Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Memories: Playing Telephone


This is a telephone.

Florence's apartment has one just like this in her kitchen.

You stick your finger in one of those holes and then rotate the dial for each number of the number you are calling.

You can walk and talk on this phone as far as the cord goes.

A long time ago, like in the 1970's, when the phone company owned everything, this was the official phone of the apartment. Any extra phone, you had to pay extra. Nobody paid extra. We all had illegal phones. All wired up to this main phone with splices and electrical tape. If the phone company suddenly appeared at your door you had to quickly dismantle all the jerry-rigged illegal phones and hide them.

One time the guy showed up unexpected and I got my hair wet so he'd think I had been in the shower and that's why I kept him waiting outside the door, but really I was dismantling our extensions. And another time the phone guy grilled me for 5 minutes insisting there must be other phones in the house because he couldn't believe three girls could share one phone that resided in a then bedroom. I insisted we were all very close and could. He knew I was hiding ill-gotten equipment.

Then everything changed and the phone company owned nothing. The height of modern technology was pushing buttons instead of sticking fingers in holes. That and longer cords. Then things got crazy and you didn't need cords or wires at all.

Now, you don't even need a home to have a phone.

What I love most about this phone: during the blackout and 911 it still worked.

7 comments:

cityofstrangers said...

CO - Why, I remember those things. I even remember how it would take a minute or two sometimes to dial the number.

Great story about the extensions. I think I remember a time when yes, you had to pay extra for another phone in the house.

I do remember hearing that there was a time when people used to put on their good clothes to talk on the phone, as if it was a formal event, like going out to dinner . . . sort of the exact reverse of what we have now.

Tim

Suburban Guy said...

One time, my dad showed me a trick with the phone lever (the thing you hang the phone on). If you clicked it just right you could 1) get the operator 2) dail a number by clicking out the actual number. 3) get free long distance. =)

My dad was the original phonephreak. LOL

c.o. moed said...

really lol on these. what great memories! thank you so much!!...

the jodi said...

I have a rotary dial in my bedroom. I've gotten so used to speed dial on my cell and my cordless that I have no idea what anyone's phone number is. When I want to use the rotary, which is oddly comforting, like a childhood stuffed animal or the banged up skillet my grandmother used (that I still have), but when I want to call someone, I have to go find my cell to get the number.

As I write this, I guess it's not that much different from the way it used to be, when we left the "address book" next to the phone...

I love my rotary. It feels like home.

c.o. moed said...

the address book by the phone! I suddenly remembered the tattered handwritten book of my parents....

I don't remember anyone's number these days with one exception. A emergency call from a childhood friend calling from her childhood apartment. I picked up the phone and dialed the number without thinking.

Melanie said...

Long Live The Land Line!!!!
I only remember the phone numbers I called before the cell phone's existence. I even remember old phone numbers--and I had an old timey number that started with MAin-2-
Happy Holidays CO--
Best,
Melanie

Goggla said...

You don't need a home these days to have a phone...wow, you're right. That really says something about permanence, security, the sense of place that defines home.