Monday, January 10, 2011

It Was A Telephone -- Not A Camera

The telephone was on the kitchen wall of my childhood farm home. That phone's wall location existed until 1953 when the kitchen was remodeled. The phone exchange didn't change, so the telephone electronics and the crank ringer was hidden from view and a phone set without a dial rested on a kitchen counter.

With one phone in the house in the kitchen, making any calls were overheard by anyone who was nearby. Since the phone was on a party line, there could have been others listening in. Certainly could not be called privacy. It wasn't since usually my mother was frequently in the kitchen. No surprise there.

Recalling that telephone's existence at that time, I must have used that phone to make dates and set up a social life in my late teen age years. It must have happened or were some of those dates made face to face. No doubt there were others listening to those telephone conversations. I believe I survived the ordeal without any long term damage to my personality. :)

That mostly rural Wayside telephone exchange was surrounded by a world of telephone exchanges that had moved to dial phone systems decades earlier.

That crank telephone was still there when I moved to the San Francisco area in 1965. That first phone call to Mom and Dad from Santa Rosa, California was an interesting experience. Still remember the conversation. Called the operator in California to express that I wanted to call a number that could not be dialed. Long pause. Explained the whole story. I gave the operator the number 38J3 at the Wayside exchange in Wisconsin. The nearest large town was Green Bay, Wisconsin. The operator took all the information. She would call back.

About a half hour later she called back. For future calls, she gave me a series of numbers which included the phrase "ring down". The phrase "ring down" has stuck with me and describes how the operator handled that pre dial Wayside telephone system. And the phone call worked. The phone was used on rare occasions for long distance. Writing letters was the preferred method to communicate with relatives in Wisconsin. Long distance telephone calls were expensive in 1965.

When the Wayside telephone system was upgraded in the late sixties, the dial system was bypassed and the Wayside exchange installed a touch tone dial system and all the phone lines were buried. That was a technological leap into the new world.

Fast forward another 30 years and cell phones predominate in that rural community. That includes a cell tower that is in the back yard of the farm where I grew up.

I have no doubts that there are cell phone users in that farming community who take photos with their cell phone and text their friends.


  1. Lloyd, would you consider putting the location of your header pictures right under them? They are all really nice. Thank you. Barney

  2. Interesting how some areas were late bloomers tech wise... imagine progress in places like Appalachia. I also remember our phone number from the early sixties, it was when we lived in Phoenix... BR5 8016. And our 1960 Oldsmobile license number was CPW 554... but I can't remember where I left my sunglasses for the life of me. Thanks for the Flashback.

  3. Barney,
    How about an identifier in a lower corner. I'll work on that.

    That is the only telephone number I remember from the past.

    Zip codes anyone?