January 1963 Popular Electronics
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Carl & Jerry: Stereotaped New
YearBy 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?
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.
"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?"
"Oh, I guess my
might 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
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
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
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 regular
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
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
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.
New Year!" Mr. Gruber shouted as he grabbed his wife and kissed
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
"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!" the young people chorused as they touched their glasses to
Jerry: Their Complete Adventures is now available. "From 1954 through 1964, Popular
Electronics published 119 adventures of Carl and Jerry, two teen boys with a passion for electronics
and a knack for getting into and out of trouble with haywire lashups 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."
Carl & Jerry Episodes on RF Cafe
|- Trapped in a Chimney - January
- Command Performance - November
- Extracurricular Education,
- Treachery of Judas,
- The Sucker, May 1963
Stereotaped New Year, January 1963
- The Snow
Extracurricular Education, July 1963
He Went That-a-Way,
Electronic Detective, February 1958
- Aiding an
Instinct, December 1962
- Succoring a
Soroban, March 1963
- Slow Motion
for Quick Action, April 1963
Sonar Sleuthing, August
- TV Antennas,
- The Hot Dog
Case, December 1954
A New Company is Launched,
the Mistletoe, December 1958
|- "All's Fair --", September 1963
- Operation Worm Warming, May
- The Crazy Clock Caper, October
- Two Detectors,
Tussle with a Tachometer, July 1960
- Therry and the
Pirates, April 1961
- The Sparkling
Research Rewarded, June 1962
Hot Idea, March 1960
Eraser, August 1962
- "BBI", May 1959
Ultrasonic Sound Waves, July 1955
- The River Sniffer,
- Ham Radio, April
- El Torero Electronico,
- Wired Wireless,
Shadow, September 1957