Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Long Distance Phone Calls


As I was exploring the 1962 Pratt Pride magazine I noticed this ad for long distance phone call service.  I could not help but smile.

In my family, long distance phone calls were reserved for very specific purposes--good news and bad news.  You could expect a phone call on your birthday or to share the excitement of a new birth in the family or to deliver a compliment for a special achievement.

On the other hand, if a long distance voice was heard on the other end of the line and there was no known good news explanation for the call, your heart skipped a beat.  Had someone been hurt?  Was someone in trouble?  Were they sick?

Unless you are of a certain age, these responses to a ringing phone will make no sense, and perhaps my family was more thrifty about spending unnecessary money, but those memories were called back to mind by the 1962 add.

To complete the story I must include the small hour glass filled with sand that always sat on the desk beside the phone.  I think it took about 3 minutes for the sand to go from one side to the other in the hourglass, and good news or bad, in my family 3 minutes were regarded as sufficient to deliver either one!  The little red hour glass in the photograph is the one that my family always set by the phone.

When my husband and I returned to the farm about two decades ago, we were in a dead zone for wireless phone service, so we connected the long unused rural phone line.  With no one living in the farm house for many years, reconnecting wasn't simple.  It was discovered that the buried line to our house had been cut by deep plowing by a neighboring farmer .  Once that was repaired, we were back online.  We added a phone upstairs, something my parents had never had, and the contractor build a recessed alcove in the wall to hold the new phone.  I found a modern phone that was designed to look like an old fashioned 'candle stick' phone that fit snugly in the alcove.  A young visitor, who had only used a cell phone, noticed the replica phone and exclaimed, "Oh look, an old fashioned phone."

At the time, I laughed to myself, since she had overlooked the 'modern' dial in the base of the phone.  However, the joke was really on me, since dial or no dial, the phone really was 'old fashioned' to her, since she had never used a dial, and it would soon be obsolete to us, when cell phone service was eventually available at the farm. How quickly the world changes from one generation to the next!  My memory even goes back to the old-fashioned crank phone party line of my childhood!!

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