I went to work for North American Aviation (NAA) in the Spring of 1955 as a machinist in the shop attached to the NAA Aerospace laboratories. The Labs were located in Downey, California at the WWII era Vultee plant, next to Imperial Highway. The events herein described took place several years later when I was a Technician in the Inertial Instruments test laboratory, working on the night shift.
Most of the night Technicians were going to school during the day and were working nights to make a living for themselves and their families. We studied a lot of the time, but we were able to keep up with the lab work. In fact, we had time to engage in some radio “research”. Our lab consisted of multiple inertial instrument test sites and each site had a fan of some sort associated with it. As a consequence, the dominant sound in the lab was a chorus of fans. Not onerous, but bland and boring. We needed more than that, so we did some radio research.
Our lab was located near the center of a 200,000 square-foot concrete building with lots of re-bar in the walls. Our research revealed that we were effectively in a zone that had no radio signals. An outside antenna would be required if we were to meet our goal of soft music to mask the sound of the fans. We would need coaxial cable- lots and lots of it! To this day I do not know where, or how, we came into possession of the needed cable, but we did. We built a whip antenna and very nice mount and put it at the edge of the building nearest our lab. We then ran the coaxial cable to the lab and we suddenly had a radio that worked. That is until the lab supervisor on the day shift spotted the coaxial cable end hanging from the ceiling and investigated. He learned that the night shift had an illicit radio and he cut the cable end off. When the night shift came in and we saw the raw cut end of our cable, we waited until the supervisor left and then repaired it. We had radio that night. This went on for a couple of nights, until we tired of fixing the damn cable end. Since the night supervisor was in on the cable caper, we decided to “fight back”. We took a short piece of cable and made a “dummy” cable for the day supervisor to dutifully cut. We shoved the “dummy” cable into a ceiling tile and carefully hid the real cable end above the ceiling tiles.
The day supervisor waited until the night shift came in to cut the cable in our presence to make his point. He climbed up onto a work bench and cut the cable end off. However, as he cut the cable, the other end came out of the ceiling tile. He knew instantly he had been had! He began to laugh, climbed down, and walked away. The night crew kept the radio.
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