Reminiscing about the ‘good old days’ seems to be a favorite pastime for many. We have a tendency to erase bad memories and instead our focus zooms in on pleasant thoughts of the way things used to be.
Long before answering machines, beepers, pagers and cell phones our homes had one black tabletop rotary dial telephone. In 1959 we were introduced to the Princess phone, otherwise referred to as the bedroom telephone. They all had built in night lights and my mom had a pink one. It was the first time homes had two telephones. Finally, in 1965 the public was offered the wall hung telephone and ours made its appearance in the kitchen, sporting the color of the day…avocado green.
No one was bothered by telemarketing calls back in those days and no such thing as caller ID was available. We called people on birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and simply to just say, “Hello.” “I’ll get it” was a common refrain heard throughout, whenever the phone would ring. The only text messages we ever received were in the form of written letters and the occasional pen pals many of us had. There was always the grumpy and impatient person on a party line call who would become enraged if we talked too long, grumble and slam the phone down. Our silent way of getting even would be to quietly listen in on their conversations and try to figure out who they were and where they lived. It was a cat and mouse guessing game, but for some strange reason, we found it mildly entertaining.
Today there are fewer landline phones and the people who still have them are inundated with annoying telemarketers and surveys. The silly intimacy of whispering into the kitchen phone to a love interest, while hoping your parents or siblings didn’t hear you are long gone.
Even though we are connected to the world via the net, I can’t help but feel a tad melancholy surrounding my nostalgic memories of closer family and friends when we communicated through that one old black telephone. These feelings of mine especially ring true when the void of a loved one not calling during the holiday season leaves a deafening silence in my heart.
Dennis L. Page