How times have changed! How many times have we heard that phrase As a kid I heard my parents say, “Things were different when we were your age.” Always implying that we had it so much easier than they had it. Now, I hear myself saying the same thing.
When I was a kid my telephone was made of wood – oak; it had a crank. It hung on the wall. You would ring someone up by turning the crank either fast or slow. Fast for a long and a quick jerky turn for a short. Our number was two shorts and a long. We were on a party line. We heard our neighbor’s phone ring. We could identify who was getting a phone call by the sound of the rings. We had six people on our line. Some people would pick up and listen in on others conversation: rubbernecking. Frequently I would hear my mom say, “Can’t talk now, someone is rubbernecking.”
On TV families had a phone that sat on a desk; it had a rotary dial. They had phones in several rooms, even the bedroom. Picking the phone up and carrying it while they talked seemed so glamorous. One day in 1963 the telephone man came and installed a beige desk phone. It sat on the counter in the kitchen. My mom asked for extra cord so we could carry it 12 feet away from the counter–to the kitchen table. We felt very cosmopolitan.
On Christmas Eve my mom would suggest, “Let’s call Uncle Bing.” Her brother and his family lived in Michigan. We would call them once a year on Christmas Eve. It was special. How times have changed. Once we called my sister who was an exchange student in Spain. I remember it costing about $25. But, it was worth it. It was wildly extravagant.
How times have changed. Now we have a cell phone. It stores numbers. Not only do we carry it from room to room, we carry it from country to country. We have a Mexican plan. We can call the States as often as we want, whenever we want. It costs an extra $15 a month. The reception sounds like my sister is next door. We only need to remember to charge it, meaning, of course, to plug it into electricity. Things are better now. At least as far as phones and accessibility to them goes.
That rotary phone of my youth is obsolete. You know it’s obsolete because you can’t send a text message from it. Back in Minnesota I have friends who refuse to give up their rotary phone. It sits on the kitchen counter. It works. It is avocado. They love it. They just can’t text from it. But, then, they don’t text.