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Saturday, February 20, 2010

One Ringy Dingy

Remember back when it was exciting to hear a phone ring? Every one would clamor to the phone yelling, "I'll get it! I'll get it!"

The first phone I can remember in our household was one of these bad boys that hung on our kitchen wall.



Dialing someone's number seemed to take forever - especially if they had a "zero" in their phone number. You'd poke your finger in the hole and wind the dial all the way around to the metal bracket and then let the dial go and wait for it to roll back into place. Here's a little video to help some of you young whippersnappers understand what I am talking about.



There was no quick dialing back then. If you needed to dial 911 you'd be better off just standing on your front porch and screaming "HELP!" (Oh, yeah, they didn't have 911 back then, either!)

You could take your time dialing, too. You wouldn't get any funny or annoying buzzing sounds for over a minute. And answering machines? Never heard of them! If you weren't home, the phone just rang and rang. Even if you WERE home, and couldn't get to the phone right away, it rang and rang till the person on the other end gave up and hung up. Sometimes if you'd call someone and let the phone ring for 20-30 times, the operator would break in and say something wise like, "There seems to be nobody home at that number." Thanks for THAT newsflash!

"Call-waiting" wasn't invented either, but if you were trying to get in touch with someone, and they were yaking on the phone, you could actually call the operator and say you had an emergency and have her break into their conversation so they end their conversation and talk with you!

Our rotary dial wall phone had a 6-ft. long cord attached to it, which each of us kids would stretch to the limit. It wasn't an unusual sight to see the cord stretched across the kitchen, and one person or another either ducking under or pulling the cord up to get by. Sometimes we'd hold the phone in the crook of our neck and gab, all the while washing dishes, or sweeping the floor, or some other household chore in the kitchen.

If we were having a private conversation, we'd stretch the cord and sit on the stairs that led to the bedrooms upstairs. If it was a really, REALLY private conversation, we'd shut the door to the stairs, and it became like a confessional -



dark and quiet, while you confessed your sins to your friend over the phone.

From all that stretching, that cord was a mess! Every so often we'd have to dangle the receiver and let the cord unwind. I sat transfixed as the receiver twisted first one way, then the other.





Speaking of private conversations, that was hardly possible if you had a party line. And I'm not talking about those 1-800-call-me numbers they advertise now for college kids. I'm talking a party line where people SHARE one telephone line. Jim's parents were on a a party line in their small town in Minnesota. It wasn't that long ago, either - in the 80's! If you wanted to make a call, you lifted the receiver and listened to see if anyone was using the phone. If someone was talking, and if you were a courteous person, you would hang up and try again later. But if you were nosy, you just might listen to the conversation and see what little pieces of gossip you could pick up. Just don't breathe too heavy or they'd know another person was on the line!

The times, they were a'changing, and we went right along with it. Out went the rotary phone, and in came a spanking new PUSH BUTTON Trimline phone.



Hoo-hoo! Talk about speed dial! This was great! We could dial people up in a quarter amount of the time that it took us before! And boy, my memory was great back then. I could retain so many phone numbers in my head. Family members, friends, associates. Now? I don't even know my own kids' phone numbers - they are programmed in to my cell phone.

23 comments:

jinksy said...

Now phones follow you wherever you go. Debateable progress...

Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

Those were the days! My mom worked for the phone company so we got a private line before anyone in the neighborhood - AND - we got a push button phone before anybody else we knew. It was great for calling into radio contests. I won three times that first summer we had our phone... Playing "Time Bomb" where you had to guess when the bomb was going to go off and you'd lose the money you'd won. Sometimes you'd have to say "stop before you start" because the bomb could go off at any time. The minimum win was $5.00 (big amount for a 13 year old kid back then).

Again - great memories you've dredged up!

Sunny said...

Great post, Pat. Fun memories. Do you remember when phone number were letters and numbers? I think our phone number back in the late 50's was LAUREL 5-4225 but you would dial LA5-4225. The best phone invention is caller ID, LOL!
Sunny :)

Rae said...

I remember those days very well. I was always the kid on the party line that drove the neighbors crazy because I eavesdropped on them. I was too stupid to realize they could hear me breathing.

KaLynn said...

We only had to dial the last 4 digits too. Then when we had to add the last of the first three it seemed really hard to remember-all those numbers. . which seems silly now when you HAVE to dial the area code if you are on a cell phone! but back then FIVE numbers was ALOT!!

Thanks for the memories!!

Steven Anthony said...

I remember being able to diasl the time..it was so cool, 4691212 would give you a pre recorded lady telling you the time....

now I dont even have a land line, just had a cell for the past ten yrs

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

We had a four-party line! You could hear all the other rings-- one neighbor was four short rings , we were four long, another house short-long and the other long-short -- or something like that. Phone rang, everybody froze listening to see whether or not to pick up. And then discussing who might be calling Mrs long-short and why! Also, you could pick up and listen (if you didn't breath too loud and if your mother didn't catch you first before the person who was supposed to be on line hollered.

Fun memories Pat! And of course now , in spite of our advanced ages, we have two cell phones and no landline.

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

Fun telephone memories! Cool post, Pat.But I have still a land line!
Betty

SquirrelQueen said...

I remember only having to dial four digits and the party lines. I was so excited when I got my own Princess phone. It was sort of like the one in your last photo and they came in different colors, a teenager's dream.

I also remember my first cell phone, it was huge. Times have changed.

otin said...

BV and I were just talking about this! How frustrating a busy signal could be. I remember dialing in to a radio call in show and spending hours on the dial. Some technology is a good thing!

Fran Hill @ Being Miss said...

And yet it's funny how some people have a mobile phone ringtone which mimics the 'brrr brrr' of the old ones! Good post.

Gail said...

Our first phone you had to use a crank. We were on the party line and you had to count the rings, if it was three shorts rings it was our call.

I dislike phones with a passion. I wish they would all go away. When I come home, I do not want to phone to ring!

Great post.

SuziCate said...

Thanks for the flashback...I'm old enough to remember those day!

LMJ said...

This is a great post on the history of the phone!

I wasn't old enough for rotary phones, but I think it would have been fun to dial like that when calling someone--of course, except when you're dialing 911, that is!

Now, we have speed dial--the best thing ever for the phone!

Always Home and Uncool said...

We had the kitchen wall phone. In a beautiful shade of avocado.

Nancy said...

LOL! I also remember how LOUD the dial was when trying to place a call and not wake your sleeping parent on the couch...

Steven Anthony said...

You have an award waiting for you @ no excuse no explanation;) Enjoy!

WhisperingWriter said...

We used to have a rotary phone. I got irritated with it very quickly.

Deb said...

boy have times changed...remember the first mobile phones...they were the size of bricks....

Boomka said...

I don't know a single phone number. I mean I can honestly remember the phone number of the girl I had a crush on in 4th grade, but I can't remember my best friends cell number. Just not necessary. I can barely remember my own. People say, "can I have your phone number?" and I have to wait a half a minute to respond to decide whether or not I can actually give it to them!

Carletta said...

Way back memories!
We had a party line and yes, we listened once in awhile. I do remember having to have the operator break a line but I don't remember the emergency. :)

Lindy MacDuff said...

Lots of memories! Our family had a party line for a lot of years and it was hot stuff when we finally got a private line. I used to get in trouble for stretching the phone cord to the stairway leading to my bedroom! LOL! When I moved out on my own I had a candlestick phone for a while. Though it was old-timey looking, it was a pain to use and it wasn't long before I went back to a slimline phone. Great post, Pat!

Allen said...

This is an awesome post!!! oh I remember those phones. I even remember the party lines. I even remember the push buttons, that dialed the numbers in dot dot noise instead of the beeping noise.

Its funny that people these days dont know that you must dial a (1) before they dial the number for long distant on a house phone.

I laugh so much over that.

Thanks for the memories!
Allen