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Don’t Call Me; I’ll Call You

Kathy Werner
Posted 1/21/22

Well, I finally pulled the plug. I got rid of my landline, after having one all my life. No more phone on the wall or the counter. No more home phone. I’m feeling a bit sentimental about it, to …

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Don’t Call Me; I’ll Call You


Well, I finally pulled the plug. I got rid of my landline, after having one all my life. No more phone on the wall or the counter. No more home phone. I’m feeling a bit sentimental about it, to be honest.

I remember the one phone that served the needs of a household of seven all through my childhood in Callicoon. Our phone number was 222; our cousins’ number next door was 209. My grandmother who lived down the hill was 23. And yes, these were real phone numbers.

We would pick up the receiver and ask the operator to be connected to a number. If we had to call home from school, we went to the phone booth outside the main office and put in our dime. If Eleanor Olsen was our operator, she would connect us with Mom and give us our dime back.

One thing you had to admire about phones back then—you never forgot where you put them. They always went back to the cradle. Now I manage to lose my smart phone about once a day.

Phone technology evolved. We lost the local operator when we got rotary dial phones. Then some people got two phones! My grandmother had one phone on the wall in her kitchen and a pink princess phone next to her chair in her living room. A princess phone! Can you imagine? I was so jealous! Next came push button phones. Fancy.

We got a super-long cord for our phone, which enabled the talker to move freely about the kitchen while preparing dinner and discussing world events. (Or hiding by the back door talking to your boyfriend.)

Life was so different then. There was no caller ID, no call-waiting, and no telemarketing when I was growing up. And long-distance calls were expensive, so when you wanted to let someone know that you had gotten somewhere safely, you would make a person-to-person call to yourself so the folks would know you were okay.

When I arrived at Albany State in the early 1970s, each dorm room had a phone. We would split the monthly bill with our roommate. However, one room in our dorm wasn’t getting any phone bills, so in our collective wisdom we all decided to make our long-distance calls from that room.

This worked great until sometime in March, when the kids in that room received a voluminous bill from Ma Bell. We each had to go down, add up the cost of our calls, and pay the piper.

Long distance was not to be trifled with back then. Of course, our phone bills were probably about $25 a month.

But now, with our supercomputer/smart phones, we are lucky to get away with paying about $100 a month. Crazy. Add that to your cable TV and internet bill and you’re looking at another $100 to $200 a month.

And since I was paying for a landline and a smart phone, I decided that something had to go. The only calls I got on my landline were junk calls. Did I need an auto warranty? Was I eligible for a class-action suit for hernia surgery? No and no.

So I opted to turn off my landline. No more phone number that we’ve had for 30+ years. Now every time I’m asked for my phone number, I just keep on writing my cellphone number. Home number? Same. Work phone? I’m retired. Sorry not sorry.

My home is still littered with the remains of phone jacks and wires. Thankfully, these are not in every room, but I can see that I will need to call on someone who can repair drywall and paint. I’m eliminating all evidence of old phone technology. Future archeologists will just have to wonder how we kept in touch.


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