Photo By: Mel Fechter

Mentoring Mankind with Memories and Musings

Jun 23,   Spring and Summer in Shangri La
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Jan 16,   COLLEGE DAZE Is On the Horizon
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Apr 9,   a snipit from HELLO MYRMIDON
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Mar 25,   Memory Retrieval
Mar 24,   I Join the World Community
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Mar 3,   My Miracles, Part 2
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Feb 8,   Phones of Old, Part 1
Feb 7,   Twitterpated!!!
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Dec 3,   Mom’s Christmas Story Part 1
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Dec 1,   My First Blog

Guest Blogs

Mar 24,   SusanDay on Being a Grandparent

9th Feb Phones of Old, Part 2

I hope you had a good night and a good breakfast as I did, and are ready to continue meandering through my memory archives about phones.

Long distance calls in the early 1950’s were a real adventure. Sometimes my parents needed to call Los Angeles, so they would alert the operator by turning the crank on the phone. They would tell her the number they wanted to reach, and she would ring the exchange in the next larger town. The call would then be handed off the same way to the operator in each succeeding exchange all the way to LA. You had to be patient because this whole process took time.

What was really funny was that each operator had to announce to the next one both the number being called and the full name of the caller. Each of these connections could be heard audibly by the caller, one after the other. And yes, as you might expect, a name like Clough did not arrive in the same condition as when it left. One common result was “Clugg”, but the best one was “Clotch”. That actually became our hallmark, even now when we talk about our family we laughingly refer to it as the “Clotch household”...☺

Later on in the decade of the 50’s we lived in a larger town not far from the valley, where the phones were more modern. We had only 2-family party lines, and our phone numbers were 3 digits followed by a J or a W to distinguish between the 2 phones on each line. My best friend was at 305J, and I remember that our number started with a 3 and ended in W, but I don’t remember the rest. I was only a kid, and didn’t ever call it much, so I guess that is why it has faded from my memory banks. We also had to get the operator, but I don’t remember having a crank. When we lifted the receiver she would just come on the line and say “number please” and when we gave the number she would connect us.

Surprisingly enough, even in 1974 when I was well into adulthood and had moved to the North Coast of California, we had modern rotary phones but no direct distance dialing. Having come from Sacramento where it was the norm, it was a bit of a nuisance to ask the operator to make our long distance connections for us. But it was only necessary to dial 5 of the 7 numbers for a local call, which was a welcome novelty. And there was only one local prefix, so you only needed to remember the last 4 digits of a local phone number. Even today I sometimes neglect to say the first 3 numbers when giving my phone number, since I believe it was only in the early 90’s that they added a second “prefix” to the numbers.

With the recent advent of cell phones all that has changed, and it has been a bit difficult to get accustomed to all these new prefixes. As people began to convert from their “landlines” to their cells the phone book shrank, from 70 pages or so in the 90’s to 17 last year and only 14 pages in the new book this year! There are only a few of us die hard folks left like me ---we who appreciate having had the same phone for 42 years, and who still want to be able to look up someone in the phone book and call them. But with cell phones that is not possible any more, which is very frustrating to us, and part of the reason why I don’t own one. I hope this little window on the past helps you understand a bit better why many of us who grew up in simpler times must be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern realm of social media.

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