Monday, February 4, 2013

Telephones, how far we've come - OR NOT!

This morning I am trying to make arrangements for delivery of hay for the cows, for meetings with prospective contractors for the river house, to rent a dumpster, for doctor's appointments - there is a long list in front of me.

When I was growing up in the 1940s, we had a phone that hung on the wall.  If I remember correctly, our ring was two longs and two shorts.  To get to the neighbor's phone, you would turn a crank on the side of the phone.  For instance, Plochs had one long and two shorts, if my memory serves me right.  So you just cranked out one long ring followed by a couple of short ones.

We had party lines in those days.  We could call anyone on our line by grinding out the proper rings.  If they were home, they would pick up.  Everyone on the line could hear the rings, and there was something called "rubbering," that is, people would pick up when it was for someone else and listen in on the phone conversation.  They were not supposed to but they did.

If someone wasn't on our line, then we had to do one looooooooooooong ring to get the operator in Cedar Point.  She would then place our call to another line, so people could rubber on TWO lines, not one!

The phones got the job done, but they definitely got better as time went on.  It was really a big deal when everyone had a private line so that your business remained your business.  But coverage was still poor, and a lot of people didn't even have phones -- remind the "Thomas Dewey for president" team that one!  Pollsters relied on telephones  And sometimes you couldn't hear very well.  There was a lot of yelling and repeating when people were on the phone.

A land line is a thing of beauty.  I still have one, and I have one phone that plugs right into the wall, so I have a phone even when the power is out.  But more and more often, I find myself using my cell phone, especially since I got a smart phone, which I use like an ancient and very slow computer when I am on the road.

This morning I used my cell phone to call for hay because I can use it hands free.  The party I called was on a cell phone.  THERE WAS MUCH YELLING AND REPEATING!  So how did we agree to use phones that lose calls, that often have very poor reception and require much yelling and repeating?  I have no idea!


  1. I Still have a land line and all my phones but 2 care connected to the wall by cords. the other two are cordless... not only that I still have a good number of the phones in my home that are Rotary dial and still have the bell ringer in them. I love that sound when someone calls. I cant stand the high pitched chirping phones of today....

  2. Yes, I really prefer my land line - I can hear so much better, and the service doesn't drop!