There was an on-going game played in Orlando, and although i'm sure it was played in many places, it was particularly active in our local MilSurp outlet.
It's called "Cat and Mouse", and dates to the robber barons of the Rhine.
It's an old game in which a product which is of interest to a group of devotees who . . . are about as broke as i . . . will stash this product or item in a secret place, a place least likely to be noticed by other customers and even store staff. Often, whole boxes of things will be sequestered there, the secret spot known only to the denziens of this group, who will stop by as they have money, and slowly purchase all that is hidden in the given secret place. From time to time, an employee would buy in on it, although the store management would halt the practice whenever it discovered what was going on.
It's an adolescent game, but for me, it's a particularly satisfying thing to intrude upon, especially when the desired objects are things that I needed, like the JAN 6L6GAY, which is singularly the largest 6L6G ever made ( will turn a QSL 40 into a QSL 50!) or big broadcast band variables, which were invariably hidden by the 100 gross, in an unused cabinet behind the sockets and meters aisle. I remember wondering why all the 3700 - 3750 kc ft243 xtals were suddenly disappearing only to find them later in a cartridge box hidden under the tube aisle. I suddenly needed a cartridge box . . . this one would do nicely.
Shopping at the MilSurp took on the porportions of some grande Easter-egg hunt for a time.
In the past 10-odd years, the tube-type stuff has largely dissappeared, and it seemed that the secret places, where the 807s and type A National verniers were often hidden, have gone uninhabited. My insiders have told me that the folks that used to play this game are rarely seen these days, undoubtedly now pre-occupied, finding websites and keeping them secret so noooobody else will know . . . .
I think they took that big bag of 3n211s with 'em.
All this to say, that yesterday i made my yearly pilgimage into Orlando to visit mum, and stopped by the un-named MilSurp store ( off I-4, on Fairbanks, just to keep it's location a secret.) to find some hardware for my Slat-Board 6V6 project so's that under-construction link on my site can finally be made active, after a year.
Well, i'm poking around the wire room, a 1000 sq ft room floor to ceiling with spools of every imaginable wire type and cable, whistfully remembering how i would buy triple cotton- covered solid core silver 20 gauge wire for peanuts, and how you can't find it anymore. Not even here, not since Carter was President. I mentioned my rememberances to a kid that worked there, and he reaches behind a huge spool and pulls out a 100 foot roll of a familiar looking wire and says
"You mean, this stuff??"
I quite froze for a moment. Yes, there it was, the self-same wire with which i built all my favourite Novice homebrew stuff. Same colour scheme, even, just like the stuff they wired the original slat-board transmitter in the ARRL Handbook of 1950 with!
"But i thought you couldn't get it, like, for the past 20 years!"
"No, we still can't get it. This came from storage, must've been there for years. We set it out, (ha!) and these antique radio guys have been stuffing the spools back here, hiding them from everybody, and they think we don't know about it. It's funny to watch! You an antique person, too?"
"Nahh . . . how much would you sell that remaining spool for?"
* * * * *
Today, the local "antique radio guys" will be unhappy with me. :>)
The game goes on. Sometimes, we never grow up.
vy 73 gary // wd4nka