The telephone has been a useful gadget. I look over at the phone in my office at the old Saunders’ place and I have to chuckle. That phone was made in 1930 with a little sign in the middle of the dial that says “Please Answer Promptly.” But if I don’t, the answering machine in the living room will pick up for me. It is kind of a clash of technology, isn’t it? That 83 year old phone still works and has better sound than the ones you can buy currently and its ringer box can still wake the dead.
Dialing that old rotary phone brings back some memories. Yes, though I am only 41 years old, I have memories of dialing phones. I grew up in the country where we were on a party line…no, I don’t mean a 1-900 number that charges you $4.95 per minute to meet singles in your area…I mean a line that several households shared. Our party line operated on the honor system…you had to wait for the operator to come on after you dialed the number you were calling so you could give your number so they knew who to charge. Some weren’t so honorable. A neighbor boy kept giving the operator our number. I guess he thought he wouldn’t get caught.
Phones have become much more convenient. A cell phone fits in my pocket and I can be reached just about any place I could go…my cell number used to be my grandparents’ number at the farm so my number has been in the family for over 50 years. Cell phones have brought with them the expectation that you will get someone every time you call them. Wrong. I have the philosophy of “just because I carry it with me, doesn’t mean I have to answer it when it rings.” However, when all is said and done…I still prefer using that 1930 Western Electric. That old handset is heavy enough that it could do some damage if I really wanted to reach out and touch someone <smile>.
A while back, I discovered a stack of old phone books from 1958 when I was looking through the old telephone office in Barnard. It is very interesting to flip through one of them. I don’t think you would get Bill or Charlene Watson by dialing “12” and dialing “30” won’t get you connected to the Ott Saunders place. The Barnard High School phones have been silent for years now, but that number was “88.”
Below are the Barnard pages of the 1958 phone book issued by the United Telephone Company of Kansas.
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