A teletype printer similar to this one disrupted my 20 February '71 Saturday morning more than you could ever believe...
 
Serving my final few months of service at Fort Hood after my obligatory year in Vietnam, I took a part-time job at KTEM in Temple TX to make a few extra bucks to support my new family. For a couple bucks an hour, I played the hits 6PM-12M Monday thru Friday and 6AM-12N on Saturday.

 

Every Saturday morning we received, at 10:33AM CST, an EBS test message, generated from Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado. Who knew that the guy who initiated all of it was named W.S. Eberhardt? Turned out that soon we all would.

 

And every Saturday morning I dutifully logged them in, on the Program and Transmitter logs. Stapled them suckers onto the XMTR page, too, I did, just like the rules said. Such a good boy I was, until...

 

February 20th, 1971

 

At 10:33AM I heard the teletype machine ring ten bells. I'd heard a couple or three bells before, telling me of fairly common weather situations in the Central Texas area...tornadoes and such. But not in February. Ten bells was definitely not good news. I ran over to the next room, the news studio, and watched this come in...

 

Not good, I thought. Definitely not good. I was not only a station part-timer but also in the Army, an NCO in the 2nd Armored Division at Fort Hood. If this was true, if we were really at war, I'd have to hotfoot it to back to 2ADHQ or at the very least desert the military and spend the remaining few moments of the end of the world with my wife and one-month old daughter.

 

I called the station PD (Bruce Miller Earle) to let him know that in any case his Saturday morning guy was outa there and maybe he might want to make some other arrangements. BME just laughed it off. Said it had to be a mistake. Turned out he was right, since this cleared the wire next, bells a-ringing.

 

And then this came, with more bells. And then this followed a few minutes later.

 

I took a deep breath and played the next Jackson 5 record. The first explanation cleared the wire soon.

 

UPI sent along a story about this: Page 1    Page 2    Page 3    Page 4    Page 5

 

Note to younger readers: These pages were saved for over three decades and were finally scanned for preservation in 2002 which explains why they appear more orange than yellow, the original color...

 

UPI (United Press International), a news service from that era, provided as part of the subscription crappy yellow paper on rolls onto which constantly updated news was printed, using ribbons soaked with ink; changing either paper or ribbons was a nasty chore, usually left to an assistant or the night guy.

 

Like me. This was the primary reason why I worked diligently to become management as quickly as I could. Clean hands count.

 

The small circular brown marks seen on some of these pages were caused by a strange 20th century custom called "cigarette smoking;" ashes occasionally landed on papers near the "smoker" and caused small burn spots.

 

Believe me: I smoked a lot during this crisis.

 

Take a look here for a great history of the old EBS network.