Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Goshen Page

A few days ago my kids made a brilliant observation. There is a telephone in our garage. It has been there for approximately 50 years, but we've only lived here for 3, so I guess they are not responsible for that other 47 years. And as you can see by the hodge podge of wall accessories surrounding it, it could be easily overlooked. Notice especially the mirror and the load-bearing yardstick. The funny thing was they didn't recognize it was a telephone. "Mom, what's that?!" they cried as we were leaving the garage one day.
"Um, a telephone," I say.
"How does it work?"
They were fascinated. A rotary phone. Something they had never seen before. I picked up the receiver and showed them how to dial instead of just push buttons. "Can we call Dad?" they wanted to know. So, in dialing dh's number I realized how long it took for that silly dial to go all the way around for each digit. Not to mention the hilariously short cord that restricts garage phone use to within 6 inches of the washer and dryer. As I dialed all 11 digits to call my dh's cell phone (Hey, honey we're just calling from the garage to say "hi!") it dawned on me that my kids have it rough. 11 digits? That is a lot of numbers. When I was a kid, we only had to dial the last 4 digits of a phone number to call anyone else in town. Four numbers. That's all I had to learn and I knew my phone number. 9903. In fact, I memorized the phone numbers of several people in town.
*cue flashback music*
Each year when the new phonebooks would be delivered, my dad would tear out the Goshen page and hang it up by the telephone. That's right, the Goshen page. The phone numbers of every person in town on one sheet of paper. Front and back sides. Well, most of the back side. Right there on one sheet of paper we had practically everybody we would feel the need to call with our mustard-yellow rotary phones in 4 easy digits each.
Today, if I want to call my neighbor, whom I could easily summon by just raising my voice slightly -our houses are only a few feet apart- I have to dial 1 plus the area code, plus a regular number. Its ridiculous. How do I know if I am making a long distance call? I don't. The other problem I have now is that with speed dial and cell phone contact lists, I don't even know the phone numbers of the people I call regularly. My parents changed their phone number a few years ago and for the life of me I cannot remember it. And I don't have to if I keep my cell phone charged.
So back to Goshen. People who live there now do have to dial 7 digits to call each other. But the prefix is the same for the whole town. The next time I visit, I'm going to find a phonebook and bring home a Goshen page to hang by my telephone in the garage. I think it will be a nice touch.


smart mama said...

I love it! I love rotarty phones. oh have you seen the movie the girl w/ the pearl earring we watched it 2 wks ago-it was good- they do perfectly captured the vermeer light and images!

Shelah said...

I don't know anyone's phone number anymore. I left my phone at home when I went to Nashville a few weeks ago. When we landed at the airport, I thought about calling my mom who was meeting me somewhere (I didn't know where). And even though I talk to her every dang day, and I didn't know what her phone number was! How embarrassing.