The telephone has gone through major changes in the past 100 years. Let’s see how those changes are affecting our life here in the 1950’s with this film.
At one point phones did not even have dials. You simply lifted the lever, tapped for attention and then talked to someone to connect you. One day that changed and here is how we were taught to ‘Learn To Dial A Phone” new phone numbers and directories were suddenly issued. And the ‘dial tone’ was born:
By the early 1960’s many new features were being considered.
Now, here in 1956 this is what our lovely new house phones look like. Beautiful colors and much more modern sleek design than 10 years earlier. (These phone images thanks to vintage rotary phones.) This color is dreamy and I can picture it on the nightstand in a white and blue and gold bedroom or in the master bath perched on a white and gold ‘French Provencial’ stand. Something like these, maybe with a pair of these lovely equestrian lamps It would be dreamy.
Of course pink is also lovely.
The phone in 1940’s were more of what we think of when we think of vintage phones. They could be had in white/creams but many colors were not really available.
It was interesting to find out that even as late as now, in the mid 1950’s, some rural areas were still in a very antiquated phone system. I found this about the phone system in PA.
Those of you who grew up in cities may be surprised to be told that here in rural Tioga County PA we actually had wall phones with cranks well into the mid 1950s. We had party lines with several households on a line. Each household had its own ring - Ours was a short two longs and a short. People on the party line could call each other by ringing directly, using the crank and the right short - long code. Other calls came through the telephone operator. In Mainesburg, Gladys Smith was the operator and she lived in a house right next door to the store. She was tied to that switchboard 24-7-365, The store delivered her groceries. She had the switchboard in a room right by the kitchen with a cot in the same room. The following article reflects the sense of celebration these communities experienced when dial phones came into their world.This image is from 1956 newspaper: FAITHFULL SWITCHBOARD—Mrs. Bessie Updyke sits by the Millerton central switchboard which she has operated in her home for 11 years. The North Penn Telephone Co. will change over to dial operation in Millerton, and late, in Bentley Creek area (Star-Gazette Photos by Peggy Gallagher)
Here the automated relays are being installed and will replace faithful Bessie Updyke. RELAYS—Howard Selleck, switchman for the North Penn Telephone Co. tests the all-relay dial equipment being installed at Millerton.
Such a change must have really greatly affected peoples lives. To have a system where one is calling a local person, such as Mrs. Updyke, who literally is sitting in her home and knows all in town, to a system run by a machine must have seemed cold. Much like the past decades when our own phone systems became more and more automated. In 2010 it is rather hard to actually speak to a person and when you do they are often in India at call centers. (That really burns me, as well, as if we need even MORE loss of jobs in our country that we even sub out our service calls!) But, I digress. Back to the phone…
We even have a ‘Phone Princess’ here on Cape Cod. This fun image is from a great BLOG about vintage rotary phones.
Of course we cannot forget the latest fad of the teen, far too much time on the phone. This seemed to mostly be a character trait of girls, though I am sure boys did their fair share. Many father’s here in 1956 are often concerned about these ‘long phone conversations’ because their may be a boy on the other end.
Of course, in true 50’s Madison Avenue style, if one phone is good, THREE is better!
I recall in the 1980’s when answering machines were coming out. That and ‘call waiting’ was seen rather rude by many people. That technology seems like a dinosaur now.
And, of course, we now know in 2010 that a phone is not a phone but a way of life. Text, camera, movie camera, tv, internet, computer, everything rolled into one. This is a common scene I am sure. No longer sitting in the front hall on the phone, you are Always on it.
At least it seems some people are still interested in the past style enough to try and make a compromise.
We have come a long way, but have we gone too far? Is the need to always be online and in contact with everyone actually making what we have to say or how we say it or think it less interesting or intelligent? Letters are gone and now every daily activity is texted and shared. Is it better, I don’t know.
I think a nice phone in the home that rang and was either answered or ignored, may have actually been far enough. I suppose for emergencies it is nice, but didn’t people have emergencies before cell phones? What did they do? How quickly we become so used to our technology that to live without it would be like living without oxygen. I wonder if there could be a happy medium of a ‘docking station’ in an old phone that your cell phone lives in at home and is treated like a land line. And when you go out, it can be turned off and used only for that emergency? It might be a nice vintage alternative.