Saturday, December 01, 2007

Telephones are a good thing!

This ad ran in 1936, as the Depression receded and the phone company started to ponder how much business they had lost along the way. It's worth clicking on the ad to see the larger image and read the print.

It's really a wonderfully well-done ad. The woman is very Barbara Stanwyck/Fay Wray, and the art and layout are terrific.

Oh, and take a good look at the phone ... notice anything missing? Apparently, we were still at the "Hello, Central?" stage of technology.


Sherwood Harrington said...

"The 'Hello, Central?' stage of technology" lasted well beyond 1936 in some parts of the country, including backwater pockets in upstate New York.

One of my dad's sisters lived in White Store, a hamlet in a hollow near the village of South New Berlin, one valley over from our place. Placing a call to her (less than 20 miles away) required dialing "O" and asking the operator to connect to "South New Berlin 3-Y-5, please." Since I remember it so clearly, I suspect this was the case well into the 1950's, possibly into the latter half of the decade.

The adventure didn't always stop at asking for the connection. The "5" part of "3-Y-5" meant that dad's sister's 'phone was number five on a party line that strung up the road by the creek. Our operator would connect to the village's operator and ask her (always "her," by the way) to "ring 3-Y-5, please." The village operator then sent a series of five short rings along the whole party line, and, if dad's sister wasn't home, nobody would pick up.

At least that's the theory.

More often than not, though, if the ring code was sent more than once, the hollow's busybody would pick up her 'phone and shout "Myrt ain't home!" which infuriated Dad no end, because then he had to pay for the call. And he hated to pay for anything, being a true child of the depression.

ronnie said...

Yep, that's pretty blunt marketing: "Put back your phone!"

For awhile when I was about 5-6 (so it'd be 1970-71) we were on a party line in rural Stewiacke, Nova Scotia. Our ring was three rings, I remember. I also remember that the nosy neighbours all used to listen to each other's calls, something that infuriated my mother, who was from Halifax where people didn't do that kind of thing.

I pass Stewiacke often on the trip back and forth to Halifax but have never had the time to meander off the highway and try to see if I can find that farmhouse. All things considered, I'm not sure I could take the rush of emotions it would bring, that being a time of turmoil in our family.

Which, I'll let you know when it's over :)


Uncle Jed said...

Funny that this comes up now, our 6th grader is lobbying for a cell phone of her own. I imagine at some point she will be talking about remembering a time when the whole family used the same phone number. I am aged enough to recall wanting a phone in my room…the image of the kitchen phone cord stretched taut to whatever area of sanctuary is one many of us recall, but would be pretty foreign to my kids, who can, and do, take the cordless phone all over house.

She makes some interesting arguments for the cell phone, not the least of which being the waning availability of pay phones, which I suppose will be the next antique relic of the telecom business…”I remember payphones, see that’s when we all carried coins…

Mike said...

Gosh, Jed, that one's easy: The day she can say "Hug me! I've landed a job!" is the day she can have a cell phone!

Besides, how would she pay for it before then anyway?

(If she's counting on Grandpa to go to bat for her on this one, it'll have to be the OTHER grandpa.)

Sherwood Harrington said...

A job like this one, Mike?