Monday, September 18, 2006

Old Phones


I am old enough to remember how special the telephone was back in the day. While growing up we had one black phone that was made of Bakelite in our living room. It was a major big deal when we got an extension upstairs, and it was made of light weight white plastic.

Back then you had to get your phones from the phone company. They leased it to you and charged you for each line. Calling long distance was a big deal as well. You had to place LD calls through the long distance operator.

I had friends who had party lines. The more youthful readers here probably are thinking of a telephone chat room, but no, it was when several people shared the same phone line and an in-coming call would ring differently for each person. So if it had two short and one long rings it was your call and if it was a long and a short ring it was a call for your neighbor. If someone got a call at 3am all phones who shared the line would ring. Also other people could listen to your conversations.

After the government broke up the Ma-Bell monopoly things got better, you could buy your phone, run your own wires and have as many extensions as you wanted. The technology got some what better, but not really, which I’ll explain in a moment.

There was a point where I had three lines into our house and two cells. Five phone numbers…that’s communication consumption. One day I realized that I really don’t like talking on the phone, so I no longer needed a line for the fax, one for the computer (yes I still use dialup since I don’t have the need for speed and high speed internet still costs about 500% more than it should) and one for talking, so I dumped two of the lines. If someone calls while I’m on line, they can just call back later. My wife and I each still have a cell, which we will keep because we are still on an old plan where we each have a phone with our own numbers and together we only pay $30 per month. That’s only $15 per phone, you can’t beat that! She rarely uses her phone, and I keep mine in the event I’m getting sucked out to sea in my kayak.

My point underlying all this phone stuff is that with all the advances in communication over the last fifty years, you would think that phone quality would be great. Yet still while talking on a cell phone or while talking with someone using Vonage or other types of telephony, you would think you could actually hear them clearly. It is like talking to Neil Armstrong on the Moon…”One _iant _eap for mankind…”

I called my mother on the East Coast last weekend. I dialed her direct. She answered and spoke with me on that old white phone that has been upstairs in the same spot since I was five years old. She sounded really good. Not just her 85 year old voice, (which I still have in my head for growing up) but the sound coming over the wire sounded really good. I appreciate the old wire technology. I hope that some of it stays around until I am no longer able to hear.

15 Comments:

Blogger Syd said...

Somewhat related, did you see this story?

6:41 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Oh my! I better call my mother again...
Thanks, Syd. If any of you have elderly relatives who use the really old phones you may want to check out the article Syd linked.

7:57 AM  
Anonymous portosan said...

Hello everyone;

I can really relate to this. I remember partylines and my grandmother had a bakelite phone. I have had dialup forever and for the same reason's that the guy wrote here. Late last year I ended the cell phones and I have had only one phone/line all year.

There were times this summer when having only a home phone has been inconvenient when family had travelled to the beach and we wanted to meet up. It was frusterating is all and I suspect it was due to us being used to having phones in our pockets all the time. The more time that goes by and the more I live day to day with only one phone, I have found that I can live with it. I will miss the extra tax deduction this year. Other than that I don't miss them. I feel a little more free in a way, not being tethered to anyone who wanted to call on me.

Less connected? Not really. I am almost 40 and I have found that I want to connect with/keep connected to other things in life, like watching a hummingbird or a baby taking in the world. Lot's of things that a phone just cannot do. In a way the phone distracted me at times from what really matters. Like driving safely and attentively for example.

I have found other's shocked and a little confused that I don't have a cell#. Like they can't get there mind around that.

Aaaanyway, I have enjoyed your writing, the guy. Just had to add my input and echo that life goes on without the phones, tax deduction does not.

Also, good to know that I am not the last person on earth with dialup.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Moosehead said...

"I’m getting sucked out to sea in my kayak."
You may want to reword that... if you have any hope of being initiated by Syd. Speaking of, you know, I must be one already cause I pretty much like what she likes...a lot.Hello...hello...can you hear me now?? Ahh, love those rainy days with no chores to do.

9:31 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Yes Port, nothing like a ring tone to screw up a beautiful moment. And you live on the coast, people should expect that you are living a backwards life. Milk that for all it's worth. I know I do.

Re dialup, I find it funny when I see people stillusing AOL dialup. For that money they could have high speed. My ISP cost me $99 per year. That's $8.25 per month.

Now Moosehead. If you do anything to screw up my nomination, I swear I'll get you. And you have a rainy day with nothing to do? Must be the wife is visiting her sister again, eh? Maybe you should be out sharpening your snow shouvle. Winter is coming on fast up there. It's already snowing on Mt Hood here. And your Metric post on the other forum nearly smacked of plagerism. I've got my eye on you...

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Moosehaed said...

My teacher used to tell me that plagerism is worse than masturbation...so it can't be that bad right? Cruising Wikipedia again eh? I suppose I could have paraphrased it, or at least quoted my sources...guess I'll go out and sharpen my snow shovle...what is a snow shovle anyway??

10:33 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

OK shovel with an "el". I changed it to "le" for you French Canadians because in French I know there is an "Le" and an "Elle" Did you want me to spell it "shovelle?"

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I seldom use my cell phone, I do feel safer driving when I have my phone with me.
How can anyone do with out high speed internet? Not me, It is the only way to go.

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Moosehead said...

Close but not quite. Elle is like her or she, le is like it (masculine), la like it (feminine)- now shovite would be your next likely response so I will save you the time and trouble and do so on my own.
Now speaking of telephones, why do the telephone people think that it is worth $.70 cents to redial a busy number for me? And what is this new twist on tele marketing - you answer the phone and you get a message that all agents are busy and to please wait until somebody is free so that they can waste your time some more. Can this really work?? and do some people actually wait ?? File this for some future blog Guy -tricks to dupe telemarketers. Like ask them their home phone number so you can call them at suppertime - telling them you are on welfare or death row works pretty good too.

11:29 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

No, Moosehead my next responce would have been Fue Quah. I think that's what we used to say up there when I was a lad. LOL, I'm glad you have a good sense of humor. We don't need anymore angry Canadians, being that Neil Young was the only one at one time. Have there been any since?

As for high speed, I do have access to it when needed, but I rarely need it. How many YouTube things can you watch before wanting to shove your head into a stove?

12:12 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

Guy & Moose, you two are a veritable comedy team. Very funny stuff.

And Moosehead, I love a man who appreciates a woman with a penchant for T & A. (Sorry Guy, for dragging your comment section into the gutter. Again)

5:31 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Hey, I just don't want to ruin my nomination.

Yeah, that Moosehead is a funny guy. We put this sort of show on elsewhere on the net as well. Canadians are good people. I'm going to do an article on them someday. I already have the picture for the article.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

Even if you can't hear, the new technology will probably involve a port that goes directly into your brain.

I hate the phone. The ring jolts me out of my thoughts or what I am doing. Some Unknown Caller bonehead rang like six times today trying to sell me something I'd never buy, but I didn't get to talk to said bonehead because it was one of those computer calls where you have to wait a coon's age for the dumb voice to start. Ptew.

1:20 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

My parents were "central" in several small towns, and the switchboard was in a prominent corner of every living room until I was 11 years old. Now THAT'S an old phone!

http://journals.aol.com/mosie1944/MYCOUNTRYLIFE/entries/2005/02/27/switchboard-memories/704

2:56 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

I actuall had a job working on a switchboard after school when I was a teen. It was really slow and I could get 5 of my freinds all on the line at the same time. Poor work ethic, I know, but hey, I was a kid.

3:16 PM  

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