The 1950's and the 1960's:
*Black dial model on Dad’s desk
*Pink princess lighted-dial beside the livingroom chair
*Ivory wall-hung in the kitchen
The 1970's, ‘80's and 90's:
*Black push-button in the den
*Red hand-held plugged-in on the diningroom writing desk, but conveniently carried to the range to stir vegetable soup.
*All colors available to match decor
*Hold buttons at work lit in red
*Multiple lines, 800 numbers and international availability
The 21st century:
*Black cell in shirt pocket
*Smaller silver cell in hip holster
*Smaller yet, black and silver palm-pilot in right pants’ pocket
*Earphones on while driving the car.
*Earbuds used while operating the ATV
The above is an accounting of a segment of my life, a progression from what now seems like “olden days” to the current historical era. Before my birth, back when my Dad was a young man, the first lines were strung on the tall trees taken from his own woods. Back then it was an 8-party-line which means eight families shared one connecting wire. If you really needed to use the device, you had to lift the receiver and listen. If no one else was talking, it was your turn. However, one woman was ALWAYS taking her turn. People were supposed to politely hang up if someone was speaking, and wait. Maybe you waited 3 minutes and listened again. Then you did it again, but after 10 or 15 minutes, if you really needed to call the doctor or your insurance agent or whomever, you could interrupt Mrs. Always On, and say, “Jenny, I need to make a call right now.” And she would say, “Oh, okay, Nina, I’ll get right off.” She recognized everyone’s voice, and she would hang-up, ... almost. She listened-in on everyone else’s conversations.
If something was happening in the community, Jenny knew about it.
Eight families was a big chunk of the township, and she was from a family of seven, so she was related to a lot of folks. When Hank Gilmore accidentally ran over his son, Ronnie, with a tractor, Jenny knew about it before others were standing in the road listening to the sirens and figuring out where the ambulance was going. When the Kent family’s barn burned, she saw that out her livingroom window and she was the first to spread the news of the animals trapped inside.
When Penelope Thompson listened-in on someone else’s call, breathing was heard so one of the speaker’s said, “Whoever is listening-in, please hang up.” Penny did and turned around to see her Dad watching her with grave disappointment on his face, and a switch in his hand. The thin willow branch was applied to her fanny right before she was sent to her room, and to bed for the night, even though it was only 3:30 in the afternoon.
“Respect,” Her father enunciated loudly. “respect for another person’s privacy!” Dolly cried all the way upstairs, stomping on every one of the 14 carpeted steps, so the stomps weren’t very loud, but she was showing her anger.
Back then the numbers were a combination of words and numerals like Empire 10931 or Glendale 98642, based on the area where you lived because the corporation had given names to each community, different names than what they were really called. Now you may get a number that spells out the name of your company or business, as in P-L-U-M-B-E-R could be 758-6237.
Before the days of voice mail, if you couldn’t get the dial tone, or the call you made gave you the busy signal, you might just jump in your car and drive over to see your neighbor or friend. It was perfectly acceptable to knock on the door, but if no one answered, you could walk right in while loudly saying, “Hello, anybody home?”
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