywire lash-ups built in Jerry's
basement. Better still, the boys explained how it all worked, and in doing so, launched
countless young people into careers in science and technology. Now, for the first
time ever, the full run of Carl and Jerry yarns by John T. Frye are available again,
in five authorized anthologies that include the full text and all illustrations."