Our phone at the house in Lakewood was brown and stood out against the yellow walls of the kitchen. I remember that it had a short cord, that if stretched to its ultimate length, would allow you to get through the door to the living room....for “private” conversations. With parents sitting at the kitchen table just a few feet away, those private conversations had to be held in what amounted to a whisper. I fear that I sounded like some type of phone freak in many of those calls. My feeble attempts at calling an LHS lady for a date were pretty unsuccessful. I had to first work up the courage to make the call to Susie, or Linda, or Janice, or whom ever I was enchanted with at that time. Strongly marching into the kitchen with great resolve, I was often deflated to find the parental units engaged in some type of important conversation at the kitchen table.
But a change was happening that I didn’t know about. I don’t remember why but at some point the phone cord got traded in for a 20 footer. This new freedom allowed one to get all of the way into the living room, sit on the couch, and have conversations in what I guess was a normal voice. When it appeared that the conversation was going to go on for a while, I could sit on the couch, hold the phone in my left hand and twirl that long cord with my right hand. That’s probably the reason that the phone cord was always a twisted mess that upset my sainted father who enjoyed order in the world. A twisted phone cord did not imply that there was order in the Cook house.
In the Spring of 1969, I was stationed in Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, for advanced individual training. While on a weekend pass in Columbia, Missouri, I had a blind date with a wonderful lady, named Sandy, who was a Junior at the University of Missouri. We had a great weekend and continued to stay in touch through letters and a phone call when allowed by Uncle Sam. After Ft. Lost in the Woods, I went to Ft. Belvoir for six months and then to Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland.
The letters and phone calls continued and I flew to her home in Iowa to spend New Year’s Eve in 1969. The Bachelor Officers' Quarters (BOQ) at Aberdeen was a retrofitted WW II training barracks. I had a room and shared a bath. The furnishing were Spartan but the view was great. It was located right on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay - no more than 100 feet away. There was a drawback because there were no phones in the rooms. There was however, a pay phone located at the street intersection about half a block away. Sandy was paying for her college by working as a waitress on the dinner shift at a restaurant in Columbia. By the time she got home from work at 10:30 p.m., coupled with the difference in time zones, the results were mid-night phone calls from the phone booth on the corner. It was a very cold winter in Maryland that year...the bay froze over in front of our BOQ. I would get up at midnight, put on all of my warmest U.S. Army woolies, and trudge down to the pay phone with my boot sock full of quarters in order to have some telephone time with sweet Sandy. Phone booths were not designed for long conversations in sub zero weather with a 20 mph wind coming in off a frozen bay.
The telephone calls got shorter and less frequent. Who knows what would have happened if I had a phone in my room?
My Telephone Memories
Dianne Hughey McClure
I can combine a car and a telephone story into one. I remember the morning Tommy's "Bomb" was involved in the wreck he wrote about. Tommy came running to my house to call the police.
Today the phone is carried with us and we can make calls from the car.
Our telephone number was 534-2570. I still remember that number well. We also had a party line and our ring was two short rings. One of the calls I remember meaning so much to me was my grandmother calling to tell me she now had a telephone. I was so excited that I could talk to her every day. My papa would not use the telephone except to call each of his grandchildren to wish us Happy Birthday.
My first boyfriend caller was Kenneth. I had to be sure to be home when he called because I had no cell phone to take with me. After our black phone we had a pink telephone. I let the phone company take it for a $3.00 credit when my Dad passed away. I have wished many times I had kept it.
I did not realize I remembered this much about my telephone. Thanks Tommy, they are good memories.
Memphis, TN - Thanks go out to Skip and Dianne for sending in their personal memories of their telephone calls. These are the kind of memories I love to share. I have got feelers out to a couple of the regular contributors for some more telephone call stories from them, and in the meantime, please consider sending me one of your own.
We say goodbye this week to the vintage TV series. We have worked our way through those wonderful Lee days and so we will terminate those links. In the future I will continue to include TV links should they be needed to accompany a story or event. I hope you have enjoyed the trips back to the past.
Also, this week I am happy to add Jane Brewer to our mailing list. I well remember spending time with Jane, since her brother Lewis was a great friend during those days.
From Our Mailbox
Subject: Chuck Berry
During an expose' on Chuck Berry, it was revealed that the song title, “Maybelline,” was taken from a bottle of makeup of that name during a discussion of the original song title, "Ida May,” and it was a fit.
Subject: Touch Tone
A later technology change was when we went to Touch-tone. Have you ever noticed that the layout of the numbers on a phone are flipped from a 10-key calculator. This constantly messes me up. When Touch-tone first came out the buttons had to be held down a fraction of a second for the registers to detect them. People that used 10-key adding machines would move to quickly for the registers to detect that the button was pushed. The numbers were flipped to slow down the user.