Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chocolate Brown Rotary Dial 1970's Telephone

Chocolate Brown Rotary Dial 1970’s Telephone
It even works!  A chocolate brown desk phone, its brown cord is wired into the receiver and the phone…

I can’t stop thinking about this listing for a vintage item being sold on Etsy.  The phone is gorgeous – a deep, dark brown rotary-dial telephone from the 1970’s in perfect condition and still working.

Just looking at it brings to mind the sound and feel of dialing one of those classic phones.  Much slower than dialing these days, it had a smooth, heavy, velvety feel as your finger pulled the dial around and then released it to return home so that you could repeat the process for the remaining numbers.  It provided the leisure to think some about precisely what you might want to say to the person you were calling.  There was something almost sensual about dialing those telephones -- every friend I’ve mentioned it to, has gotten a dreamy, fond sort of look on their face as I watch them remember the way it used to feel to dial the telephone.
In the description for the phone, the seller explains that the cord is “wired into the receiver and the phone” and I realize that something, once so common, has been completely forgotten.  Several generations have grown up without seeing one of those boxy telephones hardwired into the wall.  When you bought a new phone back then, a service man (were there any service women then?) had to come out and wire it into the wall for you.  Of course, the receiver too was firmly connected by a long, elastic, twisty cord to its base.  I used to lie on the floor at night talking to my friends, playing with that cord like a girl might play with her long hair, wrapping it around and around my finger.  For a long time, most houses only had one phone, so it was usually in a central, easily accessible location like the kitchen.  That long cord enabled you to move out of the room for a little bit of privacy.  How did people manage to have illicit affairs back then? 

As a photographer and sometime jewelry maker, I have succumbed to convenience and purchased several digital cameras, but secretly, I’m still faithful to and in love with my old 35mm film camera.  Its solid weight helps anchor me to the earth and I like the soft, steady whir as I depress the shutter; I am confident in the perfectly smooth, sliding movement of manually adjusting the focus.  My first digital camera lost its micro capability after a few brief years and felt, like its replacement, light and plastic-y, rather like a child’s toy with annoying beeps and tinny sounds.  I suppose it’s something like the difference between slamming the car door of a Mercedes versus slamming one on a Toyota – the Mercedes assures me, every time, of its solidness, its dependability.  In comparison, I’m never really quite sure of the Toyota.

What I really wonder though – is when telephones (and actually, I mean everything else as well) stopped working perfectly and continually for years and years of dependable, unfailing service so that I wouldn’t have to think about them every few years?  It takes me two or three years to get fully used to something electronic or mechanical, whether it’s a car, or a camera, or a television, or…a telephone.  After I’ve done my research and made my purchase, honestly, I don’t want to have to think about doing it again for at least ten years, preferable twenty. 

Is that…unreasonable? 

Philadelphia, PA
February 28, 2012


1 comment:

  1. I remember party lines (such fun to snoop on your mystery phone partner!) and, yes, you could conduct illicit affairs without all the privacy. You had to be much more devious. Don't ask me how I know!