Grampa Friar Remembers Telephones
Oh, you young whipper-snappers with your cell phones and text-messaging. You don’t’ know how easy you have it nowadays.
It wasn’t easy growing up in the 70’s. Back then, there was just ONE PHONE in the house. It was usually in the kitchen. And it was a big deal to see a push-button model. Those were the “fancy” kind that the rich folks used to own.
That was back in the days when Lewis and Clark just discovered Missourah. Most us us regular folks used rotary phones. To phone someone, you had to turn a round circle-disc thingy with your fingers. It was called “Dialing”. You goddamn kids today…I bet you never dialed a consarned thing in your life. Do you even KNOW what dialing is?
When I went to college, if we wanted a phone in our dormitory room, we had to RENT them. Back then, you couldn’t just BUY phones in the stores. Nope, the only place to get them as at the Ma Bell Trading Post. Twenty beaver pelts for a phone, back then. And we were lucky to get one.
The push-button models were more expensive to rent. So were the ones that were colored (white, red, blue, green). We saved money by ordering the standard black model rotary phone. You could still find the rotary phones as late as ’85.
Weren’t no such thing as cordless, either. The receiver was connected to the main phone with a short wire. No such thing as privacy if you needed a quiet place to talk.
One day, I think it was the winter of ’72, my Ma had a special long cord installed on the kitchen wall-phone. It stretched to about 10 feet long, allowing her to stand up and walk around the kitchen while talking. Oh, my. We thought that was just the bee’s knees. That was high-fallutin’ technology back then.
Then the CORDLESS phones came out, in the 80’s. Land sakes, I recall that was the same year the glaciers receded from Wisconsin. We though we had died and gone to heaven. Imagine, bein’ able to take the phone into another room. It was the best thing since the telegraph. I remember they used to show those fancy cordless-type of phones a lot on a TV show called “Seinfeld”. That was in the Gay 90’s.
And voice mail? Hah! Didn’t exist. The phone rang and if you didn’t answer it, tough cookies. That’s why you still see people today jump to the phone every time it rings. They still remember the days when they’d miss important calls.
Didn’t matter if it was a job interview, or the house was on fire, or if your cat was in labor. Nope, if you missed a call, you missed a call. There wasn’t any way anyone could take a message. Not unless you wrote it down on a piece of paper.
Do you kids even KNOW who to write today? With all your LOL’s and OMG’s. You just use your thumbs like a bunch of apes. Seems nobody can’t speak the Queens’ English no more. Ahhh…what do you know? Penmanship and writing is becomin’ a lost art.
Then I recall, years later, they came out with “Answerin’ Machines”. These machines recorded the messages on pieces of plastic tape that was spun around on spools on an electrical box. It was still a novelty to hear your voice being recorded. People would amuse themselves by leaving clever instructions to “leave a message after the beep”. Oh, how we used to laugh about those! But you had to make sure the message-tape didn’t tangle up, or you’d lose everything.
About the first cell phone I recall seeing was in a movie called “Trading Places” back in the 80’s. They showed some rich folks driving a limousine, and using a phone in the car. I though they must have been really fancy rich folks, to be able to phone from their car like that. That seemed to me, to be the wave of the future.
Then suddenly it seems EVERYONE had a cell phone. We’d use them to talk to each other when hunting the last great Buffalo Herd on the Great Plains. Back then, the phones weighed about 120 pounds. Some of them were powered by steam, I think. You had to keep an extra supply of coal in your pocket, in case you ran out.
And those phones were just PHONES. All they did was allow you to speak and listen. They didn’t have Vid-ee-yah games and cameras and text messages and GPS’ like you kids have nowadays. No. If we wanted to play a Vid-ee-yah game, we had to go to the arcade and pay a quarter. There were four quarters to a dollar, back then.
And we were DAMN glad to have those phones too. Not like you kids today, who need the latest gadjets and gizmos. Godammit.
Ahhh..you kids today don’t’ realize how good you have it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go hose down my drivway, and then go watch The Weather Channel.