Thursday, June 5, 2014

THESE are the good old days - phones

Lately there seems to be nostalgia for the 50's and 60's, even the 70's.  Television shows and music portray those days as if they were some golden age of civilization.  Life was so much better back then.  So simple.  So pure.   

It's irritating as hell.  I've been there.  Done that.

THESE are the good old days.

Take cell phones, for example.  Completely disregarding the computing power you carry in your pocket, just think about how liberating it is to have a phone with you at all times.  

The first phone I remember was a party line.  Yep, one of those phones that are shared by several households.  You couldn't just pick up the phone to call out.  Think shared house phone with no way to tell if someone else was on the line.  And if another party was really quiet, they could eavesdrop on your phone conversation.  Nothing was particularly private.

And the dial!  You put your finger in the hole for the number and cycled it over to the stop. The 0 took the longest time to move.  You always hoped the phone number had low digits in it.  If your finger slipped, you had to hang up and start over. 

After we got our "private" line, there still wasn't anything private about it.  Most families had one phone.  With a cord connecting it to the wall.  With another cord connecting the receiver to the phone.  There was a limited range of movement dictated by those cords.  

Our phone was in the dining room.  So any phone call I made could be overheard or interrupted at any moment. There was a linen closet beside the phone stand.  If the television was too loud or my brothers were arguing, I could crouch in the closet with the sweaters and the ironing board.    

It was a huge deal when we got an extra long cord connecting the receiver to the phone.  My mom could now talk on the phone and wash dishes or cook.  

Want to go somewhere and your parents aren't around?  Too bad.  There was no way to contact your parents if they weren't home or at work.  Did the crappy car you bought at 16 break down?  Put on your walking shoes until you find a home or business that will let you borrow their phone. 

When my husband and I drove a truck cross-country, we had to rely on pay phones, or kindness, to call the company for our next load.  Pay phones only took coins.  They were frequently vandalized and inoperable.  Money for phone calls was saved for business calls.  We rarely spent our phone money calling family.  

Lost and need to call for directions?  Good luck.  Want to call to let the shipment receiver know you're stuck in traffic and will be late.  Too bad.  

These days, everyone I know carries a cell phone with them.  Sure that causes its own set of issues.  But it's a huge convenience to have a phone available whenever you need one. 

Seriously, THESE are the good old days.  


  1. I have a client who still has a rotary phone and refuses to change. Her Grandkids are afraid of it and refuse to use it!

    1. Rotary phones do look like they can eat fingers. :-)