Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Speaking of Skyping

I had a grown-up half-sister who’d gone to California to live near her mother’s family, and some time around 1936 she wrote that she wanted to talk with my father on the phone.  The project was coordinated ahead of time by mail (3-cent stamps and one-cent postcards) and the exciting venture was finally planned for a Sunday (lower long-distance rates evenings and weekends, when the lines weren’t busy with business calls.)
At exactly 3 pm on that winter afternoon, I watched my father lift the phone receiver,  and when he heard “Number please?” he suavely asked for the long-distance operator.   We heard him explain that he wanted to call Los Angeles, he gave Ethel’s phone number, and he hung up.  The air was full of nervous tension for the next half hour.  Then our phone rang and an operator said “I have your party on the line.”

And what news warranted all of that?  Was Ethel getting married?  Divorced?  Sorry, but I never found out.  At that point I was sent out of the room.  And anyhow, I'd had enough excitement for one day. 


  1. When I lived at the castle, overseas phone calls were still absurdly expensive. Mom and Dad would telephone once a month, and all month I'd make a list of things I wanted to remember to mention. Sitting on the bottom step of the Not-So-Grand staircase, waiting for the phone to ring, it could get pretty chilly, and one always wanted to go to the bathroom, but didn't dare leave the vicinity of the telephone. And when the time changed, it always caught us out.

  2. It was nice to see this post on old technology telephones, these all used to look amazing in my childhood days.