The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history

When did your family first get a phone…

and what was your first phone number?

Our family first got one sometime in the 1950s. It was a black, somewhat  heavy piece of equipment. Our first phone number was J436. Then it was EV3-4369 which then changed to 383-4369. EV stood for Evergreen. We were on a four party party-line. I think there was a choice between a two-party and a four party-line at the time. To the best of my memory, the only other person we could call were my grandparents who lived about six blocks away.

Phone with rotary dial

Rotary dial phone

Shhh, don’t tell anyone but it was fun, because it seemed naughty, to listen in on conversations when you would pick up the phone to call and there was another party online. I have to admit that the conversations were less than interesting.

The first phone our family had was somewhat more tall than wide. And like Henry Ford‘s first cars, you could have any color you wanted as long as it was black. At least that is what I thought for years until a google search informed me that other colors were likely available as well. You had to click to get the operator. You then told the operator what number you wanted to call. The operator would connect you. But, before you could get the telephone operator, you had to ensure that no one on the party-line was using the phone. So, you had to first pick up the phone and listen for people talking. The polite thing to do was to say, sorry this line is busy, when you could hear that someone had picked up to also use the phone.

We had a later phone that resembled the one in the image. It was a rotary dial phone and we had a private line with our rotary phone. I recall the tic, tic, tic sound of the dial returning when you would dial a number; it is burned into my mind like the tick, tick, tick, of Mama’s hall clock. When we would spend the night over there, the ticking of the wind up alarm clock that Mama would wind before we all turned in was a comforting sound.

Back then I suppose phones were more for business as opposed to socializing, at least at first. Now it would seem that phones are a necessity. They are used for socializing, navigation, and accessing the internet. The younger generations have the opportunity to stay connected 24/7 with their cell phones today. My grandson’s wife even has different ring tones for the different callers. I was present one day when her cell phone rang. It sang out, “It’s your mother, it’s your mother, it’s your mother.” I went across the room and called her phone just to hear the ‘special’ ring she might have for me. I was pleasantly surprised when there was just a regular ring, but at the same time I was a little disappointed that I did not have a special tune to tell her when I called.

Some comments on the nostalgia of phones from ‘friends’ follow:

  • Remenber when the whole family shared one phone, and it was attached to the kitchen wall by a cord.
  • I remember my grand parents old Black Rotary Phone sitting on the desk. At least the one on the wall at our house had push buttons, but man that cord was long & I could stretch it from the dining room near the family room all the way into the kitchen & sit in the floor for at least a tiny bit of privacy! LOL!
  • Oh ya and it was the rotary dial in the state of the art avacado green or the goldenrod yellow!
  • A friend’s daughter recently asked her Mom, “Why don’t they invent a phone with a cord on it, so we won’t lose it?”
  • yeah yeah I remember! I remember talking to a girl on the phone for an hour and both of us maybe saying 10 words..Wonder if kids are still like that?
  •  my grandma had that one too, was on like a school desk you sat at…and vickie, we had the goldenrod yellow in kichen.. oh & yes mom had her green in her room.. we had to have 2 ,, so while i lie  in the floor mom could be listening upstairs..
  • we only had the one on the dining room wall. So didn’t have to worry about anyone listening in. Although you used to could hear other people on the line in the background sometimes talking. Freaky now if ya think about …. If I could hear them, then probably could hear me! LOL!
  •  Lol……or when somebody would call u and u hung up the phone and went back an hour later to use it, if they hadn’t hung up they were still on the phone!!!!
  • don’t forget the party lines!
  • lol.. oh feel lucky only one.. I would be talkng about the last weekend or the weekend to come.. suddenly the voice from beyond would be in my ear.. [FULL NAME].. hang up the Phone now!!! oh what a feeling.. I do know the sound of Hell!!!!.
  • We never had a party line, but my grandmother did at her house & she only lived like 5 miles away from us. I was very young but I remember when it changed over to a single line at her house… it was like a very big deal. Granny wanted to call every person she knew just to talk on the phone! hee hee!
  •  well . Teddy, i doubt it .. they don’t talk anymore !!! THE ALMIGHTY TEXT!!!!
  • Oh I got that one too girl…. my step dad would yell at me to hang it up now & get my @$# to bed!!! LOL! Mom was a little nicer… she would come in there & say, “don’t you think it’s time to get off the phone?” or I think you’ve been on long enough!  : )
  • My first wife was still on the party line when we were dating….There was always somebody listening in….I used to have fun spreading malicious rumors
  • HEY CHECK THIS OUT .. I HAD A BABY MONITOR ON (about a yr ago) and could hear someone in the area on the phone!!!!.. could hear there whole conversation.. thats scary
  • oh yea gima The ole don’t you think???? well no mother but seems like you think so!!!!
  • hey….cell phone calls come across my amp time to time….sometimes show up in recordings
  • I built a sneaky device in my youth, a phone with the microphone removed, and an interface so there was no click when you picked up an extension, I was able to eavesdrop on the other family members and use the info to my advantage to stay out of trouble and also seem almost clairvoyant – lol 
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One response

  1. Emilee Johnson

    I don’t remember when we didn’t have a phone my Pop and my Dad both worked for the railroad and they were on call So they had to have a phone It was sometime back in the 40s I don’t remember our # but I remember my great aunts # 1238J because my Grand Mother would let me call it for her We moved out on the Savannah Hwy and we had a private line because my Dad had to have a phone We were the only ones in the area with a phone My uncle lived next door and they wouldn’t put a phone in for him because the phone co said he could get his calls at our house Times have sure changed.

    January 11, 2011 at 7:02 am

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