My 11 year old granddaughter and I were hanging out together at my apartment one evening. We were having an awesome conversation which, at one point, came around to my blogs. I asked her if she had some suggestions for topics. Of course, she did. What 11 year old kid doesn’t have suggestions?
K had been reading some news reports about cell phones, texting, social media and some of the hazards. She learned there have been more suicides since the onset of social media, people having accidents from paying more attention to texting than their surroundings, and so on. She knew people have become less connected on a person to person level. She asked me to tell her how we communicated pre cell and smart phones and that I could write about it. Sure. Why not?
As a very young child, I recall (as some of you might) picking up the telephone receiver and hearing Ernestine say, “Number please.” If I didn’t know the number, I might have asked her to ring my cousin. Believe it or not, she actually knew who my cousin was. There was never any doubt that Ernestine and the other operators listened in on calls. Most folks were on a party line. When you picked up the phone to make a call, you might hear people talking. Did we ever listen in? I cannot confirm or deny. Well, okay fine. Maybe sometimes. On the other hand, you could be having a conversation when one of those party liners would come on and tell you to get off so they could make a call. Really, no respect for kids.
It was great when my parents got a private line. Still you could never be sure Ernestine wasn’t listening in. Then the rotary dials came in. Adios, Ernestine. I was no longer the party to whom she was speaking. We all know how phones evolved there after.
There is one more memory from those days. It was about those prank calls we made when we were bored. Did you ever phone a local store and ask if they had Prince Albert in a can? Our retort was they better let him out so he doesn’t suffocate. Seriously lame, but quite hilarious to 8 to 10 year olds.
My granddaughter loved the stories about those early telephone days. She especially liked the fact that people spent more time being together and talking face to face. Let’s have some more of that, please.
Comments are welcomed.