Thursday, 4 May 2017

These are the days!

Today I had a list of eight telephone calls I had to make urgently.   I had all the numbers stored in my phone, so I sat in the armchair, rang each one in turn and ticked them off my list.   The whole operation took me about ten minutes.

When I was a child in the nineteen forties, there  were few telephones in the village.   The three pubs (The Royal Oak, The Ferry Boat and The Hunter's Leap) each had one, the Vicar had one and the Doctor.    Then there were one or two "posh" folk - a Judge (no less!), a man who owned a chain of Tobacconists' Shops, a Military Man - and maybe one or two others we didn't know about.

But no-one would have dared to ask to 'borrow' one to make a phone call, however urgent.   There were two red boxes in the village, each about half a mile from our house.  We would treck there, clutching our two old pennies, dial the number we wanted and hope that somebody answered.   If they did we would tell them our problem (you really wouldn't ring unless there was a problem - this was not the days of the 'chat') and hope you got the important bit out before the pips told you your money had run out and you would have to feed the machine with another two pennies (varying degrees of success here).   If there was no reply you would Press Button B and get your two pennies back.

And we thought nothing of it.   That was how it was in those days.   I sometimes wonder what future generations will make of our way of life.   What do we do which in the future will be seen as such a terrible chore?

27 comments:

justjill said...

Answering the d#*n thing and its someone 'just doing a survey'!! And we are on that service thing where this is not supposed to happen....

Rachel said...

Re-charging mobile phones and smart phones and having to find somewhere to plug them in all the while.

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

My granny used to call me from a call box in her village in Wales all the time, bless her.

Sue in Suffolk said...

We had a phone quite early as Dad was a builder, we had a "party" line with the pub over the road. If you picked up the phone and heard them talking you had to wait for their call to finish ............seems crazy now!

Mac n' Janet said...

If going back to the old days would get rid of people who bury their face and their life in a phone I would prefer it.

Librarian said...

I grew up with phones that had a round dial, not the numbered buttons that came later, let alone touch screens like today's phones all have.

Derek Faulkner said...

Going to work I imagine, what a chore that is. But with every year that goes by they invent more and more machinery that does away with the need for labour and so few will be working. Why do people complain about the continual need to charge smart phones? my Nokia makes calls, receives calls and lasts five days on a charge, why need anything more.

jinxxxygirl said...

I wonder if all the time we spend 'chatting ' on the phone or surfing the internet and the various social media will be looked at a colassal waste of time.....sometime in the future... what will we do with our time then?

Heather said...

Food for thought Pat. I think a lot of today's gadgets are a waste of money and are so quickly superseded by something faster and better, but then, I know I am old fashioned. Back in the 40s my grandmother had a phone - I still remember the number - but it was strictly for emergency or other important calls. Definitely no chatting.

Tom Stephenson said...

If you had a phone at home, you had to talk to the operator! "I would like Chilllngbourne 276 please."

Iris said...

I grew up in a time when everybody had a home phone. But my parents were such skittish creatures. The ringing of the phone would always put them into a nervous scramble. And deep breaths had to be taken before any outgoing calls were made.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

It is hard to predict. Perhaps people of the future will look back with amazement that we used cash. And they might be dumbfounded that we visited something called shops to buy stuff. They might also be astonished that we wasted so much food and polluted our environment without a second thought. They might be amazed that had TV talent programmes like "The X Factor".

Chris Elliot said...

I still remember our first phone number - BEA 0250 - but I don't remember whether there was an operator on the other end. I am holding out on just having my land line but may have to give in eventually and buy a cell phone.

Rozzie said...

I remember pressing button A and button B to get your money back - haven't thought about that for many years. Only in the fifties when I was growing up in Australia, we needed four pennies. We had a telephone in the house though. My mum insisted because my father was in poor health, and as far as she was concerned it was more important than various other things in the house.
I do remember quite a few neighbors coming to borrow the phone and leaving their money in the little tin beside it.

Of course in those days of the old bakelite black phones, we could never have imagined such things as smart phones!

Cro Magnon said...

We had a tiny 'exchange' in our village, so there was no need for numbers. I'd lift the phone, say who I wanted to speak to, and the lady at the exchange would connect. If she knew that someone was out, she'd say so. It was all very friendly.

Frances said...

We got rid of our home landline a while ago as the only calls coming in were scams or " surveys" etc. and it didn't have call recognition on it. We still have our mobiles and a business landline. I can easily not answer and then block unwanted numbers on the mobile!

thelma said...

I can still remember our number when I was a child, 365 so easy to remember, now when I look at my mobile, (which doesn't work well out in the countryside) there are 11 numbers to remember. They are changing phone boxes into little libraries now and a place to house the defibrillator round us, how we move on - or not!

Elizabeth said...

And weren’t the old phone boxes heavy - the doors I mean - and sadly very often smelly? and the necessary pennies coppery. What sense details we felt as children!
By the way my childhood phone number was Herongate 247 - how easy to remember!
Raining here today.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

We had a phone but it was seldom used for "just chat". As we were charged by the minute, our parents were very strict about how much time we spent on a call. We were only allowed three minutes.

Jenny said...

As kids we never passed the village phone box without going in to press button B in case someone had left their change. Occasionally we were lucky and got a few coppers. I also remember when we got a phone at home having to speak to the operator to get connected to my Gran about 10 miles away. Times really have changed.

Minigranny said...

I remember having to run up to the top of the village to the phone box to call the doctor when my little brother had cut his leg badly enough to obviously need stitches.

Gwil W said...

Our first telephone was a party line. When mum wanted to phone someone she'd pick the phone up to dial but then she'd have to put it down again and wait if somebody was already speaking on the line. Dad never used the phone.

I have a basic Nokia but I only use it when I really have to.

Mum, now in her mid-90s, no longer has a phone. She explains this by saying if she had a phone she'd get far fewer visitors:"

Rachel said...

And my second answer to your final sentence is Passwords.

Devon said...

Only about 20 years ago I was a home health nurse... I drove from patient to patient doing assessments and wound care, etc.. I remember many times pulling up to a phone box in pouring rain trying to reach a doctor to give report or get new orders juggling the patient's chart and a note pad.
I am amazed that it was not that long ago and so much has changed. I am also curious regarding the future as to what is normal today which will be obsolete then.

Countryside Tales said...

My husbands grandfather (western cork) phone number was "3" for many years.

The Weaver of Grass said...

It was so enjoyable to read all your memories - all so similar to mins, so a real trip down memory lane! Thanks so much joining in - it is things like this that keep me going at the moment.

Gabrielle Howard Gengler said...

After my Mom and Dad got a divorce, we didn't have a phone. Going to the phone booth and calling my Aunt Joan and Granny collect was a highlight of my day. We made it just fine without a phone. Today, I don't leave the townhouse without my phone. Life was simpler then. I miss that Weave.