No secret we love the Seventies. Since we’re the generation that’s now looking back on our childhood in the light of nostalgia, just about everything from our childhood (uh, the SEVENTIES) is now worth something. Toys, cars, art, lunchboxes, t-shirts, choppers, trucker hats, movie posters, model car kits…where do we stop?
And here’s another great example of underground folk art to start collecting before the ironic-savvy hipsters in the skinny jeans and WKRP t-shirts get their hands on it: CB radio cards.
In the Seventies, the CB radio craze swept the nation in some wonderful ways. And if you were on a CB, you were most likely a trucker, a kid or a subversive anti-government conspiracy theorist. Or a combination of all of them. At the time, the Citizens Band radio network was an amazing spiderweb of, well, citizens who were able to communicate with each other just beyond the reach of the gubment. And that was a place that was sorta like the Wild West: guns, women, lawlessness, drugs, alcohol…sounds a little like the longform version of an acronym for a department of Homeland Security, actually.
And what a great place the CB world was. It drew all ilk of characters and wild personalities, not the least of which were the long-haul truckers of the pre-Iran Hostage era. And that wonderful soup of characters, personalities, miscreants, ne’er-do-wells and longhaired-friends-of-jebus that was not only the stuff of legend that Hollywood figured out about a decade into it, but really helped shape interstate commerce of ideas, Jack (kinda like what you’re reading all this because of, right?). All this amazing stuff manifested itself in no better a way than the CB card: a business card, of sorts – and analog dirty joke email, if you will – that was handed out similarly to the way email addresses are passed in person-to-person contact these days.
The CB card was not just a way to pass handles and channels, though. No, these cards were part Tijuana Bible, part pulp paperback cover, part truckstop bathroom rubber machine art, part Mad Lib, part graffiti, part personal diary. There was no better way to express your own personal ambitions, sense of humor and political opinions than packing just about everything that meant something to you onto an oversized business card with your handle and channel in that analog world of “Smokey And The Bandit” and C.W. McCall.
Underground artists like Hustler Of Idaho, Crackerjack, Papa Bear and 2 Bit are just a few of the well-known names who could be called upon to wrangle up a unique card for just about any handle who could find them.
What we love so much about these cards is that CB radio culture not only stitched people together just under the surface of American popular culture in the late Twentieth Century, but that this underground society also fostered folk art like this to communicate ideas and pass along messages that meant more than just an airwave nom de plume (handle) and channel to be reached on (or QSL card).
Here are just a few of our favorites, but for a dazzling collection of CB cards, go lose yourself for a few hours at myQSL. Just fantastic. Really.