A mixture of the spices of life: humor with subtle hints of nostalgia and spirituality.

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Location: Ohio, United States

These are stories that have appeared in my "History She Wrote column" in the Dayton Daily News or a book titled "A Hike Through History" that I wrote for Third Graders.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Telephone Technology Has Come a Long Distance

This is my Dayton Daily News column from August 26 Telephone Technology Has Come a Long Distance My husband, Bill, was in a morning meeting with community leaders when a friend used the walkie talkie feature of his cell phone to contact him. Everyone heard, “Hey, Bill. Are you up yet?” The incident made me think of the changes I have seen in telephones. In the 50’s phones were permanently attached to the wall with a phone wire. There was no such thing as clip ends on the wires and there were no portable phones or cell phones. We had one phone at our house and it had a rotary dial. In the early 60’s we moved to Findlay, Ohio. The phone company was using that area to test market something called touchtone. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to try it. Now I have four phones at my house. They are all touchtone and three are portable. In fact, one portable has been lost for several days. The last time this happened we found it in a file drawer. I wonder where it is hiding now. When we wanted to use the phone in the 50’s we picked the receiver up and if we were lucky, a phone operator answered. She said, “Number, please.” We would tell her the number of the person we wanted to call. The numbers were short and made up of combinations of words as well as numbers. I seem to recall our number was White 123. But, sometimes when we picked up the receiver, we would hear other people talking because we had a “party line”. In other words, we had to share the line with some of our neighbors. If they were using the line, we had to wait until they were done before we could place a call. It was very frustrating when someone got on the phone and talked for a long time. Worst of all, everyone knew when you got a phone call. All the phones on the “party line” rang when someone on that line got a call. Customers had their own special code ring. Our ring was two longs and a short. If the phone rang with a different combination than ours, we were not to answer. Some people would wait until their neighbor answered their call and then pick up the receiver and listen in to their neighbor’s conversation. We were happy when we finally got a “private line”. What is that music? Oh, I’ve gotta go. My cell phone is ringing.


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