Frank Krewski relates this short one. "We had a ground defence exercise one day and I think I was in the "hump". The "Hump" was a Ground Defence position off the S and SW section of the Whitehorse runways where we used to station personnel to fight off invaders during periodic exercises. Our intercept trainer, Fred "Bugs" Roach was late missing the briefing. Bugs eventually came across the field in a somewhat inebriated state. That was the day I used the expression "walking like an oblique stroke". It fit."
Earle Smith shares a few anecdotes from his time at the station.
#1- "We had real sharp, but lazy operators who could sit at their position sound asleep while their right hand continued to turn the tuning knob of the SP-600. There were also CW receiving contests that we used to run during communication blackouts. The champion was always LAC Ron Baynes who now lives in Ottawa. He used to top out at around 65 wpm continuous copy up to 10 minutes during which time he would stop typing to pick up a cigarette, light it and then go back to typing. The traffic would be Cyrillic, of course. I used to peak out at just above 60 wpm and that was fun".
#2 - "During one graveyard shift at No. 5RadU during a typical June summer night in the mid-50s, there was a blackout so, during a long break, some of us went outside around 2 or 3 a.m. to have a few games of Horseshoes. The Horseshoe pits were on the North side of the Ops Building. I can't remember all of the players but I do remember a Newfie friend (who's name shall not be revealed) was one of the players against me and my team mate.
"Sgt George Gates, #2 Shift NCO, stuck his head out a second floor window above the pits, hollered, "Get your @#$%^&%$#@ asses up here, it's time to go back to work." Hell, we had just started our break! Without saying a word my Newfie friend, who was ready to toss his horseshoe, wheeled and heaved the horseshoe at the Ops building. That horseshoe climbed like a homesick angel and hit the window frame right beside George's head and denting the window frame. George never said a word, just slammed the window down with a bang. We got the message and went back in to work. That dent was still there when I visited the site in 2003! My Newfie friend later finished his 5 year tour, went into commercial flying and ended up as Chief Pilot of an airline. Sgt Gates, incidentally, was my basic Morse/Typing instructor back at No. 1 Radar & Communications School, Clinton Ontario in 1948-49".
#3 - "Back in the days of the late 40s, early 50s, many of us were hard working, hard playing, hard drinking bunch. Organized sports were heavily promoted and each shift had it's teams of fastball, basketball, hockey, etc., players. Many of us worked at other jobs downtown Whitehorse - that's how I bought my first house. Because of the high cost of commercial beer (the individual bottles were wrapped in light cardboard and packed into woden barrels (for shipment north to Whitehorse) many of us made our own beer. For bottles we'd just visit the messes at night, pick up empties, sterilize them and bottle our own. Personnel developed some pretty sophisticated brewing and bottling techniques. If we bothered at all, we paid a licence fee of $1.00 if I remember correctly.
Some of us learned to make pretty strong beer and it was not unusual for some beers to yield a 12% alcohol level. I can remember just before one Christmas there were 25 cases of beer stacked behind the chesterfield in my TMQ, all awaiting the usual round of visitors. Others made wine, and one of my favourite Warrant Officers First Class had the neatest still in his PMQ basement, complete with a licence!"
Jim Thoreson recalls...
#1 - "A small game was played out on occasions. Downstairs in the Ops Building, there was a small lounge where the men could go and relax while eating or just taking a break. There were a few large chesterfields in there and quite often the men would lay down and sleep for a bit during the night shift breaks. After all the breaks were over, it was a rush to see who could get down there first and play "chesterfield poker". You would lift all the chesterfield cushions up and find all kinds of change that kept falling out of the men's pockets. Some nights you would collect $2 to $3, possibly more if other shifts were included."
#2 - "At the height of the Cold War and the Cuban missile crisis, we were required to do foot patrols inside the compound around the radio site. When it was your turn to do the patrol, they would issue you a shotgun and some shells. You were ordered not load the gun, but put the shells in your pocket. We found out that the shotgun didn't have any firing pin in it, either. The big joke was "Halt, or I'll load my gun". To top that off, the compound was cleared of all vegetation up to the high security fencing. Large floodlights were mounted on poles along the fence line, facing in, towards the Ops building. At night, anyone that was patrolling inside the compound was illuminated in full view of any "perpetrators" that might be present on the outside of the fence. Imagine trying to see what was outside the fence, while staring into glaring floodlights. Many guys simply went behind the building, sat down and had a smoke."
From Earle Smith: "In the mid 50s we paid $1.00/bottle for "outside" beer in Whitehorse"
Credits and References:
1) Earle Smith - VE6NM <ve6nm(at)rac.ca>
2) Jim Thoreson < jimthoreson(at)shaw.ca>
3) Frank Krewski <Frankophone1(at)sympatico.ca>
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