1/31/11

Try explaining a pay phone to your 8 year old


Today I welcome my friend Elise, who blogs over at Everyday Goddess. She's an amazing friend. Enjoy...


The other day my 8 year-old daughter and I were clearing off her desk. There were a few coins, pennies, dimes, and nickels mostly. This would have been an important find when I was her age. I would have spent it all to form quite a stash of penny Bazooka bubble gum. Or I could have stuck it in my backpack to be prepared for an emergency pay telephone call. I mentioned both of those uses to my daughter. She gave me that bemused expression which means, what are you talking about mother?

Once upon a time, dear child of the new millennium, cell phones did not exist! Even in surburbia where we live, street corners had what was known as a "public telephone booth." It was like a glass closet with an attached to the wall stool, a ledge to hold your things, a local white pages telephone book wired to the ledge and the piece de resistance, the pay telephone.

The first ones were rotary dialed. I believe Grandma and Grandpa have a rotary dial phone in the basement. And yes, that's right, Dad has one in his house. Anyway, the person needing to make a phone call could step inside this "telephone booth" and call someone. They would first have to insert a coin. A dime was all that was necessary when I was your age. I remember a funny way to answer the home phone was by saying, "It's your dime, start talking."

My astute child asked: "You mean people could only be at home or in a "telephone booth" to call their friends? And they only had three minutes before they had to add in more money? Who is the "operator?" What do you mean there was only one ringtone? And everyone's sounded the same? How did you know if the phone call was for you? You couldn't program in a special ringtone for each person in your contact phone book? What if you wanted to play a game? How did people take pictures or videos? How did they download music? How could they check their calendars? Or the time? Are you just making this up? You know I wasn't born yesterday mom!"

Oh yes you were my lovely!

30 comments:

unmitigated me said...

AND...it took more than 30 seconds to cook a hot dog.

I can't even imagine getting by without a microwave now.

Gaston Studio said...

LOL! My kids grew up with a rotary phone as well as pay phones, but my grandkids know nothing of these precusors to the cell phone. It's fun talking to them about "the old days."

Brigid said...

As we passed an "antique" pay phone on display at the police station (just there to drop off baked goods, so far) I started to explain what it was to my 6YO. Her response "I know mom. They have one in the muppet movie." Better learning through TV. (Ewwww.)

Joanie said...

Next time, tell her about vinyl records!

Scope said...

And the booth was fairly sound proof, so you dind't need to shout into your phone, and passerbys couldn't hear what you were talking about.

a Broad said...

Wonderful :)
My husband and I were both talking about our parents homes where there was a special place for the telephone that sat in the hall. No lolling around having a long conversation, you answered it, spoke a minute and hung up. And that phone was big and heavy !
Loved this :)

ReadyOrNot said...

Hilarious! Just like trying to explain an ice scraper to a Floridian child! Love it : )
Amy
http://readyornot-newyear.blogspot.com/2010/01/flip-flops-and-winter-coats-or-please.html

Everyday Goddess said...

Thanks so much, I am honored to be here!

Now I might just have to explain 45's and 33's...

slow panic said...

When we stay at a hotel my kids can't figure out why there's no Tivo remote....

And how would they cope with a phone that did not include the Angry Birds app?

scary stuff.

cornflakegirl74 said...

LOL, it's amazing how quickly things change. I recently posted a photo while on my landline and I realized no one seems to know what those are anymore.

Great post!

rach said...

HAHA i never even realized that young kids these days wouldn't understand these things. I guess when its something that was normal for you growing up it seems common sense! I sometimes wish cell phones werent so universal- they are handy but I feel like I always have to be available for it and if someone doesnt answer anymore we get frustrated! its a chain on the leg!

MiMi said...

I just had a convo really close to this with my 7 yo son.

Ellie Belen said...

The blank stares are priceless. The one they give me because they don't know what I'm talking about, and the one on my face because I can't believe how different our lives have become. Same face when I mention Bugs Bunny.

Always Home and Uncool said...

But did you preface this with "Well, back in my day ..." or "You kids don't know how lucky you are!"

jessica said...

I have a 20 yr old teaching asst. and one day I finished a funny joke with "....just like Jane Fonda!!" she laughed, "hahahaha- WHO?"
yeah, that happens a lot.

jessica said...

I have a 20 yr old teaching asst. and one day I finished a funny joke with "....just like Jane Fonda!!" she laughed, "hahahaha- WHO?"
yeah, that happens a lot.

jessica said...

I have a 20 yr old teaching asst. and one day I finished a funny joke with "....just like Jane Fonda!!" she laughed, "hahahaha- WHO?"
yeah, that happens a lot.

Jeanne said...

Ha. I'd like to see Clark Kent change clothes in a cell phone.

I kind-of would, actually....

Mad Housewife said...

Excellent! I haven't thought about pay phones in years and cannot wait to have this conversation with my very observant six year old.

Ms.S said...

I'm an 80's baby so I'm usually razzed about being the youngest on our team. However, leave it to paparazzi-crazy five year olds to make me feel old. I brought in an old disposable camera one day, and they could not grasp the concept that there once was a time long ago that you had to wait up to a week to see what a picture looked like. You would have thought I told them the sky was green.

Pastor Sharon said...

We grew up with a rotary phone, even in the phone booths. My paternal grandmother was blind. I remember when she would babysit me. I loved watching her dial the phone. She would start at 1 to begin each number and count until she got to the correct number before turning the dial. It took a while before the number was complete. However, she never dialed a wrong number.

I miss those days.

I don't miss waiting 2 hours for something I can nuke in a microwave in 20 minutes though.

Great post!

Lady Jennie said...

Great. I keep feeling older.

Did you know that you were nominated for the 2011 blog awards? You must know. Congratulations! (I hope you win).

Becky said...

I think I fell right on the cusp of remembering how things used to be, especially in the major areas that leave kids baffled today.

Have you seen the video where they show French kids a bunch of dated devices and try to have them solve what each one might be? It's HILARIOUS. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdSHeKfZG7c

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