Uh oh. Those words could not only mean you were getting a collect call, but they could also mean somebody was in serious trouble. The time I most clearly remember hearing them was when my friends and I had been making some prank calls and the operator called later that evening to tell our parents. I'm not even kidding! Boy were we we surprised.
Our phone was a white version of this little beauty. This one, which I picked up at a garage sale in Palm Beach Gardens for $2.00, is serving as a cool retro kitchen prop and won't be getting me in any trouble, unless I whack into it as I pass by.
When I bought it, the box it was in said, "Old wall phone from Grandma Lucy's house in N.C. - Given to Kelly." So I wrote that on a piece of paper and taped it to the back of the phone. I imagine Grandma Lucy probably had many a conversation on this gem.
I just love it. You can't imagine how I'm compelled I am to lift the receiver and listen for a dial tone; only, sadly there is none. The first 4 or 5 times I went by after hanging it here, I had to pick it up and say "hello" anyway. It has not been adapted to today's jacks and since there is no jack right there anyway, it's purely for looks and kicks. And I do get a kick out of it.
I had to laugh because without knowing that I had been picking up the receiver and saying "hello", Casey came home, saw it hanging there, and as she went by she instinctively did the same thing. She didn't even grow up in that era. Cael refused to acknowledge he might even remotely consider doing something so inane and was disturbed that I would admit to having done such a thing myself.
To each his own, as my mother used to say.
Kinda takes me back.
Oh gosh, remember the agony of having to dial a number with a lot of 9's back in the day? Our number was a killer: 848-9969
That number got changed probably sometime in the 70's. It's been 40 some odd years and I still remember it like yesterday. Then there was the cord that would get all tangled and became nearly impossible to make right.
Not long before cordless phones came along, we started getting longer and longer cords so we could enjoy the freedom of talking and cooking and wandering, all while having a conversation. Novel idea.
We could only dream of going cordless back then, forget having "car phones". I say "car phones" because I don't think we ever once considered having a phone with us all the time. It was having a phone in our own room and in the car that we dreamt of. Now we wish people would just hang up and drive. Go figure.
And then there were the often heard words that rang through the house, "Mom, it's for you!", or "Mooooom! Telephone!", and then we'd set the phone on the counter or hang it on the side of the housing or let it dangle to the floor until the recipient of the call came to pick it up. When we were kids, we'd leave it and run off to our own adventures, out through the screen door, hardly noticing that bang that drove our mothers crazy as it slammed behind us.
"Mom, it's for you!"
So many memories. And I won't even get into those prank calls, party lines, busy signals (no answering machines - oh blessed days!) and trying to call our own number and hanging up fast enough to have it ring. We were fascinated by the phone as kids and back then we all ran to be the one to answer it. My, how things have changed!
So while I do so glory in man's latest technological advancements, I have a certain place in my heart for the earlier technology that brought us stages of those achievements, such as this sweet telephone. You have to admit, a rotary phone is some serious "cool". If only we'd known how much all that old everyday stuff was going to mean to us one day... I sigh to think of the items we sold at garage sales for a song, or worse yet, tossed in the trash thinking they were passé.
Even today, there are some things I just cannot imagine will ever be considered treasure, especially since everything is made so cheaply anymore. Just about the time I decide an item is finally and definitely outdated and beyond the realm of ever possibly "mattering" or being of any use again, and when I have held onto it as long as I possibly can, sometimes over 20 years, I've found that in about 5 years from that day, I will want it. That's about how long it takes for the things I've thrown away to make their way back into vogue as treasure. Seriously, I've repeatedly held things for eons and then one day up and decided it was useless and tossed it. Within a matter of a few years I always want to kick myself for getting rid of it.
So with limited space and patience for holding onto junk in the hope it will become meaningful in the future, I will just have to trust that someone more savvy (and who is a more dedicated long-term pack rat than I) will carry on the work of ordinary junk preservation. I sure hope so, because I'll be out there hunting, hoping to discover it all anew. After all, the treasures of the past come complete with nostalgia and the pitter-pattery heart stuff inherent in finding a memento like this old wall phone.
So keep your eyes peeled...there are everyday treasures and the stories to go with them all around. If you let them, they can bring those black and white memories of the good old days back to living color.