2018-11-07 / Editorials

Telephone marvels

All That’s Fit to Print
Brenda Wall

The Voice was on television last night and one of the contestants sang “Operator” by Jim Croce. The vocalist was a young man and he admitted that he didn’t know what an operator was in the beginning. That song was on an album released in 1972.

At least 10 years ago, I saw a young girl riding her bike. She was probably about nine years old and she was in her front yard riding her bike in wobbly circles as she talked to a friend.

This doesn’t sound like an odd picture at all except the little girl was talking to her friend via land line on a portable telephone. Technology was surely changing the way we do things.

My friends and I rode bikes and talked and we made the same wobbly circles. For some reason, it was, and still is, impossible to carry on a conversation while standing with a parked bike. Gotta pedal if you want to talk.

But the phone thing really shows a difference in generations. For mine, and many others, the telephone was sort of like a fire extinguisher — you only used it in emergencies and you never played with it.

In fact, the only way a kid could talk on the phone was by invitation. “Come tell your grandmother hello” and that was about all you were expected to say.

Shoot, it was about all most kids could say. They were in awe of actually getting that close to a telephone even though the adult was holding the receiver to their ear.

Telephones were a thing of marvel. In many homes, they held places of honor, having their own little table complete with a shelf for the quarter inch phone book. Some houses had built in cubby holes. Pamama’s house had one. My house still has one.

When the phone rang, everyone stopped what they were doing. It was a big deal. The phone rang for heaven’s sake. Wonder who it’s for?

One thing for sure, the call wasn’t for a kid. Kids didn’t make or receive calls. In fact, all the kids I knew weren’t allowed anywhere near the phone until they reached age eleven.

Now we have gone from portable phones to cellular bag phones to smaller battery powered cell phones to biscuit phones to smart phones and even wrist phones. My mama lived long enough to enjoy a portable phone but she missed the evaluation getting and making calls. She would probably spread the word about a sale at Gayfer’s. She did love a telephone and she loved Gayfer’s.

After this hurricane, my landline was working. After a tornado in 2001, my landline was working. I was just lucky and most people were not. Their lines “went with the wind” as a guy said trying to be funny. Tornadoes and hurricanes put a world of hurt on anything on a pole.

Now, most people carry phones smarter than they are. Those people vote.

Have a good week.

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