Wednesday 15 November 2023

A Brief History of My Telephones

    The photo shows the kind of telephone I remember for most of my youth.  At the time, our phone number started with two letters from a word, something like “FRankland”, so our number would be FR-4637.   For most of my youth we were on a party line, so sometimes if we picked up the receiver to make a call, there would be people on our party line, already talking, so we would have to hang up and wait.  If I remember correctly, if we needed to call someone who was on our party line, we had to dial their number, hang up, listen to our phone start to ring, and then when it stopped ringing, we would pick up the receiver and the party we called would be on the line.  It seemed strange then, and still does.  

    Phone calls were very expensive, so “Long Distant” calls in our family were very rare.  Us kids didn’t do much talking on the phone until we reached our teenage years, then we were often told to get off of the phone, in case other people on our party line needed to make a call.    It was probably when I was in university, that everyone on our party line got their own private line.

    We did live our lives constantly using the phone, until I immigrated to Canada and took a job in a remote and isolated logging mill camp teaching in a one room school.  There was no phone communication available for the camp, so we lived without phone calls for about 2 years, but then the camp did install a microwave phone booth that we could use to make very important phone calls.

    When I took a teaching job in the very small village of Avola, BC, we were able to get a telephone in the teacherage where we lived for a year.  Once we bought a house in McBride, we had to wait for about a month for the telephone repair guy to give us a number, before we were able to use a phone.  During that month of having no phone, my parents who got worried, wondered why they hadn’t heard anything from us, and called the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) to find out what happened to us.  A RCMP officer actually came to our house to see if we were okay.

    In McBride at the time, all we needed to make a local phone call was a four digit phone number.  After a bunch of years went by, the number of digits required for a local phone call, jumped to seven.  Then of course with the advent of cell phones and so many additional phones, the number of digits required for all phone calls jumped to 10, as we were then required to also dial the area code, even for our local calls.

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