That Rings a Bell

phone photo

“Mr. Watson – Come Here – I want to see you.” With that short phrase, Alexander Graham Bell thrust us into the age of telecommunications.  The idea of being able to talk to people who were not physically close together was a revolutionary idea.  Before long the country and the world were crossed with a spider’s web of phone lines so that we could call Aunt Bertha to find out what the weather was like in Toledo.

I recall growing ho that we had one phone in the house,.  It was black, it was attached to the wall by a cord and it had a rotary dial on the front. (As far back as I can remember, we had a private line, but my wife can remember a party line when they still lived on the farm.  (For those of you who do not know what a party line is, it is kind of like an audio version of Facebook without the option of picking your friends.)  If you are my age perhaps you remember watching The Beverly Hillbillys and recall when Jed wanted to place a phone call, Granny would always remind him, “Don’t forget to spin the wheel Jed!”

When my Dad wanted to call my Grandfather who lived in Florida, he would pick up the phone, dial the Operator, tell her the name, number and location and wait for the Operator to call back and tell him his call was connected.  It was a rare and exciting event to talk ‘long-distance.”  We thought we really had something when we obtained an extension cord for the phone that allowed us to carry the phone into another room in the house so we could have a little privacy.

When I headed off to college, I would make long-distance collect calls home on Saturday mornings to keep in touch.  The dorms had one phone on the floor which meant any long conversation was punctuated with someone pacing back and forth nearby wondering when in the world the phone would be free again.

All that sounds so quaint today.  I just purchased a new smart phone along with everyone in my family.  A phone that is a lit smarter than I am.  These phones can make calls, text, get directions, find places to eat, provide weather reports, keep up on the latest scores, manage appointments and on and on and on.  Why a come phones can even be used as a remote control for your TV! (I remember when the TV did not even have a remote control!!)

Now that I have the world in my hand, it seems like the last thing anyone wants to use a phone for is to talk!  If Mr. Graham had invented the phone in 2014, instead of calling his assistant, he probably would have texted him.


Maybe I will take my smart phone back, get a rotary phone spin the wheel one more time!




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