I got my first cellphone 20 years ago. John already had one for several years, (his first cellphone was nestled in a suitcase the size of a carry-on bag) which was for work. No one under 40 will ever realize how revolutionary the cellphone was. Hard to imagine life with only a landline before cordless/cellphone/answering machines/caller ID became commonplace.

When your home phone rang (before cordless, cellphones or answering machines) your life virtually stopped. There might be some pushing & shoving from kids racing to answer the coveted phone. Because NO ONE knew who the call was for or who was on the other end. Unbelievable, right? Our kids assumed every call was for them (who in the world would wanna call mom or dad? They’re ancient). Once you answered the phone there wasn’t much wiggle room during your conversation unless you had an extension phone in another room for a bit of privacy. You could only go as far as the cord on the phone allowed. You were stuck. Literally.

Picture says it all: phone, cord, ashtray, I was in for the long haul…

When one of the rugrats screeched, “Mom, it’s for you,” several things happened simultaneously. Anything I might be doing:

1. Cooking supper, baking, laundry, laying out in the sun, watching the Cubs, washing dishes-either got tuned out, turned down or switched off.

2. Automatically hit the left pocket of my flannel shirt (making certain I had my pack of Tareytons and my lighter, then snag an ashtray on the way to the phone. Who wants to be stuck without smokes yakking on the phone for half an hour?

3. Threaten the kids to go find something to do. Hold the fights and screaming to a minimum.

4. Unless it was a dire emergency, any phone calls made or answered during the day were not long distance. Long distance rates decreased significantly after 7 pm, even more after 11 pm. With 3 kids trying to get by on Hubs salary, we just didn’t make long distance phone calls unless they were absolutely necessary.

I could only go as far as the curly cord allowed, Spencer, 1977…

I loved talking on the phone since I was a kid. When you were home, it was your lifeline to the outside world. Plans were made/changed, gossip shared, rumors discussed-stretched or squelched, boyfriends discovered/dumped or embellished, friendships broken or strengthened. Much of my social life was spent on the phone after school or on weekends. When John and I were dating, we’d spend countless hours on the phone at night, after he got home from whatever sport he was participating in. John’s mom & dad’s wall phone (beige) hung inside their back door on the kitchen wall. From there the curly, stretchy cord allowed him access to a spare bedroom or the stairs leading to the basement when he talked. His parents weren’t concerned with our phone romance on nights when we didn’t see each other. Mine were though. Our orange wall phone hung in the kitchen and the cord was not very long, so I was stuck having my conversation by the kitchen table, until they got an extension phone in their bedroom upstairs. This phone was really a necessity because it eliminated one of them running downstairs during the middle of the night if Dad got called in to work when we were having a snowstorm, blizzard or it was so ghastly hot the pavement on the Highway 18 or 75 ruptured (it was called a blowout-a big chunk of pavement would buckle up a foot or so from the heat. A blowout could cause a serious accident and needed to be repaired pronto, although most occurred during the peak heat of the day-5-ish).

Phone in Mom & Dad’s bedroom with short cord. I always laid on the bed on the right to talk…

I never imagined a time where I would get rid of our landline phone. It had been a constant throughout my life. A necessity. After answering machines became affordable, that too became as useful as any appliance in my kitchen. We got rid of our landline phone years ago. Sigh. For months afterwards John automatically walked to where our old phone and answering machine had been to check messages when we walked in the house. How times have changed. I’d say at least 50% of the time Hubs forgets his phone when he leaves the house.

Might have gone over the edge with the yellow for a spell…

Mom’s health was spiraling down so I was driving back & forth from Michigan to Iowa quite often. It wasn’t practical thinking a cellphone would be a ‘cure all’ if my car broke down by Chicago, but it did give me peace of mind. I would simply call John and assume he could fix it for me, even from a couple hundred miles away. It just made me feel better knowing I had a phone.

We’ve had several different brands of phones until 2015. I had been blogging on my iPad for a year but the pictures on my phone wouldn’t sync with my iPad so I couldn’t add them to my story. We bit the bullet, both got iPhones, mine with enough storage to hold all my pictures. For the most part I love everything about my phone.

Announcing the arrival of Joshua in the hospital, 1975…

Except these stinking robocalls. They are driving me insane. I’ve had the same phone number since I got my cell 20 years ago. We signed up on the ‘Do Not Call’ list. But I don’t remember these automated calls being as obnoxious as they have in the last 3 years. I’m not a big fan of talking on the phone since I started going deaf 20 years ago. Messenger and texts fulfill my communication needs. Some days though my phone rings as if I were someone of high importance. Ugh.

For the most part, I don’t answer calls from numbers I don’t recognize. If it’s important they’ll leave a message and I’ll get back to them. My weird messages started a couple years ago from several different locations, New York, Georgia. I was petrified the first time I listened to the message. A woman telling me a warrant for my arrest was imminent unless I called back immediately and asked for a certain officer of the court. I was so scared I didn’t dare to tell John when I got home. I couldn’t imagine what I had done to justify an arrest. (Could one really be arrested for sarcasm? I always thought it was one of my better features). After my hands stopped shaking, I googled the phone number. Hundreds of comments, every one said, this is a big scam. Forget-about-it.

Until I started looking for pictures, I’d forgotten how much I loved talking on the phone…

So I blocked the grifter’s number and all was well in the world of Neese. For about a week. Different number from another state with a similar ominous message. Using the same monotonous/flat woman’s voice on the message. I’d delete the message and block the number. Again and again. And we can’t forget-Rachel’s frequent calls assuring me there was “no problem with my credit card,” but she might have a better deal for me. Someone else calls from ‘senior services’ who has all kinds of helpful things for me if I’d just respond. I’ve gotten phone calls from Nigeria. Crazy.

Taught them young, Joshua on the phone, still in diapers, 1977…

Hubs and I still have the same phone numbers since we moved back to Jackson (which has a different area code) almost 4 years ago. Most of my robocalls originate from the area code in Muskegon. (I can count on one hand the number of friends who call me from that area code). I’m in awe and amazed at the volume and variety of numbers these robocallers have. Who pays for these multiple phone lines? They’re not 800 numbers. I can safely say in my 68 years on this earth, I have not met/known/or gazed upon the countenance of as many people in my entire life as I have blocked phone numbers on my iPhone. Since 2015. And my phone shit list continues to multiply by leaps and bounds. Only wish I’d have been this popular in high school…

2 thoughts on “634-5789…

  1. Hi Denise, I’m presuming this will go through as “Trying again…” seemed to above.

    Anyway, you didn’t mention “party” lines: four households (ugh) or two households (bad enough) sharing one line; or did I miss that?


    Liked by 1 person

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