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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Nice Hallicrafters S38-E Knack Story

Bill - 

It was Christmas of 1958 (5th Grade)that my parents bought me the Hallicrafters S38-E that I still have.  I was recovering from multiple surgeries the previous summer to correct for the effects of Polio when I was 3.  I came down with Polio in the last year before the vaccine was released to the public.  

A bit of bio - because of my physical limitations as a child, I spent a lot of time indoors reading and listening to the radio.  Broadcast AM here at that time was still playing dramas like "The Lone Ranger" and "Big John and Little Sparky".  I really enjoyed them.  Then, on that fateful day I asked my mother why, since our radio plugged into the wall electric outlet and we could hear people talking, weren't other people able to hear us talking on their radio if we spoke into the loudspeaker.  She said, 'I don't know, but the library ( 2 blocks away) will have books about radio that you can read."  The Knack bit early and it bit hard.  

By the time I was in 5th grade I had discovered short wave radio.  I dearly wanted a short wave radio and I wanted a Hallicrafters.  Somewhere I had found a catalog and wow! nothing else would do.  What I didn't realize until I was in my teens was just how hard times were for my folks.  Most families then did not have medical and hospitalization insurance.  My dad was paying off the hospital and the doctors every month almost until I graduated from high school.

But, anyway, I did get the S38-E for Christmas.  At $69.95, it was the least expensive Hallicrafters available.  In reality, it is just an All-American - 5 with extended tuning range.  Tuning was as broad as a barn door, and above 15 MHz it is as deaf as a post.  But it was mine and I loved it.  The short wave bands were still hot in those days as we were just peaking through one of the most celebrated Solar Maxima of the last century.  Many the hours I listened to HCJB - Quito, and Radio Moscow, and Voice of America....   I also found people talking to each other - Wow!  Ham Radio.  And just look at me now.... And those strange beeping sounds - that was actually people talking? And what was that strange Donald-Duck s
ounding talk all about?

Yes - I still have that same S38-E.  It went to college with me, and has been with me for over half a Century, now.  Yes, it still works. (Needs a replacement IF transformer),  Yes, it will shock the bejeebers out of you if you plug it in wrong.   {I use two filament transformers back-to-back to prevent that.)  Yes, the Knack still has me, but that's another chapter.

Bruce  KK0S

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  1. Bruce I also remember listening to shortwave in the 1950s also on a Hallicrafters. Your story brought a lump in my throat.

  2. Nice piece. My first SW radio was a S-38C. Purchased with savings from paper-boy carrier route. Introduced me to CW via the marine traffic frequencies.

  3. Bruce,
    Thanks for the great story. I too had an S 38E when I was 14 that was given to me by my Dad. I put it in a box a few years later and did not see it again till I was 25. Played around with it for a couple of years and gave it away to a young boy who was tickled to get it. This past year
    (30 years later) I bought another one and can't get away from it. I restored it fully and it works like a champ. I now have 7 Hallicrafters, 1 A ,1 B, 2 C's 2 E's and an S 120. Should keep me busy for a while.


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