Destruction Aftermath, Book 2a
Chapter 42

Copyright© 2012 by radio_guy

We untied the other two and brought them back to the house where the Somerseters (they didn't have a name for themselves and it made it easier for me to think about them with a name) lived. It was a quiet, communal meal that night. As the meal ended, John stood and said, "I think you all know that I have changed and why. I think we need to be part of a larger group for protection but I do love this part of the country. I would like Bennie or Janice to talk to us about preparing defenses and how we can grow without being wiped out or taken over by bad people. We know they exist, now. However, we also know that good people exist like Bennie and Janice. Before Bennie or Janice talk, I would like to know how the group feels. Martha and I have talked a little and, if possible, we would like to stay here in Somerset. I think the way of life that we have is worth protecting." He sat down and a buzz started.

After a long discussion and debate, John stood up again and said, "Let me see if I can sum up our points of agreement and where we still haven't reached a consensus.

"First, we want to create our own community. Second, we're not sure that Somerset is the place to do it. Third, we lean toward moving southwest into Tennessee. Fourth, it won't happen overnight but we should start working in the desired direction now. Fifth, we want to get radios going. We see the good things that can happen with the radios. Sixth, we are going to have to become a more agrarian society similar to Preservation. To do that, we will have to learn more about farming or bring some farmers into our midst.

"The points on which we haven't reached agreement are exactly where to locate, how to include new people into our community, exactly how we will govern our community, and when to move.

"Does that sum up our thinking at this time?" There were nods all around. "Good, now what should we do tomorrow?"

Tom said, "I have two thoughts. First, let's get some radios going and second, let's go over maps and get some ideas where to look for a new home." There were nods all around.

The meeting broke up and everyone went to their residences for the night. Bennie and I went to the little house next to the Albers. The night was quiet and we woke up early the next morning, as is our habit. We cleaned up and went to the kitchen area. Bennie said, "Hot showers are not our norm when traveling but they sure are nice."

I smiled and said, "We have all the conveniences of Preservation here. I do enjoy it."

"Yes, these folks have some advantages we don't have but lack enough people and knowledge to really sustain a community. They need some farmers and more people. A little fighting experience wouldn't hurt them either."

We joined the Albers for breakfast and talked about flying. Tom said, "We could fly down to Preservation and take the two of you with us."

Bennie said, "There is an airport in Montgomery that is being maintained though there are no flyers. Jack will have to let us know about any around our home. Carrollton is closest and will be checked by Jack. He will let us know. Why don't you make the first few upcoming trips over into western Tennessee since that's where you are thinking about for a permanent location. If we had more radios, we could set up an HF there and talk to here and to Preservation."

Tom said, "That moves radio searching higher on our list. Let's start there and Vic and I will look at the maps and determine where to look. I'll get John and a few others involved."

I pulled out my list of local hams and we waited for more people to come by. Over the next half hour, people came by until the entire community was visiting and talking again like last night. Bennie and I gathered four people with horses and one cart. Taking our list, we started going to houses to check on ham stations. No one knew any of the dead hams or their status. We only found bones after this much time. We did find some good radios and associated equipment. We would be able to set up six good HF stations and a number of two-meter units if we got a repeater going. The biggest problem would be the same as ours in Preservation and that is batteries. Handi-talkies had this problem. The HT's were easy to find. The problem was finding batteries that could be charged. We returned to the Albers' house and set up a station in the living room. I figured that many people would want to hear and talk as we communicated with Preservation.

We had checked everything out again explaining as we went to help the others learn. Finally, we plugged the power supply into an outlet and flipped it on. The transformer made a satisfying thump as it came up to full power. We turned the radio on and began to tune to 3.970 MHz for Preservation. As usual, the band was quiet. When I reached it, we could hear Mitch talking to someone in Eastern Georgia. Both were coming through clearly as they talked about crops and growing.

The man in Eastern Georgia was not really known to me but, when he signed, I called Mitch. He answered and asked how Bennie and I were doing. I replied that we were fine and were testing a new radio setup in Somerset, Kentucky. He replied that we had a great signal for the distance and band. Mitch had been a ham before the Day and was one of the best to tell you how well your rig was working. After finding out what brand and model radio we were using, he made a couple of suggestions. I did what he suggested and he reported our signal had improved.

"Thanks for the help, Mitch. This Kenwood is a bit different from the Icom and Yaesu models that I usually operate."

"They're good radios. Each manufacturer had a slightly different philosophy about design, which shows in operating them. Your folks up there in Somerset will find it a good radio that gives good service. Unless you need something further, Janice, I need to run."

"No, thanks for the help. We'll talk to you later. Janice is clear."

"73, Janice. Mitch clear and QRT." [Ed. "73" is an old Morse code abbreviation for "Regards." "QRT" means going off the air. Hams do not use "10" signals at all, instead using "Q" signals. Those came, along with the numbered signals, from code practice.]

We had two other HF radios and tested them successfully. After talking to Tom a little bit, we set up a radio for remote operation from an airport that didn't have power. That would be the first step in moving. Tom and Vic reported that they had found an area that looked promising. His wife, Jenny, was from Jackson, Tennessee, and there was an airport close to the town. The area fit their parameters. They planned to fly down the next morning. They would carry a radio and set it up and try to contact us with a status report. The debate centered on what to take and how to set things into place for their use. The decision was made for Tom to take Dave with him along with guns and radios. We lent them our HT units for their use on the ground. Terry looked a bit troubled. I took her to one side and said, "We will be in contact by radio all the way there. Tom's a good pilot. If they run into trouble on the ground, we know where they'll be and Bennie and I will take you and Jenny to get them." She nodded and gave me a hug.

We mounted a two-meter radio in their plane. We used one of the new Yaesu models from just before the Day. We mounted an antenna high on the control tower for two-meters and another Yaesu there. Tom had taken a quick ride out a hundred miles and we could talk easily.

After breakfast and filling the tank, they left heading south and west for the McKellar-Sikes Airport just south and west of Jackson, Tennessee. Tom said that the name probably was for two locals who either were big in politics and or were big aviation people. He said many airports were named for local people. The trip would be about two hundred fifty miles by air. A land route would be longer if we wanted to use the main roads. That had some discussion but Bennie and I gave our experience with secondary roads, which was uniformly poor, particularly if the terrain was rough.

It would take Tom and Dave under two hours for the trip. They had also packed a lunch figuring to eat at the airport as they looked around. Takeoff went well and we talked to Dave on the radio all the way there. As they began to land, we began to have trouble with their signal and told them so. For two-meters, the distance was considerable for the line of sight that FM radio at that frequency used. We waited.

It was an hour and al half later when we heard, "This is Tom calling Janice in Somerset. Come in, Janice. Over."

I responded, "This is Janice. Are you two okay?"

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