Feb Photo 15 – Phone
Remember back when you were young (Generation Y, this excludes you) when you could sit for hours talking with a friend from school, who you have just spent half the day with? You would talk about everything that had happened to you both that day at school, back-stab anyone who had annoyed you, and all of this chatter was regardless of whether you would see this friend the following day as well.
Yes, a day before the Internet. Generation Y, I invite you back into the discussion. Imagine a time, when there was no Internet, no smartphones, no SMS, no email, no cell phones, no Twitter, Facebook, MSN, AIM, ICQ, IRC, Yahoo, Skype, Foursquare, Instagram, Google+, and of course, no blogging. Even scarier, imagine a time when, if you wanted to communicate with a person, you would either write them a note (with a pen or a pencil on paper!) and physically hand it to them in class, write them a letter (again, with a pen or pencil on paper!) and mail it, waiting up to 2 weeks for them to even get it, then write a reply (also on paper with a pen or pencil). The only other option back then (in the stone-age!) was to call them on a fixed line phone.
Of course, there were many options! A payphone was usually not too far away, requiring 10 cents (going up to 50 cents before the payphone was phased out in most locations). The payphone was found in most public locations, and could vary from a single phone, to an entire bank of phones, with some places having as many as 30-40 phone booths, taking up an entire lobby area.
Occasionally you could sneak into a teacher’s office to make calls (with varying results) and either make prank calls, or simply call home if you needed to talk with a loved one. I recall a few times when we would order pizzas to be delivered to class from a teacher’s phone, thinking that if it were ever traced, it would seem as though the teacher ordered them. It must have worked, as the Federal Police never did question me regarding the matter.
Another option was to wait (another novelty to the kiddies of today!) until you got home, and to call a friend at their house. In the 1980’s, the home phone looked a lot like the one in the above photo. The colours varied, and could be anything from black, white, cream, red, blue or brown. Even the act of dialling a friend was a time-consuming task. Unlike the modern-day push-button phones, the old crank-dialers would take an age to dial any number (In an emergency, the number in Australia was 000… on these phones it was possible for your house to burn down before being able to complete dialling the number)
The act of dialling was simple. Put your finger in the hole with the correct number behind it, and turn clockwise until your finger hits the small plastic tab. remove finger and allow the dial to crank back and stop. repeat for the next number. This method of dialling could take as long as 1 minute just to dial the number. There was no ‘Redial’ button on these, unlike to modern snob phones that came along afterwards. Busy signal? Too bad, start again…
The simple art of making a call on a fixed line and talking with a friend was something that is lost in today’s world of wireless communication. Somehow we all managed to live, and the world did not end if we couldn’t tell our friends that funny joke we overheard on the train at that exact moment.
I sometimes miss getting an old-fashioned phone call from an old friend. Sitting around the telephone table, unable to go too far, as the distance is limited by the curly cord that anchors me to the phone. I would sit there and talk with my mates for ages, sometimes with a cup of tea or a Milo, sometimes even with my dinner there next to the phone (much like the kids of today and their texting through meal time).
The above image is of a vintage phone I purchased second-hand. I stripped the original beige colour off, and fancied it up a bit with gold glitter. I only then found out that it is very difficult to get it working with VOIP, making it almost useless at my house. I won’t part with it, however, as it’s a constant reminder of the simpler times. It sits, in fully working order, yet unable to adapt to today’s technology requirements.
Ring Ring Ring… no more…