Who had that?
There were so many people with cells to their ears that there was no place to start. I want that.
Cells are ubiquitous to include children; yes, even kids have their own phones.
You don’t think a kid of this era would want a plain-jane phone do you? No, me neither, so everybody is wired today.
I didn’t think to ask if my 12-year-old grandson has used a rotary dial phone. I doubt it.
People who had rotary dial phones dreaded calling someone with an “8,” “9” or “0” because it took so long for the rotary dial to wind its way back to the stop.
There was a time, and not long ago, that a subscriber had to pay extra for the convenience of using a tone-dialing (DTMF) instrument.
The tones are actually two tones sounded together.
Ham radio operators discovered that rotary phones would hear tones if you had a homemade tone-generating apparatus held closely enough to the microphone for the telephone system to detect.
Old wooden wall telephones are seen in museums.
In that ancient technology, the battery-powered phones in a party (or line) were all connected all the time. If two people picked up phones simultaneously, they could talk. The more people who picked up, the more drain was placed on the batteries. Yes, phones ran on batteries.
When you look at an ancient telephone, you notice a crank. The crank turned a magneto which powered bells on all phones on that line, and everyone heard the bells.
You knew who was receiving a call by the calling “ring.” My grandparent’s ring was two long and one short ring.
There was nothing to prevent anyone on the line from picking up the receiver and listening in on the “line.”
Party lines were a source for local news and gossip.
A bored woman in the Bill Arp community listened in on all calls to the local medic, Dr. Houseworth. She was hard of hearing and often asked, “Would you say that again?”
Nothing said on the telephone was private.
Technology improved, but without dial tones.
When you lifted the receiver, you were connected to an operator. The operator, always female, came on the line and asked: “Number please!” After giving her the number, she connected you to the party you wished to call.
Telephone numbers were simple. Our home number was 67-J.
Names from antique phones are still with us.
The ear piece, called the “receiver,” hung from a hook that acted as a switch. Completing the call meant hanging up the receiver. We still “hang up.”
A phone not properly returned to the cradle is called “off the hook” and will ring busy if dialed.
I have a quirky ring tone on my cell, but I’d love for it to sound like what it is — a telephone.
Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at email@example.com.