Monday, July 11, 2011

How did a telephone insinuate itself into your life?

When i was pretty young I remember our house getting a phone.

It was a black wall mounted model and I remember there being a telephoneman that established its presence. I remember needing to remember my phone number, it was to be as important as remembering my name and my address. I wrote it on the wall in pencil in case i would was 82029...i think i wrote it on the skirting board in pencil with the twos going backwards, i think i may have been 4. It may have been about 1963.

It was placed in the hallway near the front of the house. As if to acknowledge its intrusive nature, it needed a space of its own such conversations could occur in a non intrusive way.
Or perhaps it was near the front of the house as acknowledgment of it being a point of entry for strangers.
Im struggling to remember where others in my neighbourhood had their phones, but my recall is that they were all in hallways.
They were answered with such formality, the number was recited, or the formal statement of who one was talking to; "Mr McLaren speaking" as my father would say.

I also remember shouted conversations where plans had to be negotiated between people in different parts of the house, or someone being told to 'hang on'.

It was at least 15 years before my family's phone intruded into the living space of the kitchen and a little ways later before a second phone entered into a bedroom.

I note in saying this that ownership of the phone shifted, it became 'familial'. No longer attached to the house, but more to the household. It was no longer an appendage of the house, but a shift occurred in seeing it as a possession of the family.

Being a child of the 60's and 70's i recall the staying home and waiting for a phone call...
I also recall 'being prepared' included having money for a phone call and at Guides there would be inspections for what was in our pockets...seemed string and phone money were requisits...not quite sure what I'd do with the string...
But I'd ring home to say i was ready to be picked up from the red phone box on the corner...I'd make a call and when someone at home answered, i'd need to press button A to talk, or if no-one answered press button B and the money would come back...

It was in the 1990s I remember ringing my brother in Aus and being surprized by his saying he was at a neighbour's pool party talking to me on a cordless pretty sure my jealousy had more to do with the pool but also surprize at the range for a phone.

It was late in the 1990s when my partner got a mobile phone, a weighty thing by todays standards, but so much more portable than a 'landline' of the times....several renditions later before it could be worn unobtrusively, but nonetheless an excuse for the posturing of here's mine, placing ti on a table. Not they rang so often, but a status symbol of importance: im needed anywhere anytime. A yuppie thing.

Several renditions later, a discrete object that was to be on the person of every member of the household...or at least on any member of the household old enough to go out by themselves. It became a way the youngest members could go out more safely
More recently it became my way of paying for parking, my address book, my torch, my watch, my alarm clock, my appointment diary...its as close as my handbag and it goes most everywhere with me.

The phone boxes have modernized somewhat, but Im now always surprized when i see someone in one.
And the landline home phone fixture seems to be going the same way.

What i would like to know is where were phones were positioned when you were growing up?
Please tell me the stories of phones entering into your life.

Here's how music positioned phones in changing cultural contexts...

No comments:

Post a Comment