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Rotary Dial Phones – Improving Life

I heard from a woman today that purchased a Western Electric rotary dial telephone from me for her home. She wrote to tell me that that her mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease and lives with her is once again answering the home phone when it rings. She said that her mother had stopped answering the telephone as she was confused about which button to press on the cordless phone. Thanks to that old simple telephone with its familiar ringing sound, her mother’s life had improved–and for that the daughter is thankful. Also just recently I restored an avocado Western Electric model 554 wall phone made in 1960 for the grandmother of a close friend. Grandma had two cordless phones in her home but was frustrated by them. It seems the radio frequency of the cordless phone interferes with her hearing aid devices—causing them to squeal. Now with the wall phone, matching the colors of her kitchen hanging in her home she finds herself going for the Western Electric phone over the cordless phone. I had put a long handset cord on her phone allowing her the ability to sit at the kitchen table or stand in her kitchen, talking while doing other chores. And again, she loves to hear the ring of the loud dual harmonic brass ringer bells. When I see her she reminds me each time how much she loves her “new” phone, which is very gratifying to me.

So as these old rotary dial phones became abandoned for a more modern telephone that was designed to improve our ways of life it is ironic that just the opposite has taken place. The small cordless telephone, with it’s many tiny buttons and conveniences have become more of an inconvenience for those that grew up with a solid, well built Western Electric telephone. It is just another reason to bring these telephones of yesteryear out of the basements and attics of America and back into use again, so that they may do what they were intended for in the first place—to improve our way of life!

6 responses to “Rotary Dial Phones – Improving Life”

That was interesting. I had such a long twisted cord on my wall phone that my son would get mad at me every time he had to come & dangle the receiver & let it twirl till it was straight again. I still have that phone. It’s white, not a popular color for collectors. Should get it out & see if it still gets a rise out of my son.

I watch Seinfeld reruns regularly and have noticed that on most of the earlier shows (those from the early 1990’s) Jerry still uses a black rotary dial desk phone. It really doesn’t seem that long ago that they were still quite popular. If Jerry Seinfeld was using them in the early 90’s, they must have still been part of mainstream America!

There must be a lot of those phones still in the basements, Dennis. Keep looking for them.

Watching reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond one will see a model 554 hanging on the wall in the kitchen of Frank & Marie Barone. As you said Dave, that series ran through 2005. I believe that in middle America many vintage rotary phones are still in use today! Thanks for the comment.

These are beautiful stories about how the vintage phones have touched peoples lives. It proves that there are infinite ways to help others and make a difference in their lives. Everybody can help in their own way. I look forward to reading more stories as your happy phone-owners write in. From an interior designer’s point of view, the other asset of these phones, in addition to their functionality, is their decorative quality. They add instant character to the room and make a great conversation piece. Who doesn’t experience a bit of nostaligia when they see and hear these great phones? Keep bringing them into peoples lives, Dennis.

Wonderful story!
These old phones are very much still in use throughout America.
I have a bakelite WE 302 on my computer desk, a green 500 in my bedroom and a model 554 in my kitchen, all working and still in daily use. Modern cordless “phones” are garbage in my opinion.
William Potter

Thank you, William for your comment. I must have missed your comment when you wrote it, nearly four years ago now. Sorry. It is still deserving of a reply however. I appreciate you making your comment and I’m sure that you enjoy using your “vintage” phones as much as I enjoy using mine. I have received many comments from people regarding their elderly parents or grandparents since writing this post, which caused me to go back and review it. It still holds true today. For some, the older phones are making their daily lives better.

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