Phones Of Yesteryear

Discussion in 'Other Reminiscences' started by Frank Sanoica, Aug 19, 2018.

  1. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    My older nephew Dan, who spent his career as an Engineer with Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., told me quite a bit about that old phone service, long ago.

    Few homes had more than one phone. None had more than one line, one number, unless a business was being conducted. Phone jacks were not located all about the house; they didn't even exist when I was a kid.

    Our phone sat on the "buffet" in the dining room, connect by a fairly heavy brown, cloth-covered cord to a shoe-box sized metal enclosure hung low on the wall, about a foot from the floor. It contained the "ringer", one could obviously tell, quite loud.

    The phones operated on low-voltage direct current (DC). But the ringers were activated by a higher voltage, around 60 volts, sufficient to give one a perceptive shock, if one messed with the equipment, and it happened to ring. Dan told me the phone co. monitored ringer current, thus knowing if a user had connected up a second phone, which broke co. rules: each extension phone in use cost extra (if you were caught).

    Our house was on a "4-party" line, one user of which was a really nasty old lady across the alley, Mrs. Houha (Czech., wouldn't you know), who reveled in listening in to others' conversations. A rather disliked individual, I once pelted her backyard from way over in ours, with things not likely to cause harm: potatoes, tomatoes, she mentioned this to my Mother, suspecting, of course, and such activity stopped.

    The phone numbers had 4 numerals and a letter; ours was 6667-J. With the introduction of innovation, the rotary dial system used 7 numerals, but the co. made it easier to remember phone numbers by assigning a two-letter prefix derived from a base word. Thus our number became STanley 8-6667. ST8-6667. The neighbor's was ST8-4101. Other base words in our neighborhood included OLympic7, etc.

    By the time I left Chicago in 1972, much of the phone system had been converted to push-buttons, but the old rotary-dial still sat in our dining room in use.
    Frank
     
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  2. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    I don't remember what type of phone we had in our first house but I do remember the ones in our second house.

    We had two dial phones...one was in the dining room on a table and it was beige ..we also had one down stairs in the finished basement but that might have been added later.

    Our phone number there was LO 1-0935.

    LO stood for Locust. That area was either Locust to Leheigh...LE.

    Later it became 561-0935.

    It's been 57 years but I still remember that phone number...our area code was 412

    Our area code in Chicago was 312.

    Never had a party line...so don't know what that's like.

    Dialed O for operator or information....or was that 0? Not sure now.
     
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  3. Beatrice Taylor

    Beatrice Taylor Well-Known Member
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    We had a black rotary dial phone on a party line when I was a kid.

    When we had electrical storms sometimes the phone would ring when lightning struck close to the house, we were never allowed to use the telephone during a thunderstorm.
     
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  4. Martin Alonzo

    Martin Alonzo Veteran Member
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    Our first phone when I was a child hung on the wall it was a part line the number was 2718J that is a lot difference to what they have to-day. We moved to the countryside and had a crank phone on the wall also a party line. How we knew a call was ours because any call on the party line rang our phone. If the phone rang two long signals and then three short we knew it was for us any other was not for us. The only reason I remembered the first phone number is because it is on an old business card I had and still have.
     
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  5. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    We had a crank phone on a party line. Our number was short-short-long. I am not sure whether it was possible to direct dial but everyone always cranked the phone and the operator would connect the call.
     
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  6. Nancy Hart

    Nancy Hart Very Well-Known Member
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  7. Martin Alonzo

    Martin Alonzo Veteran Member
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    Very nice Nancy love that photo
     
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  8. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Greeter
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    Our first phone was one that sat on a desk or phone stand. Since my folks owned the little grocery store next door, the two numbers were connected. One was 208,(store) and 208-X was our house. Pretty much, the store phone was answered during the day, since my mom was always there, and the home phone was answered at night.
    We were in town, so we had a private line, but some of my friends who lived in the country were on a party line, and they told tales of listening in to other people’s calls.
    At first, we had an operator, and just told her the number we wanted to call, but that was upgraded to a regular dial phone and a longer number (CO3-3424) that we could use to call and receive calls, and we only needed an operator for a long-distance call.

    I was sitting here and thinking about that today, as I ignored yet another unknown call, probably from a telemarketer. Most of us nowdays, don’t answer the phone if we even suspect it might be a telemarketer, and everyone I actually know is in my phone contacts; so I can tell who is calling me then.
    In the bygone days, getting a phone call was a special thing, we always hurried to answer it, and to find out WHO was calling us. No such thing as salesmen (even worse, digital ones) calling back then.
    If the phone rang, it was some one we probably knew and wanted to talk to.
     
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  9. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
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    We had a green rotary dial phone on a party line.... 9212... we shared the line with the neighbours in the next avenue

    Like this... . To get a clear line we had to press the rectangular button on the top..

    a66f3769cc1e12f9cea1cf7ca412989e--telephone-tone.jpg
     
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  10. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Holly Saunders

    ??? Did your phones then really have no letters imprinted on them, as in, "ABC", "DEF", "GHI", etc? Like so:

    • [​IMG]
     
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  11. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
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    yes they had letters printed on them, I just googled for a pic quickly, didn't realise that it had no letters on it... 1960-s-vintage-two-tone-green-706l-gpo-desk-telephone-bt-plug-working.jpg


    The first phone we had had letters and numbers..the second had only numbers, by the 70's we only dialled a number code and the party line button was redundant ...we had it in red.... and then cream.. and then grey.. by then there was a myriad of colours to choose from...

    Red 746.jpg
     
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