As I waited in the Verizon store for an updated cell phone, I had time to ponder how far we’ve come over the years. Here I was getting a phone that I can carry with me everywhere and can reach anyone. It’s a smart phone and at times is too smart for me, so many of the features go unused.
The person ahead of me was adding his girlfriend on his phone account and selecting the latest cell phone. Together they would pay $200 a month for being accessible 24 hours a day. It made me think of the phone used by my grandparents many years ago.
Photo by Virginia Allain
It was the old style wooden box on the wall with a hand crank on the right side. You spoke into the center mouthpiece and held the black part (on the left) to your ear to hear. The handy little shelf could hold your phone book or serve as a place to keep paper and pencil for noting numbers and information.
You cranked the handle on the right to connect to the operator who had a switchboard to connect your call to distant places. The phone line was shared with neighbors, and you had to wait for them to finish their call before you could make yours. When the phone rang, the number of rings indicated if the call was for you or for someone else on the line.
This old-fashioned system seems clunky but was a huge step forward from the previous system. In my grandparents’ childhood days, the early 1900s, you had to walk or ride your horse to the neighbors to give them a message or send a letter to reach more distant friends and family. Telephones were available but not affordable for all households.
Where my mother grew up in the Flint Hills of Kansas in the 1920s and 1930s, not all areas had phone service early on. I know by the time World War II started, they had a phone as she mentions it in her story about her father’s accident. The story is called Why I Love Horses.
As for me, I remember the standard black phone of the 1950s and I can even remember our phone number from that time. It was DAvis1 – 5399, but you only had to dial on the rotary dial DA1-5399. Tell me about your memories of long-ago phones.
Originally written by Virginia Allain on February 10th, 2014, the day Shirley Temple died.
I grew up in the nineteen-fifties, but even then, Shirley Temple’s movies inspired little girls. We wanted to be able to sing and dance and have curls like Shirley. We watched her movies over and over, admiring the talented child with the ever-so-cute dimples.
Shirley Temple and her curly hair. 1930s (public domain photo)
One time, my mom attempted to give me Shirley Temple curls. My hair was a bit long for the curly top look. Shirley had 50 adorable ringlets surrounding her sweet face. Mom managed some big sausage curls for me and in the photo, you see the result.
Ginger Martin and the curls. 1950s
Well, that lasted just one day. Somehow it didn’t work with my t-shirt and blue jeans world. I couldn’t sing and dance either. My sister kept wanting to take tap dancing classes, but that wasn’t in the family budget.
My mother had fairly straight hair as a child, but her younger sister, Carol, had the curly look.
Curly top, Carol McGhee, hugging some kitties.
There will only be one Shirley Temple, but she was an inspiration to us all.
When I was a kid, growing up on a farm in Kansas, we made our own butter. Now you may think this was back in the dark ages, but it was just in the 1950s.
We had our own Jersey cow who gave a prodigious amount of milk and rich cream, enough for the eight people in the family. She was cream-colored and her name was Cream.
A vintage photo of our Jersey milk cow.
The cream rose to the top of the milk and was so thick that you could stand a spoon up in it. We loved it on our oatmeal each morning. We put sugar or brown sugar on the oatmeal too.
The bulk of the cream went into the glass Dazey churn for converting to butter. Turning the metal handle was assigned to one of the children and after what seemed like hours, the wooden paddles became harder and harder to turn. The cream was becoming butter.
I browsed around on eBay and found this picture. It’s exactly what our churn looked like.
Mom would form it into a lump and rinse it over and over. Fifty years later, I still remember how good it tasted on toast or on mashed potatoes.
(Memory by Virginia Allain, first published on Bubblews, March 2014)