Renovation & Design

Ring, ring, the past is calling

Remembering the landline and actual human interaction in a cellphone era

Everyone who still has a landline telephone in your home, please raise your hand.

Thank you. Somebody, please give all 14 of you $100 each. You are my heroes. We stand as one.

I will never give up my landline.

Believe it or not, telephones used to be used for what they were actually designed for, to allow humans in separate locations to speak to each other.

It is in my (pretend) humble opinion that currently, the world is going to hell in a cell.

Allow me to share with you a couple of the styles of phones that have brought great joy and conversation to my life. The crank phone and the beloved dial phone (including handset)!

By the way, yes, I’m being somewhat facetious about my disdain for cellphones. They are an amazing communication tool, of course. Doesn’t mean I have to like them. I have one — don’t like it.

I remember so well (in the 1950s) the beautiful old crank phone on the wall of my Aunt Winnie and Uncle Harry’s little farm home north of Indian Head, Sask.

It was beautiful. Gorgeous oak, brass bells and a wonderful ring! But the best part for bratty little kids was that it was on a party line, which means that if anyone else outside your home — perhaps neighbours a few miles away — was talking on the phone, you could pick up the receiver without them knowing, and listen in.

But if Aunt Winnie caught you doing that, there was hell to pay. Still, it was worth the risk. Eavesdropping on adult conversations was fascinating.

These days, usually from the seat next to you anywhere in public, you can only eavesdrop on one end of a phone conversation. And what good is that?

Sadly, the passing of the party line — compensated somewhat by the arrival of the rotary dial phone — wrecked that eavesdropping potential. However, if you were lucky enough to have an extension phone in your home, you could still carefully pick up the receiver and listen in. This was particularly valuable for getting blackmail material on an older teenage sister or brother.

Not that I would ever stoop to that.

Currently, here in the cellphone era, nobody cares about keeping secrets or hiding anything. They just put everything out there, with pictures and videos! Such opportunity lost.

It’s worth noting that both crank and cell/push-button landline phones were a little kinder to family unity. At least with those, there was only one person on the phone at a time. With cellphones, everyone in the home is on a phone all the time, so there’s no actual human family member to talk face to face with ... ever.

Parents lining up to FaceTime with their own kids in their own home can’t be a good thing.

Truth be told, my real issue with cellphones (we’re talking nitty-gritty here) is that I’m inept at using them. Same with playing cards. I never enjoyed playing card games of any sort, particularly poker — I didn’t want to learn, so I didn’t.

The thing is, I didn’t need proficiency at those card games to communicate with the modern-day world, which, I must reluctantly admit, does have its benefits.

I really hate texting. It’s a phone. When I’m on a phone, I want to talk, to a real person, live, back and forth, no OMGs or LOLs or LMAOs. You actually get to laugh that off in person.

And it does get embarrassing to ask one of your grandkids, who just happens to be on FaceTime with someone in another galaxy while flying four drones, to help you access something as simple as, say, your voicemail.

Ah well. I’ll catch up. No, I won’t.

Comments, feedback, love to hear from you!


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