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SoCS: Phones of Yesteryear

23 Comments

Today’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is:

“…to your left.” When you sit down to write your post, look to your left. What is the thing closest to you? Write about the memories that thing induces. Enjoy!

To my left is my phone, quietly charging, waiting for the next spam call. Or something better. I’ve recently started getting spam texts. Nothing like in the old days, when we only got an unwanted call if we listed our female names in the phone book. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

When I was a teenager in the 70s, we had one phone for the whole family. It hung on the kitchen wall – a yellow phone on a yellow wall. Most of my phone calls with boyfriends, including my first boyfriend who much later became my husband, took place at the kitchen table. It allowed for some privacy if you didn’t talk too loud. I remember my phone number was 347-5359. Before that, when I was a young child, we had a black phone that sat on a table. They all had rotary dials that went, click, click, click. I vaguely remember having a party line which meant sharing a phone line with someone – you had to take turns, not just with your own family members, but with the other party.

“Is this the party to whom I am speaking?”

That’s what Lily Tomlin said as Ernestine on Saturday Night Live, right? Nope. It was Laugh In.

Look what I found when I went looking for Ernestine: It’s so random, just like SoCS.

Some people didn’t even have phones when I was a teenager. But they could use phone booths. In England, don’t they call them call boxes? Has anyone seen a real phone booth lately? Where have all the phone booths gone? They could be dangerous though. Back in the sixties, or fifties, well, in the olden days, there was a thing to see how many people, usually college students, you could squeeze into a phone booth. Then there was The Matrix phone booth scene. Is the Matrix really that old?

In the 70s, we didn’t have an answering machine, voice mail, caller ID, or any of that stuff. We just had to take our chances. If someone was already talking to someone else, we got a busy signal – buzz, buzz, buzz. No personal computers, no remote controls (not in my house anyway) and only three TV channels that went off the air around midnight most nights, at least in the early 70s. But it was better than the two tin cans with a string tied between them. That never worked for me. I found out just now watching this video that it didn’t work because I didn’t have the string tight enough. Finnovation demonstrates what type of “string” works best. Bright kids!

We’re never too old to learn. Just because something doesn’t work the first time, doesn’t mean it won’t work. Sometimes we just have to keep trying different ways.

Oh, and I finally got back in a kayak, making sure not to take my phone just to be safe. The first two photos are my son out on the lake in the mountains. The last one is a photo he took of me in my new kayak which is blue, green, and purple. These days, I take all my photos with my phone. In the 70s I never would’ve imagined taking photos with a phone that you carry in your pocket.

~~~

For more streamy streams of consciousness, and the rules, visit out host, Linda Hill, here:

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS May 8, 2021 | (lindaghill.com)

Author: JoAnna

An open minded, tree-hugging Jesus follower, former counselor, and life-long lover of animals, I'm returning to my creative roots and have published my first book: Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again as well as the short version: From Loneliness to Love.

23 thoughts on “SoCS: Phones of Yesteryear

  1. The old movie clip was a hoot.

  2. JoAnna, I have all of the same telephone and phone booth memories as you. I remember getting frustrated when the phone book in the phone booth was gone or had the necessary pages ripped out. And how on earth did our parents keep track of us without being connected? It’s amazing what we used to do without, but how silly that we’re so tied to our cell phones now.

    • I agree. I get nervous when I can’t find my phone. Then I get uncomfortable knowing that. I guess our parents had to have a lot of faith. I sometimes miss the days when I planned a trip by studying the route on a paper map.

  3. Oh, for a return of those days when the phone was just a device to talk with someone at the other end of the line! Now they can track our every move and record all of our communications.
    Beautiful photos of your lake-side weekend getaway. Happy Mother’s Day ❤

  4. Great memories, JoAnna. I remember all these things.

    We still have a working rotary disk phone. It’s a Princess phone I bought for my wife about 15 years ago. But it does work.

  5. Ah the good ole days. Simpler time for sure.

  6. When, at 18 in 1960, I began working at Lloyd’s Insurance, I was terrified of the phone. We had none at home and this was the first time I had been expected to use one. Today, I do not allow the internet anywhere near my mobile. Our telephone boxes are being converted to other uses, such as free book exchanges. Your post has sparked all these thoughts.

    • I admire that you can keep your internet away from your mobile. And I’m glad the telephone boxes are still intact and being converted.

  7. Never even got the chance to experience phone booths. It’s true that technology brings us comfort, but it can never give us the true taste of life:)

    • There must be a phone booth somewhere. Seems like they were mildly claustrophobic until they became more open, without doors. The true taste of life for me comes from things not made by man. Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

  8. I used to enjoy going to the pub to relax after a hard days work, in the days before mobile/cell phones. The bar telephone would ring frequently between 6 and 7.30pm asking if so and so is in the bar and invariably we would all shout ‘He has just left or never seen him today!’, giving that person time to finish up and race home.
    Can’t get away with a few pints on the way home these days, with personal phones!

  9. Thank you for sharing!!.. I can relate to the old phones.. I grew up on a farm and our phone was a partly line that had 10 people on.. my mom and grandmother could speak English and both High (the German language) and Low German (sort of a slang type German)… normally they would talk in English…they were the only two on the line that could speak High German and should they suspect that someone may be listening, they would talk in High German.. 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May your day be touched
    by a bit of Irish luck,
    Brightened by a song
    in your heart,
    And warmed by the smiles
    of people you love.
    (Irish Saying)

    • I didn’t know you could have that many people on a party line! My dad told a story about his grandmother in Wisconsin talking on the phone to her friend in German. The lines were tapped, and there was an investigation. I think his grandmother started talking in English after that.

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