We’re about to say goodbye to an old friend – the hardwired telephone which provided part of the sound track of my early life. It is only a matter of time before the traditional telephone will become extinct.
Once required by law that Ma Bell be hooked up to the home of all citizens, several states are dropping that requirement. In droves, customers are discontinuing landline service because of the versatility and popularity of the cell phone.
It makes me sad since I grew up during a time when the ringing of the telephone was one of the most important sounds in the home. It heralded a date for the prom, an invitation to a spend-the-night party and an opportunity to call the radio station which had a program called “Requestfully Yours” which came in every night during the hours we were sent to our rooms to do “homework.”
I’ll never forget Phil Dickerson sending out a request for me. It was “Teen Angel” – a song about a teenage girl who is killed in a car accident. I never have gotten over that.
We called my grandparents every Sunday evening because that’s when the rates went down. A long distance person to person call was very special. Now we don’t think twice about calling the West Coast or New York City.
I remember when we still had operators who said “Number Please” and we would recite the number. Mine was 1064. It was a big day when the operators were replaced by the rotary dial, but I always missed talking to the operator. Daddy was a country doctor and many times, she would break in and say, “Emily you need to get off the phone. Your Daddy has an emergency call coming in.”
And I’ll always remember the Christmas they gave me a separate line complete with a pink Princess Phone the color of Pepto-Bismol.
We had such fun talking on that phone. We would call our boyfriends du jour and ask if their refrigerators were running. When said they yes, we would shout, “YOU BETTER GO CATCH IT” and collapse into hysterical giggles.
The telephone: Most of our 1940s and 50s homes had a built in cubby hole especially for the big black telephone. I’ll never forget when the popular “phone jack” was introduced and you could actually move the phone from room to room. I think that’s when the American family first became polarized. Multiple televisions in the home finished us off.
So long, old phone. You served us well and gave us time off to unplug and disconnect from the madness of the world. Now, we are never disconnected and it’s hard to find time to think.