Hanging up the phone


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.

6 thoughts on “Hanging up the phone

  1. Loved that “call in” program….My first “dedication” came from Albert Rhea in 3rd grade and it was for “Catch a Falling Star”…..every time I hear that tune, it always reminds me of elementary school and all my friends that I grew up with.
    My phone number was 674!

  2. Memories…I remember a big wall phone that looked like an oak box at my grandmother’s home. I think I remember that you had to turn a crank type device on the side of the phone. Don’t remember why. You had to listen closely to the rings since it was on a party line and each home had a distinct ring. I never quite got the hang of her ring and, when visiting, would answer someone else’s call. You never knew when the other party finished talking and would have to “pick up” to see if they had finished their conversation. Also, there seemed to be a few on the party line who determined it was their right to listen to the conversation of others.
    Technology has come a long way.

  3. 688. The store was 76. The operators often knew where the Doctors were. I still have the black non dial phone and the first black dial phone. The red princess phone that was in the den by my Daddy’s chair is in my bedroom and is in use. It will still dial out and is the only house phone that works when there is a power outage.

  4. No joke? So you still have land line. Frankly, I miss mine from time to time…like when I misplace my cell phone and I need to call it to hunt it up!

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