That mysterious lady of the COG, Jasmine Jasia, the flowery J of the COG, issued a new assignment: 1940!
I sat at my desk and pondered this assignment. But 1940? What did it mean? What was I to find? I was just a wee girl of five, and what did I know. So, I thought about the Census of 1940. All good COG-gers are thinking about the census of 1940. But what with the internet problems, fax, printer, and scanner on the fritz, I was in a quandary. Phones were ringing, land-line, cell, and J Jasia on the new smartzzzy-J phone. A sign! Yes, I will accept this assignment.
The task: to revisit electronic communication before computer, internet, cell phones, Smart phones, and for goodness sakes, before Face Book, and .... .
A flash of a list of newspaper articles burned in my brain. Where did I put that list? A torrent of paper swirled out of drawers, folders, files, boxes – but success! The searched-for crumpled copy was in my hands. I stared at the words from the June 1, 1940 headline of the Herald & News article (albeit p.10 of the Klamath Notes):
Klamath Falls to “go dial”
A phone similar to this photograph hung from the kitchen wall in the stone house where I grew up. I remember my father came through a heavy snow storm to fetch me and the other students and bus driver from a drifted-snow bound school bus. When we arrived safely at home, mother used a phone similar to the one in the photograph to call the neighboring parents and tell them the children were safe and they could pick them up when they could. Being an old fashioned party line, one call alerted all the neighbors. We each had a different set of rings, but on a party line it really didn't make any difference. Everyone picked up the phone when it rang, and “listened-in” on the conversation even if it wasn't meant for them.
|Our first dial phone looked like this|
"new fangled" phone and sat
on the wicker desk.
Now, isn't it strange that I remember that phone number all these years later.At the time I had no idea why the “TUxedo” preceeded the numbers. I do remember being quite enamored with the wonderful sounding phone numbers, REgency 5-5000, Pennsylvania 6-5000, Butterfield 8, Sycamore 4. So much more romantic, sounds of community, and at the same time far away places.
|This fancy "new phone" was similar|
to our first phone with a hand-held
speaker and receiver.
How boring, when those tonier names were replaced by numbers and Tuxedo 4-9545 became 884-945. Even when I understood that the numbers on the phone also had a little series of letters assigned to each number, I yearned for the image of a phone operator plugging into Tuxedo 4-9545 -- or "get me PEnnsylvania 6-5000" -- or images of Elizabeth Taylor at BUtterfield 8.
|1940s telephone exhange|
Oh, No! My new smartzzzy-J phone self-destructed! What will I ever tell Jasmine Jasia, the secret woman behind the COG! I could not complete my assignment because this blinky little piece of black plastic poufed away to nothing..........
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© Joan Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications