Saturday, February 28, 2015
Rotary phones and party lines
Who remembers in the 1950s and 1960s when families in the USA had rotary dial phones? And I do mean "one rotary phone" as in one phone per household. Yes, those phones have a dial that rotates rather than the push buttons. In those early days each family typically had one phone.
When I was a child our phone number had only four digits, like 8379.
Now typical numbers have seven digits plus three digit area code for a total of ten numbers.
Those four digits were quick and easy to dial, even on a slower rotary dial phone.
As I recall when we first got a telephone we had a party line. That meant that whoever shared your line and was talking on the phone controlled the phone until they would hang up. So you would wait a few minutes and pick up the receiver again, hoping they were done.
It could be pretty annoying if your line sharer was a chatty Cathy type. If "chatter box" was on the line when I picked up the phone receiver I could hear her conversation.
A snoopy gal could listen in which of course is totally rude! Usually you could tell if a party line person was listening to your chat.
For those bloggers who have only known cell phones and their convenience and privacy, rotary phones on land lines are the way it used to be. Of course, there really is no cell phone privacy as the government monitors our calls and knows where we are as our cell phones ping continually, to stay connected. When turned off but the battery still in them, they continue to ping, even more, as the phone struggles to connect. Kim Komando has an excellent email newsletter which I subscribe to, which discusses all things tech, including this issue.
The ping tells the phone company and the government which cell phone tower we are near. This is true even when our cell phone is turned off.
I was going to just write about the old rotary phones but then I realize the shortcomings of cell phones so had to add that in.
One aspect of our family having one phone that was anchored to the wall was that you could not go in another room with the phone for privacy. When a call arrived for me, my mom, dad or sis would announce something along the lines of "Terra, call for you from Sandy". Or sometimes "a call for you, it is a boy!" Imagine trying to chat in those conditions! Teens today can have all sorts of private calls. Is that good or bad? Who can say? Change is ever with us, that is for sure.