Do you remember those phone calls home, the ones you made after ‘leaving the nest’ for the first time? I do, and from a pay phone. My sister remembers, too, offering sentiments recently that it would be nice to make those calls, again. But, we can’t, of course.
I remember the calls and can ‘see’ it in my mind’s eye. Mother would answer, as the official ‘answerer’, and in a soft voice, I’d hear, “Hello?”, in a questioning way.
“Mother, it’s me, Stephen!”
“Oh, Stephen, hello!”
The uncertainty was gone and the enthusiasm returned, once she knew who it was.
We’d talk and she would hand the phone to my father, nearby, and we’d talk some more, often repeating myself, a bit louder each time. I could sense the ‘changes’.
Remember asking to reverse the charges? She always accepted them. Long distance calls weren’t cheap so we limited the frequency and duration.
Over time, the phones changed, cords went away and buttons replaced dials. The nature of the calls changed, too, from ‘just called to talk’ to ‘how are you feeling’. Eventually, with time passing, so do the people you love…the calls stopped.
Yesterday, the old family telephone number flashed into my memory, Pleasant-48756. Don’t know why, but it did, and it opened a floodgate of memories, good memories.
Initially, our number was just five digit characters, 48756, but as telephone service demand grew, so did the creativity of assigning numbers, longer numbers, with letters.
The phone was ‘anchored’ on a small living room table, the ‘phone table’. It was a cumbersome black unit with a circular number scheme in a dial fôrmat, corded to the wall. More importantly, the mouth/ear piece was corded to the base, and cradled on it when not in use. You never lost the phone because it was ‘anchored’ in the same spot for years.
The telephone kept families connected. Every bit of emotion could be sensed over the lines. Good news and bad news was delivered over the telephone, by voice. We made plans and had private rendezvous with special friends. Of course, with the phone anchored to a spot, that privacy was problematic.
We all have mobile phones now, several to a family. No need to remember the numbers, just ask the phone to call by name. You can send text messages and avoid speaking to the other party. Play games and music and get easily distracted by the new phone capabilities. You can even wear the phone like a watch, well, it is a watch, too. Yes, we’ve come that far. Progress, I guess.
But it sure would be nice to make those old calls, again. We can’t, of course…
“Hey, Siri, dial Pleasant 48756….. for the Hell of it!”
For my sister, June